The East Neuk of Fife: Ultimate Guide For 2023
The East Neuk of Fife is a picturesque area in the southeast corner of Fife. This post lists the best things to do in the East Neuk of Fife.
This part of Fife is well known for its spectacular coastline and small charming fishing villages. The Scot word ‘Neuk’ means a wee nook or corner.
There are so many reasons to explore this corner of Fife. Rich heritage, fishing traditions, brightly coloured houses, red roof tiles and farm shops in the charming seaside villages are all available to explore the East Neuk of Fife.
The local fishing industry is thriving here, and you can enjoy award-winning fish and chips. Also, you can walk along the beautiful bays, enjoy paddle boarding in the tidal pools or soak in the culture and heritage of the East Neuk of Fife.
Kingsbarns is a small village which is a ten-minute drive from St Andrews and is the first stop in the East Neuk of Fife area.
The charming town has all the usual amenities, including a shop, church and a family-run hotel, and it is a perfect place for a short stroll.
Long ago, grain was produced and stored in Kingsbarns before being transported to the Royal Court at Falkland Palace.
This is where Kingsbarns got its name from. However, today the barley that is grown and kept at Kingsbarns is used to make whisky.
Kingsbarns Distillery produces award-winning whisky and Darnley’s Gin. You can sample the whiskey or gin on a distillery tour at Kingsbarns Distillery and have a drink or three.
At Kingsbarns, you can play golf at one of the world’s best golf courses. Since 1793 golf has been played at Kingsbarns.
The courses regularly co-host golfing championships including the annual Alfred Dunhill Links Championship with St Andrews and Carnoustie. Also, Kingsbarns Golf Links are listed in the World’s Top 100 Golf Courses.
The Victorian house at Cambo Estate and Gardens was built in 1881 and is located on a 1200 acre estate.
The estate is run by the Erskine family and is the perfect venue for events such as weddings. Also, you can explore the stunning Victorian walled gardens, and peaceful woodland walks at the Cambo Estate and Gardens.
To explore the gardens it costs £5 per person. For some Scottish comfort food make sure to stop at the quirky Nosebag Cafe which is located in an old stable block.
Additionally, you can go to Cambo Sands Beach (Kingsbarns Beach) and enjoy the golden sands which look over the North Sea. Here you can enjoy the natural space, soak up the beauty, and dip in the shallow water and rock pools.
There are excellent facilities including toilets and picnic tables. Also, you can access Cambo Estate from a path on the beach which goes through the woodland.
Also, the last thing that you must do in Kingsbarns is to visit the famous Cheesy Toasty Shack. You can enjoy some fantastic gourmet toasties and ice cream sundaes at this cafe.
Kingsbarns Accommodation: Kingsbarns Village Green, Daisybank Kingsbarns,
Things to do in Kingsbarns
- Kingsbarns Distillery
- Kingsbarns Golf Links
- Cambo Estate and Gardens
- Cambo Sands Beach
- Cheesy Toasty Shack
- Walk the Fife Coastal Path from St Andrews to Kingsbarns
Crail is a historic fishing town, and the harbour is one of the most photographed harbours in the UK. The High Street in Crail is flourishing with family-run businesses, including butchers, bakeries and grocery stores.
Some buildings are very traditional, and you will feel that you have been transformed back in time.
It is well worth it to stroll down the charming cobbled streets lined up behind the miniature harbour, with homes that formerly belonged to fishermen and shipowners.
Also, it is great to soak in the atmosphere by walking around the small historic fishermen’s cottages. The large white Customs House is a 17th-century building which stands out with crow step gables.
Also, you can visit the Crail Museum and Heritage Centre, Crail Pottery or Crail Harbour Gallery and Tea Room.
At the renowned golf courses run by the Crail Golfing Society – Craighead Links and Balcomie Links, you can enjoy panoramic sea views from every hole.
Moreover, in Crail, there are excellent eating places. You can order locally caught lobsters and Crail Crabbs from the Lobster Hut near the shorefront.
Also, in June, you can experience the culinary festival – Crail Food Festival.
Crail Accommodation: The Old Vinery, Seascape Cottage, 8 West Braes Crescent
Things to do in Crail
- Scottish Countryman – archery
- Tennis at Beechwalk Park
- Crail Pottery
- Lobster Hut
- Crail Balcomie Links
- Roome Bay Beach
- Barnsmuir Farm Shop
- Caiplie Caves
- Crail Museum and Heritage Centre
- Walk the Fife Coastal Path from Kingsbarns to Crail
Cellardyke is a hidden gem in the East Neuk of Fife, often overlooked by visitors. The harbour is only half a mile east of Anstruther.
