Fife is a great day trip from Edinburgh. With caves, cafes and a gorgeous harbour, here are some of the best things to do in Kirkcaldy – my home town!
This one is a little personal… because today I’m talking about the best things to do in Kirkcaldy.
Putting it out there now: this post is about my home town. That home town is a place called Kirkcaldy, which is a mid-sized town in Fife in Scotland. My parents still live there, and in normal times I would pop through every couple of months to see them and soak up some of that fresh Fife air.
Predictably, I hated Kirkcaldy when I grew up and couldn’t get out of there fast enough. These days, though, it seems to draw me back more times than I would perhaps expect. It’s not the biggest nor the most bustling place, but for me, it does have an undeniable charm and some real hidden gems!
And I’m not that only one that thinks so, because it’s also had a starring role in a little TV show called Outlander.
You may also like some of my other posts on my adventures in Scotland
- The Jacobite steam train: everything you need to know
- 25 Scottish foods you need to try
- Your complete Edinburgh Fringe guide
What is there to do in Kirkcaldy?
Set on the coast, there are some beautiful parks, coastal walks, and local cafes that certainly won me over the last time I was in town. Add in Ravenscraig Castle, Wemyss caves and the once-yearly arrival of the Links Market, and it’s certainly got more to its name than you might think.
I also always joke about being ‘Fife for Life’ and that’s why I wanted to write this post!
What can I tell you about Kirkcaldy? Well, there are a few things…
What is Kirkcaldy famous for?
If you ask anyone about Kirkcaldy one of the first things that springs to mind is linoleum. True story: Kirkcaldy used to be the linoleum capital of the world back in the 1960s.
Kirkcaldy is also known for its nickname the ‘lang toun’, which means the long town. This was a result of its long and narrow main street, which stretched out four miles in total.
One final fact: Ewan McGregor once studied here in Kirkcaldy. He studied drama at the Fife College campus in the centre of town for a year before beginning his film career!
Are there any famous people from Kirkcaldy?
Famous is a pretty subjective term, but here’s my list of people of note from Kirkcaldy…
Ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown was born in Glasgow but he moved to Kirkcaldy when his father took up a ministerial position, and attended Kirkcaldy High School.
A famous painter whose work The Singing Butler became a bestselling image in the UK. His ‘muse’ used to live just down the road from my parent’s house.
A famous economist who wrote the book The Wealth of Nations. He’s nodded to by the Adam Smith Theatre in the town centre, which also has a cinema inside.
I’m a secret darts fan so I had to include Jocky Wilson, who won the World Professional Darts Championship not once, but twice. Sadly, he died a recluse in his home in 2012.
A famous crime novelist who had one of her novels turned into TV series Wire in the Blood. Her genre of Scottish crime fiction is often referred to as “tartan noir” which I love!
Is Kirkcaldy a nice place to live?
Well, I lived there for around 20 years and I turned out OK. Ish. At least I think I did!
For me, one of Kirkcaldy’s strongest points is how close it is to Edinburgh. I spent a lot of my younger years catching the train to Edinburgh for day trips with my friends, so it certainly makes for a good commuting town.
St Andrews, Dunfermline, Outlander filming location Culross, and the cute fishing villages of the East Neuk of Fife are also nearby. In short, Kirkcaldy is very well connected.
How to get to Kirkcaldy
As I mentioned, Kirkcaldy is within easy commuting distance of Edinburgh – in fact, the train only takes 45 minutes. It’s also 45 minutes from Dundee. Kirkcaldy also has great bus links.
Where to eat in Kirkcaldy
Kirkcaldy has a few lovely cafes and restaurants that are well worth checking out. I’m a big fan of Roots and Seeds Café for one, which I’ll talk about more later on. Merchants House Café is set in a 16th century building and serves up incredible-looking cakes!
Artisan coffee house The Bakers Field is also worth checking out. It’s been voted one of the top 15 vegetarian and vegan cafes in Scotland by the Herald, which is very impressive!
So if you’re looking for vegan cafes in Fife you know where to come!
Things to do in Kirkcaldy
Dysart Harbour in Kirkcaldy
One of my favourite things to do in Kirkcaldy is visiting Dysart harbour.
Dysart is considered to be suburb of Kirkcaldy – it used to stand-alone many years ago but it was swallowed up by the town. It definitely still retains its own identity however and it certainly has a different feel to the rest of the town. You can expect charming fishing village vibes with cute houses and a harbour that may look a little bit familiar…
Yes, Dysart is actually a filming location for Outlander, that little known TV show set in Scotland that you may or not have seen. It may look a bit different to how it looks in the show but that’s the magic of smoke and mirrors, right?
