Scotland’s newest city, Dunfermline was once the ancient capital of Scotland and is the burial place of our most famous king – Robert the Bruce. Just 30 minutes from Edinburgh, a visit to Dunfermline is a perfect day trip or to use a great base for exploring my home region of West Fife. Here are the best things to do in Dunfermline.
Pittencrieff Park (The Glen)
Start your visit to my home city of Dunfermline with a sroll through the beautiful Pittencrieff Park, known to the locals as “The Glen”. Pittencrieff means ‘farm of the trees’ and the lands were gifted to the town by Andrew Carnegie in 1903. There are now 76 acres of paths and parkland to explore.
Don’t miss the peacock aviary and the Wallace’s Well, one of four watering holes dedicated to Sir William Wallace. It is unlikely Wallace actually visited the well, instead the name probably comes from the water being very cold, and being given the name “Well of Spaw” which morphed into Wallace. There are also glasshouses alongside the pretty Pittencrieff House, the Glen Pavilion and cafe which often holds events, and the 14th century Malcolm’s Tower.
> Pittencrieff Park is a 10 minute walk from the train station, or if you are road tripping, the is a free car park on Pittencrieff Street.
Dunfermline Abbey and Dunfermline Palace
From Pittencrieff Park, head to Dunfermline’s 12th-century abbey, where Scottish kings and queens were once laid to rest – including Robert the Bruce in 1329. Bruce’s heart might rest in Melrose, but his bones lie in Dunfermline Abbey. Elizabeth de Burgh, Robert’s wife who was also buried in the Abbey in 1327. Look out for the King Robert The Bruce carved into the Abbey’s tower.
Next door to Dunfermline Abbey, the grand Dunfermline Palace was once a royal residence and birthplace of Kings including Charles I in 1600 – the last monarch to be born in Scotland.
Dunfermline Palace was originally built in the 11th century and served as a residence for numerous Scottish monarchs, including King Malcolm III and Queen Margaret, who expanded and improved the palace during their reign.
> The ruins of Dunfermline Palace and Abbey are open to the public as a historic site managed by Historic Environment Scotland. You can explore the grounds, including the remains of the palace, the abbey, and gardens. Entrance to the Abbey and Palace are free but must be booked in advance to guarantee entry.
Dunfermline Heritage Quarter and Abbot House
Leaving the park, take a walk through the historic streets of Dunfermline Heritage Quarter, including the pretty Maygate, and the 15th-century Abbot House, Dunfermline’s oldest house otherwise known as the ‘Pink Hoose’ was originally built as the residence for the Abbot of Dunfermline Abbey. The house has a gorgeous walled garden.
Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries
Next door to the Pink Hoose is the Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries, a cultural hub that combines a library, museum celebrating the city’s royal and industrial heritage alongside an art gallery.
The Dunfermline Carnegie Library is one of many libraries established with funding from Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist. Carnegie’s contributions played a major role in the development of public libraries around the world. The library was opened in 1883, making it one of the earliest Carnegie libraries in the United Kingdom.
The Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum
The Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum is dedicated to the life and legacy of Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-American industrialist, philanthropist, and one of the richest individuals in history. The museum is situated in the cottage where Andrew Carnegie was born on November 25, 1835.
The museum provides insights into Carnegie’s life, from his early years in Scotland to his rise as a successful industrialist in the United States.
One of the museum’s key focuses is Carnegie’s philanthropic legacy. It highlights his belief in giving back to society and improving the lives of others through initiatives such as library construction, education, and international peace efforts.
Andrew Carnegie is renowned for his funding of thousands of libraries worldwide, contributing to the promotion of education and literacy.
Dunfermline City Chambers
Heading up to Dunfermline High Street, Dunfermline City Chambers was built in the gothic style in 1879 – the main tower is particularly dramatic on the city’s main street.
See a show in Dunfermline
Dunfermline is a hot bed of culture from the Alhambra Theatre, to The Carnegie Hall and P J Molloy & Sons, via the Fire Station Creative.
If you are looking for live music head to P J Molloys and the Fire Station Creative. Beyond the main venues there are lots of festivals all year round from beer and gin to the Outwith Festival live music festival held in September across 35 venues.
Where to stay in Dunfermline
Here is where to stay in Dunfermline (affiliate links at no cost to you)
- Garvock House Hotel – a traditional country house hotel
- Auld Mill House Hotel
- Pitbauchlie House Hotel
- The City Hotel – city centre hotel with a cocktail bar
Further afield, self catering and hotels near Dunfermline
- Craigduckie Shepherds Huts – a farm stay to the north of Dunfermline
- DoubleTree by Hilton Edinburgh – Queensferry Crossing
- Coorie, Limekilns – two rooms in the pretty village of Limekilns
- Dundonald Guest House and Cottage, Culross
- Saorsa House Culross
- Keavil House Hotel, Crossford
Dunfermline Restaurants and Bars
These are my favourite restaurants and bars in Dunfermline:
- Jack ‘O’ Bryan’s – modern tapas in this international restaurant near the Abbey – try the black pig!
- Dhoom – fabulous indian food and great cocktails
- 269 VEGAN – a popular vegan cafe
- 1703 – cocktail bar which serves a modern menu throughout the day
- Juniper Wine Cafe – a wine shop which serves lunches and cheese boards through the back
- The Commercial Inn – a real ale pub which serves up hearty meals
- The Bruce Limekilns – locals pub in the nearby village of Limekilns, serves fab food throughout the day
- The Ship Limekilns – traditional real ale pub which serves home cooked food.
Love from Scotland x
I’m Kate – a travel writer and photographer living in Scotland. Love, From Scotland is the Scotland travel guide that shows you where to stay and how to get outside in Scotland.