Cellardyke is not as easy to find from the main road as you can mistake it for an outskirt of Anstruther. The harbour town has been a designated conservation area since 1977 and has a beautifully preserved fishing harbour.
Following down the narrower streets of Cellardyke, you will come across the tiny 16th-century harbour.
You can enjoy outstanding views from the dock with possible sightings of dolphins, seals, puffins, and gannets. There is a platform next to the water so you can jump in.
At one point in history, the harbour at Cellardyke was the busiest fishing port in Scotland. In 1898 a storm ruined Cellardyke harbour, which forced fleets to move to the more protected harbour at Anstruther.
Since then, Anstruther has grown and has led to the disappearance of the border between Cellardyke and Anstruther.
In Cellardyke, there is a natural tidal pool just beside the play park on the outskirts of the village. The tidal pool is very well maintained and popular with wild swimmers, canoeists, paddle boarders and swimmers.
Cellardyke Accommodation: Nautilus Cottage, The Lookout, Dragonfly
Things to do in Cellardyke
- Caves of Caiplie
- Tidal Pool
- Walk the Fife Coastal Path from Crail to Anstruther
Next to Cellardyke is Anstruther – a bustling village with a harbour packed with fishing boats. The harbour’s shore contains independent businesses, including gift shops, butchers, pubs and fish and chips shops.
One of the main attractions is to tuck into a quality fish supper from the award-winning Anstruther Fish Bar. Moreover, Anstruther has a Michelin starred restaurant that uses much local produce from the coast and countryside in its dishes.
The Cellar is a small fine dining restaurant tucked away just off the main street of Anstruther. Also, you can get a proper Scottish meal at the Dreel Tavern.
The Scottish Fisheries Museum is a beautiful museum packed with exciting memorabilia of Scotland’s Fishing Industry, including stories about the fisherman and their families.
Moreover, there are many interesting artefacts, including a 100-year-old herring drifter berthed in Anstruther Harbour, The Reaper. Entry to the museum is £9 for adults.
One of the main attractions you will notice from the main street is Buckie’s House, also known as Shell House.
Shell House is a historic building which is covered in seashells. The quirky design came together in the 1840s by the house owner, Alex Batchelor.
Isle of May
In the summer, tourists can enjoy a boat trip from the harbour to the Isle of May. The Isle of May is a National Nature Reserve in the Firth of Forth.
The Isle of May is a small but mighty island is one of the highlights to visit as it is home to three lighthouses and plenty of wildlife.
The wildlife you can find on the island includes one of the UK’s largest grey seal colonies, over 200,000 nesting seabirds, its species of mouse and over 40,000 pairs of puffins.
The day trip to the Isle of May will take approximately 4-5 hours, where you get 2-3 hours to explore the island.
Anstruther Accommodation: Invermay, The Howff, Brackness House Luxury B&B
Things to do in Anstruther
- Anstruther Golf Club
- Scottish Fisheries Museum
- Isle of May
- Anstruther Fish Bar
- Scotland’s Secret Bunker
- Anstruther Golf Club
- Aeble Cider Shop
- Buckie House
- Walk the Fife Coastal Path from Anstruther to Pittenweem
In Pittenweem, there is a lively atmosphere and an enduring charm. The trade with the Netherlands influences the pantiled cottages.
There are remnants of the old working harbour, including a fleet of fishing boats, trawlers and small creel boats.
Also, there are plenty of places to eat in Pittenweem, including the Pittenweem Fish and Chip Bar, The Dory Bistro, The Cocoa Tree Cafe and Nicholson’s Sweet and Ice Cream Shop.
Moreover, in Pittenweem, there is an outdoor crazy golf course with the added attraction of a neighbouring putting green.
A local group known as the West Braes Project was responsible for re-opening the crazy golf and maintaining the 120-year-old outdoor pool.
The outdoor pool is on the beach and is filled twice a day by the tide. Also, the coastal pool is complete with a chute and diving board.
The pool was left ravaged for decades; however, in 2021, it was reopened, and now it is the place to go for a dip in Pittenweem.
Nearby, you can visit the tiny dark cave – St Fillans Cave. According to legend, in the 7th century the cave was home to St Fillan, a local Irish missionary who tried to convert local picts to christianity.
Moreover, the cave was used as a prison during witch hunts int he 17th and 18th centuries.