What else is there to do in Dysart?
So what should you go and see in Dysart? Well, definitely take some time to wander around the harbour – there are colourful boats bobbing around in the harbour, the charming Harbourside Hut to admire, and great sea views from the east pier.
Wander further along and there’s St Serf’s Tower and the gorgeous Tolbooth high street to wander through, which comes complete with some of the cutest houses I’ve seen.
Dysart is a bit of a hidden gem in Kirkcaldy so definitely don’t miss it!
Looking for unusual things to do in Kirkcaldy?
Well, it’s not every day you get to explore some caves, is it? The caves are located in East Wemyss on the east side of Kirkcaldy. They contain the largest collection of Pictish inscribed symbols in one place, which is really cool. There’s also the Doo Cave – which was formerly used as a Dovecot – as well as the remains of McDuff Castle to explore.
if you want the caves to be really brought to life then you’re best to do a tour. The tours are run by Save Wemyss Ancient Caves Society, and the hosts are super knowledgeable.
The caves are a little bit out of Kirkcaldy – it’s an 8-minute drive from Ravenscraig Park to get to them. If you walk it it’ll take an hour and twenty minutes.
You can find out more information about the tours here.
Roots and Seeds Cafe Bistro Kirkcaldy
I happened to go to Roots and Seeds Cafe in Kirkcaldy when I was visiting my parents last year. It was just before lockdowns started tightening up again so it was nice to be able to eat out.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect but it really blew me away! The décor is super cute for one; with its exposed brick wall and cosy sofas and cushions it really does feel inviting.
What should you order at Roots and Seeds? Well, I decided to order a lot. I went for the soup and sandwich option – except that I went for a wrap instead of a sandwich. The soup was roasted red pepper and tomato and was really good! For the wrap, I ordered a filling of tomato, mozzarella, and pesto, which was equally good. And then we finished off with a pot of tea and a brownie. I was so full I could barely move afterwards, but it was worth it!
This place is one of my new favourite cafes in Kirkcaldy, I’d highly recommend it!
Kings Live Lounge
The Kings Live Lounge is an exciting recent addition to Kirkcaldy.
The Kings Live Lounge is phase one of an exciting project to restore what was once the Kings Theatre in Kirkcaldy. In more recent times it was an ABC cinema and it was where I used to go to the cinema as a teenager, before it closed in 2000. With lots of crowdfunding behind them, the people behind the project are hoping to reopen the doors to the theatre soon.
So what is the Kings Live Lounge? Well, it’s a beautiful art deco-inspired bar set on the promenade which has a 120-capacity live performance space inside. You can come here to enjoy a cocktail or two along with live music or even some stand-up comedy.
The Links Market
Like fun fairs? Then you will love the Links Market in Kirkcaldy.
Every year in April the promenade in Kirkcaldy is descended on by the Links Market.
It transforms it from this relaxing place where you go for a walk and take in the sea views… to a cacophony of flashing lights, loud music, and delicious wafts of fried food. Oh, and there’s all of the rides of course. There are dodgems, waltzers, big wheels, and bungee jumps. Definitely make sure you have a strong stomach because you’ll need it!
Its history of the Links Market is also really interesting. I already knew that it was the longest street fair in Europe but it’s also the oldest street fair in Scotland. I also didn’t know that the origins of the Links Market were first established all the way back in 1304. Isn’t that wild?
The Links Market is only here for six days a week but it definitely makes its presence felt every spring. If you’re here when the Links Market is here? Don’t miss it!
Directly next to Dysart harbour is Ravenscraig Park, which is on the east side of town. Ravenscraig Park has lots of lovely green spaces and woodlands, including a towering monkey puzzle tree, which I was always intrigued by when I was a child.
However, what you really want to do if you visit Ravengscraig Park is to head down to the beach. Not only will you be able to enjoy charming views of the sea, specifically the Firth of Forth, but you can also discover Ravenscraig Castle. Yes, a real castle!
OK, OK, Ravenscraig Castle is a ruined castle, but that doesn’t stop it from being pretty impressive. Originating from around 1460, the construction of the castle was commissioned by James II as a royal residence. When he was killed his wife pressed on with the project nonetheless. It’s described as ‘heavily fortified’ which means that it was designed with battle in mind – it even has 3.5-metre thick walls. 3.5 metres!
Ravenscraig Castle is free to visit all year around.
Rinaldi’s fish and chips
Close to Ravenscraig Park is Rinaldi’s fish and chip shop!
Want to sample one of Scotland’s deep-fried delicacies? I might be biased including this one, but one of my friend’s parents owns the fish and chip shop in Kirkcaldy, Rinaldi’s!
