Fife. The Kingdom of Fife. The Home of Golf. A place of powerful monikers, each rightfully earned. Exceeding just fifty miles at its widest point, the county is far from the largest region within Scottish borders. But regardless, Fife offers a dense and unique portfolio of activities and interests for the traveller that likes to go off the beaten path.
Located on the Scottish Central-East coast, Fife resides as a widely accessible location for travellers and tourists alike. Just an hour’s drive from Edinburgh will see you deep within the great ancestral home of the Scottish monarchs.
So, to dive back in time at historical landmarks? Send a golf ball flying down the fairway? Or feast on the fruits of Fife’s land? Here is the list of things to do in Fife, Scotland.
Journey the Fife Coastal Path
The British Isles are said to host some of the finest coastlines the planet has to offer. You need not wander far down the Fife Coastal Path the see exactly why such praises are made.
Tracing Fife’s union with the sea for over 183km, the coastal path explores many of the diverse landscapes – both rural and urban. From the trailhead in the Firth of Forth to its tail in the town of Newburgh, Fife’s coastal path is rightfully championed as one of the best ways to discover the region.
183km is understandably no small task though, even for veteran hikers. Hence, many choose to journey along specific highlighted sections of the path itself.
Follow the path north from Kirkcaldy to pass through the famous fishing villages of East Neuk – idyllic settlements of pastel-painted cottages and heritage. For beach lovers, the coast between Kingsbarns and St. Andrews plays host to rocky shorelines and peaceful stretches of sand.
Towns and villages punctuate the entirety of the coastal path, so you’re never too far from a beautiful spot to rest and refuel.
Explore St. Andrews Castle and St. Andrews Cathedral
It goes without saying that, with a moniker like the Kingdom of Fife, there has to be history to explore. Look no further than the town of St. Andrews.
Atop a hill, overlooking the tides of the North Sea is the ruin of St. Andrews Castle. Built over 800 years ago, the castle stood as the residence of the bishops and archbishops of St. Andrews. It was home to kings and, prison to miscreants and criminals, and an epicentre for conflict during the Wars of Scottish Independence. There is a history of numerous dimensions to be uncovered within the crumbled stone walls.
Not 5 minutes’ walk from the castle is St. Andrews Cathedral. Constructed in the 12th century, the cathedral still holds the crown for the largest church to be built in Scotland – 119m long from end to end. Also, for those wanting stellar views of St. Andrews town, do not hesitate to climb St. Rule’s tower. As with St. Andrews Castle, the museum and visitor centre display a host of sculptures and artefacts that help further tell the tale of Fife’s rich history.
Play a round in the Home of Golf
Renowned as one of the places to get out onto the green, Fife boasts some of the most impressive golf courses in the world – St. Andrews’ Old Course being the most famous.
Though, not all rounds of golf have to come at the cost of playing on the Old Course (green fees can exceed £150 in peak months). Access to a full-18 on St. Andrews’ Balgove Course will only set an adult back £15, even in high season.
However, golf in Fife is not limited to St. Andrews. With 42 active courses in play within the Fife region, driving for the green can be done even from the top of seaside cliffs.
There simply is no better place than Fife, the Home of Golf, for golfing enthusiasts.
Visit The British Golf Museum
If playing round after round of golf simply isn’t enough, then look to the British Golf Museum for more helpings of flags and fairways.
Delve into over 500 years of golfing history, right in the heart of where it all began. There is no better place to see the evolution of the game. From the sticks and pebbles used in golf’s inception, to the clubs and equipment used by today’s professionals, the British Golf Museum exhibits all. Indulge in curated collections surrounding the lives of famous golfing personalities. Or simply ponder over your next round whilst fuelling at the museum’s café.
Admire the Kirkcaldy Galleries
A cultural hub, the Kirkcaldy Galleries offer everything from a museum to art galleries, to a café, and even a family history room.
Between Dunfermline and St. Andrews, Kirkcaldy exists at the centre of life in Fife – almost literally. A journey to Kirkcaldy would not be complete without a visit to the Kirkcaldy Galleries.
The works of William McTaggart, Samuel Peploe, and the local Jack Vettriano find residence within the gallery walls – collections of Scottish national importance.
After admiring Peploe’s colourist style and McTaggart’s powerful Scottish landscapes, journey to the onsite museum to learn even more about the deep history and heritage of the local land.
