North Berwick in Scotland was voted one of the best places to live in the UK, and we bet you’ll see why when you visit. Locals here love the seaside way of life and welcome thousands of tourists every year to its scenic shores, unique attractions, and cultural heritage – all just an hour’s drive away from Edinburgh city centre! There’s no doubt there are many things to do in North Berwick.
This proximity to the nation’s capital makes it a great place to visit when you want a bit of peace after the hustle and bustle of the city. So, after seeing the attractions of a city like Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat, taking a few days in North Berwick is equally refreshing and enthralling!
You can reach North Berwick in a few different ways, such as catching a train from Glasgow Central Station or driving from Edinburgh city centre. There are other ways to reach the town, like from a railway station in the nearby villages or ferry crossing to its harbour area.
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Things to do in North Berwick
A range of Scottish treats awaits you in North Berwick – from quirky coffee shops to a stunning beachfront. We highly recommend you take you will need a packed couple of days to explore the beautiful sites that this East Lothian town has to offer.
Throughout your visit, you’ll be able to see a whole range of fantastic attractions and activities, including seeing the massive Cairngorms National Park, the mysterious Bass Rock that sits on the horizon of this seaside town, and even a selection of castles and gardens in and around the village of North Berwick.
It can be overwhelming to decide what to do while exploring the town. See our guide for the top things to do in North Berwick.
North Berwick Law
Take a hike 187 metres above sea level to the peak of North Berwick Law. You won’t regret taking on this conical hill – once you reach the top, you are greeted with stunning views of the North Berwick coastline and a whale’s jawbone.
This two-and-a-half-hour climb to the summit of North Berwick Law has a lot to offer visitors on their way up. Iron Age settlements are preserved on the hill, and lookout posts ruin the North Berwick community used during the Napoleonic Wars and World War II.
North Berwick Law provides you with a fantastic glance into the region’s history while presenting spectacular views.
Take in the beauty that the east coast has to offer at Yellowcraig Beach, a few miles west of North Berwick.
From Yellowcraig Beach, you can see some of the gorgeous sunsets in Scotland and have a close range of the Fidra Island. Visitors here love to watch the sun go down so they can see its lighthouse flicker, but you’re more than welcome on boat trips to one of North Berwick’s beautiful islands.
What’s the best part of this attraction and the Isle of Firda? This tiny spot in the North Sea inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’.
Scottish Seabird Centre
The Scottish Seabird Centre is dedicated to protecting the local wildlife living on the North Berwick coast. It offers visitors a fantastic opportunity to see puffins, gannets, and little terns.
This charity is extremely popular with tourists as it offers seasonal boat tours which take visitors around the stunning area of Craigleith, Bass Rock and the Isle of May. There is such a breadth and width of fantastic information here, not only about the wildlife but the history of North Berwick, that it’s one of the best attractions to see while you’re here.
You can even watch the birds without visiting, as remote cameras operated by the Centre will always grant you the live feed of the many bird species at the centre.
John Muir Way
Embrace the Scottish outdoors while taking a walk along John Mur Way. This route is a 134-miles long, starting at Helensburgh and ending in Dunbar.
If you cannot conquer the whole route while visiting Scotland, you can complete the section that intersects with North Berwick. On your travels, you will enjoy a coastline walk with views of North Berwick Law, and you will pass through another lovely little village called East Linton.
East Lothian is revered for the long trail walks and stunning views, so definitely add John Muir Way to your to-do list!
This part of East Lothian is well known for its stunning locations, and the Tantallon Castle is no different, just a few miles east of North Berwick.
The Red Douglas family owned Tantallon Castle. What’s left of this red sandstone castle that fell in 1651 lies on a beautiful viewpoint in North Berwick. The 14th-century fortress is now a ruin after surviving a long history of battles but holds an incredible number of artefacts that are a joy to behold.
Tantallon Castle starred on the set of the movie Under the Skin with Scarlett Johansson.
North Berwick Golf Club
Want to lower your handicap while on holiday? Look no further than North Berwick Golf Club while visiting this picturesque town.
This golf club treats you to stunning views of the Firth of Forth and the islands that dot the waters near the course. The Golf Club is steeped in history and is often used for practising the championships, especially The Open.
