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Must-Dos in South Queensferry this Festive Season

18 December 2015

A stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of cosmopolitan Edinburgh city centre, South Queensferry is a beautiful hidden gem nestled on the East Coast of Scotland, one definitely worth exploring this Christmas and New Year, whether you are travelling out from the capital or inward from Fife. 

Following the temporary closure of the Forth Road Bridge, South Queensferry is one of only a few Christmas, shopping, dining and tourist destinations still accessible from Edinburgh.  Not only that, but it’s home to a whole host of boutique gift retailers, restaurants, bars and artisan producers; and at only 20 minutes journey from the capital’s city centre, it’s a perfect haven to escape to for some R&R while ticking some essential items off the festive to-do-list at the same time. 

And, for those that live on the other side of the water, don’t be put off.  As well as additional train services being added by ScotRail between Inverkeithing and Edinburgh Waverley, the City of Edinburgh Council has launched a coach service which runs a circular route between Dalmeny Rail Station and South Queensferry regularly each day. Further details of this can be found on the City of Edinburgh Council website.  

So, it’s easy to get to but what’s so great about South Queensferry? Here are some of our top picks on things to see and do this festive season.

Imagine living in grandeur at Hopetoun House

Hopetoun Farmhouse 500

[Image Credit: Hopetoun House]

Experience the majesty and opulence of Hopetoun House, a fine stately home located on the outskirts of the village.  Although the house itself is closed for the season during the winter months, the lovely grounds and impressive architecture make it worth the trip.  What’s more, the Hopetoun Farm Shop provides the perfect pit stop on a brisk winter stroll to pick up some snacks or edible Christmas gifts for friends and loved ones.  Offering the finest foods sourced from award-winning suppliers around the country, you can also order your Christmas dinner at Hopetoun or pick up some supplies for the big day.

Hopetoun Farm Shop (website), Hopetoun Wood, Newton, Edinburgh, EH52 6QZ. Tel: 01506 830716 

Walk the John Muir Way

Cramond Boat CE 500

Kick off a coastal walk along the John Muir Way and if the light is good, be sure to get out at sunset (or dawn if you’re really keen) to capture the coastline at its best. From South Queensferry you will passthrough Dalmeny estate, where you can often find wild deer and other stunning wildlife. You will then see the grand Damleny House on your right overlooking the Firth of Forth before taking the winding path towards the scenic coastal Cramond front, where you can walk the promenade or take in the historic houses or famous Roman fort.

Enjoy a fine ale with the ferrymen!

The Ferry Tap ED 500

Pay a visit to the Ferry Tap for a pint of fine ale, a quaint pub situated on the main street and looking out over the Firth of Forth.  Traditionally an ale-house for the Forth's ferrymen, the pub welcomes a diverse crowd and is a popular haunt during South Queensferry’s annual festivals and events, like the infamous Loony Dook…A truly independent pub with no brewery ties, the Ferry Tap’s team scours the country for the finest seasonal ales on offer.  The pub also houses over 52 single malt whiskies – the perfect thing to warm the cockles after a winter stroll at this time of year!

The Ferry Tap (website), 36 High Street, South Queensferry, EH30 9HN. Tel: 0131 331 2000

Cheer on the Dookers at the Loony Dook

Loony Dook 500

[Image Credit: Edinburgh's Hogmanay]

Welcome in 2016 with a splash at the breath-taking Stoats Loony Dook – an annual dip in the freezing River Forth on the 1st of January.  For 30 years, thousands of people have taken the plunge to raise thousands of pounds for charities across the UK.   Hundreds of mad hatters in fancy dress will begin with a parade through the main streets of South Queensferry at 2.30pm before throwing themselves in the river.  Tickets to take part in the Dook have now sold out but spectators are encouraged to come along, soak up the atmosphere and cheer on the Dookers before their feat.  With a wide variety of pubs, cafes and restaurants all open on New Year’s Day and ready to provide some sustenance, there is no better way to kick off the New Year.  Stagecoach will run special services on New Year’s Day between Edinburgh and South Queensferry. 

Tuck into some fresh Scottish seafood at the Boat House

Boat House 500

[Image Credit: The Boat House]

Set in a warm ambiance, minutes from the stone cobbled High Street of South Queensferry, The Boat House is a hidden gem in the area, offering spectacular views of the bridges and River Forth.  Menus change daily depending on the fisherman’s catch but you can expect to see delicacies such as ‘Eyemouth crab meat with an avocado puree served with toasted rye bread’ or ‘Seared Oban scallops, n Stornoway black pudding with a cauliflower puree.

The Boat House (website), 22 High St, South Queensferry, EH30 9PP. Tel: 0131 331 5429

Pick up some last minute gifts

Maisies Window 500

[Image Credit: Maisie's]

South Queensferry’s independent shops and boutiques offer something a little bit different when you’re shopping for gifts this festive season.  Pop into Maisie’s on the high street for a lovely selection of jewellery, Emma Bridge Water crockery and home interiors.  The shop is run by talented childrensweardesigner Marie Munday so it’s the perfect pit stop if you’re on the hunt for something for a the little one in the family.

Maisie's (website), 23-24 High Street, South Queensferry, EH30 9PP. Tel: 0131 331 2524

Browse for old antiques

Sea Kist ED 500

For those with an eye for the old and unusual, pop into Sea Kist on the High Street, a quaint antique shop with all items being related to the high seas! From old water colour paintings to fabulous replica models of ships, you will find all sorts of trinkets and treasures here.

Sea Kist (website), 47 High Street, South Queensferry, EH30 9HN. Tel: 0131 331 4242

Enjoy a festive tipple while gazing out to sea

Orocco Pier 500

[Images Credit: Orocco Pier]

South Queensferry is and ideal location to watch the world go by and with a host of bars and restaurants situated along the waterfront, you don’t have to go far in search of a spot to put your feet up and relax. Orocco Pier is a beautiful and stylish restaurant, bar and hotel with the aim of creating the perfect eating, dining and drinking experience in a 17th century building.  The venue has become one of the most popular hot spots for socialising in South Queensferry.  Antico Café Bar offers a relaxing environment with full glass panelled walls looking out onto the stunning views of the Forth – the perfect place to pop the cork on a bottle of prosecco with some friends.

Orocco Pier (website) 17 High Street, South Queensferry, EH30 9PP. Tel: 0870 118 1664 

Travel to South Queensferry

TRAIN

The normal ScotRail timetable continues to operate, with an additional services added from Inverkeithing to Edinburgh Waverley.  Click here for timetable and information.

BUS

Stagecoach will be providing extra buses from the Park and Ride sites at Halbeath and Ferrytoll into Edinburgh. Click here for timetable and information.

CAR

South Queensferry is still accessible by car and open for business. Car-sharing can be an effective option for longer trips or if you need to drive to a rail station or Park and Ride. Liftshare lets you organise car-sharing to share the costs, whilst reducing congestion and pollution at the same time.

Remember to check Traffic Scotland for updates and follow @edintravel on Twitter for live traffic news for Edinburgh.

For more ideas of things to see and do in South Queensferry over the festive season check out our picks of the best places to shop and eat>