North Berwick is a small town on the coast of East Lothian in central Scotland. It's an attractive fishing port and beach resort, nowadays a commuter town for Edinburgh 20 miles west. Several uninhabited nearby islands are seabird reserves, the most prominent being the Bass Rock.
The TIC is within the library on School Road, same hours.
North Berwick is the terminus of a branch off the East Coast mainline. ScotRail trains run hourly, daily from Edinburgh Waverley, taking 33 mins. Along the mainline these stop at Musselburgh, Wallyford, Prestonpans, Longniddry and Drem, but no other trains stop there; so coming from the south you have to go into Edinburgh, change and come back out again. The 1 railway station is quarter of a mile west of town centre.
Your rail ticket gives you a discount on entry to the Seabird Centre.
North Berwick is on A198, the scenic loop road along the coast north of A1. Coming from the south, you need to exit A1 just west of Dunbar to join A199 the former main road, then continue west a mile or so for the A198 turnoff - the new A1 doesn't make a junction here. Coming from the west eg Edinburgh, quickest is to take A1 and exit onto A199 just beyond Haddington, then continue east to A198. Bicycles aren't allowed on the new A1 and the scenic route eastbound is to join the old road at Musselburgh and wind through the coastal villages.
East Coast Bus X5, 124 & X24 run from Edinburgh Fountainbridge along Princes St (close to but not into the bus station) then via Musselburgh along the coast road to North Berwick. They run daily every 30-60 mins, taking around 90 mins.
Eves Coach 120 runs from Dunbar to North Berwick every couple of hours M-Sa, with only two on Sunday.
Eves Coach 120 runs past Tantallon Castle on its way to Dunbar. Eves Coach 121 runs to Haddington every couple of hours daily, via Drem railway station, the Museum of Flight at East Fortune, and Athelstaneford.
- Law Cycles, 2 Law Road (Alley off High St), ☏ . M-Sa 09:30-17:00. Bicycle sales, repairs and hire. Hires must be booked at least 24 hours in advance. From £20 a day.
- 1 Scottish Seabird Centre, ☏ . Closed until end of 2019. Normally daily Nov-Jan 11:00-16:00, Feb Mar Sept Oct 10:00-17:00, Apr-Aug 10:00-18:00. The Firth of Forth is an important centre for nesting seabirds and migratory species. The centre has telescopes and webcams for viewing the thousands of gannets in their colony on the Bass Rock and other islands. Common here are puffins, guillemots, razorbills, kittwakes and eider ducks. The interpretive centre is well done, with lots to keep the kids entertained. Best times to visit are May-July for nesting birds, and Sept-Oct for the baby seals. Good cafe (which remains open during the closure of the centre), with sea-view terrace in good weather. Adult £9.95 adult, child £5.95, conc £7.95, family (2+2) £26.
- 2 Coastal Communities Museum, School Road EH39 4JU. Apr-June & Sept-Nov Sa Su 11:00-16:00, July Aug W-Su 11:00-16:00. Volunteer-run museum with changing exhibitions. Free, donations welcome.
- The ruins of Old St Andrews Church are in the park next to Kirk Ports. St Andrews Well here was a holy or healing-well; it's nowadays capped.
- 3 Tantallon Castle (3 miles east of town), ☏ . Apr-Sep daily 09:30-17:00, Oct-Mar daily 10:00-16:00. A 14th-century fortress, spectacularly located on a headland, with Bass Rock to the north. A single massive curtain wall encloses the headland, with the other three sides defended naturally by cliffs. £6 adult, £4.80 conc, £3.60 child.
- National Museum of Flight - see Gullane, it's at East Fortune Airfield some 3 miles south.
- 1 North Berwick Law. In Scots a "law" is a prominent conical hill, which climbers would call a "Marilyn". It's the 187 m plug of an extinct volcano, with surrounding material swept away by glaciation to form a "crag-and-tail", very steep to the south and gentler to the east. From town follow B1347 Haddington Rd south, branching left onto the signposted path - please keep to this to reduce erosion. It's an easy stroll to the top, with vistas of the Forth islands, and of the chain of similar plugs stretching towards Edinburgh Castle; Traprain Law is the closest in view. There are remains of an Iron Age hill fort, and other defences from the Napoleonic to WWII. A mighty whale jawbone has stood on the summit since 1709, with at least 3 replacements as natural bones have crumbled. The present version (installed 2008) is a fibreglass replica, thanks to an anonymous local donor rather than to advances in cetacean orthodontics.
