This bustling port town is as charming as it comes. Here are all the best things to do in Broughty Ferry…
Today I’m going to be talking about my favourite things to do in Broughty Ferry.
You may not have heard of Broughty Ferry before. It’s a suburb of the city of Dundee and lies a few miles to the east of the city. It’s a small but perfectly formed port town with a picturesque harbour, castle and lots of lovely cafés, shops restaurants and bars to enjoy. When it comes to charm, it’s there in buckets (and spades). That was a seaside joke by the way, just in case you didn’t realise. I think I’ll stick to the day job.
Anyway, below is my complete guide to find out how you can make the most out of your time in Broughty Ferry. I’ll share my tips on the best brunch spots, the cosiest pubs, and the ice cream parlour where you’ll have to make one of the difficult decisions you’ll make this year: choosing what to order from their delicious menu.
It’s a lovely, buzzy place with a relaxed vibe. Because of that it will suit couples, families and anyone who enjoys exploring charming Scottish locations. So let’s hop to it!
How to get to Broughty Ferry
Let’s quickly talk about how you get to Broughty Ferry.
If you’re travelling to Broughty Ferry from down south the best idea is probably to head to Dundee first. You can then catch a train or a bus to The Ferry.
The No. 5 or No 73 bus will get you to Broughty ferry and will take around 15 minutes.
The train to Broughty Ferry takes slightly longer at around a 25-minute journey.
Things to do in Broughty Ferry
Eat lunch at these Broughty Ferry restaurants
For a small place, Brought Ferry packs a punch when it comes to dining options.
I’m a huge fan of the Ship Inn in Broughty Ferry. It’s got fresh local food, generous portions and the lovely scenic views of the waterfront. A pretty heavenly combination!
The inside is all dark and cosy in comparison to the briskness of the sea air outside, with traditional décor, tartan carpets, and dark leather seats. However, as the restaurant area is a level up, it means you can enjoy clear, unobstructed views of the sea as you eat – which is lovely!
It’s not surprising that seafood features pretty heavily on the menu at the Ship Tavern. Everything is fresh and local, but I should probably mention that it’s not the place to come if you want to eat light. Most of the menu has been dunked in the deep-fat fryer and the portions are also incredibly generous. So make sure you’re hungry when you go, right?
I decided to opt for my favourite, traditional Scottish soup Cullen Skink. It was just as rich, creamy and decadent as I hoped it would be. I also shared some dusted squid and finished off with a dessert that I really didn’t need… but I couldn’t say no to.
You can view the menu for the Ship Inn here
Other good restaurants to try include:
Walk along Broughty Ferry beach
One thing I love about living in the city of Dundee is that you’re only ever a quick car or bus journey away from stunning outside locations, such as Broughty Ferry beach.
If you’re looking for a brisk walk to blow off the cobwebs then there isn’t one much better than this. It’s long and wide with miles of clear water and clean, golden sand. There’s plenty of room to stretch your legs, either for a dog walk, a run, or a leisurely weekend stroll in the glint of the late afternoon sun. There are also some rather lovely views of Fife on the other side of the River Tay to soak up as you walk. Nestled behind Broughty Ferry Castle and fringed by an esplanade and park, it’s a real sweet spot to enjoy.
The good news is that you’re also never very far away from local shops, cafes, and parks. Oh, there’s parking available too. So come along and breathe in that lovely salt air!
Explore Broughty Ferry Castle
The castle at Broughty Ferry is nestled on the edge of the harbour and overlooks the long stretch of beach. It feels like wherever you are along the shoreline the castle is a familiar landmark in the distance, keeping watch over everything it its vicinity.
Built at the end of the 1400s, Broughty Ferry has had a big part of play in history over the years. In 1547, the owner of the Lord Grey, surrendered the castle to the English during the 16th century War of the Rough Wooing. In 1855, the castle was acquired by the War Office, who intended to utilise it to defend the harbour from the Russians. It also had quick-firing guns mounted on it at the top of the tower during WW1.
It’s now a museum which is open during the summer months from April to September. It’s free, so enjoy the exhibition on display, and soak up all that history.
Wander around Broughty Ferry high street
Broughty Ferry is lucky to boast a busy high street that’s packed with cafes, restaurants, boutiques and independent shops. As someone who comes from a town where the high street has slowly emptied over time, this is really refreshing to see because it’s really not the case with Broughty Ferry. In fact, the last time I was here it was positively bustling with local people.
The fact that Broughty Ferry high street is crammed with independent shops is even better – and it makes exploring all the more interesting. I love Tiger Lily Boutique and Bella Mella for all your latest clothing and accessories requirements – it’s really difficult to walk past their beautiful windows without going in. Lulu & M is also nice, although I do find it to be a little bit on the pricey side. If frugality is more your thing then there are also plenty of charity shops to have a nosey around in – I do love a budget-friendly charity shop find.
