Fife is a hidden gem on the Scottish east coast. Perhaps most famous for the historic town of St Andrews and the majestic Forth bridges, there is so much more to see! This list of great things to do in Fife will give you plenty of ideas and inspiration for great days out in Fife!
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You might have heard about Fife’s most famous town, St Andrews. But could you name many other Fife attractions or highlights?
If you are a fan of the Outlander TV show, you will have seen many beautiful locations all over Fife featured in the series. Time to explore these and beyond!
Read on for…
- 11 ideas for things to do in Fife,
- suggested places to stay in Fife,
- tips for transport options and getting around in Fife, and
- my favourite vegan-friendly eateries in Fife.
Fife is a brilliant region for weekend getaways or day trips from Edinburgh or Glasgow. The region offers something for every taste!
Day Trip Ideas: Great Things to do in Fife
Dunfermline is Scotland’s ancient capital. During the reign of Scotland’s King Malcolm III and his wife Saint Margaret, the town was the seat of the country’s royal power.
Kings and Queens were buried here until the 14th century – the last Scottish King to be buried here was King Robert the Bruce. You can see his tomb at Dunfermline Abbey and then visit the remnants of the old Abbey (£6, FREE for Historic Environment Scotland members & Explorer Pass holders).
A day trip to Dunfermline is a great way to learn about the local history, visit the beautiful abbey church, stroll through the historic town centre and explore some of the local pub and restaurant scene.
Things to do in Dunfermline: Dunfermline Abbey, the historical buildings along the High Street, Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries, Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum, Pittencrieff House Museum and Pittencrieff Park.
Food & Drink in Dunfermline: Heaven Scent Coffee Shop at Dunfermline Carnegie Library: Popular for Afternoon Tea (1 Abbot St), Tapas Ducal: Spanish cuisine and tapas (6-8 Nethertown Broad St), Khushi’s: Indian cuisine (1 Canmore St), The Creepy Wee Pub (17 Kirkgate).
All of these offer vegan options, although I would call in advance to enquire about vegan afternoon tea options at Heaven Scent.
The village of Falkland is a must on any Outlander itinerary for Scotland. The picturesque village at the edge of the Lomond Hills Regional Park stands in for Inverness in the series, but it is worth a trip just for its own sake as well.
The beautiful main square is a great starting point for an adventure around the historic centre of the village. Make sure you stop to marvel at the Market Cross, the Covenanter Hotel, Falkland Parish Church and the many little houses surrounding the square.
If looking at pretty buildings is simply not cutting it for you, and want to see one from the inside, consider a visit at Falkland Palace (£13, FREE for National Trust for Scotland members. Join here!).
Things to do in Falkland: Falkland Palace, village shops & architecture, Market Cross, a walk in the Lomond Hills (see below).
Food & Drink in Falkland: The Hayloft Tearoom (Back Wynd), Fayre Earth Gift Shop & Cafe (Mercat House, High St), Campbell’s Coffee House (The Cross, High St), Lomond Tavern (Horse Market).
Like in most places around Scotland, vegans can usually eat the day’s veggie soup or curry in these cafes!
Lomond Hills Regional Park
Falkland lies at the edge of Lomond Hills Regional Park and as such is a great starting point for hiking trips into the park! Several trails begin right in the village.
For a challenging tour up to one of the highest peaks in Fife, follow the trail leading towards East Lomond. It begins at the Market Cross in the village. After you’ve walked up Cross Wynd and left the historic centre behind, the trail leads through the woodlands up towards the hills. Find the full description of the trail here.
If you want a more relaxed, but still beautiful stroll through the woodlands of the park, go for a leisurely stroll around the Falkland Estate. Follow the same trail as to East Lomond initially, but soon after you’ve managed a first small ascent in the forest, turn right and choose from a variety of trails. There are many paths crisscrossing the Estate, for example, the walk to the Tyndall Bruce Monument.
What to wear & bring: Sturdy trainers or hiking boots (depending on the trail you choose), water + snacks.