Of course, I would never recommend it if I hadn’t tried it, but I have. Many times in fact. It’s my parents’ chippie of choice and whenever I visit we often end up getting a fish supper from Rinaldi’s. It even has its own brown tourist road sign so it’s definitely a legitimate thing to do if you’re visiting Kirkcaldy. So what should you order from Rinaldi’s?
Well, the fish and chips is always great. However, one thing I also like to order is the cheeseburger. It’s a burger with melty cheese in the middle, that comes deep-fried. It doesn’t come in a bun, it just comes with a portion of chips. Trust me, it’s so tasty!
Rinaldi’s Fish Bar address: 23 St Clair St, Kirkcaldy KY1 2QF
If you’re into outdoor activities then you may be interested in visiting Cluny Activities in Kirkcaldy. They have both a golf and a footgolf course, the latter of which sounds pretty intriguing. You can try clay pigeon shooting, archery, use their golf driving range, or even have a go on a Segway. I’m not sure about you but I always feel a bit apprehensive about Segways, probably just because I would definitely be the person that falls flat on their face!
If you’re looking for outdoor activities in Kirkcaldy for kids then Cluny Activities is a good shout – there’s even a kids’ adventure park. You can also grab a bite to eat at the restaurant on site, which does mac ’n’ cheese, granary sandwiches, and soup. Sounds yummy!
Find out more information here.
Fife Ice Arena
Fancy a bit of ice skating? Well, you’re in luck, because Kirkcaldy has its own ice arena.
I was here a couple of years ago when I was back home over Christmas, and it served as a reminder of just how bad I am at skating. I’m terrible! However, it is always a lot of fun. Whether it’s trying to go backwards or just stay upright with having to cling onto the side for dear life, you will definitely have a laugh if you go ice skating in Kirkcaldy.
Kirkcaldy have their own ice hockey team, the Fife Flyers, who seem to do pretty well. I’m not going to lie, I know pretty much zero about ice hockey! However, they do play matches here regularly so that’s definitely another option for things to do in Kirkcaldy.
There’s a massive car park at Fife Ice Arena in Kirkcaldy so you definitely don’t have to worry about parking. There’s also a café inside it you need a breather from hanging on for dear life – or is that just me? Anyway, as far as rainy-day activities go, this is a great one!
You can also hire skates here so no worries on that score!
Fife ice arena address: Rosslyn St, Kirkcaldy KY1 3HS
Fife Coastal Path
One thing I love about Kirkcaldy is that it joins onto the Fife coastal path. I have so many fun memories of cycling along it with friends and going running with my sister. Head down to Seafield where you can walk or run to Kinghorn, a cute coastal village only a few miles away.
There’s even the remnants of a castle along Fife Coastal Path. Although take that with a pinch of salt! Seafield Tower was once part of a 16th century castle but these days it’s not much more than ruin, so don’t go in with too high expectations because of me.
You’ll probably be more excited by the seals which are often swimming in the sea or sprawling on the rocks in the sunshine nearby!
Eat ice cream in Beveridge Park
As far as parks in Kirkcaldy go, Beveridge Park is on my side of town and is probably my favourite. It’s where I spent a lot of my younger years as a teenager – which I’m definitely not going to dive into too much detail on here. These days, the park is perfect for going for a walk. It’s big, leafy, and there are lots of little nooks and crannies to explore…
There’s a pond and that’s where the ice cream van parks up. Definitely order an ice cream as you go past – one with a flake in it will be lovely! There are also ducks and swans to take a nosy at in the nearby pond.
If you have a chance walk all the way around to the back of the park. There’s a ‘wizard’s walk’ you can do on one side, which has fantastical carved figures to spot as you go.
On the other side of the hill, go down into the Mill Dam for a secluded walk with some lovely scenery around you. You might even spot some horses on the way!
Go to a football match
OK, this might not be the dizzying heights of the Premier League, but I’ve gone to see my local team play on a number of occasions and it’s always been great fun!
So what is the local football team in Kirkcaldy? Well, they’re called Raith Rovers. You may not have heard of them but they play in the first division in Scotland. At one point in the 1990s they won a cup final once which led to them playing Bayern Munich in Europe.
What’s more, they scored! This led to an iconic photograph that showed the score sheet of ‘Raith Rovers 1, Bayern Munich 0” which you can still see in in some of the pubs in town. Real fairytale stuff.
Their ground, Starks Park, is just ten minutes down the road from my parents so I still like going on occasion.
If you’re feeling adventurous you can even order some Bovril to keep you warm! Bovril is like a hot gravy that you drink – it might not sound all that but it’s pretty good!