Car-free adventures aroundCoastal FifeFife

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Medieval villages, royal palaces, woods, hills and harbours, seaside walks past ruined castles and ancient dovecots… there are so many treasures to find in coastal Fife. St Andrews is famous as the home of Britain’s third oldest university and birthplace of the game of golf, but some less well-known destinations in the area are definitely worth visiting too. Here's a car-free itinerary through some of the hidden gems that might make a long day-trip from Edinburgh or a series of more leisurely excursions… It's a fabulous area for holidays and we've added some tips for buses, bikes and places to stay at the end.

  • County: Fife
  • Great for: art | birds | cafes | castles | historic houses | scenic train | walking |
  • Refreshments: pubs, cafes and restaurants
  • Please note: researched/updated November 2023. If anything’s changed or you have tips to share, do get in touch:
  1. 3. Train to Aberdour and Kirkcaldy

    There are lots more scenic adventures along the coast of Fife. The railway lines travel north from from Edinburgh and also loop into the local “Fife Circle Line”, connecting ten different towns. Dunfermline is on one line while the other runs along the coast, passing seaside castles and scenery on the way. Look out for seals bobbing in the water and wading birds along the shore. Here are some more places to visit.

    • Aberdour (pronounced “Aberdower”) Castle is a wonderfully atmospheric destination. This maze of buildings from different centuries stands on the cliffs above the sea. Follow Good Journey’s directions.
    • Half an hour on the train from Edinburgh or from Dunfermline (change at Inverkeithing) visitors can see the castle from the railway. Just leave Aberdour station car park through a gate in the far corner and follow the lane left.
    • Three stops further by train, Kirkcaldy Galleries are directly outside the station – well worth stopping off for and packed with great Scottish art. There are engaging displays of local history as well as seascapes by painters like William McTaggart or vibrant still lives by Samuel John Peploe, one of the Scottish colourists.
    • Kirkcaldy is also a 45 minute bus ride from Dunfermline – you could get hourly bus X27 direct from Dunfermline bus station (or even all the way from Glasgow).
  1. 4. Coast path and castles

    For a real taste of the sea, walk a short stretch of the Fife Coastal Path. You’ll pass ruined castles and harbours, cliff-top views and sandy beaches.

    • Hop on bus 7 from Stance A outside Kirkcaldy railway station, get off in Dysart and head downhill to the harbour with its cafe in a whitewashed cottage. A path runs along the wooded cliff above the harbour through Ravenscraig Park, back towards Kirkcaldy, with great views across the sea.
    • At the far end of the park, you pass an old dovecot and the ruins of fifteenth century Ravenscraig Castle.
    • Free to visit and open all year round, this dramatic viewpoint is a great place for a picnic. Buses back to Kirkcaldy station run regularly from the stop nearby.
    • The thirty miles of coast path south of St Andrews are perhaps the most spectacular on the whole route. You can read more about car-free adventures on the spectacular stretch of Scottish shore known as East Neuk in this feature for Guardian Travel
  1. Buses, bikes and places to stay

    Here’s a bit more practical info if you’re planning a staycation in Coastal Fife

    • If you’re taking several bus rides around Fife, Stagecoach buses offer several types of rover tickets giving unlimited trips in different areas. There are Dayrider tickets or Megariders for a week, covering all of East Scotland.
    • There’s a One Ticket scheme that covers rail and bus or and ABC smart ticket can cover the East Neuk area.
    • You can hire bikes from Spokes Cycles in St Andrews or from Boards, Bikes and Kites in Anstruther. Cyclepath in St Andrews also have suggestions for routes.
    • There are lots of places to stay in Fife, including Lothrie B&B near Kirkcaldy station. With a group, try glamping on the coast near Elie, at Catchpenny Safari Lodges. The lodges have sea views, proper bathrooms and kitchens, heating, comfy beds and sleep six. Bus X60 and bus 59, both running from Edinburgh to St Andrews, stop nearby.
  • Birds on beach - Coastal Fife car-free adventures
  • Sunny building - Coastal Fife car-free adventures
  • Fife coast path - Coastal Fife car-free adventures