Fife sits in the lowlands between two firths, Forth and Tay, and was once known as the kingdom of Fife because Scottish kings called it home. The Lomond Hills also call this area home, but it is the coast with its ancient fishing villages that is the most developed part of the region. Fife Visitor Information Centres
St Andrews, long known for its golfing and its university, is the most famous spot in Fife. St Andrews Museum displays the history of the town. Golf lovers will want to visit the British Golf Museum. Dramatically sited on an open sweep of land overlooking the water, the ruins of both a cathedral and castle are a must see. The cathedral, established in 1160, was once the largest in Scotland. The precept walls date from the 16th century. Climb St Rule’s tower, the only part of the cathedral standing, for views over the countryside. A collection of Celtic crosses and medieval monuments is at the visitor centre. The castle, dating from 1200, has an interesting tour through its siege tunnels.
Head down the coast to visit scenic fishing villages. Near Pittenweem is Kellie Castle. The oldest part dates from 1360, but the castle is mainly 16th and early 17th century traditional architecture built of rubble sandstone. There are plasterwork ceilings (note the Vine Room) and pine panelling painted with 60 romantic landscapes. The furniture was designed by family member Sir Robert Lorimer. A late Victorian organic walled garden contains fruit trees, old-fashioned roses and herbaceous plants.
Another grand house near Pittenweem is Balcaskie. The 16th century tower house was purchased by William Bruce, one of Scotland’s leading architects. He laid out the formal terraced gardens and extended the tower house into a mansion. On the dining room walls are beautiful frescoes and portraits.
Aberdour Castle, in the seaside town of the same name, was built in 1342 by the Douglas family. It was extended in the 16th and 17th centuries. There’s a walled garden and circular dovecote.
Alexander I was stormbound on Inchcolm island in the Firth of Forth in 1123, and a hermit looked after his needs. In appreciation, Alexander founded an Augustinian abbey on the site. The well-preserved Inchcolm abbey buildings include a 13th century octagonal chapter house, 14th century cloisters and parts of the church. The island is reached by ferry from South Queensferry.
Don’t miss the village of Culross. Culross Abbey is only one historic building in the 16th-17th century town that was deemed a royal burgh by James VI. Founded in 1217, the Cistercian abbey’s remains are scant—the nave, cellars and domestic buildings. The monks’ choir forms part of the present day parish church.
Culross Palace is one of Scotland’s finest domestic buildings. Not really a palace nor royal, this house was built between 1597 and 1611 and is an outstanding example of 17th century domestic architecture, built by a prosperous merchant. Decorations include 16 Biblical scenes painted on pine panelling, Dutch tiles, and 17th and 18th century furniture. The north wing is a separate building dating from 1611. It has a stables, byre and hayloft on the ground floor. The apartments above are panelled and have ceiling and wall paintings. The Town House contains an exhibition on the village history.
Moving inland, the Benedictine Dunfermline Abbey has substantial remains of the church, domestic buildings and palace. Founded by Queen Margaret in the 1070s, it was elevated to abbey status by David I in 1128. The western part of the building is the nave of the Abbey church, and the eastern end is the parish kirk. The abbey was a favourite place for the burial of Scottish royalty, including Malcolm Canmore, Queen Margaret and Robert the Bruce—a commemorative brass is found on the floor of the abbey. The adjacent royal palace was the former guesthouse of the abbey. James VI gave the palace to his wife, Anne of Denmark.
The Abbot House Heritage Centre, next to the abbey, is a restored 15th century house with displays on the abbey, Dunfermline, and Scotland. Andrew Carnegie was born in the village, and the cottage and a museum tell the story of his life. 17th century Pittencrief House houses a collection of costumes, displays on history of the house and an art gallery.
The village of Falkland also has a palace. It was built in the 16th century by James IV and James V and was the country home of eight Stuart monarchs. It belongs to the Queen but is managed by the National Trust for Scotland. There are two parts, a twin-towered gatehouse and the royal apartments. The gatehouse contains James VI’s canopied bed, tapestries, and replicas of 16th and 17th century furniture. The King’s bedchamber in the royal apartments has a painted ceiling and the bed in which James V died. The drawing room ceiling is decorated with the coats of arms of the Stuart Kings. In the grounds is an interesting royal tennis court built for James V.