A trip to the North Berwick Golf Club has been used since the 17th century, and you’ll have the opportunity to tee off here while in the area.
Dirleton Castle & Gardens
Come and see one of Scotland’s oldest strongholds, steeped in the tales of battles, sieges, and noble families. These Castle & Gardens is a favourite attraction when visiting North Berwick.
Since the 14th century, this beautiful estate has been home to incredible noble families of Scotland like the de Vauxs, Haliburtons, and Ruthvens. You have an opportunity to wander the Castle’s immaculate gardens and see some scarce and gorgeous flora like the Chinese ginkgo, maidenhair tree, and many more.
The Castle and Gardens are attractions in their own right, so being able to indulge in the fascinating history of this Castle and explore the stunning gardens makes for an excellent appeal.
Bass Rock is a large volcanic island seen from North Berwick and grants a mysterious presence that will hold your curiosity.
Should you let, your curiosity get the better of you, feel free to catch one of the boat trips from North Berwick’s harbour all the way out to the island. There you’ll find not only the largest colony of Gannets but the ruins of a castle and a lighthouse. The volcanic rock of Bass Rock appears white, but the Gannets are to blame for this.
You can easily spend a whole day on Bass Rock, admiring the thriving colony of birds that make their home here.
Coastal Communities Museum
There’s no better place to begin your journey in North Berwick than at the Coastal Communities Museum.
Here you can find all the information you’d ever need to plan to see the things to do in North Berwick, with even more about the culture and heritage that makes the coastal communities a great holiday destination. Great exhibits showcase items, weapons, machinery, and much more of North Berwick’s historical legacy.
Curious about what to do in North Berwick, the local guides and volunteers will be more than happy to let you know as you admire the fascinating artefacts of the Museum.
Milsey Bay Beach
Milsey Bay Beach is undoubtedly one of the most popular of North Berwick’s Beaches and sees thousands of people every year.
Milsey Bay Beach is a great place to bring the family when the sun shines down on North Berwick, and with a picnic blanket and some snacks, you’ll be treated to sunshine and fun during the balmy Scottish summers. There are rock pools for kids to explore, and the beach is quite close to the pretty seaside town centre, so you’re always a few steps away from grabbing lunch or another ice cream!
Soak in the sun on this superb beach while gazing out at the volcanic island of Bass Rock, the faint sounds of northern Gannets barely audible in the distance.
St Andrew Blackadder Church
The St Andrew Blackadder Church sits on the corner of St Andrew Street and catches the eye of all those who walk past, with a pretty design, stained glass windows, and a belltower that always can be seen no matter where you are in the city!
Visiting this new kirk is as simple as walking in, especially since the St Andrew Blackadder Church is open daily and welcomes visitors with open arms. If you want to get to know more about the city and its attractions, chatting with the members of the Church will always be a delightful way to do so.
And whether you’re interested in attending mass or not, the church’s interior is even more beautiful than the exterior.
National Museum of Flight
Just south of the North Berwick sits the National Museum of Flight, home to a collection of over 50 aircraft, the East Fortune Airfield, and a rich learning experience for all who come to visit.
The biggest attraction at the National Museum of Flight is the Scottish Concorde, which you can enter and see the interior of one of the fastest planes in the world! Otherwise, you can spend a whole afternoon admiring the massive collection of retro planes that this museum owns.
History buffs will be overjoyed to learn that the museum was built atop the East Fortune Airfield, which served in World War II, which is one of many interesting tidbits you’ll pick up discovering the National Museum of Flight.
Fans of the hit TV series ‘Outlander’ should not miss out on Preston Mill & Phantassie Doocot, one of the leading sets of the show with a detailed history to share.
It’s no wonder this location was used as a filming set. Preston Mill is as picturesque as they come and features a tranquil atmosphere, millpond, doocot, and the burbling River Tyne that flows next to hit. You can fully embrace and learn about how the Mill works and the lives of the diligent people that would attend to it, featuring setpieces and items from the item that was in use!
Of course, you can’t enjoy Preston Mill without mentioning the exquisite wildlife that lives here – it’s not uncommon to see otters, herons, and kingfishers when you take a moment to walk beside the River.
Preston Mill is a great attraction that you should consider on your list of things to do in North Berwick.
If your holiday takes you out of the town of North Berwick and south, stop by the Hopetoun Monument for some of the best views of East Lothian.
