Download GPX file for this article
55.9891-3.3962Full screen dynamic map

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

South Queensferry is a town on the south bank of the Firth of Forth in West Lothian, 10 miles west of Edinburgh. Historically it was the ferry port for crossing to Fife, then in modern times it acquired three bridges. It's nowadays a commuter town for Edinburgh and in 2020 had a population of 10,400.


"Right in the midst of the narrows lies an islet with some ruins; on the south shore they have built a pier for the service of the Ferry; and at the end of the pier, on the other side of the road, and backed against a pretty garden of holly-trees and hawthorns, I could see the building which they called the Hawes Inn."
- Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson 1886

The Firth is pinched at this point and has long been a crossing point. The first documented regular service was the Queen's Ferry, established almost 1000 years ago by St Margaret, wife of King Malcolm III, to ensure regular transport from Edinburgh to Dunfermline (then the capital) and to the pilgrimage town of St Andrews. The iconic railway bridge opened in 1890, to grace the lids of a myriad tins of Scottish shortbread. The car ferry remained in service until 1964 when the Forth road bridge opened. By the 21st century this was showing its age, and the replacement road bridge Queensferry Crossing opened in 2017. So nowadays most traffic bypasses high above the town, which has become a commuter suburb. The main reasons to visit are to stroll through the old town and admire the bridges, and to visit the ruined abbey on Inchcolm Island.

Get in[edit]

Map of South Queensferry

By train[edit]

1 Dalmeny has four Scotrail trains an hour from Edinburgh Waverley via Haymarket, taking 15 min. These continue over the Forth Bridge to North Queensferry, Inverkeithing, Dunfermline, Cowdenbeath and Glenrothes. Change at Inverkeithing for trains along the Fife coast from Kirkcaldy, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness. From Glasgow, Newcastle and elsewhere in England, change at Edinburgh or Haymarket.

Dalmeny station is up the hill half a mile (800 m) southeast of town centre. It has a staffed ticket office in rush hour, otherwise buy from the machines. There are toilets and a waiting room, and ramp access to both platforms.

By bus[edit]

From Edinburgh take Lothian Bus 43 from St Andrews Square (stop YD) via West End, Blackhall and Barnton junction. These run every 20 min, taking 45 min. Lothian Bus 63 wanders from South Queensferry along a leisurely tour of the city's western edges and you'd only use it to reach Heriot Watt University at Riccarton.

Buses from Edinburgh and the airport into Fife stop at the south end of the Forth Road Bridge above South Queensferry. This stop is convenient for the top end of town near the retail park, and for connections from the north without backtracking via Edinburgh, but it's a 20-minute walk from the historic centre. Services include:

  • Stagecoach Bus 747 from Edinburgh Airport, continuing north to Ferrytoll Park & Ride, Inverkeithing, and Halbeath for buses across Fife.
  • Stagecoach buses 53 to Dalgety Bay and 55 to Dunfermline.

Bus 7 runs hourly from Livingston, taking an hour via Uphall, Broxburn, Winchburgh and Kirkliston.

By car[edit]

From Edinburgh, follow A90 west then branch off onto B924, the old road to the ferry.

Avoiding Edinburgh, from M9 join M90 and exit at the A90 interchange, immediately turning off onto A904. The M90 junctions were re-numbered when the new bridge opened and the motorway was extended: these may not show on older maps. From Stirling and the west, shortcut by leaving M9 at Jcn 2 and follow A904 east into town.

By plane[edit]

Forth Rail Bridge

South Queensferry is 3 miles from Edinburgh Airport (EDI IATA). Bus 747 from the airport (Stand G) to Fife stops on the Forth Road Bridge, every 20 min daily. Otherwise travel via Edinburgh Haymarket.

By bike[edit]

From Edinburgh, National Cycle Route 1 follows disused railway tracks out of the city across golf courses onto A90 Queensferry Road. Branch off onto B924 the old ferry road. Nearing town, the route forks left towards Dalmeny station to join the Forth Road Bridge, but keep right down the hill to come into town centre. It's about 10 miles (16 km) in all. A longer but leafier route from east or west is to follow the Union Canal towpath, leaving it at Winchburgh to come into town along the B roads.

Get around[edit]

Reaching the stately homes listed below will need a car, bike or taxi. Everything else is a short walk.


