The Kindom of Fife in southeast Scotland is surrounded by the stunning Firth of Forth to the south and the sparkling Firth of Tay to the north.
The region is well known as being a treasure trove of history and culture, yet many tourists choose to bypass it in favour of Edinburgh and the Highlands.
This is a real shame, as Fife can compete with any other part of Scotland when it comes to tourist attractions, and it also has the advantage of being far less crowded.
In this article, you’ll discover a collection of the best things to do in Fife for families including favourites like the historic town of St. Andrews and less-known coastal regions like Tentsmuir.
Everyone in your family is guaranteed to have a fantastic time in the Kingdom of Fife, whether they’re history buffs, nature lovers, or simply trying to unwind.
The Scottish Deer Centre
Out About Scotland Guide: The Scottish Deer Centre
|Address:||The Scottish Deer Centre,
Bow of Fife,
|Opening Hours:||Open every day except Christmas Day and New Years' day.
Park, Coffee Shop and Retail all open at 10 am.
Retail closes at 5 pm, Park and Coffee shop at 4:30 pm.
|Admission Price:||Adult: £12.50
Family 2+2: £38
Family 2+3: £45
Under 3’s Free
|Parking:||Free car park on-site|
|Facilities:||Cafe, shop, toilets, guided tours, disabled access, picnic area, play park|
Embark on an unforgettable adventure in the heart of the picturesque Fife countryside at the Scottish Deer Centre.
With 14 different types of deer from across the world as well as wolves, otters, wildcats, and a variety of birds of prey, this conservation park is a paradise for animal lovers.
The deer, however, are the main attraction.
Wheelchair-accessible paths allow you to get up close and personal with the animals which come running over if they smell food, so it’s a good idea to buy grass pellets from the on-site vending machine as feeding the deer is great fun.
Although it’s a family attraction, the Scottish Deer Centre’s primary purpose is to actively engage in breeding programmes to protect all kinds of deer, which makes a visit both an educational and an entertaining experience.
The educational activities are guaranteed to captivate visitors of all ages, entry is reasonably priced, and the animals are incredibly cute.
The Scottish Deer Centre is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Fife with toddlers and younger children.
St. Andrews Aquarium
Out About Scotland Guide: St. Andrews Aquarium
|Opening Hours:||7 days a week 10 am – 5pm, last admission 4 pm|
|Admission Price:||Adult £13
|Parking:||Paid car park at Bruce Embankment (postcode KY18 9AB)|
|Facilities:||Toilets, gift shop|
This aquarium, located in the ancient seaside town of St. Andrews, sits on the north-facing cliffs overlooking the bay of the same name and the world-famous St. Andrews golf course.
St. Andrews Aquarium is home to a diverse collection of creatures from across the globe, including lobsters, leaf-cutter ants, spiders, poison dart frogs, piranhas, seals, penguins, meerkats, and a wide variety of fish species.
While some creatures, such as meerkats, are cute and cuddly, others, such as pack-hunting piranhas and venomous lionfish, are less so, but they’re all equally enjoyable to see.
During a visit, you can watch fascinating leaf-cutter ants carrying their heavy cargoes of green leaves and see a diverse collection of British marine animals including smooth-hound sharks, bull huss sharks, and spotted rays.
The aquarium’s foundations are based on conservation and education, and the new shark and ray tank educates the public about the vulnerability of our ocean predators as well as the animals they feed on.
St Andrews Aquarium is an understandably popular attraction in Fife, and it’s one that will keep parents just as entertained as their children will be.
