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There’s something for everyone in Dundee. A city with a strong industrial past, in recent years it’s seen something of a transformation to become a thriving cultural hub.

If you’re thinking of making Dundee your home, we’ve got all the information you need to know about living in Dundee, from the best schools in the area to the hotspots for eating and drinking.

History of Dundee

Although there’s evidence of life in the area before the 12th century, that’s when Dundee really began to build a name for itself as a seaport town. The 18th and 19th centuries, however, are when Dundee really expanded and became an industrial power. Dundee was a significant hub for the jute industry, with 62 jute mills employing over 50,000 workers.

Alongside the jute factories, the maritime industry expanded in Dundee, and the city was particularly noted for whaling, primarily to supply the jute mills with whale oil, and shipbuilding. In its heyday, 200 ships were built in Dundee every year, including the RRS Discovery which Robert Falcon Scott used for his Antarctic voyage. You can still visit the Discovery to this day, as it’s on display at Discovery Point in the city.

It’s often said that Dundee was built on ‘jute, jam and journalism’. As well as the jute industry, Dundee was home to the Keiller Factory, where Keiller Marmalade was made. It was the first factory to pioneer commercial marmalade production. In terms of journalism, the publishing firm DC Thomson, which is famous for publishing the Beano and the Dandy, was established in Dundee in 1905.

The jute industry fell into decline in the early 20th century, and Dundee has battled with economic deprivation since then. However, there’s also been a huge amount of development in the city, drawing new industries to the city. One such industry is gaming, and some of the world’s biggest video game titles started in the city including Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto. It’s also a hub for arts, with the opening of the V&A Dundee in 2018 cementing the city’s status as a cultural hotspot.

Culture in Dundee

As mentioned, the V&A Dundee opened in 2018. The museum is the first design museum in Scotland, and the first Victoria & Albert Museum to open outside of London. It’s home to the Scottish Design Galleries, which feature permanent design works from across Scotland, and it also plays host to a roster of temporary exhibitions.

As well as the V&A, there are plenty more cultural institutions in the city, including Dundee Contemporary Arts. DCA is a thriving hub for the contemporary arts, with two gallery spaces, two cinema screens, a print studio and a wide range of events, workshops and classes offering something for everyone.

The Dundee Rep Theatre was founded in 1993 and is home to both a permanent acting ensemble and a dance company, who put on an extensive programme of theatre, dance, music and comedy.

Dundee is a UNESCO City of Design, the first (and so far, only) city in the UK to be awarded this title. UNESCO took the decision to recognise Dundee for its outstanding contributions to a wide variety of industries, including medical research, comics and video games. Dundee is home to a wide number of innovations and inventions, including aspirin and biomedical research, comics including the Beano and the Dandy, and video games.

Food and Drink in Dundee

Dundee is home to two universities, the University of Dundee and Abertay University, meaning there’s a bustling bar and club scene. There’s something for everyone in the city, from family-friendly restaurants to cool coffee houses, and from craft beer bars to independent bakeries.

The best districts for foodies to explore are the city centre, Perth Road in the West End and Broughty Ferry, which are all jam-packed with places to sample the city’s dining scene.

The Tayberry in Broughty Ferry is a great option for fine dining, with a menu featuring both local and international specialities, as well as well-priced tasting menus. The Newport, located just outside Dundee in Newport-on-Tay is another upmarket choice. The restaurant was opened by Jamie Scott, winner of Masterchef: The Professionals, and almost always features local delicacies such as pheasant on the menu.

If you’re not in the mood for fine dining, try Tailend, where you can have a sit down supper of freshly caught, locally sourced fish.

For drinks, try the Jute Bar at the DCA, which is always lively at the weekends, or speakeasy-style Daffens on Couttie’s Wynd. The Phoenix is another good choice, a homely-feeling pub which has regularly been voted by locals as the best pub in Dundee, or try The Speedwell Bar (often still referred to by its old name, Mennies), which features an Edwardian interior, real fire, and a selection of over 150 malt whiskies.


Dundee has a compact and pedestrianised city centre, making it easy to get from shop to shop on foot. Most of the stores are in a small area, including two big shopping centres. The Wellgate Centre has two floors of shops including plenty of high street names, and the Overgate Centre which houses over 60 shops including a flagship Debenhams department store and a large Primark.

As well as the big name shops on the high street, there are lots of little streets branching off the main street with unique boutiques and independent shops. Perth Road is also home to a variety of quirky independent shops including Fisher & Donaldson bakery, a Fife institution; Le Freak record shop; Bella, which sells home gifts and accessories; and Hayley Scanlan, a contemporary womenswear designer who was featured on the Netflix show ‘Next in Fashion’.

Schools in Dundee

In Dundee, there are 38 primary schools (37 state-run, and 1 private), 9 secondary schools (8 state-run, and 1 private), and 1 state-run special educational needs school.

Grove Academy in Broughty Ferry is one of the best secondary schools in Dundee, with pupils achieving a higher than average number of National 5s. Harris Academy in the West End of the city is another well-regarded school. It’s the largest state-run school in Dundee, and its pupils consistently achieve ‘well above average’ exam results.

There are plenty of good options for primary schools in Dundee. Two of the best are Our Lady’s RC Primary School and Rosebank Primary, both in the Hilltown area. Barnhill Primary School in Broughty Ferry, Mill O’ Mains Primary School, and Blackness Primary School are also all well thought of.

The High School of Dundee is a co-educational independent school offering both primary and secondary education. It has a strong reputation, and was voted Scottish Independent Secondary School of the Year 2008 by The Times.

Kingspark School currently has a roll of around 180 pupils between the ages of 5 and 18, all of whom have learning difficulties. Many also have additional physical disabilities or medical problems.

Transport in Dundee

As a small city, Dundee is easy to get around on foot, but it also has an efficient bus network taking you across the city and further afield.

Dundee has a train station with regular services to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. The train to Glasgow takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes; the same time to Edinburgh; and 1 hour and 15 minutes to Aberdeen.

If you need advice for first-time buying in Dundee – or if you’re looking for a reliable mortgage broker in Tayside – don’t hesitate to contact us today.

We’re experts on all things mortgage-related (and our services are always 100% free).


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