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Discover Dundee: First look at new open-top bus tour

Staff aboard one of the Discover Dundee open-top buses.
Staff aboard one of the Discover Dundee open-top buses.

Dundee’s first open-top bus tour for more than 20 years is set to launch this weekend.

Connecting some of the city’s best-known attractions, Discover Dundee will welcome its first customers at 9.30am on Saturday.

The red buses will leave every half an hour to take in the sights and sounds of Dundee – from the V&A all the way to the Law – as our time lapse video below shows.

Passengers will also be able to listen to commentary to find out about landmarks old and new.

Audio tour ‘delves deep’ into Dundee’s past

Chris Beattie – a former Wave FM DJ in Dundee – is the voice of the tour, and says it gives visitors a different perspective of the city.

He said: “What I really like about the tour is that it doesn’t focus too much on the kind of obvious touristy stuff of Dundee, it focuses a lot on the history of the city.

“A lot of the tour is great and inspirational, but it isn’t afraid to really delve deep into, for example, the past slum-like conditions of the Hilltown, and show not only why Dundee is such a great city today but how it got there over the years.

“The highlight of the tour is that it feels very authentic, the kind of guide to Dundee that could only be done here in Dundee.”

Marc Winsland, commercial manager at Xplore.
Discover Dundee staff, from left: John Eggleton, Marc Winsland, Lucy Grant, Megan McDonald, James Kenneth and Shaun Lannan.

Marc Winsland, commercial manager at Xplore Dundee – which is running the tours – hopes the launch will help bring tourists from the Waterfront into other parts of the city.

He said: “Dundee’s profile is changing – it’s being reinvented as a short-stay destination – so we think it’s about time there’s something that will link all of the local attractions together in one easy route.

“Since the Waterfront has been redeveloped, there’s a lot of activity going on down there, but that footfall isn’t necessarily finding its way into the rest of the city.

Map of Xplore Dundee open-top bus tour
A map of the open-top bus tour route.

“What we hope to do is to scoop people up from the Waterfront area and take them into the rest of the city so that local businesses and attractions further afield will benefit from it as well.”

The launch has not been without a couple of hiccups, after the start was delayed from early April.

Meanwhile, some leaflets promoting the tour have referred to HMS Unicorn as “HMS Union”, though the error will be corrected in future copies.

Discover Dundee factfile

  • The first bus leaves Discovery Point at 9.30am and the last bus is at 5pm from the same stop
  • One full loop lasts about 45 minutes
  • Services start on April 30 and run seven days a week until September 11
  • Tickets cost £10 for adults, £8 for students and seniors, £5 for children (aged five to 15) and £24 for families
  • Tickets are valid for 24 hours and can also be used on other Xplore Dundee buses
  • Stops include Discovery Point, NethergateHawkhillAlbert Square, Dundee LawThe Howff, Crichton Street, City Quay and V&A Dundee.
  • Some runs include a trip over the Tay Road Bridge, depending on weather

What is it like on board new open-top bus tour?

Reporter Amie Flett is one of the first people to have enjoyed a trip on board the new buses – and gives us her verdict on Dundee’s latest tourism initiative.

Reporter Amie Flett on the top deck of one of the buses.

Xplore welcomed me on board for a test ride, ahead of the tours launching on Saturday, and it did not disappoint.

It is one of the best ways I have been able to see the city and admire views you could normally only get from the top of the Law.

Starting off at the Waterfront, the bus is easily accessible for tourists who are eager to see the rest of what the city has to offer.

We were lucky enough to come on board while the sun was shining and it was warm enough to sit at the back of the deck, and get the full open-top experience.

Plugging into the audio tour was easy with headphones available for passengers.

Highlights of the tour included seeing The McManus from a different angle, views heading up the hill towards the Law and in particular the ride across the Tay Road Bridge – but be prepared for the wind, because that bit was pretty chilly.

The views over the Tay made up for that, though, as I got the chance to see the city in a way that has not been on offer for many years.

Views of the city aboard the Discover Dundee tour bus.

The commentary was interesting and really brought the tour to life by giving the city character while driving past the landmarks.

There were even a couple of shout-outs for DC Thomson and our own Evening Telegraph – or the Tully as we all know it.

The tour comes highly recommended from this reporter. It helps to show there is a lot more to the city than what meets the eye.

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