St. Andrews Cathedral
Out About Scotland Guide: St. Andrews Cathedral
|Opening Hours:||1 April to 30 September Daily 9.30 am to 5.30 pm (last entry 5 pm)
1 October to 31 March, Daily 10 am to 4 pm (last entry 3:30 pm)
Closed 25th, 26th December and 1st, 2nd January
|Admission Price:||Adult (16-64yrs) £6.00
Concession (65yrs+ and unemployed) £4.80
Child (5-15yrs) £3.60
Family (1 adult, 2 children) £9.50
Family (2 adults, 2 children) £14.00
Family (2 adults, 3 children) £16.00
|Parking:||No on-site parking. Car parks in St. Andrews.|
|Contact:||01334 472 563|
|Facilities:||Gift shop, water refill|
The mediaeval St. Andrews Cathedral, which overlooks the enormous crescent-shaped bay, is one of the most photogenic landmarks in the charming town of St. Andrews.
Once the spiritual and political heart of Catholicism in Scotland, the complex of ruined walls and gravestones is now most famous for its 33-meter landmark, St. Rules tower.
The cathedral is managed by Historic Environment Scotland which allows paying visitors to explore its many nooks and crannies and learn about its history in the on-site museum.
While at the site, walk through the enormous graveyard to imagine the grandeur of the cathedral in its prime, and don’t miss climbing to the top of the tower which presents incredible views of the town, sea, and surrounding countryside.
And for the adventurous, the huge graveyard offers a gateway to the scenic East Sands beach which has a superb coastal trail heading east to the village of Kingsbarns and the furthest corners of the East Neuk of Fife.
After seeing the cathedral, visitors can move on to the town centre which has several unique restaurants, shops, and the world-famous St. Andrews University, as well as the world’s oldest golf course.
Out About Scotland Guide: Culross
|Opening Hours:||Culross is open 24/7, 365 days a year.|
|Admission Price:||There is no charge to visit Culross village.
Culross Palace entry prices:
One adult family £18.00
|Parking:||There are two free car parks in Culross - Culross West (postcode KY12 8JG) and Culross East (postcode KY12 8HQ).|
|Facilities:||There are toilets at Bessies cafe near Culross Palace, gift shops, and the Red Lion pub.|
To truly appreciate the beauty and history of Fife, it’s recommended that visitors first stop at Dunfermline to see the abbey before continuing on to the equally ancient village of Culross.
Dating back to the sixth century, Culross was once a thriving industrial powerhouse thanks to its use as a manufacturing centre for sea salt and coal.
Culross Palace, a magnificent 16th-century mansion house now cared for by the National Trust for Scotland, stands as the most prominent reminder of the village’s former riches, but there are many more historic buildings waiting to be discovered during a self-guided tour.
The National Trust for Scotland has painstakingly restored the entirety of Culross’s cobblestone streets, defensive walls, and houses, and it’s now one of the best-preserved villages in the country.
Visiting Culross is honestly like travelling back in time, and it’s no wonder that this sleepy hamlet has been the backdrop for several TV shows and movies including the insanely popular ‘Outlander’.
If you’re looking for unique and free things to do in Fife, you won’t go far wrong with a visit to Culross.
Tentsmuir Nature Reserve
Out About Scotland Guide: Tentsmuir Nature Reserve
|Parking:||Paid car park at the main entrance. Free car park at Morton Lochs.|
|Facilities:||Toilets, play park, and food van in the main car park.|
Families searching for an enjoyable outdoor adventure in Fife need go no further than Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve.
This enormous reserve is a must-visit as it’s home to the largest forest in the county as well as a number of visitor facilities including a picnic area and a children’s play park.
The 5-mile stretch of golden sand at Kinshaldy Beach comes alive with seabirds during the summer and the rolling waves and sand flats are home to a diverse array of wildlife including eider ducks, seals, and bottlenose dolphins.
With gravel paths that wind through the forest down to the gorgeous Morton Lochs, Tentsmuir is a year-round destination for mud-free walks, birdwatching, and much more.
If you’re looking for a long walk, check out the 9-mile loop that takes in the best parts of the reserve, or alternatively follow the 3.75-mile Ice House Trail which is easier on little legs.
Tentsmuir Forest can be easily explored on foot or by bike, but for more information on where to go and what to see, download the Forestry and Land Scotland Tentsmuir route card.