** Maspie Den Trail Closure **
This section previously mentioned the walk to Maspie Den. Unfortunately, parts of it have become eroded very badly – particularly the section that crosses behind the waterfall at the top of the gully. The Falkland Centre for Stewardship at the Estate is repairing the trail to allow nature to regain its strength and let biodiversity do its job. Please respect signs and fences on this trail, don’t let your dog off the lead and choose one of the many other paths on the Estate if the Maspie Den trail is closed.
Coasteering in Elie
Coasteering is a fun and active way to explore the coastline of Scotland. Accompanied by a knowledgable guide, you walk along the rocky shores, explore hidden sea caves and learn a bit more about how the coastline was forged by the water.
Vertical Descents offers Coasteering Tours in Elie. The coast around Elie is stunning and indeed one of the most popular sections of the Fife Coastal Path – which brings me to…
Fife Coastal Path: Elie to Anstruther
The Fife Coastal Path is a long-distance trail along the coastline of Fife, stretching 117 miles from Kincardine on the Firth of Forth to Newburgh on the Firth of Tay.
The various sections of the route offer very different walking experiences; some are more challenging than others; some lead through stunning coastal wilderness, while others let you hop from coastal town to coastal town and marvel at the Forth Bridges from underneath; but they are all beautiful!
One of the most popular sections leads from Elie to Anstruther, passing small fishing villages of St Monans and Pittenweem along the way.
You can reach all these villages by bus, making this a very easy day trip from almost anywhere in Fife or even Edinburgh.
Highlights of this section along the Fife Coastal Path from Elie to Anstruther are the Lady Janet Anstruther’s Tower, the ruins of Ardross and Newark Castle, St Monans Windmill and the charming waterfront of Pittenweem.
Find out more and plan your day hike on the Fife Coastal Path here.
PS: You could also drive from town to town if you’re not a walker!
Another must-see for Outlander fans is the quaint village of Culross in west Fife.
Outlander Sites in Culross: You visit the film location of Claire’s herb garden behind Castle Leoch at Culross Palace. Culross is also used as the fictional village of Cranesmuir. You can see Geillis Duncan’s house and the town square with the market cross where she is sentenced to burn.
However, Culross is also worth a visit if you’re not an Outlander fan. Make sure you visit Culross Palace (£10.50, FREE for National Trust for Scotland members. Join here!) and wander the beautiful terraced garden behind it.
Then, go for a stroll through the historical centre of the village, its cobbled lanes and past the many charming houses.
Kinross & Loch Leven
Loch Leven is a beautiful loch – not technically in Fife (it’s just over in Perth), but super close to the rest of these day-trip ideas in Fife.
Kinross on the banks of Loch Leven is potentially a great place to base yourself in and explore the rest of Fife, especially if you’re driving. The picturesque town has a convenient location (just off the M90 and in day-trip distance from Glasgow, Edinburgh, St Andrews, Perth and Dundee) and is busy with travellers who want to explore the area.
You can spend a whole holiday in this area, or visit Kinross and Loch Leven on a day trip.
Make sure you go for a wander around the loch and visit Loch Leven Castle (£9, FREE for Historic Environment Scotland members & Explorer Pass holders) on an island in the loch, which you can only reach by boat! It makes for spectacular photos!
St Andrews is Fife’s most famous town. It draws in golfers, history buffs, students and fans of the Royal family.
If you visit St Andrews on a day trip, I highly recommend starting your tour at the ruins of St Andrews Cathedral (£6, FREE for Historic Environment Scotland members & Explorer Pass holders). Wander around the leftovers of this magnificent church and climb to the top of St Rule’s Tower for views of the town and the sea.
Continue to explore St Andrews’s sandy beaches and get lost in the cobbled lanes of the historic centre.
Find some nice Scottish pubs and restaurants, before you head on to St Andrews Castle (£9, FREE for Historic Environment Scotland members & Explorer Pass holders) to learn more about the significant location this town was built in.
Finish your day with a walk towards the historic golf course.
The coastline of the East Neuk of Fife is dotted with picturesque fishing villages with colourful harbours and boats rocking in the gentle waves.
Anstruther is a particularly popular village, especially due to the famous Anstruther Fish Bar (42-44 Shore St) where they serve some of the best fish & chips of the country. No vegan options unfortunately.
If you’ve not followed the Fife Coastal Path yet, consider walking from Anstruther towards St Monans, or even all the way back towards Elie (see above).
