THE BEST COASTAL VILLAGES & TOWNS IN FIFE, SCOTLAND
Fife or the ‘Kingdom of Fife’ is located in the East of Scotland with many of its pretty fishing coastal villages contained within what is known as the “East Neuk of Fife’.
The whole region of Fife is contained within 1,325 square metres and is famed for its colourful fishing villages, long stretches of beaches and coastline and of course, the world-renowned home of golf, St. Andrews.
The region has a rich culture and heritage, an array of outdoor activities, leisure pursuits, food and drink and some fantastic accommodation options from luxury hotels to pretty cottages and remote cabins.
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How to Get to Fife
Fife is easy to get to from the rest of Scotland as Edinburgh lies just to the south, Dundee and Perth to the north and Glasgow to the west.
- Car: Fife is Connected to the rest of Scotland by A-roads and the M90. The A92 runs through Fife from east to west connecting the Tay Bridge, Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline. St Andrews can be reached by the A91, which runs through Cupar and Auchtermuchty and the A915, which travels south to Leven and joins the A92 at Kirkcaldy. The M90 runs south from Perth, through Fife for access to Edinburgh via the Queensferry Crossing. From here the motorway network opens up to join Stirling to the north, Glasgow and beyond to the west, and England to the south. If you’re travelling by plane or rail and would like to hire a car, Europcar is a great option.
- .Bus: There are stations in Kirkcaldy, Glenrothes, Dunfermline, St Andrews and Cupar, There are also connections to many locations from the park and ride sites at Halbeath and Ferrytoll, including a regular service to Edinburgh Airport.. Stagecoach provide most of the bus services in Fife. Long distance services are mainly provided by Scottish Citylink
- Plane: There is a choice for airports at Edinburgh to the south, Glasgow to the west or Dundee to the north. Edinburgh Airport is less than 30 minutes away with connections by road, rail and public transport. Dundee Airport is even closer and also has excellent road and rail links into Fife. Glasgow airport is about an hours drive away. It has around 30 airlines serving over 100 destinations around the world.
- Rail: There are 19 stations in Fife, managed by ScotRail, There are railway lines from Edinburgh travelling north to Dundee and Aberdeen or Perth and Inverness, with the ScotRail line looping to connect towns in Fife. More than ten towns in Fife are just minutes from each other on the Fife Circle Line. The East Coast and CrossCountry lines link Fife with Aberdeen, Perth and Inverness to the north, Edinburgh (from there to Glasgow and the west) and London to the south. From Edinburgh, passengers can also join the First TransPennnine Express and Virgin Train routes.
Be-lavie Tip: Ask for a Plus Bus ticket to carry on your journey on the ground with public transport when you leave the train.
How to Get Around Fife
The most flexible was is by car which allows you to travel at your own pace and reach remoter places, slightly off the beaten path.
There is of course a local bus service, provided by Stagecoach which is serviced to run in most parts of Fife.
When to visit Fife
To avoid the crowd, Autumn is a great time to visit Fife as the positioning of the region makes for a unique micro-climate providing much warmer weather and light winds and can be unlike the rest of Scotland.
Also it’s important to note, Scotland’s weather can vary a lot so best to be prepared and dressed for all eventualities.
Spring and summer are great times to visit as the weather is much warmer but it is also the peak season and therefore accommodation prices will be a lot higher and availability for hotels and restaurants can be harder to obtain.
Winter is probably not the best time to visit this area due to it’s coastal location if you plan to be outside a lot. Many points of interest can be closed in the fishing villages however if you fancy a cosy coastal retreat with roaring fires and some R & R, there are some great luxury hotels in the area.
How Long to Plan your Fife Visit
To get a good idea of the area, 3-7 days is a good length of time, depending on what you’d like to do and see. A long weekend is also idea, arriving on Friday and leaving on Monday.
The Coastal Towns & Villages of Fife
East Neuk of Fife Map
Refer to Legend for each of the towns and colour coding.
The home of Scotlands’ oldest university, university ranking in the UK’s top 10, the romantic scene for the fairytale romance for prince William and Kate, St Andrews is a bucket list historic seaside destination.
St Andrews is deemed the home of golf in Scotland and many truly legendary players have played and won championships here.
