The Kingdom of Fife is a pure gem for day trips of all kinds, yet many international visitors would struggle to find it on a map of Scotland. Located just north of Edinburgh, across the Firth of Forth and south of where the river Tay meets the ocean near Dundee, Fife is an underdog 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 guide will give you plenty of ideas and inspiration for great days out in Fife to fill a weekend trip – or several!
Fife’s most famous town, St Andrews, has been a tourist magnet for decades, but the rest of the region has been hidden in the shadows for far too long. In recent years, however, this has changed significantly – especially due to a certain TV show being shot around some of Fife’s most beautiful villages and castles nearby.
Now, Outlander fans criss-cross the country to explore what the locals have already known all along – Fife is a brilliant Scottish region for weekend adventures from Glasgow or Edinburgh, and there is great days out suitable for every taste!
Here are some of my favourites.
Destinations for great days out in Fife
Dunfermline is Scotland’s old 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 at Dunfermline Abbey was King Robert the Bruce.
A day trip to Dunfermline is a great way to soak up some of the local history, visit the beautiful abbey church, stroll through the historic town centre and explore some of the local pub and restaurant scene.
More things to do in Dunfermline | The historical buildings along the High Street, Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries, Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum, Pittencrieff House Museum and Pittencrieff Park.
Where to eat & drink | Tapas Ducal (Spanish), Khushi’s (Indian), The Creepy Wee Pub
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 really 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. Personally, I preferred exploring the many little streets which are lined by historic houses and decorated with lush flower pots.
Where to eat & drink | The Hayloft Tearoom, Fayre Earth, Campbell’s Coffee House, Lomond Tavern.
Like in most places around Scotland, vegans can usually eat the day’s veggie soup or curry in these cafes!
Lomond Hills Regional Park
As mentioned above, Falkland sits right at the outskirts of Lomond Hills Regional Park and as such is a great starting point for hiking trips into the park! Especially if you travel Fife by bus, choosing a trail that begins in the village of Falkland will make it much easier to hike in this area.
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 and 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, 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 continue your leisurely stroll towards Maspie Den. At the far end of the trail you will come across some amazing waterfalls and pass right behind one of them is a natural overhang. The trail then loops back towards Falkland, ending right where you started at the market cross.
Those were the day trips we took on our recent weekend getaway to Fife, but of course there are a lot more options for great days out in Fife!
Coasteering in Elie
Ever since I first tried coasteering near Newcastle in England, I wanted to get back into a wetsuit and try it in Scotland too. Coasteering is a fun and active way to explore the coastline. Accompanied by a knowledgable guide, you walk along the rocky edge of the sea, explore hidden gems (like caves) from the seaside and learn a bit more about how the coastline was forged by the water.
I actually have a voucher for coasteering with Vertical Descents in Elie, Fife, and can’t wait to try it later this summer! 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
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 sheer 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 St Monans and on to the small fishing town of Anstruther. You can reach all three villages by bus, making this a very easy day trip from almost anywhere in Fife, but admittedly it is easier to stay somewhere in this area or around St Andrews to minimise travel times before and after walking.
Highlights of this section along the Fife Coastal Path from Elie to Anstruther are the chain walk near Elie (only accessible in low tide, check tidal times!), Elie Ness Lighthouse, the ruins of Ardross and Newark Castles and St Monans Windmill.
Find out more and plan your trek here.
Another must see for Outlander fans is the quaint village of Culross in west Fife. Not only can you visit the film location of Claire’s herb garden behind Castle Leoch, but 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 and wander the beautiful terraced garden behind it. Follow this by 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 in central Fife and Kinross on its shores in a great place to base yourself in, 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 on an island in the loch, which you can only reach by boat! It makes for spectacular photos!
Perhaps Fife’s most famous town is St Andrews, which draws in golfers, history buffs, students and of course, fans of the Royal family.
If you visit St Andrews on a day trip, I highly recommend starting your tour of the town at the runs of St Andrews Cathedral. 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 to learn more about the significant location this town was built in and finish your day with a walk towards the historical golf course.
The coastline of the East Neuk of Fife is dotted with quaint little 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 where they serve some of the best fish & chips of the country – if you eat fish, that is.
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 – one of the many scenic castles in Fife – which stems 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 UNESCO World Heritage Site Railway Bridge. From South Queensferry you can book a day trip to Inchcolm to visit the island by boat and see the beautiful Abbey.
How to get around
I love travelling 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 land I drive through from the passenger seat.
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 £9.10 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).
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).
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 below can be done by public transport!
Where to stay
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 Eli, Anstruther or near St Andrews. However, the East Neuk is also within easy reach from Dunfermline, just bake sure you always check the bus times in Fife.
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 (photo above) and the Indian curries at Khushi’s. Other options include the Everest Inn, Ciao Italia, the cafe at the new museum, 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 as well. 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 options for great days out 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.