The towering monument stands tall from the top of Byre’s Hill, which takes about a 10-minute walk to ascend the steep incline. From the summit, you’re treated to spectacular panoramic 360-degree views of the region that will make your climb worthwhile.
If you’re unsatisfied (which we highly doubt), you can even climb the 132 steps of the tower and see the views from 90 feet higher! Take care; however, you’ll need a torch and a keen eye as some of the steps are old.
St Mary’s Pleasance Garden
Established in 1972 by the 14th Duke of Hamilton, the Pleasance Garden is a sublime attraction should you ever be near the small town of Haddington, south of North Berwick.
The Garden is home to just over 1.6-acres of land cultivated in a 17th-century style and has several incredible herbs, flowers, trees, and shrubs. With year-round access, you can indulge in the colourful delights of the garden at any time you should visit North Berwick.
Some of the garden’s regular visitors include hedgehogs, bees, butterflies, and hopefully you if you plan to venture south of North Berwick!
Sitting along the River Tyne is the impressive Hailes Castle, a stronghold for the Hepburn noble family and filled with tales of sieges, the War of Independence, and Mary, Queen of Scots.
The mighty Hailes Castle was built in the 13th century and is considered one of Scotland’s oldest stone castles. Most notably, it is the location where James Hepburn, 4th husband to Mary, Queen of Scots, may have been born before running into exile after his capture in 1567.
The Castle bears the make of age and battle, and the signs that dot the ruins paint an incredible picture of the detailed battles that were fought here and make it one attraction you can’t miss out on seeing while in North Berwick.
John Muir Alpacas
That’s right, and you can make friends with the friendliest alpacas in Scotland on your trip to North Berwick!
Johnn Muir Alpacas offers an experience of a lifetime – trekking with alpacas! Join John Muir Alpacas and take your favourite alpaca for a morning or afternoon walk amongst the stunning woodlands surrounding the farm. This experience is excellent for children, and there’ll be plenty of moments to take pictures along the trail too!
Visiting John Muir Alpacas is one of the most adorable activities you can do in North Berwick, East Lothian.
If you’re a golfer, you’ve probably heard of Muirfield and known of its reputation as one of the most prestigious golf courses in the world!
Muirfield dates back to 1744 and is home to the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. It’s hosted The Open Championships sixteen times, and famous golfers like Ernie Els, Tom Watson, and Gary Player graced this beautiful course’s green.
Why not try tackle a course of champions while in North Berwick? Muirfield awaits you to tee off and enjoy the luxury of their splendid course.
Archfield Walled Garden
As you’re exploring the south side of North Berwick, make sure to stop by the lovely Archfield Walled Garden for some coffee, a light meal, and a wondrous garden!
This 18th-century garden has a little something for everyone to enjoy and enrich themselves, but most notably, a stunning garden of roses, vegetable garden, perennial meadow, and much more!
You can explore the floral paradise that makes its home here, and children will especially love the magical garden fairy trail with all sorts of fun novelty decorations. Afterwards, grab a bite to eat at the Garden Cafe or pick up your next garden project at the Garden Shop!
The Lobster Shack
Situated at the very edge of the east bay of the harbour area in North Berwick is the Lobster Shack, a beloved North Berwick institution for seafood!
You’ll often see queues lining up for The Lobster Shack, which prides itself on offering the freshest and most delicious seafood in Berwick! The classic fish and chips, lobster rolls, and even seafood bisque are delicious, and the seafood is all from the day’s catch, so there’s no question if it’s fresh!
With some fine beer, wine, or prosecco to wash it down with, you won’t want to eat anywhere else!
Grab a Brew at Steampunk Coffee
Want to start your day off right? The coffee from Steampunk Coffee in North Berwick is undoubtedly one of the best in town.
With a great reputation for excellent coffee at affordable prices, Steampunk Coffee is a great place to plan your day of activities and excitement. They have a homely atmosphere with a light steampunk theme, making it a real treat to check out!
While in the beautiful harbour town of North Berwick, make sure to place this excellent coffee brewery at the top of your list.
More things to do in Edinburgh & The Lothians
- Things to do in Edinburgh
- Things to do in Linlithgow
- Things to do in Livingston
- Things to do in South Queensferry