Fife is a coastal region which hugs the borders of Dundee, Perth, Stirling, and Edinburgh. Known as The Kingdom of Fife, it encompasses several different areas and has so much going on, from the more industrial southern end to its northern rural countryside.
The coastal delights of St Andrews, Crail and Anstruther may be familiar to you as they are popular destinations for visitors to the area, but there is also a wealth of other locations which make up a whole host of places to discover during your Fife holidays.
To the north or the region, you will find a beautiful rural landscape with rolling hills and pretty scenery. Over to the north-east corner of the district, you will come across a beautiful coastline with rocky cliffs and sandy bays, encompassing the famous town of St Andrews.
Central Fife has a network of market towns and villages set amidst fields and hills where you can visit and admire the colourful communities. The southern end of Fife is a bit more industrial, where you will find Dunfermline, a former capital of Scotland, and Kirkcaldy, Fife’s largest settlement. From here, you get amazing views of the world-famous Forth Road and Rail Bridges which are iconic.
Keep our holiday accommodation in Fife in mind for your next visit. The Kingdom of Fife is the ancestral home of the Scottish monarchs and has a fascinating history which has been kept alive throughout time and honoured in its wealth of castles, cathedrals, and places of historic interest. Read on to find out more…
The towns and villages of Fife
There are lots of lovely towns and villages, and places to visit in Fife. Here are some of the highlights…
The birthplace of Prince Williams’ relationship with Kate Middleton, St Andrews was put on the map as not only a beautiful historic market town, but a place of interest for the Royal fans who wanted to see where it all began. It is a unique and captivating place, with the university where they met being a key part of its charm! It is the oldest university in Scotland, founded in 1412, and has a thorn tree in its grounds that Mary Queen of Scots planted. You won’t be short of things to do in St Andrews; from family-friendly spots to large sandy beaches, there is something for everyone.
Here are some highlights:
- St Andrews Cathedral – A ruin of the largest church in Scotland. You can explore the remains, climb St Rule’s Tower and take in ocean views, and admire a collection of medieval relics.
- The St Andrews Spy Mission Treasure Trail – This is the perfect way to explore the town, especially if you have children. You can follow the self-guided trail whilst solving clues and codes. It takes in all the historical signs and statues.
- St Andrews ghost tours – Learn about the town's extraordinary history with a spooky ghost tour and go back in time with eerie tales of the past and the people that used to walk the streets. Warm up after in one of the town’s many fine restaurants.
- Explore a world of golf – The Old Course at St Andrews is one of the most famous golf courses in the world. You can do a guided walk of the 1st, 17th and 18th holes where you can walk in the footsteps of golfing legends!
Crail is an historic fishing village set in the East Neuk of Fife and is a charming place to stay during a holiday in Scotland. It has a pretty harbour which you can get to via quirky cobbled streets, and the cliffs that shelter it offer a dramatic backdrop for ice creams, picnics, and photos! The Fife Coastal Path, one of the best walks in Fife, passes through Crail offering up options for exploring the surrounding area by foot, and there are museums, galleries and local tea rooms to discover too!
Here are some highlights:
- Crail Museum and Heritage Centre – A great place for gaining an insight into the past life of this ancient Royal Burgh, its kirk, seafaring tradition, the golf and the airfield history from the First World War.
- Crail Pottery – Crail Pottery is set around a beautiful courtyard in the heart of historic Crail. It produces a diverse range of stoneware, terracotta planters and hand painted earthenware.
- Scotland’s Secret Bunker – This is a secret underground nuclear command centre which is 100ft down into the ground, built by the RAF in 1953! A must see if in the area.
Cupar is a unique medieval town which was once a bustling market centre. Whilst it has changed over the centuries, it still retains a lot of its original character. Here you will find a number of historic buildings like the Old Parish Church, the Corn Exchange, Chancellor’s House and Preston Lodge. The network of pretty countryside roads is great for getting out on the bike and stopping off for coffee and cake in nearby villages like Bridgend and Ladybank.
Here are some highlights:
- Clare O’Neill Textiles – If you like sourcing handmade products from the places you visit then pop by this design studio and workshop and pick yourself us a handmade tweed bag. Created with heritage fabrics, these make for the perfect Scottish souvenir.
- Elmwood Golf – A stunning 18-hole parkland golf course with full coaching facilities, and suitable for all standards of golfers.
- Barbarafield Riding School – Open all year round, this riding school is set in over 300 acres of open farmland which you can come and enjoy and explore on horseback. Whether you want to try some lessons or go out for a hack, this school will accommodate you.
This is just a tiny sample of the towns and villages to explore, which is easy to do if you have a car, but the train transport is also good in this part of Scotland. Edinburgh is only an hour away by train and you are also well linked to Perthshire and Stirling too.
For some more inspiration check out these helpful guides:
Attractions and things to do in Fife
It is good to have a bank of ideas when it comes to things to do in any area you plan to visit on holiday. Fife has a great variety of attractions and places of interest for you to fit in whilst staying here. Here are some places to visit to put on the list which all make for great days out in Fife.
If you are looking for something different to do, and a fun experience for the kids, hop aboard the LocalMotion land train and take a guided tour around St Andrews and see the sights from the comfort of a characterful train. The tour takes about 40 minutes and your guide will tell you all about the local history as you chug along. You can take the full circuit in one go, or you can hop on and off at designated spots to explore different parts of the town at your own pace – just remember to keep your ticket safe!
Location: West Broughty Ferry, Dundee, DD5 1NB
Not all zoos have to be big to be impressive, and this little zoo in Fife proves that. Located near Cupar, this little zoo is home to over 45 animals from more than 15 different species and this is a fantastic place to experience some incredible wildlife. Here you can share a fun day with the kids looking at African, Asian, and South American creatures, and with ongoing developments you can even look forward to the new lemur walkthrough. Refresh and refuel in the fun Africafe where you can grab light snacks, coffee, and home baking!
Location: Cupar, Fife, KY15 7UT
"Packed full of treasures and wonders, the Bell Pettigrew is a spectacular reminder of how important a museum can be in the study of the natural sciences." – Sir David Attenborough. This is worth a visit if you need to fill a couple of hours in an afternoon, and an educational option for the children if their brains need to be used! The museum was founded in 1912 and the historic Edwardian museum is packed full of everything from skeletons and fossils to insects and scientific instruments.
Location: University of St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9TS
This is a beautiful botanic garden founded by the University of Saint Andrews and is one that contains around 8000 species of ferns, herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees. You can come here and simply spend time walking around the plants, but there are also a variety of workshops and talks throughout the year for you to find out more about nature.
Location: Fife House Glenrothes, Fife, KY7 5LT
Places to eat and drink in Fife
Fife has an abundance of great places to eat and drink during your stay. From takeaways to fine dining, there are endless options and places to eat in Fife, meaning you don’t have to worry about cooking, and let’s not forget the great array of pubs too! Many of the establishments in Fife source their ingredients locally and seafood features heavily on the menus here, being caught freshly from the sea. If you are visiting through the spring and summer months, you will be able to attend farmers' markets where you will be able to pick up home-grown fruit and veg, as well as cheese and meats from the local butchers.
Here are some unique food and drink products to try when you are staying in Fife.
- Mara Seaweed – This company has been hand-harvesting seaweed in Scotland since 2011. The idea of eating seaweed is perhaps strange, but seaweed flakes are a great way to add flavour to dishes and it has positive health benefits too!
- Pittenweem Chocolate Company – Pittenweem is a small coastal town in Fife and this great company, which handmakes chocolates, originated here. Selling gourmet chocolates in all sorts of flavours, they have customers queuing to get in, excited to purchase their sugary snacks.
- Minick Artisan Butchers – This is a popular family-run business with five different shops within Fife. If you are cooking at your cottage during your stay, this is where you want to buy your meat. Their meat is all locally sourced, and they will always be able to tell you where it has come from.
- St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese – This cheese shop in St Andrews has five different types of cheese ranging from a traditional cheddar to red Anster cheese. It is the only establishment in Fife making artisan cheese, using milk from their own herd of cows!
- St Andrews Brewing Company – Since 2012, the St. Andrews Brewing Company has been brewing with all local products, sharing their beers, and winning awards. Sample craft beers like Crail Ale, Fife Gold and Oatmeal Stout.
Best beaches to visit in Fife
If you are staying near the Fife coast, it is only natural you are going to want to know where the best beaches are; they are, after all, a wonderful place to unwind and relax, whatever the weather. The coast of Fife has a great array of beaches, the most popular one being St Andrews West Sands. But there are some others you should definitely check out whilst staying in this beautiful place. Here are some of the best beaches in Fife.
Kingsbarn Beach – You will find this beach 8 miles down the coast from St Andrews. It is backed by low grassy dunes which are home to a variety of insects and birds. At low tide, there is the chance to come across 335-million-year-old fossils too!
Kinghorn Harbour Beach – This beach lies on the north shore of the Firth of Forth and is home to a harbour that sits on one side of the sand and a lifeboat station that sits on the other. There is a café on the beach for refreshments and an ice cream on a sunny day.
Tentsmuir Sands – This is a dreamy sandy beach backed by grassy dunes and Tentsmuir Forest. The remains of various wartime defences can be found both on the beach and in the forest. These were built by Polish troops who were stationed here during the Second World War! This adds a bit of education to a day out!
Dogs love the beach and many beaches in Fife welcome the dogs to come and play; there will be signs letting you know if they are dog-friendly or not. Browse our collection of Scottish dog-friendly cottages to stay in and make it a beach holiday to remember.
Stay in a Fife holiday cottage
If we have inspired you to come and visit the Kingdom of Fife then make sure you check out our great collection of Fife cottages. Ranging from larger holiday homes suitable for families and luxury cottages, to cosy boltholes for romantic retreats, we have something to suit everyone in our collection.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.