Indulge on a food trail
Perhaps you find yourself in the Kirkcaldy Gallery café after perusing the resident art collections. No fret, you may have just embarked on a food trail of discovery.
Fife’s rich cultural heritage is paired equally with its rich platter of local cuisine. The fruits of the Fife coastline and countryside can be tasted in dishes throughout Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy, St. Andrews and so on. Dine on fish caught by local fishermen in the East Neuk villages. Browse through the award-winning selection of meats and vegetables on offer at Kirkcaldy’s monthly farmers market. Or grab yourself a Puggie Bun, the baked specialty of Cupar.
Sample whiskey at the Kingsbarns Distillery
This one is for the adults – a local beverage to follow the local cuisine.
A ticket to the Kingsbarns Distillery will see you visit the distillery’s exhibition space, take a guided tour of the facility itself, and then finish with a tasting of some true Scottish liquors. Start off with their New Make spirit – a potent beverage of fruity character. Then move onto a pair of tastings of Kingsbarns’ famous Dream to Dram whiskey – a cask matured single malt that holds a rather impressive collection of awards.
It’s no wonder visits to Kingsbarns Distillery are so popular. No adventure to Scotland is complete without a sip of the local tipple.
Visit Craigtoun Country Park
Whilst whiskey-tasting may not be for the whole family, Craigtoun Country Park certainly is.
The 47-acre public park is located just 2 miles from St. Andrews. Originally a family-owned estate, the park now exists as a place for the people of Fife to relax and socialise. Kids can make use of the free adventure facilities – a 30ft zipline and a miniature railway being the main attractions, whilst adults can wander the varied outdoor habitats and planted gardens.
Craigtoun Park is the picnic spot for the whole family.
Dive into Deep Sea World
Scotland: global shark hotspot. Well, perhaps not strictly true. Whilst an array of shark species, like the Basking shark, can be spotted in Scottish waters, the best viewing can actually be found at North Queensferry’s Deep Sea World.
With one of Europe’s finest shark collections on display and the UK’s longest underwater tunnel, the aquarium holds its own as one of Fife’s greatest attractions. Visit to dive – quite literally, for an additional cost – into the world of sand tiger sharks.
Deep Sea World is a can’t-miss location for all animal lovers.
Adventure in Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve
Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve: the location for nature lovers wanting to stay above water.
Near the northern tip of Fife, on the shores of the Morton Lochs, sits Tentsmuir Reserve – an area of unique wildlife diversity and outdoor splendour.
A landscape that almost changes as you watch it. Rising tides, drifting sandbanks, and shifting heathland. Spot seals as they beach themselves on the sand to rest or scour the edges of the Morton Lochs themselves in search of the elusive otter.
Immerse yourself in the wildness of the Scottish landscape.
Hike in the Lomond Hills
For the eighth year in a row, Fife has been voted as the number one outdoor location in all of Scotland. As such, no visit to the kingdom would be complete without an adventure into the Lomond Hills.
Scotland’s first regional park, the Lomond Hills stand as some of Fife’s most prominent landmarks. Rising to the height of 522m, the hills attract everyone from hikers to bikers. Even wandering historians can get their fix of fascination from the remnants of Iron Age fortifications that mark the land.
Summit the dome top of East Lomond. Or reach Fife’s ceiling atop West Lomond.
Wander the streets of Dunfermline
Once the capital of Scotland, Dunfermline has played an important role in the history of Scotland. Now, a hub for Scottish culture and heritage, the city is a must-visit when travelling to the Fife region.
A thirst for art can be quenched at Carnegie Hall, the venue for many a show and performance. A hunger for history can be satiated at Dunfermline Abbey or Dunfermline Palace – the abbey being a mausoleum for Scottish kings and queens passed.
Days spent exploring side streets for cafes and curiosities are days well spent.
The Kingdom of Fife exists as a magnet for Scottish travel for a reason. Its blend of historical significance, natural beauty, unique attractions, and rich culture is simply rare to find.
While adventurers satisfy their need for the great outdoors with hikes along the Fife coastline, art addicts can delve into works of McTaggart and Plepoe at the Kirkcaldy Galleries. As historians flock to the heritage of St. Andrews, golfers can sink putts where the game itself began.
Travellers, the kingdom awaits.