The Best Things to Do in Dunfermline

The old abbey and palace stand testament to Dunfermlines links with royalty
The old abbey and palace stand testament to Dunfermline's links with royalty | © Iain Masterton / Alamy Stock Photo
Tamarin Fountain

Check out the best attractions and activities in Dunfermline, Fife – from Dunfermline Abbey to the Alhambra Theatre to riding a hovercraft.

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Until the 17th century, Dunfermline was the royal capital of the Kingdom of Scotland and stood as one of its oldest settlements. Today, apart from glimpses into its intriguing history, it offers a multitude of thrilling activities. Here are the things not to be missed when visiting this historic Fife town.

Visit Dunfermline Abbey and Palace

This is the choice for culture and history. Dunfermline Abbey dates back to 1072 and was an ancient royal burial site. Robert the Bruce’s tomb now lies beneath the pulpit out of sight, but the Lost Tomb exhibition on site displays a 3D representation of the complete tomb as it would originally have been. The palace was built post-Reformation in the 1500s, with breathtaking views across the glen. Don’t miss the Abbey’s Carnegie Tiffany Window with its stunning pastoral design.

Get arty at The Ceramic Cafe

If you’d like a memento of your visit, why not make your own? The Ceramic Cafe enables those of all ages to paint any pattern they desire onto a range of ceramics. While it’s popular for children’s parties, it’s also a great laugh – and creatively therapeutic – for adults. Choose from a range of ready-made pottery pieces, then add your own colourful stamp. There’s a soft-play area for little ones, and tea and cake to order while you work.

Learn watersports at Water Ski and Wakeboard Scotland

Townhill Loch is one of the best places in the UK to try out and learn some watersports. This grassroots organisation offers tuition in waterskiing, ski-racing, trick-skiing, wakeboarding and kneeboarding. Expect thrills along with plenty of spills in a safe and controlled environment. Those wishing to remain on dry land can observe while enjoying a gentle walk following the circular path that runs around the water’s edge.

Drive a rage buggy at Fastrax

Get kitted out in helmets, goggles, gloves and waterproofs, pick up some tips from the on-site instructors, then race through rough hilly terrain in these wild little buggies. This is one for adrenaline junkies with a competitive streak and is best done in a group, even if it’s small. Whoever makes it to the top three goes up on the podium at the end to spray the bubbly Grand Prix style.

See top comedians at the Alhambra Theatre

All the big names in comedy make a stop in Dunfermline. While Edinburgh Fringe draws the TV comics in August, the Alhambra Theatre books them all year round. Iain Stirling, Jon Richardson, Al Murray and Alan Carr are all regular faces at the venue. It’s also a top spot for band tribute acts. It has the fourth-largest stage in Scotland and in previous incarnations was both a cinema and a bingo hall.

Ride a hovercraft at Craigluscar Activities

Craigluscar Activities is a family-run centre offering clay pigeon shooting, tractor driving, archery, mini Highland games and even mini hovercraft rides. Float on air through the countryside as you manoeuvre this brakeless vehicle around an obstacle course (the trick is to lean into the turns). It’s a thrilling and unique experience available to those over the age of 16.

Explore Andrew Carnegie’s birthplace

Entry to this museum is completely free, but it’s advisable to book. It celebrates the life of a great Scot along with a curated collection of around 5,000 vintage items. Andrew Carnegie, the 19th-century steel tycoon, stockbroker, writer, lecturer, entrepreneur and renowned philanthropist climbed from his humble beginnings in this weaver’s cottage where he was born. Learn how he did it, what he achieved and his many links with other notable individuals including Marie Curie, Helen Keller, Theodore Roosevelt and King Edward VII. It’s also home to an array of art deco creations and costumes.

Putt pirate style at Adventure Golf Island

Play surrounded by palm trees, tiki huts and a mini river with a waterfall inside Europe’s only fully heated and floodlit minigolf dome at Pirates Cove. Or venture outdoors to Treasure Island where you’ll encounter Captain Jack Sparrow’s jail, rapids and a Caribbean adventure galleon. Both courses feature an 18th hole challenge – ace this and you’ll win another free round. It’s wheelchair and pushchair-friendly and perfect for a family day out.

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