The former Royal burgh of Kirkcaldy is a large town on the east coast of Scotland, in the Kingdom of Fife. It's fondly known as the 'lang toon' due to its almost 1 mile water front in the 14th century, although it is almost 4 miles long now. The town is a good base for those wanting to travel around Scotland, it is close to Edinburgh and Glasgow, is in a beautiful region and should have everything you need in terms of hotels, restaurants, shops and entertainment. There are also many things to do in Kirkcaldy to keep all ages happy.
A wee bit of history
Kirkcaldy is probably most well known for being the birthplace of Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith who wrote the 1766 book 'The Wealth of Nations'. There was also a strange whiff from the Nairns Linoleum factory that gained quite the reputation, there was even a poem written about it which is displayed on the wall in the train station. Kirkcaldy has a long industrial past, with only a few of the factories still remaining. Linen, Linoleum, Salt, nails and coal were all produced here with the harbour being an important point to export and import goods.
What's Kirkcaldy like today?
Kirkcaldy is a sprawling town with a large retail park to the north, a good choice of big supermarkets, and a high street which is going through something of a transformation. The east end boost the addition of the new Adam Smith Centre and lots of cute independent shops and cafes have opened recently. The new swimming pool and leisure centre faces on to the promenade and the transformation of the old ABC cinema into the Kings Theatre is exciting for the town. The high street had declined, along with high streets across the country, but Kirkcaldy seems to have found a way to make it a nice experience again by bringing in independent retailers to fill the empty shops.
Hotels and accommodation in Kirkcaldy
There are a few good hotels in Kirkcaldy, none of which will break the bank. The Victoria Hotel is in the town centre and is only a 10 minute walk from the High Street. The rooms are modern but soft and comfortable and the food has a good reputation with locals. The Dean Park Hotel is a sleek, modern hotel situated in the north of the town, giving easy access to the motorway if you are looking for a base to explore. The rooms are beautifully decorated with everything you need and the staff are friendly and accommodating. There are 3 food options, the Kensington for casual dining, the Dukes lounge for their famous afternoon tea and the Grande for formal dining. The newly refurbished and renamed Oswald House Hotel is in the north of town and commands a dominant position over the town and the Firth of Forth. The rooms are huge and elegantly designed and the restaurant serves dishes using a long list of respected local producers. The Strathearn is another hotel which has recently been refurbished, and is situated in the east of the town, in Dysart, from here it is a lovely 15 min walk into the town centre. The rooms are large and traditionally decorated with modern touches and the onsite bar and restaurant serves food all day.
Kirkcaldy restaurants and cafes
There are lots of option when it come to places to eat in Kirkcaldy. Some, like The Victoria hotel and Dean Park Hotel, have been around for as long as I can remember and serve classic British dishes. Recently there has been a boom in small independent cafes, especially in the town's east end where money has been invested in the Adam Smith Close and heritage centre. The Merchants Cafe is a fantastic little cafe serving home baked cakes and some unique and tasty hot dishes. The Tea House and Coffee Shop is in the north of the town, in the John Smith business park. They do amazing soups and sandwiches, alongside their vast variety of teas. Tranquility Coffee House is on the outskirts of Michealston Industrial Estate, their big breakfasts and hearty traditional lunches are extremely popular. Roots and Seeds have opened recently in the west end of the High street and they serve local Fife produce, made into dishes celebrating the owners roots, Portuguese, Latin American and Scottish!
Things to do in Kirkcaldy
Ravenscraig Park is one of the town's 3 parks. Situated in Dysart on the east side of Kirkcaldy this popular park has a kids play area, a bowling green and miles of lovely forest walks, and as it's on the coast some lovely beach and coast walks too. Loved by locals this park is a good way to wile away a few hours with the family, or have a peaceful morning stroll.