My favourite Broughty Ferry shops:
Eat brunch at these Broughty Ferry cafes
There are lots of charming cafes in Broughty Ferry.
I talk about Forgan’s over on my post about the best cafes in Dundee and so I won’t go into too much detail here. However, suffice to say Forgan’s in one of the best breakfast spots in The Ferry. In fact, you can go at any time of day really. They do breakfast, dinner, drinks, and a mean Sunday lunch that I would really love to try sometime or other.
Back to breakfast though… I was a massive fan of the French toast I ordered here, which came with a generous portion of sticky, sweet maple syrup that’s just asking to be drizzled all over your toast.
The interior is pretty dreamy as well. Expect twinkly fairy lights, parquet flooring and cute metro tiles, so definitely come here if that’s something you enjoy. I definitely do.
There are plenty more lovely cafes in Broughty Ferry – in fact, you’re really spoiled for choice. Gracie’s has a great selection of brunch options, Jessie’s Kitchen is renowned for its charming décor and delicious cakes, and there’s also Visocchi’s – more on that below.
Other cafes in Broughty Ferry you should try:
Order ice cream at Visocchi’s Café
At the time of writing we’re in a tier 4 lockdown and so I thought I would have to wait for a few weeks to be able to try Visocchi’s. I was therefore delighted to find that they are in fact operating a takeaway service – including takeaway coffee and ice cream. Hell yes!
So what can I tell you about Visocchi’s Café in Broughty Ferry? Well, it’s something of an institution in Broughty Ferry, having been running for over 65 years, and it’s known for its authentic Italian ice cream.
They have so many delicious flavours of ice cream for sale. There’s pistachio, Scottish tablet, Nutella ripple, white chocolate Toblerone, Lotus Biscoff, and loads more. Honestly, each one sounds more delicious than the last. And let me tell you, as someone who struggles to make decisions at the best of times this one was a real toughie! After much umming and ahhing I eventually plumped for Amarena cherry and it was AMAZING. Chris had two scoops (of course he did) – one Bailey’s and one Christmas pudding. So. good.
It’s not just about the ice cream either – you can also order pasta, pizza and takeaway coffee. I will definitely be making this a regular pitstop whenever I’m in Broughty Ferry.
Take a boat ride along the River Tay
If you’re looking for something a little more exhilarating to do in Broughty Ferry then I would recommend taking to the water with Pirate Boats’ River Tay Boat Tours.
Pirate Boats run tours from April to November each year, and I can guarantee that in the summer months the sparkling River Tay will never look more beautiful. Leaving from Broughty Ferry harbour, wrap up in warm clothes for an experience that is fast, fun, and led by an experienced skipper with fascinating local knowledge to share.
On your tour you’ll enjoy views of local lighthouse the Larick beacon and a unique perspective of design museum the V&A Dundee from the river. You may even spot some local wildlife – such as porpoises, seals, or bottle-neck dolphins – jumping out from under the waves. It’s the top-rated outdoor activity in Dundee, and you can’t get better than that!
Admire the cute cottages and Broughty Ferry mansions
Like looking at massive houses and picturing yourself living there? You’re in luck.
There are a few Broughty Ferry millionaire’s mansions – or merchant houses – to have a nosey at, and the history behind them is actually pretty cool. Back in the 19th century when Dundee was a big industrial city all the rich jute barons wanted to create a bit of distance from themselves and the working classes who lived in the city. Consequently, they built these impressive mansion houses in the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Dundee – The Ferry.
Of course, it’s not just about mansions in Broughty Ferry. It is a charming fishing village after all and there are plenty of cute cottages that are more in line with what you’d expect from its location. You know the ones I mean. White painted walls, doors opening out direct on to the street, and cute little windows that I always want to peer into when I walk past.
Definitely make some time to wander around and see all the lovely houses.
Have a drink in these Broughty Ferry pubs
At the time of writing all the pubs are closed. I’ve now reached the stage where I really am starting to miss them. However, at least when they do open you know you have a good selection to choose from in Broughty Ferry. Let’s take a closer look at what’s on offer…
If traditional pubs are your thing then I would recommend the Fisherman’s Tavern in Broughty Ferry. It’s cosy inside, with low ceilings, a chalkboard menu of ‘specials’ and a crackling fire to warm your hands from the cold. Delightful! For the warmer months, there’s a lovely beer garden outside with picnic benches to sit at. The Old Anchor Inn is another pub in Broughty Ferry that gets rave reviews. It serves up plenty of old-fashioned charm along with cold drinks and generous portions of pub grub favourites. I really want to try their mac ’n’ cheese. The Ship Inn that I mentioned before also has a lovely cosy downstairs bar.
If you’re looking for something a little more fancy than I would try Bruach Bar and Restaurant. It’s well known for its cocktails – mine’s an espresso martini!