Scotland’s ‘third city’ sits on the River Tay, with the landmark Tay rail bridge as a backdrop. Few cities in Britain can match Dundee’s setting, arguably seen at its best from across the river in Fife. After shrugging off its post-industrial history, Dundee has transformed into a modern, vibrant place with much to occupy visitors and excellent amenities for the locals. As you would expect from a university town, Dundee has a thriving arts scene, good bars and restaurants and some of the friendliest people to be found in Scotland. It is now famous for embracing hi-tech industry and was the original home of Rockstar, the company responsible for the Grand Theft Auto series of computer games.
Speed Dating at The Old Bank Bar
Do you want to guarantee yourself another present under the Christmas tree? Speed dating can help. You have four minutes to talk to that prospective stalker, sorry partner, before moving on to the next. And it’s worth bearing in mind that a 2006 Scottish study found that dialogue on travel resulted in the most matches, so take your backpack with you and make like the beautiful piece of travelling totty that you no-doubt are.
The Old Bank Bar, 34 Reform Street, Dundee, 01382 226 552, various nights throughout winter – phone to check.
Dexter’s Lounge Bar
A lively little gig venue where the hipsters flock to play, Dexter’s hosts live music throughout the week as well as Saturday afternoon blues sessions. Keep your eyes peeled for up-and-coming musicians, with Dananakroyd and iLiKETRAiNS (there’s a spate of funny-name bands around at the moment) playing over the coming winter months.
27 Castle Street, 01382 228 894, open daily 7.30pm–midnight.
Dundee Ice Arena
This is an Olympic sized rink offering speed skating, ice hockey, curling and all manner of ice-related things that could result in bruised bits and bobs. But don’t worry, there is always a fully trained ice steward on hand to tend to your injuries. There’s also an ice disco every Friday night, with live indie bands and hordes of people attempting to throw some shapes in their ice skates.
Camperdown Leisure Complex, Kingsway West, Dundee, 01382 889 369, www.dundeeicearena.com, Mon–Sat 10am–noon and 2.30pm–4.30pm, Sun 2pm–4.30pm, Mon–Fri eve 7pm–9pm.
This is a dinky little venue for fans of amateur dramatics. It has been run by the same drama company for 86 years and continues to put on quirky plays throughout the year. The venue holds just 102 people, so every audience cough, splutter and giggle is heard – and heckling is not only frowned upon, but dangerous. Those hard-bitten am-dram types can see exactly who’s shouting at them and we’ve heard they don’t take too kindly to it. You have been warned.
58 Victoria Road, 01382 434 940, opening hours vary depending on shows.
Templeton Woods and the surrounding park area is less Blair Witch and more teddy-bears' picnic, with lots of furry animals scampering around. So it’s binoculars at the ready, as these woods are home to some rare Scottish beasts, such as red squirrel, roe deer and the illusive Jay. Seeing the animals in their native habitat is much nicer than visiting a zoo and a day spent here is the perfect respite from city life. There is also what looks like a giant birdhouse for you to stop and have a rest in, before setting off on the network of winding paths and cobbled trails that look all too easy to get lost in. But if you do get really lost, you can always cry ‘wolf’ and some animal enthusiast will likely come running.
Camperdown Country Park, Coupar Angus Road, Dundee, 01382 431 818, open daily 10am–3.30pm, www.camperdownpark.com