The Open Championship is regularly played on the iconic Old Course and a visit to the British Golf Museum shares over 500 years of golfing history.
If you’re not here for the golf, worry not, there is plenty to still do. The cathedral originates from the 12th century and was actually the largest building in Scotland for seven centuries. The Castle and cathedral ruins are quite remarkable but particularly the Castle’s underground mine passes the battle dungeon are still intact and you can visit these.
A long stroll along the West Sands beach is a must, featured in the 1980’s film, Chariots of Fire, it is a long sweeping stretch of sand along the coastline and adjacent to the Old Course.
The Botanical gardens are also a bit of a hidden gem and a lovely oasis of calm. In contrast head to the town for some lovely independent, family run businesses and a great selection of cafes, restaurants and bars for fuel stops and special meals out.
Oh and when it comes to hotels, St Andrews has an impressive collection of luxury hotels as well as hostels and family friendly accommodation.
Things to do
- The Royal and Ancient Clubhouse: An iconic place which any golfers will recognise and is the epicentre of the Old Course
- St Andrews West Sands: A stunning beach which is close to the Centre of St Andrews and great for dog walking or strolling the coastline.
- The R & A World Golf Museum: One of the world’s best centres for the history of golf, set amongst the courses of St Andrews. Six exciting and interactive zones take you from St Andrews and around the world, exploring golf from its origins in Scotland’s east coast to the global game it is today. Find out More
- St Andrews Heritage Museum & Garden: Housed in a Victorian mansion nestled in the grounds of Kinburn Park this museum has a children’s play area and labyrinth path. The programme of what’s on is a mix of temporary exhibitions, talks, children’s workshops and activities.
- St Andrews Cathedral: A fine example of Scotland’s largest medieval church.
- Fairmont St Andrews Torrence: Golf courses in Scotland are among the best in the world and Fairmont St Andrews, situated in the “Home of Golf”, is proud to be recognised as one of the top golf resorts – voted 18th in “The World’s Top Golf Resorts” by Conde Nast Traveler reader’s poll.
- Bell Pettigrew Museum The only museum in Fife dedicated to Zoology. Located at St Andrews University. Find Out More
- St Andrews Castle: The Castle was a bishop’s palace, a fortress and a state prison during its 450-year history. A must visit when in town!
- Eden Mill Distillery & Brewery: Reviving the lost art of distilling and brewing in St Andrews. Fine Out More
- St Andrews Botanical Gardens: Located a short walk from the centre of town, discover this oasis of calm and tranquillity . Find Out More
- St Andrews Harbour; Have a walk along this small fishing harbour which is also home to pleasure boats for day trips. Find out More
Where to Eat & Drink
The Dolls House:Dining Spotlight
The Dolls House: Trading for over 25 years, The Dolls House serves, hearty, good quality, delicious food from weekend brunches, weekday lunches, dinner and afternoon tea and of course all day hot, cold and alcoholic beverages. If you join them for a Sunday roast, the Dolls House will donate 50p to a local charity – Families First.
The vegetarian mushroom and halloumi burger is delicious as are the homemade soups and desserts.
- 3, Church Square, St Andrews KY16 9NN. Tel. 01334 477422, Website
The Peat Inn:Formal Dining Spotlight
The Peat Inn: A 15-minute drive south-east from St Andrews is The Peat Inn, a Michelin Star restaurant with rooms. Staying the night is a great option to take advantage of the taster menu with wine flights. Chef Geoffrey Smeddle cooks up a great combination of local ingredients in a modern yet classic base.
The Atmosphere is stylish yet relaxed. You enter through the bar/lounge with a log fire dating back some centuries housed in these white-washed properties which has been used as a coaching inn and place to eat since the 1700s.
The service is impeccable from the minute you enter right up until you leave, with a pristine level of attention. Booking in advance is a must here and children over seven can join The Peat Inn for evening dining service.
Perfect reason to visit: A special occasion or treat yourself and someone special. The Peat Inn are super attentive and can add some great finishing touches to make your evening memorable.
Be-lavie Tip: Dietary requirements should be called ahead especially if you’re planning to have the taster menu. Additionally, if your visit coincides with a golfing tournament book even further in advance as rooms are snapped up pretty fast!
