Absolute Escapes October 9 2019

Scotland’s ancient capital of Dunfermline is a vibrant town with a lot to discover. From ancient buildings to modern architecture to a public park recently named the best in Scotland – this town is full of surprises.

Just a 30-minute train journey from Edinburgh’s city centre, it’s easy to get to there. Dunfermline Town Railway Station is a short, 10-minute walk to the town centre where your adventure can commence!


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There are plenty of things to do to fill your day in Dunfermline. Below are my recommendations of the top attractions that are not to be missed:

Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum

As a Dunfermline-born businessman and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie’s heritage is celebrated throughout the town. His birthplace museum offers free entry and an interesting guide around where he spent the first year of his life. The other side of the museum demonstrates the lead up to Andrew Carnegie’s success in America and how he became the world’s richest man through the steel industry in Pittsburgh.


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Abbot House

 The exterior of Abbot House will definitely get you reaching for your camera! This 16th-century townhouse is a testament to the prosperity of Dunfermline during Medieval times, and is located right next to Dunfermline Abbey. One thing I noticed on my trip to Dunfermline is the abundance of eye-catching architecture, and Abbot House definitely fits into this category!


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Dunfermline Abbey

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Dunfermline then the spectacular Abbey is the place to visit. This historic spot traces its roots back to the year 1070, when King Malcolm III married Queen Margaret (who later became Saint Margaret) in a ceremony in a church at Dunfermline. She liked the place so much she decided to set up a religious community here, bringing in Benedictine monks from Canterbury to form its core.

The Abbey is the burial place of Scotland’s legendary ‘Outlaw King’ Robert the Bruce (click here to read more on Robert the Bruce), and indeed, no fewer than seven kings of Scotland were buried here. If you look closely at the top of the tower, you can see the words  “King Robert Bruce” outlined in the architecture. An unmissable photo opportunity, whatever the weather!


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Carnegie Library and Galleries

 Blending in seamlessly with the ancient buildings nearby, the award-winning, modern building which houses the Carnegie Library and Galleries is open to the public free of charge.

The downstairs area consists of a public library and an art gallery showcasing local artists. You are invited to have a look around the gallery and then leave feedback on which artwork caught your eye the most. I thought this was a really nice way to get involved with a local project.

The upstairs area consists of the museum, where you can indulge in more of Dunfermline’s rich history, and the upstairs gallery which holds interesting and innovative art exhibits.


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Pittencrieff Park (‘The Glen’)

Andrew Carnegie donated this public park to Dunfermline town in 1903 and his statue stands at the entrance of the park. Locally known as ‘The Glen’, the park is a picturesque place to wander around, with a cafe in the centre if you’re in need of a coffee fix.

Also located in the middle of the park is Pittencrieff House – a gloriously orange building which really brightens up the park on a grey day. The gardens next to Pittencrieff House are also really lovely to walk through – look out for the resident peacocks!


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Quirky Places to Eat and Drink

One thing that Dunfermline is not short on is quirky cafes and restaurants, and you’re spoilt for choice on where to eat. The cafe which caught my eye was Cafe Wynd, just off the High Street, where the coffee and food options are great and the staff are really attentive and friendly. The only problem you may have here is deciding which cake to eat!

Another great lunch option is the Heaven Scent Cafe which is located inside the Carnegie Library and Galleries. This place has great reviews and also offers a lot of food options for people of all ages and preferences. This cafe also boasts a wonderful view of the Abbey gardens and the Abbot House.

If you’re looking for a different kind of evening meal in Dunfermline then head over to Dhoom, which serves Indian street food. The menu offers a varied choice of quirky dishes partnered with a trendy and relaxed vibe in the restaurant. The cocktail bar also makes it a popular choice and busy spot in Dunfermline.


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The Old vs The New

As I walked through the streets of Dunfermline, I admired all the old buildings and history that this town is made up of, but I also couldn’t help but notice the amount of street art and modern buildings.

Keep an eye out for the mural dedicated to Dunfermline local, Caroline Weir, who represented Scotland in the women’s football World Cup. You can find more art on the high street and in Pittencrieff Park. The street art certainly adds colour and excitement to the town.


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Another great spot is Fire Station Creative – a former fire station now transformed into a vibrant gallery and creative workshop for artists. It is also a bar and restaurant serving locally-sourced food.


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Dunfermline certainly has a lot to offer from a historical and educational point of view. However, I found that it is also has a lot of quirky and up and coming attractions. It’s clear that the town can benefit from both its past and its future.

Zoe Wilmshurst

P.S. Established in Edinburgh in 2004, Absolute Escapes are award-winning specialists in self-drive holidays in Scotland. Our team have turned our love of exploring Scotland into our day job – we know exactly where to find the best accommodation, the best food and drink experiences, and how to turn your trip into an unforgettable one. Send us an enquiry now and start planning your Absolute Escape.

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