Scotland may be world-famous for its stately castles, jagged sea cliffs, and verdant lochs—but it’s also a treasure trove of architecture, art, and design. The city of Dundee, for example, is a UNESCO City of Design and home to the awe-inspiring V&A Museum, a must-visit for any purveyor of Scottish design. And Glasgow holds countless architectural glories as well, from the Corinthian Club and Grand Central Hotel to the Glasgow Cathedral and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
This four-day tour will take you into the heart of Scotland’s two most artistically relevant cites: Glasgow and Dundee. You’ll discover the edgy outdoor murals, top-notch Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, and enigmatic architecture of Glasgow; and then you’ll venture about one-and-a-half hours to the northern shore of the Firth of Tay, where Dundee’s mind-blowing modern arts scene will impress even the most discerning art lover. By evening, you’ll peruse culinary masterpieces and eclectic nightlife, to boot. Get ready to be inspired.
Eric Maryanov, the president of All-Travel and a member of the AFAR Travel Advisory Council, is ready to design a trip around your interests that includes the artistic highlights of Scotland.
Itinerary / 4 DAYS
DAY 1Arrive in Glasgow
On the first day of your art and design tour, dive in by taking a walking tour of Glasgow. Following your stroll, enjoy afternoon tea at the beautifully restored Mackintosh at the Willow Tearooms. Designed by Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the 1903 Art Nouveau rooms are an integral part of Glasgow’s architectural heritage. After your fill of fine tea and finger sandwiches, check out House for an Art Lover, designed by Mackintosh 110 years ago and set in the beautiful grounds of Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park.
Later, venture to the Butterfly and Pig, Bar and Restaurant for vintage settings full of friendly locals. For an after-hours crowd, Finnieston neighbourhood is a must-visit, often described as “hip, arty, and lively” and voted one of the “top 10 coolest neighborhoods” in Europe
DAY 2Explore Glasgow
Later, savor some authentic Scottish dining at Mharsanta (Gaelic for “merchant”), located in the heart of Glasgow’s Merchant City a popular destination for sophisticated locals.
DAY 3Arrive in Dundee
Sprawling along the northern shore of the Firth of Tay, the waterfront around Discovery Point has undergone a massive redevelopment, all centered around the architecturally outstanding V&A Dundee—Scotland’s first design museum, which opened in 2018. The museum showcases the best of Scottish design and is a don’t-miss. While you’re there, grab lunch at the in-house Tatha Bar and Kitchen—the food is as good as the river views.
After lunch, walk the street-art trails of Open/Close Dundee, a series of quirky, painted doors spread around the city. Or, if architecture is more your cup of tea, take the Dundee Architectural Trail. Or visit Verdant Works, a beautifully refurbished mill which showcases Dundee’s textile history. Polish off day three of your adventure by browsing the modern art at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA), and grab a burger with smoked bacon and sweet-potato fries at the Jute Café Bar on the ground floor.
DAY 4Explore Dundee
Later, head back to Dundee’s waterfront for an aperitif at The Wine Press, and then hop over to the iconic Bridgeview Station Restaurant—the perfect place to complete your design tour. Nominated for two architectural awards, Bridgeview Station is based on the original design of Dundee’s old Magdalen Green Railway Station. Enjoy a delish Black Isle flat-iron steak and toast your surroundings—and all the epic Scottish architecture and art you’ve devoured over the last four days.