Out About Scotland Guide: Inchcolm Island
|Address:||Boat departure point:
|Opening Hours:||1st April - 31st October
Thursday - Monday 10:00 - 17:00
|Admission Price:||Ferry price
Child: 5-15 £10
Under 5's Free
|Parking:||Paid car park in South Queensferry|
|Contact:||Abbey 07836 265 146
Ferry 0131 331 5000
|Facilities:||Toilets, gift shop, picnic area|
|BUY TICKETS||Click here to purchase|
This is one of the more unusual things to do in Fife, yet it’s also one of the most fun.
To reach Inchcolm Island, visitors must hire a charter boat which will take them on a scenic journey under the Forth bridges and down the estuary to the island’s hidden-away harbour.
Large colonies of seagulls, fulmars, and even puffins are often seen flying over the rocky outcrops that surround the harbour, and it’s not uncommon to see seals relaxing on the buoys floating in the Forth.
Once on Inchcolm Island you’ll find it’s considerably larger than it seems from South Queensferry, to the point where it’s unlikely you’ll be able to see all of it in the allocated time ashore.
The island’s centre is home to Inchcolm Abbey, a Benedictine monastery founded in the 12th century that has gained the moniker “the Iona of the East.”
The abbey is open to the public so visitors may roam its various rooms and corridors and even climb its main tower for a bird’s-eye view over the coastlines of East Lothian and Fife.
The western side of the island is comprised of open grassland that can be easily traversed on foot if you feel like exploring; however, you should be cautious about where you put your feet as gulls and other seabirds like to lay their eggs on the ground due to a complete lack of predators on the island.
The East Neuk
Out About Scotland Guide: The East Neuk of Fife
The East Neuk of Fife is by no means the largest area of Scotland, but it is one of the most picturesque, and it’s also home to some of the most attractive fishing villages in the whole of Scotland.
The old coastal villages of the East Neuk are full of quaint houses and cobblestone walkways that are perfect for a stroll before indulging in some of the region’s world-famous seafood, the highlight of which has to be the Anstruther Fish Bar which is second to none when it comes to lip-smackingly delicious fish and chips.
After taking in the sights in the East Neuk of Fife’s villages, tourists can then hit the Fife Coastal Path for the region’s second major draw.
The entire coastline of Fife, from the Firth of Forth in the south to the Firth of Tay in the north, can be explored on this 117-mile walking trail, but the section on the East Neuk between Elie and Cambo Sands is, in my opinion, by far the most picturesque.
Wildflowers and low-lying meadows abound in the inland area of the East Neuk, yet it sees few tourists, making it a perfect destination to relax – even though the busy city of Edinburgh is just a 1-hour drive away.
The East Neuk is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Fife for couples and families alike. Visit on a bright, sunny day when the only sounds you hear are those of skylarks and lapping waves and you’ll instantly fall in love with this often-overlooked corner of Scotland.
Out About Scotland Guide: Aberdour Castle
|Opening Hours:||1 April - 30 September: Mon - Sun 9:30 - 17:30, (last entry 16:30).
1 October - 31 October: Mon - Sun 10:00 - 16:00, (last entry 15:30).
1 November - 31 March: Sat - Wed 10:00 - 16:00 (last entry 15:30).
|Admission Price:||Adult £6
Children 5 - 15 £3.60
Under 5's Free
|Parking:||Free on-site parking.|
|Contact:||01383 860 519|
|Facilities:||Cafe, gift shop, toilets, disabled access, bike racks, picnic area, water refill.|
Aberdour Castle, located in the historic village of Aberdour, is one of the oldest masonry castles in Scotland.
The first stone was laid in the early 1100s when the castle was built over an even earlier hall, but it’s now managed by Historic Environment Scotland which has brought the castle back to an exceptional condition.
Being so near to Edinburgh, crossing the Forth Road Bridge to get to Aberdour Castle is a breeze so there’s really no excuse not to include it in your sightseeing itinerary if you’re planning a visit to Fife.
