The seaside villages of the East Neuk of Fife must be some of Scotland’s prettiest. The East Neuk (or eastern corner) of Fife stretches from Elie & Earlsferry north to Crail, and was once the heart of the east coast of Scotland’s fishing trade. The tiny harbours along the East Neuk may now be home to more pleasure boats than those landing lobster and crab, but the area’s fishing history now gives it its charm.
Whether you walk the Fife Coastal Path or drive from Elie to Crail, don’t just zoom up to St Andrews or you will miss out on arguably the best fish & chips, boat trips and beaches that Scotland has to offer. Here’s why you should visit three of my favourite East Neuk villages, Elie & Earlsferry, Anstruther and Crail.
How to visit the East Neuk of Fife
Why? For a boutique food festival and lobster on the harbour wall
The furthest north of all the East Neuk villages might be a challenge to get to, but it’s worth the effort. From the beautiful high street (with some of the quirkiest and beautifully restored cottages you’ll see) pop into the Crail Pottery and then follow the winding coastal path down to the pretty harbour.
Crail has something of a foodie reputation, with the Crail Food Festival taking place every June. Outside of the festival, a seafood shack ‘The Lobster Hut’ on the harbour side serves up crab rolls and plates of lobster. Bring the champagne, the salads, and grab a bench for a complete feast. After lunch, climb up the harbour wall, and while away the afternoon in the sunshine.
Why? For famous fish & chips, puffins and Outlander
The East Neuk’s capital, Anstruther is a bustling harbour town, whose population of 3600 is swelled by hungry day trippers heading for the Anstruther Fish Bar. Sitting on a bench, with a fresh portion of crispy fish and hot chips is one of life’s little pleasures, and Anstruther is one of the best places to grab a bench and watch the boats go by.
From the harbour, you can take a trip on the May Princess to the Isle of May, a National Nature Reserve and home to the UK’s largest puffin colony and lots of grey seals. The boat trip will take you around 4-5 hours and includes 2-3 hours to explore the island. Adrenaline junkies can also take a RIB to the Isle of May for an exhilarating boat trip around the island.
Anstruther also boasts Scotland’s Fishery Museum, with 18 boats on display, one of which, Reaper, was used in the hit TV series Outlander.
Read More: Fish & Chips at Anstruther
Elie & Earlsferry
For: Cricket on the beach, ladies who bathe and fab food at the Inn
Elie & Earlsferry, with its beautiful beach, is a quintessential Scottish seaside village and is a popular holiday destination for Scots; how about renting an idyllic cottage with that sea view? Beyond beach games and rockpool hunting, the village is served by the Ship Inn, which serves gorgeous seafood on beach side benches, from which you can watch the Inn’s beach cricket matches. Fancy staying in a hotel in the East Neuk? The Inn also has six rooms if you want to stay a little longer.
From Elie you can walk the Fife Coastal Path to St Monans, passing Ruby Bay, named after the garnets that were once mined there (keep an eye out, you might find a fortune!) the Elie Lighthouse to the quirky Ladies Tower at Sauchar Point, a changing room built for Lady Anstruther in the 1700s so she could bathe in the Forth. The tower has fab views over the Forth. Read More: Elie & Earlsferry and a walk along the Fife Coastal Path
The East Neuk is so beautiful, I’m moving in, are you?
Love from Scotland x
How to visit the East Neuk of Fife
Map of Fife and the East Neuk
You might also like: the East Neuk Festival