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Dundee’s status as Scotland’s sunniest city makes it a year-round favourite – and the weather isn’t the only reason to get out and about. Nestled on the Firth Of Tay estuary, Dundee enjoys all the perks of its coastal location, and while you’ll want to explore city attractions like the historic Law landmark, you should also make time for the modern waterfront whose recent billion-pound development takes in the V&A Museum Of Design and the restored RRS Discovery that took Captain Scott on his first Antarctic expedition.
Perth buzzes with all the dynamic energy you’d expect from the nation’s youngest city – and serves up all the gourmet delights you’d hope from its tag as ‘Scotland’s larder’. Once you’ve sampled local fare at flagship eateries like 63 Tay Street and Andrew Fairlie’s, taken in a show at Perth Concert Hall and visited nearby Balhousie Castle for a hit of military history, be sure to take advantage of that riverside location with a boat trip along the Tay, watching the iconic Highlands reflected in the ripples.
Arbroath might only be a few miles north of Dundee but the vibe couldn’t be more different in this 12th century fishing town. The traditional harbour is still bustling with activity, so take a seat at sunrise to watch the local fishermen unload the fresh line-caught haddock that will be smoke-cured and served to you at the famous Arbroath Smokies. Then clear your head on a stroll through ancient fishing cottages up red sandstone cliffs and along endless unspoilt beaches, stopping for photos of the Bell Rock Lighthouse.
You’ll be pressed against the train window as you pull into Montrose: an effortlessly pretty coastal town that gives you a last hit of wild Scotland before you reach the metropolis of Aberdeen. For shoppers, the town centre offers one of Scotland’s widest high streets but Montrose’s trump card is perhaps its status as a twitcher’s paradise, with the Basin nature reserve drawing wild wading birds who are happy to pose for your binoculars and the nearby Wildlife Centre offering state-of-the-art hides, telescopes and remote-control video camera feeds.
You might know this harbour town for its infamous fireball ceremony each New Year’s Eve but life outside of Hogmanay slows to a gentle pulse that makes Stonehaven perfect for a weekend getaway. Watching the comings-and-goings at the sheltered working harbour is a guaranteed stress-buster, but there’s plenty more going on here with Tolbooth Museum spinning tales from its past as a courthouse and jail, while ruined Dunnottar Castle takes the breath away with its clifftop views and history (these walls have hosted William Wallace, Mary Queen Of Scots and Charles II).
See all the beauty of Scotland and save up to 50% on rail travel around the country with a TransPennine Express/Scotrail joint fare.