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40 of the best things to do in North Berwick

A short drive from Edinburgh, the seaside town of North Berwick is the perfect day trip from Edinburgh.

I recently spent a month living in Edinburgh and my husband and I took a day trip to North Berwick during this time. I was surprised not only by the beauty of the coastline but by the things to do in North Berwick and the tasty restaurants

There are a number of fun things to do in North Berwick including Tantallon Castle, the Scottish Seabird Centre, walks up the Law or along the coast, beautiful beaches and, if you’re into it, the North Berwick Golf Club.

As with Leith and South Queensferry, visiting North Berwick is a great escape from the city centre of Edinburgh and it should definitely be on your list of things to do. If you’re planning a trip to North Berwick, here are some of the top things to do there.

How to get to North Berwick

best things to do in north berwick

Getting to North Berwick from Edinburgh by car is easy and it’s a great way to explore the surrounding countryside and other things nearby in your own time.

To get to North Berwick by car, simply head east out of Edinburgh on the A1, and continue on this road until you reach North Berwick. The journey takes about 35 minutes.

I use comparison sites like DiscoverCars and RentalCars to book my car rentals as it’s easy to check prices and compare the best deals!

Train Edinburgh to North Berwick

Getting to North Berwick from Edinburgh by train is also an easy and convenient option. 

First, make your way to Edinburgh’s Waverley Station, which is located in the heart of the city centre. From there, you can catch a train to North Berwick, which takes between 30-40 minutes.

Once you arrive at North Berwick, the train station is just a short walk from the town centre.

You can book trains online in advance by using which makes it super easy to plan your journey ahead of time!

Bus from Edinburgh to North Berwick

If you prefer to travel by bus take the number 124 Lothian Bus from Edinburgh’s city centre to North Berwick. The journey takes about 45 minutes. You can also take the East Coast Buses service number 124 or 125 but these ones run less often so check the timetable in advance to plan your journey.

It’s a good idea to buy a return ticket from North Berwick to Edinburgh as it’s a bit cheaper.

Best things to do in North Berwick

1. Have a beach day in North Berwick

best things to do in north berwick

​​When it comes to relaxing in North Berwick, the beaches are the perfect place to unwind and recharge – they’re the reason most people come to this town! Dip your toes in the refreshing waters, build sandcastles, collect seashells, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll along the shoreline.

The town’s coastline is divided into two bays, the West Bay next to the golf course, and the East Bay, also known as Milsey Bay, on the other side of the harbour. The latter has a Victorian swimming pool built into the shore which is the perfect place for a swim.

Milsey Bay beach

Milsey Bay Beach is one of the most popular beaches in North Berwick, attracting thousands of visitors every year.

It’s the perfect place to spend time with your family and enjoy the Scottish sun (if it decides to come out!). 

At this beach, you don’t have far to go if you want some fish and chips or ice cream since you’re super close to the town. 

Seacliff Beach

If you’re looking for a hidden gem in North Berwick, head southeast of Tantallon Castle to find Seacliff Beach. 

This quiet and serene bay offers stunning views of Bass Rock. You can only access the beach at low tide, but that makes it even more special to visit.

You’ll find the ruins of an old manor house, Seacliff House, which burned down in the early 1900s and you can also see Tantallon Castle if you walk past the headland. 

Keep an eye out for the tiny little harbour carved out of sandstone, which was built in 1890 by the local laird. Some claim it’s the tiniest harbour in Scotland.

Yellowcraigs Beach

Yellowcraigs Beach is the perfect place to visit while in North Berwick. This beautiful natural coastline just west of the town is said to have inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous novel, Treasure Island. 

It has sweeping grasslands and majestic rolling sand dunes as well as awesome views of Fidra Island, the inspiration behind Treasure Island. 

With barbeque pits and an extensive network of trails winding through sheltered woodlands and across grasslands, you can relax and take in the stunning view of the Fidra Island lighthouse as the sun sets.

2. See Bass Rock North Berwick

bass rock north berwick

One of the most iconic and unique sights of North Berwick is Bass Rock. 

This volcanic island, situated in the Firth of Forth, is home to the largest colony of northern gannets in the world. In fact, the rock’s white colour is an optical illusion, caused by the sheer number of birds and their droppings. The seabirds leave the island for warmer climates by the end of October, so be sure to visit before then to witness their antics.

Seeing Bass Rock up close is one of the best things to do in North Berwick, but it can be difficult to get a good photo of it from the town’s beaches. 

The best way to see the rock and its bird residents is by taking a boat tour, which can be booked through the Scottish Seabird Centre.

If you’re not up for a boat tour, there’s still a great way to get a view of Bass Rock from the town by walking along the upper level of The Lodge Gardens.  