- Peat Inn, Near St. Andrews. Fife, KY15 5LH. Tel. 01334 840206. Website
- Jannettas Gelateria: The best place in St Andrews for Gelato, Bennett Jannetta left Italy in 1908, generations of the family have been making delicious gelato in St, Andrews ever since.. Find out More
- We Are Zest Cafe: An independent café in St Andrews which has a very continental feel. Zest is known for its energy boosting smoothies and great coffee Find out More.
- Forgans: is a bit of a St Andrews institution. Serving the best in local and Scottish cuisine it is well known for its ceilidhs as well as great brunches on weekends, lunchtime and dinner time options. They also have an impressive Gin collection too! Find out More
Whilst in the Area…
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Crail boasts one of the most photographed harbours in the UK and it’s easy to see why, it’s brimming with charm.
A lane of cobbled stoned streets guides you down to the harbour where the Lobster Hut awaits. You can enjoy some local catch here during the spring/summer/late autumn tourist season.
If possible plan a trip around June as this is when Crail hosts the Food Festival.
The stretch of Fife Coastal Path is great if you love walking and keen golfers can take advantage of the two golf links courses at the Crail Golfing Society. The Tollbooth is a must if you love history and features a tower dating back to 1600.
Things to do
- Crail Museum & Heritage Centre: learn of the story of the Crail Capon and the past life of this fishing village at this museum Find Out More
- Crail Roome Bay: Lying around a 10 minute walk from the centre of Crail, this is a pretty fishing village on the Fife coast which won the 2015 Seaside Award.
- Crail Harbour: It’s no wonder this harbour is one of the UK’s most photographed harbours – have a wonder down to discover its charm and views out to sea.
- Crail Pottery: Set around a beautiful courtyard in the historic centre, this pottery makes a huge range of stoneware, terracotta planters, raku and brightly hand painted earthenware. Watch the skilled potters working away in the buildings attached to their courtyard as you chose what to purchase. Find out More
- Crail Golfing Society: Balcomie Links & Craighead Golf Course.
- A combination of stunning coastal views, centuries of history and hugely enjoyable golf makes Balcomie Links one of Scotlands golfing gems with spectacular views from every hole! Find out More
Where to Eat
- The Lobster Hut: A take out hut, established in 1974, on Crail Harbour, where the freshest North Sea crab and lobster are cooked while you wait.
- Crail Harbour Gallery & Tearoom: Freshly ground coffees & speciality tea, cakes, scones, panini lunch, salmon, herring, dressed crab salad. The soups and cakes are delicious and perfect for that great wet day pick-me-up or tea time treat. Sit amongst the art work, gifts and artefacts that are created by local artists and can be bought from the tearooms as a memory of your visit. Find out More
- Nosebug Scotland serves up hearty, nutritious traditional Scottish fare using locally sourced ingredients. They serve via take-away in pop up locations around the East Neuk of Fife so if you’re staying in Crail, or the local area, you’ll see one of their locations via their website..
There’s no doubt Anstruther is a seaside village, made popular by its award-winning fish and chips. The village has been a main port of fishing for a long time however there seems to be more pleasure boats around than fishing boats these days all lined up at the pretty harbour front.
Ansthruther is best experienced by taking leisurely strolls along the cobbled stoned streets and taking in the local scenes as well as the buildings and charm an old fishing village has to offer.
If visiting during the summer months, take a boat trip to the Isle of May to spot the Puffin colonies.
Things to Do
- ·Anstruther Harbour: caters for leisure and small fishing vessels. There is approx. 400 metres of pier side berthing and 100 serviced pontoon berths for leisure craft.
- Scottish Fisheries Museum: Located on the harbour and housed in some historic buildings, the museum is a great place to learn about Scotland’s fishing heritage. Find out More
- Anstruther Golf Club: Founded in 1890 and extended to a nine hole golf course, this is said to be a fine place amongst local and visiting golfing enthusiasts. Find out More
- Isle of May National Nature Reserve: situated on the eat coast of Scotland. The island is known for its rich bird life, namely puffins as well as seals and reef.. Find Out More
- Isle of May Boat Trips: A great way to see the Isle of May and its flora and fauna is by taking a boat trip with osprey, a big ten metre Humber Rib which can hold up to 12 passengers. Osprey can take you on a 2-3 hour trip around the island or a shorter voyage around the island to see the puffins, seals, sea cliffs and coastal views from the boat. Find out More
- Anstruther Lifeboat Station: is open to the public daily for most of the year and visits can be arranged. Find out More
- Dreel Meadow: A small site, but a nice burn side stroll and/or wildlife spotting site. Dreel Meadow is principally a wet grassland habitat bordering Dreel Burn.