A particularly interesting mediaeval structure that’s part of the castle is St. Fillan’s Church, which can be found at the rear of a walled garden.
The church, which was also constructed in the 1100s, features amazing views over the Firth of Forth while the walled garden has exceptionally pretty flower borders and a sizeable lawn.
The well-kept grounds on the southern side of the castle are a good place to let the kids run around and there are enough nooks and crannies to keep them occupied for an hour, after which you might like to take a short drive to the beautiful Silver Sands Bay which has a golden sand beach and lovely coastal walking trails.
Out About Scotland Guide: Dunfermline Abbey
|Address:||St Margaret’s Street,
|Opening Hours:||1 May to 30 September:
Monday to Saturday 10 am to 5 pm
Sunday 1 pm to 5 pm
Last entry 4.30 pm
1 October to 31 March:
Daily 10 am to 4 pm except for Sunday and Monday
Last entry 3.30 pm
|Admission Price:||Adult £6
Family Ticket £20
|Parking:||No on-site parking. Paid car parks in Dunfermline.|
|Contact:||01383 739 026|
|Facilities:||Gift shop, drinks machine|
Dunfermline Abbey’s colossal size is a direct result of King David I drawing inspiration from England’s similarly grand Durham Cathedral.
It’s impossible to visit this abbey and not be awe-struck by the massive pillars that support the inside of the nave and the equally impressive buttresses that circle the outside of the building.
With its cavernous interior and tombs that are the final resting places of several Scottish royals, Dunfermline Abbey is a must-visit in Fife.
Points of interest include the ornate shrine of St. Margaret at the east end of the nave and the tomb of Robert the Bruce which is marked by a bronze plaque on the floor.
Outside, visitors can explore the ruins of a monk’s refectory before heading into the adjoining Pittencrieff Park through a gate on the park’s western side.
The park features a pavilion, a playpark, and a peacock sanctuary, as well as a network of paths that are accessible to all abilities.
Options for food and drink are limited to the Peacock Rooms cafe inside Pittencrieff Park, but if you walk a few minutes into the centre of Dunfermline you’ll find a wide range of restaurants as well as a shopping centre in the high street.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I take my kids in Fife?
Here are a few options for family-friendly places to visit in Fife, Scotland:
1: The Secret Bunker.
2: The Fife Coastal Path.
3: St. Andrews Aquarium.
4: St. Andrews Cathedral
5: Ravenscraig Park.
6: The Fife Folk Museum.
7: Lochore Meadows Country Park.
8: Fife Ice Arena.
Is Fife worth visiting?
Fife is definitely deserving of a family holiday since it’s packed with fun things to see and do for people of all ages.
Fife boasts a wide variety of attractions from historical sites and natural attractions to quality restaurants and shopping centres.
St. Andrews, the home of golf, and Dunfermline, which has a rich history, are two of the most visited places in Scotland.
Is Fife a nice place to live?
Fife, a county in eastern Scotland, is a historic region with a beautiful shoreline, many natural attractions, and lots of quaint and interesting villages.
Fife also has a prosperous economy, excellent schools, and a wide selection of retail and dining options.
People that like a slower pace of life, easy access to the coast, and close proximity to Edinburgh and Dunfermline may find Fife to be an appealing area to call home.
What’s Fife famous for?
Fife is a historic county in eastern Scotland and is famous for several reasons, including:
1: St. Andrews: Known as the ‘home of golf’. St. Andrews is a popular tourist destination and is considered the birthplace of golf.
2: The Fife Coastal Path: This scenic coastal walk stretches for over 117 miles and offers breathtaking views of the North Sea.
3: St. Andrews Cathedral: This historic cathedral was once the largest church in Scotland.
4: Historical landmarks: Fife is home to a number of historic castles including St. Andrews Castle and Ravenscraig Castle.
5: Outdoor recreation: Fife has a number of parks and nature reserves such as the Lochore Meadows Country Park and Beveridge Park.