3. Visit St Andrew Blackadder Church

St. Andrew Blackadder Church is an imposing building located at the corner of St. Andrew Street in North Berwick. 

It has beautiful stained glass windows and a bell tower that can be seen from all parts of the town. It’s an eye-catching landmark that will definitely catch your attention.

The Church welcomes visitors every day and is open for those who want to attend mass or admire the church’s exquisite interior.

4. Visit the Scottish Seabird Centre

scottish seabird centre north berwick

The Scottish Seabird Centre is a must-visit attraction in North Berwick, particularly on rainy days. 

It’s the best way to learn about the local wildlife and the islands surrounding the area.

Inside the Seabird Centre, there are live cameras pointed at various locations so you can get an up-close view of the wildlife. The cameras capture footage of the largest colony of gannets in the world on Bass Rock, the puffins on the Isle of May, and the seals that reside in the area; they’re super cool!

There are also lots of displays and interactive exhibits showcasing different sea creatures like hermit crabs.

5. Find the statues throughout North Berwick

best things to do in north berwick

North Berwick is home to several must-see statues that reflect the town’s love for nature and wildlife. These statues are worth finding and they’re a fun photo opportunity. 

The Watcher Statue

The Watcher is a bronze statue of a man with binoculars, looking out towards Bass Rock. Created by Scottish sculptor Kenny Hunter, The Watcher is a great photo opportunity and appears strangely life-like, especially on an overcast day.

Arctic Tern Statue

Just outside of the Seabird Centre, the Arctic Tern statue is a beautiful sculpture of a Scottish seabird gazing up into the sky. 

Created by artist Geoffrey Dashwood, the sculpture is placed on a plinth and is simply named ‘Tern’. 

King Penguin Group Statue

Created by local artist George Graham, the King Penguin Group is a lovely bronze sculpture of a group of penguins. The statue is located in North Berwick’s High Street and features a penguin looking up into the sky as if shouting.

Gannet Gateway

Located on Victoria Road, the Gannet Gateway is a sculpture by Diane Maclean, a Scottish environmental artist. 

The sculpture features three northern gannets arranged around a steel arch, with one taking off, one in flight, and one diving down. 

best things to do in north berwick

6. Take a stroll on the John Muir Way

If you love hiking then a must-do activity in North Berwick is walking along a portion of the John Muir Way. 

This scenic trail connects North Berwick with Dunbar and passes by numerous attractions, including Tantallon Castle, North Berwick Law, the Coastal Communities Museum, the Preston Mill, and the National Museum of Flight.

If you’re not up for the entire 134-mile route (I don’t blame you!), you can opt for the shorter segment that intersects with North Berwick. 

This part of the trail will take you along the coast, providing stunning views of North Berwick Law and the charming village of East Linton. 

best things to do in north berwick

7. Go camping in North Berwick

Camping in North Berwick is a great way to experience the great outdoors around North Berwick.

Many campsites in North Berwick offer stunning views of the coastline and the surrounding countryside, making for a truly immersive and relaxing experience.

8. Visit this beautiful beach

best things to do in north berwick

Just down from The Drift Cafe outside of North Berwick is an absolutely beautiful beach that doesn’t appear to have a name (at least not on Google).

We walked down here after grabbing lunch at The Drift (see below), and strolled along it with its golden sand and beautiful turquoise water. 

9. Hang out with witches at St Andrew’s Auld Kirk

st andrews old kirk best things to do in north berwick

Uncover the darker side of North Berwick’s history by visiting St. Andrew’s Auld Kirk. 

Once the site of brutal witch trials, the Kirk is now a haunting reminder of the atrocities committed against those accused of witchcraft. Explore the remaining porch and gravestones unearthed during archaeological digs to get a glimpse into the past. 

Legend has it that this was also the hangout for witches’ covens, who were thought to summon storms!

Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, the history of the North Berwick witch trials is a fascinating part of Scotland’s past.

10. Exploring North Berwick’s Independent Shops

best things to do in north berwick

If you’re a fan of independent shops, then North Berwick is definitely worth a visit. The town is filled with unique shops selling a variety of goods, including homewares, gifts, art, and more. 

Even if you’re not planning to buy anything, a stroll down North Berwick’s High Street is still worth it for the window shopping experience.

There’s a wide range of shops to choose from, and some personal favourites include

  • Fidra Fine Art – Although it’s more of a gallery than a shop, you can still purchase local art to take home as a memento of your trip.
  • Westgate Galleries – This shop has a variety of prints, gifts, and retro North Berwick-themed items. It’s a great spot for picking up souvenirs or gifts for loved ones.
  • Rock and Bird – If you’re a fan of stationery or are in need of some cards, then this shop is definitely worth checking out.
  • Time & Tide – This shop sells a fantastic range of homewares, including furniture, candles, and other decorative items.

