A Guide to the Fife Coastal Path, Scotland's Epic Walking Route

Enjoy historic sites, wide beaches and cosy pubs along the Fife Coastal Path in Scotland
Enjoy historic sites, wide beaches and cosy pubs along the Fife Coastal Path in Scotland | © Stephen Dorey / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Suzy Pope
9 September 2020

Scotland‘s Fife Coastal Path takes you from the historic town of Culross, through the idyllic fishing villages of the East Neuk, past golfer’s paradise St Andrews and up to the mouth of the River Tay. The epic 188km (117mi) route can be covered on foot, by bicycle, by car or by a mix of train and bus journeys. Here are the best places to stop and see along the way.

Culross Historic Town

Historical Landmark
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Culross / Scotland - Architecture, street and cityscape.
© Szymon Mucha / Alamy Stock Photo
Culross (better known as Cranesmuir to Outlander fans) is your quintessential Scottish village. The white-harled houses with orange roofs and cobbled streets have remained unchanged since the 16th century. This is the ideal starting point for the Fife Coastal Path. The ruins of the old abbey at the top of the town have fantastic views over the Firth of Forth, and there are plenty of cosy coffee shops or hearty gastro pubs in which to fuel up for a day of walking, cycling or driving.

The aquarium and rail bridge at North Queensferry

Historical Landmark
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Tucked in the shadow of the Forth Rail Bridge, North Queensferry is another rambling seaside village. Families can stop for a couple of hours at Deep Sea World, an aquarium packed with sea life from Scottish shores and beyond. You can swim with sharks if you’re feeling daring, or just enjoy them gliding past as you make your way through the aquarium tunnel. North Queensferry’s most prominent landmark is the red rail bridge stretching over the Forth; it has been the subject of paintings, famous photographs and even literature over the years.

Castles and views at Aberdour

Natural Feature
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The most striking thing about this quaint fishing village is the view of Inchcolm Island. Floating out in the Forth, crowned by the haunting ruins of Inchcolm Abbey, the island is like something out of a fairytale. The 13th-century Aberdour Castle was also one of the filming locations for Outlander and is a worthy stop for any history buff. The Fife Coastal Path runs right by Aberdour Silver Sands, a stretch of sandy beach where you can grab an ice cream, build a sandcastle to rival the ruins of Aberdour Castle or dip your tired toes in the shallows of the Forth.

Beaches at Kinghorn

Historical Landmark
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Kinghorn, Beach,  Firth of Forth; Coastal Path; Fife, Scotland, UK. Image shot 2014. Exact date unknown.
© DGB / Alamy Stock Photo
Set around a horse-shoe of sandy beach, Kinghorn is a great place to fuel up for the rest of your journey. The beachside cafés offer steaming mugs of tea and coffee and rich slabs of delicious home baking. Watch families paddle in the calm sea on sunny days, or head slightly out of town to the quiet beaches of Pettycur or Burntisland Beach. On a clear day, you can see across the water to Arthur’s Seat and Edinburgh Castle rising in the distance on the opposite shore.

Fishing village vibes at St Monans

Historical Landmark
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If asked to imagine a typical Scottish fishing village, your mind would almost certainly conjure up St Monans. Colourful houses with orange roofs sit along winding cobbled streets, and a church spire juts into the sky. The stone harbour is dotted with fishing boats. But there’s more – the crumbling ruins of Newark Castle, up on a cliff above the sea, adds a level of historic intrigue, and the monthly Bowhouse farmer’s market is packed full of local Scottish produce, from land and sea, with street food and local delicacies to sample.

Local art at Pittenweem

Historical Landmark
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Another typical East Neuk fishing village, Pittenweem is just along the coast from St Monans. It has the same charming pastel houses and lobster creels piled high on the harbourside, but in the summer the irreverent art festival draws people in. For a week, local galleries, studios and even people’s homes open to the public to display some of the finest and funkiest local artwork.

Fish and chips at Anstruther

Fish and Chip Shop, Fast Food, Seafood, $$$
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The Anstruther Fish Bar in the East Neuk of Fife, Scotland, was the UK Fish Shop of the Year in 2009.
© UrbanImages / Alamy Stock Photo
The biggest pearl in the string of coastal villages of the East Neuk is Anstruther. Reputed to be the best in Scotland, the fish and chips at Anstruther Fish Bar draw in the crowds from far and wide. Delicately battered cod with chunky chips is best consumed overlooking the old stone harbour, where fishing boats land their catch before it’s fried fresh. Boat trips also run from Anstruther to the Isle of May, a craggy little island home to a colony of puffins and seals.

Golf and gastronomy at St Andrews

Historical Landmark
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The biggest town along the Fife Coastal Path, St Andrews is worth stopping for a couple of days to relax and recuperate. Take a swing in the birthplace of golf: St Andrew’s Old Course is the oldest golf course in the world. The narrow, cobbled streets of the medieval town centre are home to loads of independent shops, cafés and cosy pubs. Wander through the ancient quads of Scotland’s oldest university and explore the ruins of St Andrews Castle to get a feel for 15th-century life in the town. Or head out to West Sands beach, a bone-white sweep of sand made famous by the beach-running scene in Chariots of Fire. Pro tip: St Andrews has some great seafood restaurants, but a real treat is in store at Haar, which features fine dining foraged from coast and sea.

A wee tipple at Tayport

Historical Landmark
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Just south of Dundee at the mouth of the River Tay, the harbour town of Tayport is the perfect place to end your Fife Coastal Path adventure. More modern than the fishing villages of the East Neuk, Tayport has a Victorian vacation vibe. Stroll the picturesque marina and perhaps celebrate the end of your journey along the Fife Coastal Path with a wee dram at the Tayport Distillery. This distillery takes advantage of the burgeoning wildflowers and herbs in the area and distills delicious craft gin and vodka.

These recommendations were updated on September 9, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.