High Street
The bridges are most visitors' first sight of South Queensferry - you'll see them as you come in to land at Edinburgh Airport.
  • 1 Forth Bridge. This cantilever railway bridge, completed in 1890, carries the East Coast Mainline railway from London to Aberdeen. It's of very sturdy construction, as in 1879 the winter winds had tragically brought down the Tay rail bridge. That bridge's architect was sacked from the Forth project, and the design allowance for wind strength raised five-fold. Painting the Forth Bridge was long a by-word for a never-ending task, but in 2011 they finally finished, as modern paints were much longer lasting. In 2015 the bridge became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's not worth crossing by train just for the view, as trains rattle across in a couple of minutes. Forth Bridge (Q275) on Wikidata Forth Bridge on Wikipedia
  • 2 Forth Road Bridge. Opened in 1964, this suspension bridge carried the A90 until replaced in 2017 by the new bridge. It now carries only public transport, making it the world's most elaborate, expensive bus lane. There's a footpath and cycleway on either side: exit onto A904 Ferry Muir Rd and follow signs for the Visitor Centre, free parking. Normally pedestrians and cyclists use the east walkway, with the west used for maintenance vehicles. Occasionally use is switched, when they need to carry out maintenance on the east side. Use the steps and underpass either end to cross between walkways. No tolls. Forth Road Bridge (Q933000) on Wikidata Forth Road Bridge on Wikipedia
  • 3 Queensferry Crossing. This cable-stay road bridge, opened in 2017, carries the M90. There's no walkway or cycle path, so view it from the waterfront or old bridge. No tolls. Queensferry Crossing (Q8564816) on Wikidata Queensferry Crossing on Wikipedia
  • Old town of South Queensferry stretches along the waterfront. Its east end lies beneath the railway bridge, with a slipway and the historic Hawes Inn (see "Sleep"). Here in Stevenson's novel Kidnapped young David Balfour is tricked aboard a ship, knocked out and carried away, to cheat him out of his inheritance. The slipway used to be the ferry jetty: it's still used for boat-trips to Inchcolm Island (see "Do"), and for landing tenders from cruise liners. The street is wide at this point, and is the main car and coach parking lot. The best views out to sea are from this eastern part, with tankers, Royal Navy warships and big cruise liners in the offing. The small fortified island forming the base for one of the rail bridge cantilevers is Inchgarvie: you can't visit. Going west the road narrows into the cobbled High Street, where some houses date from the 15th century.
  • Queensferry Museum, 53 High St EH30 9HP, +44 131 331 5545. Closed. Small exhibition of the history of town, ferry and bridges. It remains closed.
  • Vennel Cemetery behind Ferry Tap has elaborate old gravestones. It belonged to the adjacent old parish church, built 1633, which is now a private house.
  • 4 St Mary's Episcopal Church (Priory Church), Hopetoun Rd, EH30 9RA. Built around 1450 as a priory for the Carmelite Friars, but falling into disuse until restored in 1889 when it became Episcopal (Anglican). The stumpy tower was once three storeys high. The rest of the Carmelite monastery buildings have entirely disappeared. Priory Church (Q7245487) on Wikidata Priory Church, South Queensferry on Wikipedia

Further out[edit]

Hopetoun House
  • 5 Hopetoun House, South Queensferry, EH30 9RW (2 miles west of town), +44 131 331 2451. Apr-Sep: daily 10:30-18:00. Magnificent Georgian mansion house, built in 1701 but greatly extended in the 18th century by the Adams. With landscaped gardens looking out over the Firth, great display of daffodils in spring. Adult £10.50, child £5.50, conc £9.50. Hopetoun House (Q1627581) on Wikidata Hopetoun House on Wikipedia
  • 6 Dalmeny House, South Queensferry, EH30 9TQ (follow signs off B924, the old ferry road), +44 131 331 1888. June & July: Su-W by guided tour at 14:15 & 15:30. 19th-century ersatz Tudor/Gothic pile, with Regency interiors and landscaped gardens. Open in summer only for guided tours, or by arrangement for groups. You can see the exterior from the public footpath along the coast. Adult £10, child £6.50, conc £9. Dalmeny House (Q5211555) on Wikidata Dalmeny House on Wikipedia
  • 7 Dundas Castle, EH30 9SP (take B800 south, follow signs into private drive), +44 131 319 2039. No tours. With its original 15th-century keep, but mostly in 19th-century retro-Tudor/Gothic style, this castle is a venue for private or corporate events, with luxury accommodation. Dundas Castle (Q5314756) on Wikidata Dundas Castle on Wikipedia
  • House of the Binns: see Linlithgow. The house is closed but you can enjoy the grounds.
  • 8 Inchcolm Island lies northeast in the Forth estuary. The main draw is the Augustinian abbey, a well-preserved miniature Iona. There are also wartime fortifications, and wildlife - watch for seals. Regular boat trips sail in summer from the slipway, operators include Maid of the Forth and Forthtours.