Did you know you could do a day trip to see puffins on the Isle of May? It is one of the best Scottish islands to visit!
The historic seaside town of Aberdour is well worth a day trip and there is a lot to see. Visit Aberdour Castle (£6, FREE for Historic Environment Scotland members & Explorer Pass holders), one of the many scenic castles in Fife. It dates from the 1200s and was extended during the 16th and 17th centuries.
There are two beautiful beaches to explore in Aberdour: Silver Sands to the east of the village, and Black Sands with darker sand and rockier shores to the west. The two are linked by the Fife Coastal Path, and make for a great walk!
On a bright day you get great views across to Inchcolm Island, which you can visit with a boar tour from South Queensferry (below).
North & South Queensferry
The town of Queensferry is split into two – North and South – on either side of the bridges across the Firth of Forth.
While only one of them is in Fife, they are both worth a day trip and if you’re up for a challenge, you could even cross the water on foot and walk across the bridges!
From both the Queensferries you enjoy great views of the bridges – especially the brand-new road bridge and the Forth Railway Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From South Queensferry, you can book a boat trip to Inchcolm Island to visit the island by boat and see the beautiful Abbey.
How to get around in Fife
I love travelling around Scotland on public transport because it takes the pressure off having to navigate the left-hand side traffic and allows me to focus entirely on the landscapes I drive through from the “passenger seat”.
Buses in Fife:
Public transport in Fife is pretty good, with Stagecoach being the largest bus operator in the region.
For a great day out in Fife, you can get a Fife Dayrider ticket for £9.30 [2020 prices] which gives you unlimited access to buses around Fife all day long.
Bus times can vary, so it’s good to check suitable connections in advance on the Stagecoach website (also works great on mobile).
Trains in Fife:
There are also a few train lines crossing through Fife, connecting Edinburgh with Dunfermline and Leuchars (for St Andrews), and a few stops in port towns along the coast (Aberdour, Burntisland, Kinghorn, Kirkcaldy).
Driving in Fife:
Of course, a car will give you more flexibility and freedom to go even further off the beaten track. But rest assured that all the day trip ideas listed here can be done by public transport!
Where to Stay in Fife
There are endless options for great home bases across Fife, but if you travel by public transport I suggest choosing a town that is well connected with the rest of the region and is easy to reach from Glasgow or Edinburgh respectively.
We chose to stay at a vegan B&B in Crossford near Dunfermline, which was a brilliant starting point to explore west and central Fife.
If you’re more interested in the East Neuk of Fife, I recommend finding accommodation closer to there – maybe in Elie, Anstruther or near St Andrews. However, the East Neuk is also within easy reach from Dunfermline.
The Cosy Vegan B&B was an excellent home for two days and we could not have asked for better hosts than Fran and Robin!
Vegan Restaurants in Fife
Travelling Scotland as a vegan is becoming easier and easier every year. Many restaurants in the rural areas of Scotland have caught up on the trend, and unless you’re in a tiny village or a traditional fish & chip shop, you should be able to find a vegan option on the menu.
The easiest place for vegan food is Dunfermline, and even though there are no fully vegan restaurants in the city, there are several options to choose from.
I loved the vegan Spanish tapas at Tapas Ducal and the Indian curries at Khushi’s. Other options include the Everest Inn, Ciao Italia, the cafe at the Dunfermline Carnegie Library, Grill48 and Cafe Wynd, which all have vegan options on the menu.
Around Fife, keep an eye open for chip shops with vegetarian haggis on the menu, as many brands of veggie haggis are actually vegan-friendly.
Most cafes and tea rooms serve a soup of the day, which in many cases is vegan-friendly.
A safe (and popular) bet is also to eat at Indian restaurants with many vegan-friendly curries to choose from.
I’ve visited Fife a number of times, but I’m certainly not done with this picturesque region of Scotland yet! From Culross to Anstruther, there are so many great things to do in Fife, I will sure keep adding to this list as I explore more of this region.
If you are looking for a relaxed holiday in Scotland, off the beaten track and away from the hustle and bustle of the Highlands or the cities, consider choosing Fife and fill your itinerary with some of these day trip ideas!
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All photos by Kathi Kamleitner.