- Anstruther Billowness Beach: The ideal destination for nature enthusiasts, walkers or those who just want to relax.
- East Neuk Beach Crafts: Coastal beach art: Up cycled and reimagined from antique beach finds
Where to eat & drink
- The Wee Chippy: Voted No.1 in the Fife 2020, The Wee Chippy is the place to try. It’s open daily from 11:30am and take-outs as well as dining in their restaurant is an option. Find out More
- Anstruther Fish Bar: A much talked about, award- winning fish and chips and fresh local seafood spot. This place is famous in Scotland for its delicious Fish & Chips! A must for anyone who is a fan of the seaside combo! Find Out More
- G H Bennett: This family run bakery has outlets in numerous locations in the East Neuk of Fife offering a variety of artisanal breads, traditional pies, sausage rolls, oatcakes, scones and cakes using locally sourced ingredients.
- The Cellar: has been a leading restaurant in Anstruther for many years and has a Michelin Star under chef Billy Boyter. The tasting menu draws inspiration from seasonal Scottish ingredients and produce found locally and foraged from the coastline and surrounding countryside. Find out More
- Coast Coffee: A small family run coffee house serving freshly grounded coffee and delicious panini, toasted sandwiches. Find out More
Located on the Fife Coastal path, St Monans attracts visitors for its pretty fishermen’s houses, harbour and the ruins of Newarke Castle.
Be sure to climb the hill up to St. Monas church for some great vistas over the Forth, spotting the three piers, extending out from St Monans. A little further climb leads you to St Monans Windmill where you can find out about salt production, which was once based here. The Bowhouse food market is a must when you’re in the area and takes place just outside of the village every month and showcases the very best of local food and drink along with the music and crafts.
Things to Do
- St Monans Harbour: Well you can’t go to a fishing village without having a walk along the harbour front can you?!
- Newark Castle: The ruins are located west of St Monans and can be seen from Elie and St Monans. The castle is on a beautiful cliff-top location overlooking the North sea. This church was built between 1362 and 1370 as a chapel which was endowed by David II. It is situated in a clifftop graveyard overlooking the sea, and has the distinction of being the closest church to the sea in Scotland. There are many original surviving features as well as the church being popular as a movie location!
- St Monans Welly Boot Garden: A local teacher, Win Brown and amateur gardener put her grandchildren’s outgrown wellington boots into good use in this space. The idea became so popular that there are around 200 pairs which decorate the slip rails every summer. This garden has helped St. Monans win awards such as the ‘Beautiful Fife’ competition.
- St Monans Windmill: 0.57 miles from St Monans and within walking distance along the Fife Coastal Path sits St Monans Windmill, dating back to the late eighteenth century, near the salt plains.
Where to East & Drink
- Futtle an organic, coastal farmhouse brewery and tap room, Futtle has a curated selection of natural wines, not so well-known whiskies and organic beers which can be enjoyed indoors or to take out. The Futtle also is home to Triassic Tusk, a record shop and regularly hosts gigs and art events..
- East Pier Smokehouse: This is where you’ll experience the best of local food with amazing views out to sea if you sit out on the deck. Find out More
Whilst in the Area…
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A pretty lively and bustling town for a fishing port, there is a fish market here every single morning. There are many shops to go and pick up local food, drinks and crafts but also a good ration of pubs and restaurants to.
Pittenweem is popular with the folk due to its lively, village atmosphere, charm and its houses, that feature Dutch-style crow-stepped gables.
The Pittenweem Arts Festival is world renown as well as popular within Scotland itself, full of exhibitions, workshops and performances.
Things to do
- St Fillan’s Cave: A must do activity when in Pittenween located on Cove Wynd.