Pittenweem Accommodation: Mangle Cottage, The Old Chandlery, Sam’s in Pittenweem
Things to do in Pittenweem
- Kellie Castle Gardens
- St Fillan’s Cave
- The Cocoa Tree Shop
- St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company
- Pittenweem Tidal Pool
- Bowhouse Market
- Walk the Fife Coastal Path from Pittenweem to St Monans
St Monans is another gem in the East Neuk of Fife. Traditional fisherman cottages with painted walls and red roofs overlook the three-piered harbour.
A zig-zag breakwater known as The Block is a popular shot for photographers. Also, near the harbour slipway you can admire The Welly Boat Garden where 200 old wellies are beautiful flower pots.
Newark Castle is a 13th century ruined castle which sits on the west of St Monans on a clifftop. Also, near the edge of the beach, you can find the Old Kirk of St Monans, where an ancient wall protects the medieval church from the sea.
St Monans Lighthouse is a reminder of the salt industry booming in this area of Fife in the 18th century. The lighthouse is the last remaining windmill in Fife.
St Monans Lighthouse is sitting above the remnants of the salt pans where sea water was heated by coal to produce salt. Also, it is ideally located near the Fife Coastal Path.
The harbour area has several great places to eat, including East Pier Smokehouse, which serves smoked food and seafood.
Also, Craig Miller @ 16 West Ends is a renowned restaurant with fantastic sea views. Moreover, you can enjoy a coffee and cake at the Diving Gannet.
St Monans Accommodation: Seaforth View, Daisy Cottage, Number Fifty Six
Things to do in St Monans
- St Monans Windmill
- The Welly Boot Garden
- East Pier Smokehouse
- Newark Castle
- Walk the Fife Coastal Path from St Monans to Elie
Elie is one of the most popular holiday spots in Scotland. The small village is located on the sheltered Ruby Bay.
The beach is an amazing destination for picnics, swimming and water sports. Believe it or not, Ruby Bay is named after the garnets that were once mined there.
Elie Ness Lighthouse is a short walk away from Elie Beach and sits on the rocky promontory. The lighthouse was completed in 1908 by David A Stevenson who was the cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson.
At Sauchar Point, Ladies Tower was built for Lady Anstruther in the 1700s so she could bathe in the Forth. Also, from here, you can enjoy spectacular views across the River of Forth.
There are plenty of great places to eat in Elie. You can enjoy great freshly prepared seafood in Elie at the stylish Harbour Cafe.
Also, at Elie Deli, you can enjoy brilliant snacks and treats. At the Ship Inn, you can enjoy brilliant seafood on beachside benches and watch Elie’s beach cricket matches.
Ardross Farm Shop is an award-winning farm shop which is just outside Elie. There is a wide range of local produce, including vegetables picked straight from the farm, freshly baked pieces of bread, free range eggs and traditionally reared beef.
Also, there are fantastic artisan products featuring cheese, chutneys, handmade chocolates and ice cream.
Moreover, you can visit the Elie Earlesferry Beach, a stunning sandy beach between Elie and Earlsferry. When the tide is out you can walk passed cute beach huts which are located between Elie and Earlsferry.
If you feel a little more adventurous, you can attempt the Elie Chain Walk. The Elie Chain Walk is a series of chains fixed along the coast between Shell Bay and West Bay, where you can scramble along the Fife Cliffs.
Elie Accommodation: Elmbank, 15 South Street, The Ship Inn
Things to do in Elie and Earlsferry
- Elie Watersports
- Ardross Farm Shop
- Elie Ness Lighthouse
- Ruby Bay
- Walk the Fife Coastal Path from St Monans to Elie
The East Neuk of Fife is one of my favourite parts of Scotland. This area is perfect for those who love the Scottish outdoors, wild swimming or an excellent hearty Scottish meal.
For those who enjoy the outdoors, the Fife Coastal Path is a famous walking route that takes you through small villages. You can view each town at your own pace, and there are plenty of places to stay.
Is Fife Worth Visiting?
The Kingdom of Fife is worth visiting as it is home to the spectacular East Neuk of Fife.
Here, you can explore the old fishing traditions, Scottish heritage, charming seaside villages and hidden beauty spots. Going to the East Neuk of Fife is like being transformed back in time.
Where does the East Neuk of Fife start?
The East Neuk of Fife is a peninsula on the eastern side of the Kingdom of Fife. The area covers the coastal towns from Kingsbarns to Elie.
From Kingsbarns to Elie, it is only a 25-minute drive in the car, or you can walk the coastal route in 6 hours. The East Neuk of Fife is approximately one hour and 30 minutes from Edinburgh by car.