Historic Buildings and Sites in Fife

Visit the The Kingdom of Fife, and you will discover the most amazing historic buildings and sites. I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea, and you might prefer Art Galleries and Museums, or the Visitor Attractions, or some of the glorious award-winning Fife Beaches.

You may want to explore the colourful Parks and Gardens or just enjoying the fresh air by cycling around Fife or some of the many sports that are available. Check out the pages on Places to see or get an overview of the Things to do in Fife.

But if you DO like castles and palaces and delving into history, then you will be in for a real treat. We are so fortunate to have a number of properties managed by the National Trust for Scotland, which means they are very well preserved and looked after. Each site has its own character and history, and in some cases you can almost 'feel' that you are back in time. I’ve arranged them by town, starting from the west of Fife, near the Kincardine Bridge.

Culross Palace Culross Walking round the cobbled streets of Culross will give you a glimpse into Scottish life in the 16th and 17th centuries. The first time I went here I was quite spellbound by this amazing village with the historic buildings of the Palace and Town House. The huge ochre-coloured palace (pictured above) has been refurbished and has beautiful gardens; and visiting the Study and the Townhouse will also be on your agenda, I’m sure. It is managed by the National Trust for Scotland. (NTS) and I would recommend if you are going to visit a number of National Trust properties, then buy the Family Card, even if you’re just visiting. There is also an superb exhibition and the inevitable tea room, which of course is well worth a visit. For further information on opening hours and charges call +44(0)1383 880 359.

Abbot House Historic Building

Abbot House

Dunfermline - This town (birthplace of Andrew Carnegie) is such a treasure trove of historic buildings with some of the most amazing historical sites all within a square mile. (Guided walks are available – check at Abbot House).

  • The majestic Abbey and Palace.
    As Dunfermline used to be Scotland’s ancient capital, this is the last resting place for many of the Scottish Kings and Queens. The remains of the Benedictine Abbey which Queen Margaret founded in the 11th Century lie beneath the nave. The access to the palace is limited, but the Abbey is fascinating.
    For further information on opening hours and charges call +44(0)1383 739 026.
  • Abbot House
    I so enjoy going here. You can see and hear the story not only of Dunfermline and Fife, but also Scotland. There is a delightful garden and of course the inevitable Tea Room and shop. As I said earlier, there are also very knowledgeable guides who can take you round this special ‘mile’.
    For further information on opening hours and charges call +44(0)1383 624 908.
  • St Margaret's Cave. This cave was where Queen Margaret (or St Margaret, as she is referred to) used to pray. Originally it was on the banks of Tower Burn, but you now reach it by over 80 steps below a car park. So obviously it’s not the most suitable for people with disabilities.
    For further information on opening hours and charges call +44(0) 8451 550 000

Inchcolm Abbey Inchcolm Abbey

Aberdour This is one of the Historic Building (both the castle and gardens) which are looked after by Historic Scotland. It was built in the 13th Century. One of the fabulous features of the castle is its amazing painted ceiling and gallery. There are lovely ground and at the far end and amazing dovecot. There is also a café.
For further information on opening hours and charges call +44(0) 1383 733 266

Inchcolm Island You have to go to South Queensferry on the ‘Maid of the Forth’on the south of the river (over the Forth Bridges) to get a boat to Inchcolm Abbey (pictured above). It dates back to the 13th century and is believed to one of the best preserved monastic historic buildings in Scotland. I like to go across to look at the wonderful wildlife. As well as the Abbey, there is also a shop, gardens and display area. For further information on opening hours and charges call +44(0) 1383 723 332

Dysart (near Kirkcaldy) - The 17th Century restored Fishermen’s houses at the Pan Ha' is worth a wee visit. It’s right beside the harbour and is looked after by the NTS. For further information contact the NTS.

Falkland Palace Falkland Palace - is one of my all-time favourites (perhaps because I see it most days as I only live 3 miles from it). So put of all the historic buildings, I think this is my favourite. It dominates the lovely village of Falkland. As well as the history, the tapestries and so much more inside, there are stunning gardens, the oldest tennis court in the world, and an NTS Shop (No coffee shop, but there are some in the village). For further information on opening hours and charges call +44(0) 1337 857980

Cupar The Hill of Tarvit Mansionhouse just outside Cupar is also looked after by the NTS. This property is in a stunning location and there are superb French, Scottish and Chippendale Furniture as well as beautiful paintings. The old kitchen is fun to see (for all you cooks). There are also lovely gardens, shop and tea room. For further information on opening hours and charges call +44(0) 1334 653 127


  • A few miles from the fishing village of Pittenweem is another NTS managed property - Kellie Castle. As well as another interesting kitchen there is a real Victorian Nursery, both worth a visit. Rumours have it that the castle is haunted! But I’ve personally not met any ghosts! For further information on opening hours and charges call +44(0) 1333 330 132
  • St Fillan's Cave – St Fillan stayed here and it is believed this ancient cave used to be where the monks stored their boats, and it is believed that smugglers were arrested there in the 18th Century. It was restored in 1935, and is still a place where pilgrims come.
    For further information on opening hours and charges call +44(0) 1333 311 495 .

Kellie Castle

Kellie Castle

Ceres - I love the delightful village of Ceres. A wander round the Fife Folk Museum followed by a visit to a coffee shop is a nice treat. But nearby is also Scotstarvit Tower dating back to the 16th century. It’s less than a mile from the Hill of Tarvit Mansion House.

St Andrews Cathedral

St Andrews Cathedral

St Andrews

  • Take time out from the Golf to visit some of the historic buildings in St Andrews. The remains of the Cathedral (which used to be the largest in Scotland now houses a museum of medieval sculpture. To get a fantastic view of the town, and if you’re feeling energetic, then climb to the top of St Rules Tower. The view will be worth the effort, I promise. For further information call +44(0)1334 472 563
  • The Castle used to be the residence of the Bishops . It’s an amazing experience and you’ll get a real glimpse into medieval siege techniques. Check out the dungeon. There is also the visitor centre. For further information on opening times and charges, call +44(0)1334 475 068

Scotland is rich in historical buildings, but many other countries are too. My husband and I lived in Singapore for two years and were fascinated by some of the Heritage buildings there and also in Malaysia. Have a wee look at some of the Heritage buildings in Penang.

If you have enjoyed this page on Historic Buildings, then see also the following:

Plan Your Trip - Get yourself organised before you visit.
Places to see in Fife - Have a look in more detail at some of the towns mentioned above.
Weather - Check out the weather.
Art Galleries and Museums - have a look at the variety of fabulous Art Galleries and Museums around the Kingdom.
Fife Beaches - Discover some of the award-winning beaches in Fife.
Visitor Attraction - Do make time to explore the Visit attractions in the area.
Sports in Fife - If Historic Buildings are not your 'thing', see the huge variety of sports on offer.
Cycle Routes in Fife - If you love cycling - then Fife has wonderful cycle routes for you to follow. Parks and Gardens - Take time out to enjoy some of these beautiful gardens and parks around the Kingdom.

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