House of the Binns Tower
  • Walk the John Muir Trail along the shore. East of town, the path starts near Hawes Inn, follow Longcraig Rd. Good views out across the Firth, the bridges are soon lost to view as you turn the headland towards Dalmeny. The path leads over the lawns of Dalmeny House, admire but please respect private property. Near Cramond, find Eagle Rock on the shore, a Roman carving of circa 200 AD. Beyond this you fetch up against the muddy tidal creek of the River Almond: there's no bridge, and the ferry (a little rowboat) ceased in 2001. Its replacement is continually debated, but for now, you either have to re-trace your steps, or divert a mile or two inland to the A90 bridge.
  • Port Edgar Marina and Sailing School, Shore Road, EH30 9SQ, +44 131 331 3330. Daily 9AM-4:30PM. Dinghy sailing, kayaking, canoeing, powerboating. Hire and tuition available at this council-run facility. Berthing facilities available for visiting yachts.
  • Golf: Dundas Parks GC at Dundas Castle is 9 holes. Niddrie Castle GC is south of M9 towards Broxburn.
  • The Loony Dook is a traditional New Year's Day swim in the bracing waters of the Firth of Forth, from the jetty below the Boat House. It's sometimes an "official" part of Edinburgh Hogmanay, with charity fundraising. That hasn't happened since covid, but people plunged in anyhow.
  • Ferry Fair is a community festival held in August. Its strangest aspect is the "Burry Man", a local man covered from head to toe in burrs (the sticky hooked fruit of the burdock) who leads a procession through town. As his odd garb restricts his movements the procession dawdles over several hours, so two assistants periodically ply him with sips of whisky through a straw.


  • Tesco is the main supermarket, in the retail park by the A904 / bridge junction. It's open M-Sa 6AM-11PM, Su 8AM-8PM has a filling station.


Inchcolm Abbey
  • Queens Spice at 1 High St is an Indian open M 4-11:30PM, Th-Sa 5-10PM, Su 1-5PM.
  • Orocco Pier, 17 High Street, EH30 9PP, +44 131 331 1298, . Food 8AM-11PM. Restaurant, bar and hotel on the waterfront. Outside decking for fine days with great views of the Forth and bridges. They also have rooms. B&B double £110.
  • The Boat House, 22 High Street, EH30 9PP, +44 131 331 5429. Food daily noon-midnight. Pleasant seafood restaurant with great views.
  • Thirty Knots next to the Railbridge is open Th-M noon-midnight.
  • Railbridge Bistro, 4 Newhalls Rd, EH30 9TA, +44 131 331 1996. Su-F 9AM-6PM, Sa 9AM-10PM. Beneath the railway bridge, so-so reviews for the food.


  • Inchcolm Inn[dead link] is west end of town at 24 Hopetoun Rd, open W-Su.
  • The Ferry Tap, 36 High Street, EH30 9HN, +44 131 331 2000. Su-W 11AM-midnight, Th-Sa 11AM-1AM. Character-laden old pub with good real ales and pub grub. Dog-friendly, nautical memorabilia and occasional live music.


Propping up the Burryman
  • 1 Hawes Inn, 7 Newhalls Road, EH30 9TA (waterfront almost under the railway bridge), +44 131 331 1990. Historic pub with lodging, comfy and good dining. The 19th-century novelist Robert Louis Stevenson often stayed when journeying to and from the north, and mentioned it in his novel Kidnapped. B&B double £80.
  • 2 Stag Head Hotel, 8 High St, EH30 9PP, +44 131 331 1039. 17th century coaching inn with great views of the Forth, some rooms cold and draughty. B&B double £130.
  • 3 Dakota Edinburgh, Ferrymuir, EH30 9QZ (in retail park off B800, S edge of town), +44 131 319 3690, . Slick hotel with great reviews for comfort and service, with free shuttle to airport. B&B double £100.
  • 4 Premier Inn, Builyeon Rd, EH30 9YJ (Bridge / A904 roundabout), +44 333 777 4683. Budget chain hotel, usually comfy but poor air-con / temperature control, some traffic noise. B&B double £65.


As of Aug 2022, South Queensferry and its approach roads have 4G from O2 and Vodafone, and 5G from EE and Three.

South Queensferry Library, 9 Shore Road EH30 9RD (corner of Hopetoun Rd), +44 131 529 5576, . M W 1-8PM, Tu Th F 10AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-5PM. Has PCs with free internet access.

Go next[edit]

David Balfour is carried off by ship
  • Most visitors to South Queensferry come from Edinburgh on a day-trip; it's easy to do the reverse.
  • Cross the bridge to Fife. Just after crossing is North Queensferry, where the main attraction is Deep Sea World. The Fife coast to the east is mostly industrial and commuterland until you get beyond Kirkcaldy to the picturesque East Neuk fishing villages.
  • Branching off M90 north of the bridge, see historic Dunfermline, or turn west along the coast to charming 17th-century Culross.
  • A short drive or bike-ride west on A904 brings you to House of the Binns, a 17th-century mansion. Turn off to the coast for Blackness Castle, a 15th-century fort looking like a stone ship about to sail; continue on the main road to Linlithgow with its palace; in Bo'ness the main attraction is the heritage steam railway.
  • South Queensferry beaches are muddy. Decent beaches that you can build sandcastles on are much further east, around Gullane, North Berwick and Dunbar.
  • Glasgow, Stirling, Perth and Dundee are all within an hour or so by train or car.
Routes through South Queensferry
PerthNorth Queensferry  N  S  Edinburgh AirportEdinburgh

This city travel guide to South Queensferry is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.