From ravenscraig park, via a path to the right of the car park, you'll find Ravenscraig Castle. Now under the caer of Historic Scotland entry is free and although you can't go inside the ruin anymore it's still fascinating. The castle was began in 1460 for James II for his wife, Mary of Guelders. He wanted to build the castle to withstand cannon fire so it's somewhat ironic that he was killed by cannon fire before the castle was completed, but Mary stayed until her death and completed parts of the castle. Her son, James III exchanged the castle for the Earldom of Orkney and so it came into the hands of the Sinclair Family, who in turn sold it to Micheal Nairn, the Linoleum magnate. He gifted the castle and park to the state in 1929 and it is now open and free to explore.
Kirkcaldy Art Galleries and Museum are situated right next to the train station, just a 5 minute walk from the town centre. The building stands over some beautifully designed gardens and houses some amazing art, including the countries' largest collection of paintings by Samuel John Peploe. The museum has impressive collections of memorabilia and artifacts showing how Kirkcaldy became what it is today and the cafe is gaining rave reviews for its lovely cakes and coffees.
Adam Smith Theatre
This theatre, which is across the road from the galleries, has stood for over 100 years and is well loved by locals, especially for the yearly Christmas panto. Shows are performed regularly and there is a cinema screen and drama and dance classes. The building itself was built in 1895, at the request of Provost Beveridge, to celebrate the life of Kirkcaldy-born economist Adam Smith. It was refurbished in 1973 which is when the horseshoe auditorium there today, was introduced.
If you are looking for things to do in Kirkcaldy you can't beat one of the lovely public parks. The Beveridge park was gifted to the town in 1892 by Industrialist Micheal Beveridge. It's a traditional Victorian park with landscaped gardens, a large lake with swans and ducks, a rose garden, two play parks, football pitches, a skateboard park and a rugby stadium. In the summer months you can hire rowing or swan paddle boats and enjoy the forest walks and colourful gardens. There is a bouncy castle and crazy golf which opens during school holidays and in the summer.
Artisan Fridays is a recent addition to Kirkcaldy's calendar of events and is going down a storm. Stalls line the pedestrian part of the High street, selling all kinds of local goodies, baked goods, fresh fruit and vegetables,
The Links Market
One of the most popular things to do in Kirkcaldy, the Links market takes place for 6 days, usually beginning on the first Wednesday in April. It is officially Europe's longest street fair and began way back in 1304! What began as a trade and farmers market has steadily grown over the years and now stretches most of the way along the towns' esplanade. It's packed with thrill rides, food trucks, children's rides, stalls where you can win stuffed teddies, ghost trains, mirrored mazes and dodgems. It does get very busy, especially at night so if you are taking children I'd recommend a Sunday afternoon, or close to the 1pm opening time.
Kirkcaldy Farmers Market
On the last Saturday of every month the beautiful town square plays host to a fantastic farmers market. Local producers have stalls selling all types of meat, arbroath smokies, cheeses, fruit and veg and eggs.
How to get to Kirkcaldy
The train leaves Edinburgh Waverley and takes around 47 minutes direct to Kirkcaldy. There are around 60 trains a day so they are very regular. The train from Glasgow Central to Kirkcaldy takes around 2 hours 5 minutes. There are 50 trains a day so again, they are very regular, although you do have to change at Haymarket.
The bus from Edinburgh Bus station takes roughly an hour to Kirkcaldy and will drop you at the main bus station in the town, which is a 2 minute walk from the high street. There are taxi ranks outside the bus station. From Glasgow bus station the bus takes roughly 1 hour 20 minutes.
There is rarely any extreme weather in Fife, although it is can rain pretty often. As it is so close to the coast it rarely sees any snow but if it does it will likely to be between December and February. Spring and Autumn are mild with an average temperature of 9-12°C, winter averages around 4-6°C and in the summer between 14-16°C. It does get windy here, again because it is on the coast, but in spring and summer it's a lovely breeze. You can check the weather on the Met Office website.
Kirkcaldy is a good place to base yourself if you want everything you need on your doorstep. There is also lots of interesting things to do the town itself if you aren't travelling on day trips. The train station and bus station gives you easy access to Edinburgh, Glasgow, the borders and the Highlands and the abundance of cute cafes and parks in Kirkcaldy gives you something to do if are staying in town.