48 Best Sights in Fife and Angus, Scotland

ART@47 and Pittenweem Arts Festival

Fodor's choice

There is nothing quite like August's Pittenweem Arts Festival. Exhibitions, which involve hundreds of local and international artists, take place in the town's public buildings and in private homes and gardens. Even outside this week of events, you are likely to encounter local art and artists by visiting the festival headquarters, gallery ART@47.

Bell Pettigrew Museum

Fodor's choice

Founded by Elsie Bell Pettigrew in memory of her husband, James, a former professor of medicine, this fascinating collection of zoological specimens takes you from sea to jungle, mountain to sky. The antiquated manner of their presentation reminds you of their significance in an age when most of these creatures were still unknown to most people. In the handsome 16th-century St. Mary's Quadrangle, home to the St. Andrews University's divinity and psychology departments, you'll find an impressive holm oak and a thorn tree supposedly planted by Mary, Queen of Scots.

Dundee Contemporary Arts

Fodor's choice

Between a 17th-century mansion and a cathedral, this strikingly modern building houses one of Britain's most exciting artistic venues. The two galleries house changing shows by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists. There are children's and adult's workshops, special events, and meet-the-artist events throughout the year. Two movie theaters screen mainly independent, revival, and children's films. There's also a craft shop and a buzzing café-bar that's open until late.

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Fife Folk Museum

Fodor's choice

To learn more about the history and culture of rural Fife, visit the wonderful Fife Folk Museum in the attractive nearby village of Ceres. The life of local rural communities is reflected in fascinating artifacts and documents housed in a former weigh house and adjoining weavers' cottages. Refreshments and food are served in the Weigh House Tearoom with views of Ceres Burn. The museum is 3 miles southeast of Cupar via A916 and B939. Next door is the wonderfully peaceful St. John's Garden with a meadow labyrinth, beehives, kitchen garden, pond, and mysterious vaults (it's private but welcomes respectful visitors Thursdays or by appointment via emailing  [email protected]).

Glamis Castle

Fodor's choice

One of Scotland's best known and most beautiful castles, Glamis Castle connects Britain's royalty through 10 centuries, from Macbeth (Thane of Glamis) to the late Queen Mother and her daughter, the late Princess Margaret, born here in 1930 (the first royal princess born in Scotland in 300 years). The property of the earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne since 1372, the castle was largely reconstructed in the late 17th century; the original keep, which is much older, is still intact. One of the most famous rooms in the castle is Duncan's Hall, the legendary setting for Shakespeare's Macbeth. Guided tours allow you to see fine collections of china, tapestries, and furniture. Within the castle is the delightful Castle Kitchen restaurant; the grounds contain a huge gift shop, a shop selling local produce, and a pleasant picnic area. If you are looking to hear the pipes and see some Highland dancing and games of strength, the Strathmore Highland Games are held here around the second weekend of June. See www.strathmorehighlandgames.co.uk for more information.

House of Dun

Fodor's choice

The National Trust for Scotland's leading attraction in this area is the stunning House of Dun, which overlooks the Montrose Basin. The mansion was built in the 1730s for lawyer David Erskine, otherwise known as Lord Dun (1670–1755). Designed by architect William Adam (1689–1748), the house is particularly noted for its magnificently ornate plasterwork and curious Masonic masonry. Showing everything from Lady Dun's collection of embroidery to the working kitchens, this house tells the story of the Seat of Dun and the eminent family's history. The sprawling grounds have a restored hand-loom weaving workshop, plus an enchanting walled Victorian garden and wooded den.

McManus Galleries

Fodor's choice

Dundee's principal museum and art gallery, housed in a striking Gothic Revival–style building, has an engaging collection of artifacts that document the city's history and the working, social, and cultural lives of Dundonians throughout the Victorian period and the 20th century. Its varied fine art collection includes paintings by Rossetti, Raeburn, and Peploe as well as thought-provoking yet accessible contemporary works and visiting exhibitions.

RRS Discovery

Fodor's choice

Dundee's urban-renewal program—the city is determined to celebrate its industrial past—was motivated in part by the arrival of the RRS (Royal Research Ship) Discovery, the vessel used by Captain Robert F. Scott (1868–1912) on his polar explorations. The steamer was originally built and launched in Dundee; now it's a permanent resident, sitting by the suitably clifflike V&A museum. At Discovery Point, under the handsome cupola, the story of the ship and its famous expedition unfold; you can even feel the Antarctic chill as if you were there. The ship, berthed outside, is the star: wander the deck, then explore the quarters to see the daily existence endured by the ship's crew and captain.

Scottish Fisheries Museum

Fodor's choice

Facing Anstruther Harbor, the Scottish Fisheries Museum is inside a colorful cluster of buildings, the earliest of which dates from the 16th century. A charming trail around the various buildings and odd spaces illustrates the life of Scottish fisherfolk; you can spend a couple of hours examining the many documents, artifacts, model ships, paintings, and displays (complete with the reek of tarred rope and net). There are floating exhibits at the quayside and a window onto a working boatyard.

St. Andrews Botanic Garden

Fodor's choice

Immerse yourself in these verdant botanics, replete with 2,000 square feet of heated greenhouses, woodland, rock gardens, allotments, and an enchanting butterfly house. It's just 15 minutes out of town via the Lade Braes footpath. Bring a picnic or enjoy the on-site tearoom. There are picnic tables around the gardens plus a plant nursery and gift shop.

St. Andrews Cathedral

Fodor's choice

These are the poignant remains of what was once the largest and most magnificent church in Scotland. Work on it began in 1160, and after several delays it was finally consecrated in 1318. The church was subsequently damaged by fire and repaired but fell into decay during the Reformation. Only ruined gables, parts of the nave's south wall, and other fragments survive. The on-site museum helps you interpret the remains and gives a sense of what the cathedral must once have been like.

St. Andrews Preservation Trust Museum and Garden

Fodor's choice
Housed in a stone 17th-century house and former fisherfolk dwelling, this charming museum run by friendly volunteers contains furniture, shop fittings, curious objects, and displays relating to St. Andrews's history. The real draw though—especially in bonnie weather—is the flower-filled garden and curious outbuildings including a laundry and twin-bowled privy.

Tentsmuir Forest and Beach

Fodor's choice

Ten miles north of St. Andrews, this wonderful 50-square-mile nature reserve contains a Scots and Corsican pine forest and the birdlife-rich Morton Lochs, fringing dynamic sand dunes and the long, sandy Kinshaldy Beach. Popular with families, beachcombers, and naturalists, the beach is 5 miles long and has enough space for everyone. If you don't bring a picnic, the Crepe Shack at the car park is a decent food-and-drink option.

V&A Dundee

Fodor's choice

Opened to worldwide acclaim in 2018, the first outpost of the Victoria and Albert Museum of London is housed in an arresting riverside building by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. Scotland's first-ever design museum contains seminal works and inspiring displays by Scots and international designers. The Scottish Design Galleries present the past, present, and future through the V&A collections and loans from around the world. Among the many highlights is Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Oak Room, unveiled for the first time in 50 years. Stellar shows, exclusively created for the new V&A galleries, spark inspiration among young and old. This "living room for the city," as Kuma described his design, is worth a visit for the building and setting alone: the vistas in and around its sea-cliff-like edges and perches provide places to linger, mingle, and reflect. If the weather is bad, the Living Room Café here is a great place to linger, refuel, and admire the views of the architecture and river, plus the gift shop has a wealth of quirky design gift ideas.

Wardlaw Museum

Fodor's choice

With four intimate thematic galleries, this museum tells engaging stories about St. Andrews University, the world, and the universe through its wonderful collections. It also showcases groundbreaking research. You'll find ecumenical regalia, decorative arts, and early scientific instruments, including Humphrey Cole's astrolabe of 1575. It also has sweeping views over St. Andrews Bay.

William Lamb Studio

Fodor's choice
A visit to the studio of renowned Montrosian artist and sculptor William Lamb (1893–1951) provides a glimpse into his intriguing life, travels, and obsessions. In the intimate studio you can walk among the heads of 20th-century royalty, society figures, and everyday Montrose folk. The museum is open only in July and August and by appointment; ask the lovely staff at the Montrose Museum.


You can see excellent examples of Pictish stone carvings about 5 miles northeast of Forfar alongside the B9134. Carvings of crosses, angels, serpents, and other animals adorn the stones, which date from the 7th to the early 9th century. Note the stone in the nearby churchyard—one side is carved with a cross and the other side depicts the only known battle scene in Pictish art, complete with horsemen and foot soldiers. During the winter months, the stones are covered to protect them from the elements.

Alyth Museum

This small but intriguing local-history museum has a collection of old photos and an engaging audio Story Box mining tales of local legend, history, and today's community, as well as nearly every type of tool used by the resourceful Alyth folk.

Commercial St., Alyth, PH11 8AF, Scotland
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon.--Thurs. and Oct.–Apr.

Arbroath Abbey

Founded in 1178 and linked to the famous Declaration of Arbroath, Arbroath Abbey is an unmistakable presence in the town center; it seems to straddle whole streets, as if the town were simply ignoring the red-stone ruin in its midst. Surviving today are remains of the church, as well as one of the most complete examples in existence of an abbot's residence. From here in 1320 a passionate plea was sent by King Robert the Bruce (1274–1329) and the Scottish Church to Pope John XXII (circa 1249–1334) in far-off Rome. The pope had until then sided with the English kings, who adamantly refused to acknowledge Scottish independence. The Declaration of Arbroath stated firmly, "It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom—for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself." Some historians describe this plea, originally drafted in Latin, as the single most important document in Scottish history. The pope advised English king Edward II (1284–1327) to make peace, but warfare was to break out along the border from time to time for the next 200 years. The excellent visitor center recounts this history in well-planned displays.