- Weem Witch Tours: If you haven’t heard of the Pittenweem witches, this is the tour for you…
- Pittenweem Fishermen’s Memorial: Located between the old Harbour and Old Westhaven harbour stands tall the memorial dedicated to the men and women whose livelihood was learnt on the sea and to those who sadly lost their lives out at sea.
- Funky Scottish If you love your arts and crafts, this café , gallery and boutique is just the place for you.
- West Braes Crazy Golf: The local community came together to convert the old crazy golf course into a resource for both locals and tourists alike. Local individuals, groups and businesses sponsor Crazy Golf Holes and Putting Pins to help cover the cost of keeping the crazy golf and putting going, with the money made from people hiring clubs and balls, and buying refreshments from the hut going straight back into running the project. This is a community project which can be enjoyed by the tourists and the locals alike..
- Kellie Castle and Gardens: Dating from as early as the 14th century, this is one of Fife’s hidden gems. The stunning grounds and garden are well worth the visit. Find Out More
- East Neuk Glass: Check out Keny Drew, local talented artist workshop and studio where you can see some beautiful stained glass all hand made. Find Out More.
Where to Eat & Drink
- Nicholsons Sweet & Ice-Cream Shop: When in Pittenweem, a stop off here is well worth it to call in to chose from a wide selection of ice-cream, fudge, rock, chocolate as well as hot and cold drinks. Oh and don’t forget your souvenir shopping! Find Out More
- The Dory Bistro & Gallery: A wonderful seafood restaurant that serves the best in Fife and Perthshire produce. This lovely little bistro not only serves great food but also hosts exhibitions and sells local artwork. It’s a really lovely combination of food and art and serves lunch and dinner daily. Find Out More
- West End Bar: If you love a nice pub, this is Pittenweems cosy local pub serving the usual tasty pub grub and fine alcoholic beverages. Find Out More
- The Pittenweem Chocolate Company: Chocolates sourced from Scotland, Belgium and around the world, including single origin, and hand selected from plantations, this place is super passionate about showcasing fair trade, responsibly grown and unusual flavours. They even have single malt liquor flavours! Find Out More
- The Clock Tower Café: A laid back café vibe with all the focus on the food ranging from Scottish breakfasts, hot/cold filled rolls, roasties, panini, burgers, home baked good and lots more!
Elie is truly the most beautiful place on the East Neuk of Fife. It boasts an award winning sandy beach and is the perfect place to bathe and take in the rays or even try out a spot of water-sports available for all abilities.
The peaceful nook of ruby bay, the lady’s tower and Elie lighthouse make a lovely coastal walk and offer plenty of Insta-worthy spots!
Elie has a number of great places to eat also as well as cute delis where you can grab picnic items and stock up on local fresh produce too. For keen golfers, enjoy a round of golf at The Golf House Club, a stunning 18 hole course with a twist! Involves HMS Excalibur!!!
Things to do
- Fife Coastal Path – Buckhaven to Elie. This 13 mile coastal path, takes in quaint villages, historic monuments, wildlife and modern industrial towns. Leave around 4.5 hours for this walk. The map shows a walking route.
- Lady Janet’s Tower: The tower on the eastern headland of Ruby Bay was built in 1770 for Lady Janet Anstruther, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy Elie merchant and a regular swimmer in the waters around Elie Ness. Go visit and find out the full local story.
- Elie Ruby Beach: The most idyllic of settings – this beach has won awards and definitely worth a visit, or pop to one of the local delis and have a romantic picnic!
- Elie Ness Lighthouse Standing at the tip of Elie Ness, Elie Ness Lighthouse has been guiding vessels through the treacherous waters around the Forth of Firth for almost 120 years and is now a very popular subject for photographers. Built in response to pleas from mariners who were unable to see the warning flashes from the lighthouses on the Isle of May and Inchkeith during stormy weather, a beam of white light has been shining from the top of Elie Ness Lighthouse every six seconds since 1908.
- Elie Harbour: At low tide the beach at Elie Harbour links to Earlsferry giving almost a mile of uninterrupted golden sand. It’s an absolutely stunning site of gold and sea.
- Elie Harbour Beach Small, sheltered beach to the west of the old Harbour, great for watching the world go by!