- The harbour area is rocky but there are long sandy beaches especially to the east. The nearby island is Fidra, in three sections and with an automated lighthouse, now an uninhabited bird reserve. Puffin numbers have soared since the lighthouse keepers' sanitary arrangements were removed: they grew "tree mallow" to use as toilet-roll, and it overgrew the puffins' burrows.
- Walk the John Muir Way, a long-distance coastal trail. Eastbound follow the coast to Tantallon Castle; there are some ratty sections towards Whitekirk where you have to join the busy A198. At low tide you can return to the coast and splosh across the outflow of the River Tyne, otherwise follow the marked trail inland. You come into Dunbar past John Muir Country Park and the golf course. The trail continues, trending south, to Cockburnspath terminus of the Southern Upland Way, and along the cliffs to Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland.
- Westbound it's an obvious path along the coast through Yellowcraigs into Gullane, and onward to Luffness and Aberlady thence Musselburgh.
- Golf: Tantallon Golf Club is west edge of town, Glen Golf Course is east edge.
- 2 Bass Rock. Scottish Seabird Centre run boat trips from the harbour. There are 1-hour trips that take you around (adult £22) which you can usually just turn up for, and 5-6 hour trips landing on the rock (adult £100) which must be booked in advance. They feed the gannets off the boat so you see them at close range diving in and "flying" underwater. Trips have finished for 2019, and the 2020 schedule and prices are not yet posted, but they'll likely restart around Easter.
- 3 Isle Of May, ☏ , . Small island lying in the entrance to the Firth of Forth, 5 miles off the Fife coast. It's a National Nature Reserve owned and managed by Scottish National Heritage. Seals can be seen all year round, whales can be spotted in late July and August. Puffins congregate in their thousands from April to July and are the island's main attraction. The island is usually accessed from Fife, but boat trips sail from North Berwick in summer, run by the Scottish Seabird Center. They use a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) with capacity for 12 passengers. The trip takes 4 hours, with a couple of hours ashore on the island. The 2020 schedule is not yet posted. £45 adult, £39 child.
- North Berwick Highland Games are held in mid-August in the Recreation Park. The next event is probably Sat 15 Aug 2020 but tbc. Extra X5 buses will run from Edinburgh.
- The High Street area has some good shops, but some are quite pricey. Aldi and Tesco supermarkets are on the main road, east edge of town.
Most eating places are on High Street and Quality Street, with more in Forth Street, and see the Seabird Centre listing for their good cafe.
- Bostock Bakery, 42 High Street EH39 4HQ, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Mon-Sun 09:00-16:00, Sun 09:00-15:00. Long fermented breads, pastries, patisserie.
- Steampunk Cafe, 49a Kirk Ports EH39 4HL. Su-F 09:00-17:00, Sa 10:00-17:00. Meals and locally roasted coffee. Their online shop sells coffee and equipment.
- Lobster Shack, Harbour EH39 4SS, ☏ . Jun-Sept daily 12:00-18:00. Seafood including local lobster and fish. Only outside seating area, does takeaway.
- Rocketeer Restaurant, 26 Victoria Rd (At the harbour close to the Seabird Center). M-W 09:00-16:30, Th-Sa 09:00-21:00, Su 09:00-06:00. Seafood, fish and burgers.
- Town bars include The Auld Hoose, Ship Inn, Golfers Rest and The Herringbone.
- NB Distillery are based at Halflandbarns, half a mile south of Tantallon Castle. They produce gin, vodka and rum. Standard tours (£18) are available without booking W Th 11:30, 13:30 & 15:30, F 11:30; longer tours by booking.
- Over a dozen B&Bs, mostly west of centre.
- 1 Nether Abbey Hotel, 20 Dirleton Avenue EH39 4BQ, ☏ . Three-star 12-room hotel in a 19th-century house, clean and friendly, good value. B&B double from £100.
- 2 Macdonald Marine Hotel, Cromwell Road EH39 4LZ. 83-room hotel, in dire need of refurbishment. B&B double from £100.
- North Berwick Library, 13 School Road EH39 4JU, ☏ . M-W & F 09:00-17:00, Th 09:00-19:00, Sa 10:00-16:00. TIC and Free internet access.
- Follow the coast road west past woodlands, sand hills, golf courses and crumbling old castles, through Gullane and Aberlady to Musselburgh, thence into Edinburgh.
- Inland is the Museum of Flight near Haddington, the hill fort of Traprain Law, Glenkinchie whisky distillery, and the rolling Lammermuir Hills.
- East is Dunbar then scenic cliffs and small fishing coves south to Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland.