The Best Places to Visit in Fife
Discover ancient castles, hidden bunkers and the world's best fish and chips in Fife.
If you ask us, most visitors to Scotland make the same grievous mistake, and that’s not venturing any further than the capital. Sure, Edinburgh is utterly beautiful, but there’s more to explore. You don’t even have to go further than an hour or so from the capital to find a different side to Scotland. That’s why we at Plum Guide have put together this list of the top places to visit in Fife; so go on, what are you waiting for?
For culture by the coast, visit St Andrews
Yes, we know Will and Kate met here, but you don’t have to be a monarch to enjoy a mooch around this historic university town. There is an impressive castle on the coastline, though it’s hardly in fit condition to host a princess -- parts of the ruins date back to the 13th century, which make it just that little bit older than this equally palatial (but far less draughty) Plum home near Fife. Royal residences aside, St Andrews is home to Scotland’s oldest university, with a corresponding museum which contains treasures like dodo bones, a sixteenth century astrolabe, and silver drinking goblets and ceremonial outfits used through the university’s history. If the weather’s nice (and that’s not as big an ask as you may think – Fife is widely recognised as one of the sunniest and driest parts of the UK), book a tee time at the Old Course, where the game of golf was first played over 600 years ago. Of course, you can also just stick to tea time – there’s lots of lovely cafes in St Andrews. We like Mitchell’s Deli for industrial chic interiors and excellent cake but if you’re craving something a little unusual, an Irn-Bru sorbet from Janetta’s is sure to go down a treat. (Don’t worry, other flavours are available).
For a seaside getaway, take a trip to the East Neuk of Fife
We do like to be beside the seaside, especially when the shore is bordered by villages as lovely as those found in the East Neuk. Our top choices are the twin villages of Elie and Earlsferry; just over an hour’s drive from the capital, they’re the perfect day trip for families staying in Edinburgh who want to be sure to get back before bedtime. These pastel cottages and pretty ports were loved by Victorian holidaymakers, and we’re sure they’ll become one of your favourite places to visit in Fife as well. Earlsferry is the oldest of the two – it’s said to be the place where the earl of Fife, MacDuff, fled from the fearsome Macbeth in 1094. (Yes, Macbeth really was once a Scottish king, though we think old Will might have embellished the story just a tad when it comes to the witches). Legend says that he was smuggled out by local fishermen loyal to his ancient clan; whether there’s truth to the tale or not, the villages are a scenic place to while away an afternoon. Take a swim in one of the Blue Flag beaches, and enjoy some traditional fish and chips from the Ship’s Inn pub along the shore.
To see some of Scotland’s native wildlife, head to the Isle of May
One of the best things to do in Scotland is get outdoors. Scotland’s natural landscape, filled with vast lochs and mysterious mountains, means it’s often seen as a bit of retreat from modern life but this is one of the few places to visit in Fife if you want to properly get off the grid. The Isle of May can be reached by small ferry or by a rather bumpier but speedier ride on an inflatable boat known as a RIB, depending on how adventurous you’re feeling. However you get there, once you’re there that’s it – a small visitor centre is the only building on the island, so dress warmly to explore this atmospheric little nature reserve. You’ll spot a variety of flora and fauna including eider ducks and grey seals, but the real draw here is the colony of cheerful, brightly coloured puffins that nest on the cliffs. Pack a pair of binoculars and a picnic and prepare for a day in the (semi) wild. Dress warmly, as the island gets chilly even in the summer; luckily you can head straight back to your Plum home and warm up in the hot tub.
For a bit of Cold War-era intrigue, visit Crail’s secret bunker
Any Bond obsessives in the family? One of Scotland’s quirkier attractions, and one of the most unusual places to visit in Fife, is the secret bunker hidden beneath an unassuming farmhouse in Crail. Designed to withstand nuclear war with the USSR, it was built in such secrecy that even the village residents had no idea it was there, just below the surface. Thankfully never needed and today acts as a time-capsule style museum of the era. Head 100 feet below the earth to explore hallways reinforced with 15 feet of concrete, RAF control centres, and nuclear operations room. It’s an impressive structure to be sure, but we’ve seen the state of the dormitories and we won’t be listing this home on Plum any time soon.
Our Plum home critics may not have found anywhere quite as secretive as Crail’s bunker, but they are the experts when it comes to luxury accommodation wherever you go. If you’re staying in Edinburgh, why not make yourself at home in this gorgeous Georgian apartment in the New Town, or seek out some Scandi-inspired style in the centre of the city?