11. Meet the North Berwick alpacas

For an unforgettable experience, head to the John Muir Alpacas and spend some time trekking with them. 

The farm offers morning and afternoon walks through the woodlands and it’s so much fun!

Not only will you get to spend time with these adorable creatures, but you’ll also get plenty of photo opportunities along the way.

12. Hike Gullane Bents

Another great hike near North Berwick is the Gullane Bents. This beautiful coastal hike is 7 miles long and goes along the beaches of North Berwick and towards Yellowcraig beach. 

For basically the whole way you’ll get amazing coastal views! 

13. Walk up North Berwick Law

best things to do in north berwick  the law

With its peak at 187 m above sea level, the North Berwick Law provides panoramic views of the coastline and the Pentland Hills back towards Edinburgh. 

The hill’s history dates back to the Iron Age and you’ll find preserved settlements and the ruins of lookout posts used during the Napoleonic Wars and World War II. 

A whale jawbone has stood at the summit since 1709, replaced by a fibreglass replica after it collapsed in 2005. 

The walk to the top can be done in under an hour and the views are so worth it.

14. Playing golf in North Berwick

If you like golf, then North Berwick is a great place to visit. 

The North Berwick Golf Club in particular has stunning views of the Firth of Forth and is steeped in history having been used since the 17th century. 

Just try not to get too distracted from your game by the beautiful views! 

15. Archfield Walled Garden

While exploring the southern part of North Berwick, make time for the Archfield Walled Garden for some coffee, light bites, and a delightful garden experience! 

This 18th-century garden offers a little something for everyone, including a beautiful rose garden, vegetable garden, and a summer meadow. 

After a stroll through the gardens, visit the Garden Cafe or browse the Garden Shop.

16. Find this tiny house

best things to do in north berwick

As you wander along Victoria Road towards the centre of North Berwick, keep an eye out for a tiny little house called Puffin Cottage. 

It’s someone’s real home and not a holiday rental, but its small size is what makes it stand out. With an eye-catching pan-tiled roof typical of the area, the cottage looks like it could belong to Borrowers or Hobbits. 

It’s so tiny that you won’t be able to resist taking a photo of it as it’s so pretty! 

17. Puffin Fest

Puffin Fest is one of the highlights of the year in North Berwick. 

Held at the Scottish Seabird Centre for ten days in May, the festival celebrates the return of the puffins to the coastal Scottish town. 

To enjoy the Puffin Fest season, head out on a puffin spotting cruise, which is among the best things to do in North Berwick.

18. Visit the Firth of Forth Lobster Hatchery

One of the most fascinating and educational experiences you can have in North Berwick is visiting the Firth of Forth Lobster Hatchery. 

Here, you’ll learn about the conservation efforts made to protect North Berwick’s lobster population and discover how the hatchery plays a crucial role in restoring and enhancing the local marine ecosystem by introducing lobsters and other marine species. 

19. Explore North Berwick Harbour

best things to do in north berwick harbour

North Berwick Harbour has a rich history, having been originally built for pilgrims travelling to St. Andrews. 

Nowadays, the harbour is a bustling hub of private boats and yachts and is maintained by the North Berwick Harbour Trust Association. It’s one of my favourites to check out on a what to see in North Berwick list. 

Take a moment to wander around the harbour, watch the sailing boats head out, and walk out to the lighthouse.

20. Preston Mill

Located in East Lothian, Preston Mill & Phantassie Doocot is a must-see attraction for Outlander fans. 

You can learn about how the Preston Mill works and explore the lives of those who attended it. 

Besides being an Outlander filming location, Preston Mill is also a great place to spot some Scottish wildlife, including otters, herons, and kingfishers. You’ll need a good eye and some patience to spot them!

best things to do in north berwick

21. Take a Kayaking Tour

For those seeking an adventure on the water, why not rent a kayak from North Berwick Kayak Hire and explore the coast on your own?

Don’t go too far out if you’re not used to kayaking on the sea but you can still have a great time by not straying too far from shore.

22. See Hailes Castle

Located along the River Tyne, Hailes Castle is an impressive fortress that was once the stronghold of the Hepburn noble family.

Filled with tales of sieges, the War of Independence, and Mary, Queen of Scots, this 13th-century castle is considered one of Scotland’s oldest stone castles. 

It’s also the location where James Hepburn, the 4th husband to Mary, Queen of Scots, may have been born before going into exile after his capture in 1567. 

Although the castle now lies in ruins, it still bears the marks of age and battle, making it a fascinating thing to do in North Berwick.

23. Pop into the Coastal Communities Museum

The Coastal Communities Museum is a small gallery that highlights the local heritage and important parts of history from North Berwick and the surrounding communities. 

Located above a library, this museum provides visitors with even more information on things to do in North Berwick. 

