With its uneven buildings holding a secret of the past, Culross is a gorgeous place to step back in time in Scotland! Narrow streets, higgledy piggledy houses and views across the river towards Edinburgh await you in this beauty of a location.
We used to live just a few miles away from picturesque Culross and we’d visit it often as it was such a pretty place – and there was also a kids playground that we could let Marcus and Alex run riot in too!
That was before the village gained its recent popularity from being featured as a location in the Outlander tv show (it’s Cranesmuir) but a recent trip showed me that it’s still a cute village worthy of visiting and even in the summer is a fairly quiet spot. (Weekends are probably a different story!)
If you’re looking to visit Culross in Fife and want to know a bit more about the village and what you can see there then read on for all my tips!
A note from the writer: Hey! I’m Kirsty and I’m a UK travel expert – while I grew up in Scotland, as an adult I now return to visit almost every year – there’s so much to see! Shout (or comment below) if you have any questions about your next trip and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
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How to pronounce Culross? It’s not quite how you would think – you pronounce Culross: Coo-russ
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Do an Outlander tour to Culross
Since it’s on the Outlander trail there are a number of tours that go from Edinburgh and include Culross – perfect if you’re not wanting to drive yourself.
Where is Culross?
Culross is a Scottish village that is situated in the region of Fife which is just north of Edinburgh. Often people say that Fife looks like the head of a dog on a map – if you go to the bottom coastline of Fife where the River Forth is, Culross is on the Eastern side of that.
If you’re driving from either Glasgow or Edinburgh to Culross it will take you around 45 mins.
Culross is not particularly accessible with its steep paths, roads and cobbled surfaces. If you have access issues please bear this in mind before visiting.
What is the Outlander connection?
Culross has landed itself on numerous traveler’s bucket lists since it was used as a filming location for Outlander, the Amazon tv show where a woman goes back in time to Jacobite era Scotland! (If you’ve not seen it but love Scotland then it’s a good one to get you excited for your trip)
The village of Culross has been used many times in films but in Outlander it is the village of Cranesmuir where Geillis Duncan lives. Geillis is a friend of the main character Claire and is a recurring character who also has time travelled. I won’t go into the plot too much though for fear of spoilers!
Cranesmuir is where many of the plot lines in the first series happen including when Claire is accused of being a witch.
If it doesn’t look quite right to you then that might be because the buildings were painted a darker grey colour whereas in real life they were white!
The gardens at Culross Palace were also used as the herb gardens at Castle Leoch in the show.
In season 4 a house in Culross was also used – it was Balriggan Cottage was which was the home of Laoghaire and her daughter Joan. You can find it near the Mercat Cross.
Things to do in Culross
Culross is just a small village so there aren’t a tonne of things to do but it’s a lovely place to spend a few hours or half a day from Edinburgh or Glasgow.
1. Culross Palace
The main thing to do in Culross is to visit the National Trust for Scotland site – Culross Palace. You can’t miss it with its bright yellow walls as it really dominates the village.
Culross Palace dates back to the late 16th century and would have been a merchant’s house at the time (albeit a very rich version of a merchant rather than just a traveling merchant!).
You can enjoy some of the restored interiors which have been kept as they would have been at the time and also the garden which is a great example of a period garden with herbs, fruit and flowers.
2. Hanging Gardens Viewpoint
Even if you decide not to enjoy the palace and pay to go in you might like to see a nice viewpoint which looks over the hanging gardens and out towards the river.
You don’t need to pay for this view – just head up Back Causeway and then take a left towards Hagg’s Wind before you get to the Mercat Cross.
3. Explore the streets
One of the nicest things to do in Culross is just to explore some of the narrow, cobbled streets that are around. There are so many unique houses, many of them being holiday cottages now, that are so interesting to see.
Lots date back to the 16th and 17th century and of course some a bit later too. You can really get a sense of the history of the village by exploring down little alleyways!
Some points to look out for – The Study, The Mercat Cross and the Lockit Well – where the village got it’s water.
And if you’re feeling energetic then perhaps a walk by the old railway line and by the river which forms part of the Fife Coastal Path. Look to the east and you might spot the Forth Bridges in the distance.
4. Town house
In the centre of the village is the Town House which would have been the legal and commercial hub when it was a bustling port.
Now you’ll find that it’s a place to learn about the village and also where there are some exhibitions on. When we went there was a photography exhibition on which was focused on the Outlander connection.
5. Culross Abbey
Further up the hill you’ll find Culross Abbey which is dates back to the 1200s and is when the early community of this area would have begun.
It’s a steep walk up the hill but you’ll be rewarded with stunning views and the most gorgeous little houses up there too.
Currently in September 2023 the Abbey is closed to visitors – you can check the status of the reopening here.
How to get to Culross
Culross is on the south Fife coast, just along from the Kincardine Bridge crossing.
You’ll possibly cross the River Forth at the Kincardine Bridge unless you’re coming from the north or elsewhere in Fife. You might also cross at the Forth Bridges if coming from Edinburgh.
When you arrive in Culross you’ll see one large car park as you enter the village but there’s also another one as you drive through and are just about to leave. The car park is free.
We travelled in our campervan and found the car park on the East side of the village best as it had better spaces for a long vehicle.
There is no train station in Culross so if you are getting around Scotland without a car you’ll need to get there by bus or by an organized tour (see below).
Unfortunately there is no direct bus to Culross from Edinburgh but there is from the town of Falkirk and from Dunfermline which can both be reached easily by bus or train.
The buses are run by Stagecoach and the numbers you’ll need are:
- 28 – to/from Falkirk
- 8A – to/from Dunfermline
With Culross being on the Outlander trail it’s often a stop for many of the organized tours that go from Glasgow or Edinburgh. If you love getting all the information about a place then these tours can be excellent.
Here are a few that include the village of Culross on their itineraries:
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🏴 Scotland Travel FAQ 🏴
Do I need insurance for traveling to Scotland?
YES! I always recommend people take travel insurance when exploring the world!
Check Travel Insurance Master for quote comparisons from different providers.
Do I need a car for visiting Scotland?
YES – If you’re wanting to explore Scotland fully then a car is worthwhile. It will get you to all the best sights and on your own timetable
I recommend DiscoverCars to compare car rental prices in Scotland
How to book accommodation in Scotland?
For hotels I recommend Booking.com
For apartments and cottages check out VRBO
Will my phone work in Scotland?
Perhaps – it depends if you have roaming enabled and beware this can be an expensive way to use your phone.
What to pack for Scotland
Keep yourself dry be prepared for any weather is my motto for Scotland! A rain jacket and comfy shoes are a must.
See my post about what to pack for Scotland
Do I need midge spray for Scotland?
YES – if you’re traveling in the summer months to any of the west coast, highlands, islands or lochs it’s recommended.
Locals swear by Avon’s Skin So Soft!
If you’re sticking to the cities or traveling in winter, early spring or late fall then you likely won’t need it.
What’s the best guidebook for Scotland?
I really like the Lonely Planet Guidebooks
Where to get flights for Scotland
Skyscanner is my first port of call for finding cheap flights to Scotland.
Do I need a visa for Scotland?
Many countries don’t need a visa for visiting Scotland as tourists (USA, Canada, Aus, NZ and Europe) – it’s always best to check first though.