Where to Eat
- The Ship Inn. A wonderful location, overlooking the beach with outdoor private seating as well as indoor. The Ship Inn is a great place to enjoy some great quality food and drinks. You can even stay as they have a small selection of rooms with beautiful views out to sea. Find out More
- Elie Deli: Independent delicatessen owned and managed by David & Kay McCulloch, who are passionate about great food experiences and how they are created. Check out their Facebook Page for more information.
- Holiday Essentials: A company that deliver welcome packs with all the essentials full of goodies to tide you over, until you get to the shops. Start your holiday in style at your rental or holiday cottage.
- Ardross Farm Shop: This shop stocks everything you’ll need to cook up a fine local meal. Great if you’re staying in self-catering accommodation. Find Out more
- Carol’s Shop: Hailed as the best ice-cream shop in the whole of Elie! A shop not to be missed for an ice-cream cone, and check out their sweet collection.
- Kincraig View Restaurant: More of a formal restaurant choice in Elie and great for occasions as well as casual meals out. Great local food and drinks are the treat all being sourced from the surroundings Find Out More
Where to Stay Along the Fife Coast
When it comes to accommodation, many of the smaller coastal villages and towns can be visited in a day, so you can choose to base yourself anywhere in the East Neuk of Fife’s coastal path. St . Andrews may be a place where you need to explore further, therefore check out some of the beautiful luxury hotel options as many of them come with fine sea views as well as golf course vistas.
Crail and Elie are a great place to stay in rentals or cottage style accommodation and offer a quieter perspective if you prefer a taste of village life and a slower pace of life.
Rusacks Hotel, St AndrewsLUXURY HOTEL SPOTLIGHT
Rusack’s Hotel is one of the most iconic hotels in St Andrews with views out to the World’s most famous Links course and west sands you would not be disappointed in this location.
The hotel first opened in 1887 and oozes posh décor in rich colours, velvet finishing’s and trims and dark wood displaying the old-world history of this place and its links to golf. Luckily you don’t have to be into golf to stay here as there are other activities in St. Andrews and the surroundings to keep you occupied.
The food and drinks are of a high standard and the rooftop bar and restaurant are superb with the best view of the golf course.
If you’re looking for a special, classic experience, Rusacks is the place for you.
- Rusacks Hotel . Pilmour Links, St Andrews KY16 9JQ. Tel; 0344 879 9136. Website
The Ship Inn, ElieCOASTAL Hotel spotlight
The beautiful village of Elie is gathered around a curve of golden sand with a harbour that was established in the 16th century.
Just across the harbour lies The Ship Inn. A beautiful coastal restaurant with six rooms, of which four benefit from a stunning sea view. Here you wake up to the view of pure golden sand swept right cross your horizon with the shimmering of the sea in the background.
The rooms are beautifully appointed with all the amenities you’d ever need for such a tranquil relaxing stay. Breakfast is included in room rates and feel free to have all other meals and drinks in the Ship Inns restaurant where everything is sourced locally and cooked to perfection.
Be-lavie Tip: Book the Captains Room on the second floor as featured here and prepare to be met with an incredible sight when you pull back those curtains in the morning!
A home away from a home but with the most majestic views, attentive but casual and accommodating service.
Car parking can be a little tricky here so its first come first serve on the road but be prepared for a short trek in high season!
- The Toft, Elie, Leven KY9 1DT. Tel: 01333 330246. Website
The Cow Pad Daisy Shed, CrailCasual ACCOMMODATION SPOtLIGHT
For a more remote and cosy experience, opt for the Cow Pad Daisy Huts located behind The cow Shed barn events venue in Crail.
It’s peaceful, disconnected and with everything you need.
There are two sheds behind the barn equipped with bed, bathroom with shower, a fridge and drinks making area and some outdoor space. Great for a night or two, sit under the stars and take in nature.
- Approximate Location: Sypsies Farmhouse. Crail. KY10 3XA. Find Details on Air B&B
Fife Coastal Villages & Towns Round-Up
The Kingdom of Fife is lined with some of the most beautiful fishing villages, cottage industries, restaurants, local experiences, and heritage sites in the UK. It is a destination waiting to be explored much deeper than the famous golfing city of St. Andrews and makes for a perfect shoulder season destination. There are many more small villages waiting to be discovered in Fife so if time is on your side, and rest and relaxation is a priority , why not unplug and visit Fife?!