The ancient capital of Scotland, Dunfermline, a large town in Fife, is at the heart of Scottish history. Its intriguing past, vibrant creative scene, and stunning coastlines offer you the chance to broaden your mind, immerse yourself in the unique heritage and enjoy breath-taking scenery. The burial place of some of Scotland’s greatest medieval monarchs, the birthplace of one of the world’s most famous philanthropists, Andrew Carnegie, and a creative hub that has inspired many musicians, poets and performers, Dunfermline is full of fascinating stories, waiting to be explored. Situated only a short journey from Edinburgh and a gateway to the rest of Fife, it features some of Scotland’s most extraordinary historical sites, including Dunfermline Abbey – the final resting place of King Robert the Bruce.
PLANNING YOUR VISIT
Scottish weather, while glorious during the summer months, remains on the chillier side thanks to its proximity to the Northern Hemisphere. We would therefore recommend packing suitably warm attire, ideally waterproof since the area does experience rain at certain points of the year. For those who plan to explore the area on foot, do bring walking boots or something similar, to ensure you can can make the most of the picturesque hikes available.
We also highly recommend bringing your own hire car to the region, in order to experience as many of the stunning coastal roads and hidden gems as possible.
Take the M8 North and at junction 13, take the M80 exit to Stirling/ Kincardine Bridge. Then keep left at the fork to continue on M876, following signs for Kincardine Bridge/ Falkirk/ Grangemouth. Merge onto M876/ M9 and then continue onto Kincardine Bridge/ A985 and stay on the A985. Take the left exit onto B9156 then at the roundabout take the 1st exit onto A823. Continue on A823 until you reach your destination.
Follow signs to the M90 North, then continue until junction 2 and exit on the A823(M) to Dunfermline. At Pitreavie Roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Queensferry road/ A823. Continue on A823 until you reach your destination.
Dunfermline is served by two railway stations, Dunfermline Town, which is in the centre of the town, and Dunfermline Queen Margaret, which is located in the northeast of the town, near Queen Margaret Hospital. There is a half hourly (hourly after 19:00) Fife Circle service to Edinburgh Waverley.
See the First ScotRail website https://www.scotrail.co.uk/ for timetable information.
There are frequent bus services to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Perth, and surrounding towns.
The nearest airport to Dunfermline is Edinburgh International Airport (EDI), situated to the south of the Firth of Forth, 14 miles/22km from Dunfermline. The airport offers a wide range of domestic and international flights. Taxis are available from the airport to Dunfermline and there is also a bus service from the airport to nearby Inverkeithing. A taxi can then be taken onto Dunfermline or the train from Inverkeithing to Dunfermline Town.
Scotland’s two main airports, Edinburgh and Glasgow, are both reachable within an hour and a half and flights come in from all the main UK and Irish airports. Regular services fly between London and the Scottish airports allowing easy transfer from the UK’s capital.
WHERE TO STAY
Originally a square tower house, Balmule is a boutique hotel which has been lovingly evolved by generations of owners and families, whilst maintaining its traditional charm. With a heritage that stretches back for over 500 years, its beautifully designed interior has been crafted with every modern convenience. Set amidst 30 acres of wooded grounds just north of Dunfermline, Balmule House provides the highest standards of luxury accommodation in opulent surroundings. With several stunning reception rooms, beautiful formal gardens and picturesque views in all directions, it is the perfect venue for a weekend getaway.
Garvock House Hotel
Garvock House Hotel stands handsomely in an elevated position overlooking historic Dunfermline. Set amidst lush gardens, it marries the convenience of a town centre location, with the peaceful feel of a countryside retreat. The 200-year-old house has elegantly restored original features and contemporary twists of chic styling which make it a unique choice for a weekend break. Step through the pillared doorway to enjoy the warmth of a family-run hotel renowned for its generous hospitality. Unwind in restaurants where Garvock’s chefs use only the freshest seasonal ingredients and serve cuisine widely acclaimed as the finest in West Fife. And prolong your relaxation with an overnight stay in one of 26 bedrooms, all different in style and character yet equally inviting.
The Inn at Charlestown
The Inn At Charlestown (formerly known as The Elgin Hotel), is a beautiful country hotel situated in the tranquil and picturesque village of Charlestown, only a ten minute drive from the ancient city of Dunfermline. Whether you are in Dunfermline on business or looking to enjoy a relaxing mini-break, you can enjoy exquisite views from the hotel over the Firth of Forth, The Pentland Hills and the World famous Forth Bridges.
Yellowscott Country Park
Yellowscott Country Park features 12 individually-styled luxury self-catered lodges, each one with its own private hot tub and sleeping 2-12 people. Nestled in the heart of the Scottish countryside, yet only 3 miles from Dunfermline and within easy reach of Edinburgh, the lodges are perfectly located for a leisurely break or a more active holiday. With a diverse range of activities on offer, from rambling in the scenic hills, to fly fishing, golf and visiting the many historical tourist destinations, Yellowscott Country Park will ensure your stay in Dunfermline is truly unforgettable.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Dunfermline Palace and Abbey
Dunfermline Palace and Abbey are the remains of a great Benedictine abbey founded by Queen Margaret in the 11th century. It is the final resting place of King Robert Bruce, notably minus his heart, along with seven other Scottish kings. Substantial parts of the abbey buildings remain, including the vast refectory. The foundations of Queen Margaret’s church are under the present superb nave, built in the 12th century in the Romanesque style. Dunfermline Palace and Abbey are free of charge to visit, but you must pre-book.
Known locally as The Glen, Pittencreiff Park is a real oasis in the middle of the town. Featuring tranquil woodland walks, which are great for wildlife spotting, beautiful formal gardens, playparks and of course the resident peacocks, Pittencreiff is a nature-filled haven in the heart of Dunfermline.
Abbot House is a beautiful ‘A’ listed building, dating back to at least the 16th Century. It’s situated within Dunfermline’s Heritage Quarter and is steeped in the rich history of Scotland’s ancient capital. The house is instantly recognisable by its colour and is known fondly as the ‘pink hoose’ by locals. Perfectly located in the heart of Dunfermline, in close proximity to Dunfermline Abbey and the Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries, the house’s splendid walled garden to the rear of the building sits proudly among it all, with stunning views from all angles.
Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries
The award-winning Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries is a stunning mix of historic and contemporary architecture, with a new museum celebrating Dunfermline’s impressive royal and industrial heritage.
Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum
Steel tycoon, stockbroker, writer, lecturer, entrepreneur, philanthropist - Andrew Carnegie was one of the great Scots of the 19th century. His life has left a huge legacy, but as his birthplace cottage testifies, he came from humble beginnings. Adjacent to the cottage is the beautiful Art Deco museum hall, built by Andrew Carnegie’s widow in 1928.
Situated at the heart of Dunfermline, Carnegie Hall is an elegant art deco theatre with an entertaining annual programme of music, drama, comedy, dance and children’s shows.
Townhill Country Park
Townhill Country Park is an idyllic park located only one and a half miles from Dunfermline town centre and is a popular place for walking, jogging, cycling, fishing and wildlife watching.
Dunfermline Golf Club
Dunfermline Golf Club, Fife's premier parkland course, is situated in the picturesque village of Crossford. The golf club has a 6133-yard, par 72 course set in the spectacular rolling woodlands of Pitfirrane Castle. The club also boasts a par three, nine-hole course that provides a challenge to the best of short games. What is surely the oldest golf clubhouse in the world is situated in the Castle itself. Dating back to 1583, it is blessed with stunning views over the golf course.