Introduction to South Queensferry

South Queensferry And Rail Bridge

Just a few minutes' train ride from Edinburgh Waverley, Queensferry sits on the shore in the shadow of the Forth Bridges. Here you’ll discover an array of independent shops, picturesque harbour, charming architecture, abundant sea and bird life, and, of course the breath-taking views of the Forth and its bridges.

Walking through the quaint town you’ll find lots of quirky shops and independent boutiques, perfect for finding that unique gift, alongside cafés and restaurants which line the main street to admire the Forth Bridges that cross over to Fife.

South Queensferry Coloured Houses By Visit Scotland[Image by VisitScotland]

Boat tours which travel under the Forth Bridge provide an excellent way to explore the local wildlife and history of the islands. Or if you prefer to stay on dry land, the Forth Road Bridge features footpaths and cycle paths, allowing visitors to enjoy spectacular views of both the Forth Bridge and the Queensferry Crossing. The town is also a great place to start a coastal walk by joining the John Muir Way and following it through Dalmeny Estate and towards Cramond village.

The fascinating past of this small coastal community is around every corner - Dalmeny House and Hopetoun House are two fine stately homes located on the outskirts of South Queensferry, both of which are excellent attractions which boast lovely grounds, impressive architecture and historic artefacts – while the history of the village, and the building of the bridges can be explored at Queensferry Museum.

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Getting There

ScotRail run a regular service from Edinburgh Waverly to Dalmeny, which takes approximately 20 minutes. It is then a 15-minute walk into the town centre.

If traveling by bus, Lothian Country Buses number 43 runs every 20 mins during the day Monday to Saturday, and every 30 mins during the day on a Sunday.

A lovely way to experience the area is with Edinburgh Bus Tours' 3 Bridges Bus & Boat Tour. Taking around 3 1/2 hours and including a guided tour to Queensferry, through the Georgian New Town and over the Dean Bridge, marvel at the stunning architecture and hear stories of the famous and infamous residents. Once you arrive at Queensferry you'll board the Forth Belle for a 90 minute cruise of the Firth of Forth. See the impressive Edinburgh and Fife coastlines, enjoy the views of the 3 Bridges and look out for seals, and if you're really lucky puffins. 

The History of Queensferry

The town of South Queensferry, also called Queensferry, or simply "The Ferry", grew up around a ferry passage which was established by Queen Margaret of Scotland in the 11th century, to transport pilgrims across the Forth to holy shrines in Dunfermline and elsewhere. 

By the early 14th century the town had become a Burgh of Regality along with Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and Musselburgh, owing duties to the convent of Dunfermline, which also controlled the ferry passage. With the privilege of a weekly market and an annual Fair, the town’s trading activities increased.

The town had become a flourishing seaport by the 17th century, trading in coal, wool and hides and importing wine, silk, linen and timber from Europe and Scandinavia. In 1627 the town was declared a Royal Burgh and continued to grow in prosperity. Several buildings from this period still survive, and as such the town is today safeguarded as an Outstanding Conservation Area.

By the 18th century the ferry service between North and South Queensferry was reckoned to be the busiest in Scotland, linking the North East of the country with Edinburgh and the south. It was the spreading of the railway network in the middle years of the 19 th century, however, that underlined the need for a bridge. In 1883, work began on the Forth Bridge, an iconic marvel of design and engineering skills known the world over. The bridge was formally opened by Prince of Wales on 4 March 1890 and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.

Queensferry Forth Bridge Copyright Fife Council(image Credit: Fife Council)

The need for a road bridge over the Firth of Forth came to light in the 1920s with the rising popularity of the private car. Nearly 40,000 tonnes of steel and 125,000 cubic metres of concrete went into the bridge’s construction, which when opened in 1964 was the largest in the world outside the United States.

The third of the bridges, The Queensferry Crossing carries the M90 motorway across the Firth of Forth. The official opening was carried out on 4 September 2017 by Queen Elizabeth II, 53 years to the day after she opened the adjacent Forth Road Bridge.

Discover more about the Forth Bridges >

Forth Rail Bridge By Visit Scotland[Image by Visit Scotland]