Aberdour Castle Dovecot

{Scotland} Aberdour Castle & Gardens

With travel restrictions easing up a little now, we took the train along the coastline to Aberdour in Fife about a week ago, to visit Aberdour Castle. Aberdour is a scenic and historic village on the south coast of Fife, on the north shore of the Firth of Forth. A former finalist in the prestigious “Beautiful Scotland in Bloom” awards, it’s a picturesque wee town to walk through. 

Aberdour Train Station
Aberdour Castle with Kids

Aberdour Castle was built in the 1100s and is one of the oldest datable standing castles in Scotland. It started out as a modest hall-house, with various expansions and extensions following in the next 500 years. The final additions were made in 1635, by which time the hall-house had become a more typical tower house castle, with the height being raised and further ranges of buildings being added as well as gardens and terraces. 

The surviving castle was largely the creation of the Douglas family, who held Aberdour Castle since the 14th century. Sadly, after a fire in the late 17th century, the family eventually moved out and the castle was left to fall in to decay. Now large parts of the castle lie in ruins, with the former tower collapsed. The most complete remaining section of the castle is the East Range, retaining its roof and floors, including a well preserved beautiful painted ceiling in a small room just off the Long Gallery. The Long Gallery is partially furnished to give an impression of its appearance in the 17th century. And there were some fun sound effects in the reconstructed stables. 

Aberdour Castle Long Gallery
Aberdour Castle painted ceiling

Aberdour Castle also boasts a beautiful walled garden to the east and terraced gardens to the south, complete with a dovecot and an orchard. The terraces dates from the 16th century and are one of the oldest gardens in Scotland. The orchard below the terraces was originally planted in the late 17th century and was later replanted in the 1990s.

The boys really enjoyed walked around the ruins of the old castle, and imagining what everything used to look like. We counted the fireplaces, spotted where missing floors used to be, and the boys always challenge each other to see who can find the old toilets first. Another fun thing for kids to do, is the Aberdour Castle Explorer Quiz, which we had downloaded and printed off in advance of our visit though they also had some paper copies available on site. The quiz challenges you to look for certain features, find objects or symbols, or count things. All of which helps to keep their attention and engage more with what they are seeing. 

Aberdour Castle with Kids Trail

We ended our visit with a picnic in the castle gardens, at one of the picnic tables. In total, we stayed just over 1.5 hours. Afterwards, we wandered down to the beach. Actually, Aberdour has two beaches – Silver Sands Beach, and Black Sands Beach. We started out at Silver Sands, where we picked up some ice creams at the cafe there and the boys had a play on the playground next to the beach.

Aberdour Silver Sands Beach
Aberdour Silver Sands Playground

The plan was to then walk along the coast line to Black Sands, but due to a rescue mission the path was closed and the only other way to get there would have been via a big detour taking us past the train station, so we decided to just take the next train home. But I’m sure we’ll be back to visit Aberdour’s beaches some more.

Aberdour Fife Coastal Path

Visitor Info

Aberdour Castle is managed by Historic Environment Scotland. If you have a Historic Scotland membership, admission to the Castle will be included in this. Otherwise it’s £7.50 for adults (age 16+) and £4.50 for children (age 7-15 yrs), with free entry for children under age 7. There are also discounted family tickets available as well as concessions for over 65s. Young Scot card holders can get in for just £1.

Aberdour Castle is open year round, with reduced opening times during winter. There is a tearoom during the summer, and self-service tea/ coffee available in winter. You can find up to do date admission prices and opening times on the Historic Scotland website.

Note: There are currently some access restrictions are in place, so ticket prices have been reduced to £6 for adults, and free entry for children age 15 yrs and under. Last updated July 2023.

How to get there

You can take the train to Aberdour from Edinburgh, either from Waverley Station or from Haymarket. The train journey takes about half an hour. From Aberdour Train Station it’s just a 5 minute walk to Aberdour Castle. There is also a small car park next to Aberdour Castle visitor centre. 

(edited 08/05/22 to add new photos)

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