Introduction to South Queensferry

South Queensferry And Rail Bridge

Sitting on the shore in the shadow of the Forth Bridges, South Queensferry or simply "The Ferry", as it is known to locals, is a pretty costal town within easy travelling distance of Edinburgh.

Here you’ll discover an array of independent shops, a picturesque harbour, charming architecture, abundant sea and bird life, and of course the breath-taking views of the River Forth and its bridges.

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

Cafés and restaurants line the main street, offering spectacular views of the iconic Forth Bridge, a railway bridge which was completed over 125 years ago and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Boat tours which travel under the Forth Bridge provide an excellent way to explore the local wildlife and history of the islands. 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 on 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, while the history of the village, and the building of the bridges can be explored at Queensferry Museum.

Getting Here

ScotRail run a regular train service from Edinburgh Waverly to Dalmeny Station, which takes approximately 20 minutes. It is then a 15-minute walk into South Queensferry.

If travelling 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. Catch it from the east end of Edinburgh’s Princes Street.

A lovely way to experience the area is with Edinburgh Bus Tours' 3 Bridges Bus & Boat TourTaking around 3.5 hours and including a guided tour through Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town and over the Dean Bridge, on arrival at South Queensferry you'll set sail 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.

A Brief History of South Queensferry

South Queensferry 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.

In the early 14th century, along with Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and Musselburgh, South Queensferry became a Burgh of Regality. With the privilege granted of a weekly market and an annual Fair, the town’s trading activities increased.

By the 17th century, the town had become a flourishing seaport, trading in coal and wool and importing wine, silk, linen and timber from Europe and Scandinavia. Several buildings from this period still survive, and as such the town is today safeguarded as an Outstanding Conservation Area.

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

During 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 of the 19th 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.

The need for a road bridge over the Firth of Forth came to light in the 1920s with the rise 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 iconic Forth Bridges >

Forth Road Bridge 5

From food & drink with waterside views to a year-round programme of family-friendly events, discover more about the delights of “The Ferry” in our Guide to South Queensferry >