Near Cupar is the Hill of Tarvit, a grand mansion built in 1906 by Sir Robert Lorimer in the Edwardian style. French, Chippendale and vernacular furniture, Flemish tapestries, Chinese porcelain, and Dutch paintings vie for attention. Upstairs/downstairs rooms give details of life above and below the stairs. There’s a restored Edwardian laundry and woodland walks with panoramic views of the area.
Scottish Fisheries Museum
Harbourhead, Anstruther, KY10 3AB
Tel. 0 1333 311 073
Open: April-end Sep: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm; Oct: Mon-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm
Museum & Heritage Centre
62-64 Marketgate, Crail, KY10 3AB
Tel. 0 1333 450 869
Open: April-end Sep: Mon-Sat 10am-1pm, 2-5pm, Sun from noon-5pm
1 High St, Dunfermline, KY12 7DL
Tel: 0 1383 720 999
Open: April-Sep: Mon-Sat 9.30am-5.30pm, Sun 11am-4pm; Oct-March: Mon-Sat 9.30am-5pm
The Merchant's house
339 High St, Kirkcaldy, KY1 1JL
Tel. 0 1592 267 775
Open: April-end Sep: Mon-Sat 9.30am-5.30pm, Sun 11am-4pm; Oct-March: Mon-Sat 9.30am-5pm
St Andrews VIC
70 Market St, St Andrews, KY16 9NU
Tel. 0 1334 472 021
Open: April-June and Sep-mid Oct: Mon-Sat 9.15am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm; July-Aug: Mon-Sat 9.15am-7pm, Sun 10am-5pm; mid Oct-March: Mon-Sat 9.30am-5pm
For details of attractions see the Attractions section of our website.
Abbot House Heritage Centre
Tel. 0 1383 733 266
Tel. 0 1383 860 519
Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum
Moodie St, Dumferline
Tel. 0 1383 724 302
Web: Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum
Balcarres Craig Folly
Colinsburgh, on the B942
One mile (1.6km) northwest of Pittenweem
Milton of Balgone
.5 mile (.8km) south of A911 (Glenrothes-Leven road)
Tel. 0 1592 750 119
British Golf Museum
St. Andrews, on the A915/917 opposite the clubhouse of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club
Tel. 0 1334 478 880
Culross town, on the Firth of Forth, off the A985
Tel. 0 1383 880 359 (Culross Palace)
For photos and more details see our article Culross
Culross Palace and Town House
Culross, off the A985, 7 miles (11.3km) west of Dunfermline
Tel. 0 1383 880 359
For photos and more information see our article Culross
Dunfermline Abbey and Palace
St. Margaret St, Dunfermline
On the A994, off the M90
Tel. 0 1383 739 026
Web: Dunfermline Abbey
Dunfermline District Museum
Falkland Palace and Gardens
Falkland, on the A912, 10 miles (16km) from M90 junction 8
11 miles (17.7km) north of Kirkcaldy
Tel. 0 1337 857 397
Hill of Tarvit Mansion House and Garden
2.5 miles (4km) south of Cupar
Tel. 0 1334 653 127
Inchcolm Abbey and Island
Inchcolm Island, Firth of Forth
Reached by ferry from South Queensferry off A90, just west of Edinburgh
Tel. 0 1383 823 332; for ferry information phone 0 131 331 5000
Three miles (5km) northwest of Pittenweem
Ten miles (16km) south of St. Andrews on the B9171
Tel. 0 1333 720 271
Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery
Kirkcaldy, on the A921/A915/A955 off the A92
Tel. 0 1592 412 860
South of A994 in Pittencrief Park
Tel. 0 1383 313 838
Scotland’s Secret Bunker
Crown Buildings, Troywood (near St Andrews)
Tel. 0 1333 310 301
St Andrew’s Castle
St Andrews, on the A91/915
Tel. 0 1334 477 196
St Andrews Cathedral and St Rule’s Tower
St Andrews, on the A91
Tel. 0 1334 472 563
St Bridget’s Kirk
Dalgety, off A921 on the shores of the Firth of Forth
Two miles (3km) southwest of Aberdour
St Mary’s Church, Kirkheugh
St Andrews, on the A91
Situated at the edge of the cliff behind St Andrew's cathedral
Photos by Barbara Ballard and
Hill of Tarvit and Kellie Castle nursery courtesy of National Trust for Scotland
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