Brechin Cathedral and Round Tower

The town's 13th-century Brechin Cathedral and Round Tower is on the site of a former Celtic monastery (priory of the Culdee monks) and has some unusual examples of medieval sculpture. The tower is one of only two on mainland Scotland. This type of structure is more frequently found in Ireland.

Brechin Town House Museum

Located in the old courtroom that had cells in its cellars, the Brechin Town House Museum houses a small but interesting collection of objects from inhabitants of the area: from Bronze Age jewelry to a Jacobite sporran to a letter from a World War I soldier. There is a small tourist information desk within the museum.

Broughty Castle

Originally built to guard the Tay Estuary, Broughty Castle is now a museum focusing on fishing, ferries, and the history of the area's whaling industry. The cannons and ramparts make for fine photo opportunities, and inside (up a very narrow stairway) are four floors of displays, including some of the lovely art collection of the Victorian inventor and engineer Sir James Orchar. To the north of the castle lies beautiful Broughty Ferry Beach, which, even in midwinter, is enjoyed by the locals; there is regular bus service from Dundee's city center.

Camera Obscura

J. M. Barrie donated this Camera Obscura to the town; located within a cricket pavilion, it magically projects an image of the wonderful landscape views onto the opposite wall. It is one of only four in the country and run by lovely volunteers.

Crail Museum and Heritage Centre

The story of this trading and fishing town can be found in the delightfully crammed Crail Museum and Heritage Centre, entirely run by local volunteers. There is a small tourist information desk within the center and fascinating guided walks start here regularly during the summer; check the website for the schedule.

62–64 Marketgate, Crail, KY10 3TL, Scotland
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free; tours £5, Closed Oct.–Mar. Limited hrs Apr. and May

Falkland Palace and Garden

A former hunting lodge of the Stewart monarchs, Falkland Palace dominates the town and is one of the country's earliest and finest examples of the French Renaissance style. Overlooking the main street is the palace's most impressive feature, the walls and chambers on its south side, all rich with buttresses and stone medallions, built by French masons in the 1530s for King James V (1512–42). He died here, and the palace was a favorite resort of his daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots (1542–87). The beautiful gardens behind Falkland Palace contain a rare survivor: a royal tennis court, built in 1539. In the gardens, overlooked by the palace turret windows, you may easily imagine yourself back at the solemn hour when James on his deathbed pronounced the doom of the house of Stewart: "It cam' wi' a lass and it'll gang wi a lass." 

Hill of Tarvit Mansion and Kingarrock Hickory Golf

On rising ground near Cupar stands the National Trust for Scotland's Hill of Tarvit House, a 17th-century mansion that was altered in the high-Edwardian style in the late 1890s and early 1900s by the Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer (1864–1929). The extensive wood and parklands offer an enjoyable place for a picnic or stroll, and the house itself is well worth a visit. Golfers will also want to play a round on the old Lorimer family course, the Hickory, which was brought back to life in 2008 after being ploughed up for agricultural use during World War II.

Off A916, Cupar, KY15 5PB, Scotland
Sights Details
Rate Includes: £10.50; golf £30–£60, Closed Nov.–Mar.

J. M. Barrie's Birthplace

At J. M. Barrie's Birthplace, the National Trust pays tribute to the man who sought to preserve the magic of childhood more than any other writer of his age. The house's upper floors are furnished as they might have been in Barrie's time, complete with domestic necessities, while downstairs is his study, replete with manuscripts and personal mementos. The outside washhouse is said to have served as Barrie's first theater.

9 Brechin Rd., Kirriemuir, DD8 4BX, Scotland
Sights Details
Rate Includes: £8, Closed Nov.–Mar. and weekdays

Kellie Castle and Garden

Dating from the 16th to 17th century and restored in Victorian times, Kellie Castle stands among the grain fields and woodlands of northeastern Fife. Four acres of pretty gardens surround the castle, which is in the care of the National Trust for Scotland. In summer you can buy berries grown in the walled garden, and baked goods are sold in the tearoom. The garden and estate are open year-round, even when the castle itself is closed.

B9171, Pittenweem, KY10 2RF, Scotland
Sights Details
Rate Includes: £10.50, Garden closed Tues. and Wed; castle closed Mon.--Thurs.

Kirriemuir Gateway to the Glens Museum

As is the style in Angus, the local museum doubles as the visitor center, meaning you can get all the information you need and admire a few stuffed birds and artifacts at the same time. Rock fans will appreciate the exhibit celebrating local lad made good (or rather bad), the late Bon Scott, original lead singer of the rock band AC/DC.

Meffan Museum and Art Gallery

The high point of a visit to Fofar is the Meffan Museum and Art Gallery, which displays an interesting collection of Pictish carved stones, a recreation of Forfar's cobbled street The Vennel, and artifacts from the dark days of burning witches. Two galleries host frequently changing exhibitions by leading local and Scottish artists. The museum also houses a tourist information desk.