The maritime gallery is one of the best free things to do in North Berwick, and the exhibits are always changing, making every visit unique. 

best things to do in north berwick

24. Attend Fringe by the Sea

When it comes to what to do in North Berwick Scotland in summer, the Fringe by the Sea festival is a must!

Fringe by the Sea is North Berwick’s answer to Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival, offering comedy, drama and adventure without the crowds of the original event. 

With a stunning view of the sea, Fringe by the Sea is definitely one of the best things to do in North Berwick in August. 

The festival dates vary each year, so be sure to check the website for the exact schedule before making any arrangements. 

The trains between Edinburgh and North Berwick also run later than usual during the festival, so you don’t have to rush back to the city early in the evening. 

25. Check out the Catherine Watson Monument

Near the Seabird Centre, you’ll come across the Catherine Watson Monument. 

This red granite Celtic cross monument with a bronze plaque on it features a portrait of Catherine Watson, made by her friends at the Glasgow School of Art.

Catherine Watson lost her life in 1889 after jumping into the water to save some young boys who were being swept out to sea and she drowned trying to save them. 

The monument commemorates her bravery and is an important tribute to a woman.

best things to do in north berwick

26. Walk down Quality Street

North Berwick has its own Quality Street – and no, it’s not named after the chocolate. 

Despite the lack of sugary treats, Quality Street still has plenty of charm to offer. The street is lined with beautiful flowers, and colourful houses, and even has an area to sit complete with a model lighthouse.

27. Go to the National Museum of Flight

The National Museum of Flight, located on the East Fortune Airfield, is a must-visit for aviation enthusiasts, or even those with a vague interest in flying – it’s sure to be more exciting than you first thought.

The interactive museum covers the history of aviation in the UK from the First World War to the present day and there is an immersive display of wartime footage and an extensive collection of aircraft.

28. Explore the ruins of Tantallon Castle

tantallon castle north berwick things to do

Tantallon Castle, perched on a cliff edge, offers breathtaking views over the Firth of Forth. This ruined 14th-century fortress was once home to the Red Douglas family and survived many sieges as the dynasty struggled against the crown before finally being destroyed by Cromwell’s armies in 1651. 

You can visit the castle and see the different artefacts from its history as well as some of its more intact rooms. 

Don’t miss the creepy pit prison, which is believed to be haunted and is one of the coolest places to visit in North Berwick. 

29. Ascend the Chesters Hill Fort

A 15-minute drive from North Berwick, Chesters Hill Fort is one of the best-preserved Iron Age settlements in the UK. It was continuously inhabited all the way into the Roman occupation of Great Britain!

If you’re interested in history and archaeology, then a visit to Chesters Hill Fort should definitely be on your list of things to do in North Berwick.

30. Watch the sunset from the beach

best things to do in north berwick

One of the simplest and most enjoyable things to do in North Berwick is to watch the sun go down from the beach. Honestly, watching the sunset is one of the top North Berwick attractions.

The sunsets here are fantastic and not to be missed. Make sure you allocate at least one evening of your North Berwick trip to sit on the beach and enjoy the beautiful sunset. 

31. See Dirleton Castle

If you’re a fan of castles and gardens, then Dirleton Castle is a must-visit when in North Berwick. While not right in the town, it’s definitely one of the top places to visit near North Berwick.

This medieval fortress is surrounded by stunning Victorian gardens, which include a massive Arts and Crafts herbaceous border that spans 215 metres and is even in the Guinness Book of Records.

In addition to the gardens, there’s plenty to explore at the castle itself. You can stop by the 13th century de Vaux Towers, tour the castle vaults, and explore the dovecot, which is home to over 1000 pigeon nesting boxes!

32. Visit NB Distillery

​​Indulge in a dram at NB Distillery, where you can explore the world of gin, vodka, and rum. Although Scotland is known for its Scotch whisky, NB Distillery offers something different.

Since I’m not a big whisky fan, visiting NB Distillery was a welcome treat for me while visiting Scotland. It’s definitely one of the best things to do near North Berwick.

There are several different distillery tours, and I highly recommend the drop-in Taster Tour, which includes a full tour of the distillery. Whatever tour you decide to take, you can book it on their website and check the times. Tours run in the morning, proving that it’s never too early for gin.

Best North Berwick restaurants

best things to do in north berwick

33. The Lobster Shack

One of the best restaurants North Berwick has to offer is The Lobster Shack.

It’s a must-visit for seafood lovers in North Berwick and you’ll find it on the harbour front where they serve up fresh catches from local fishermen.

The menu features a variety of seafood, including mussels, crabs, fish and chips, and, of course, their famous half-lobster and chips. 

Don’t be put off by the queues, as the seafood from this little hut is definitely worth the wait.

34. Steampunk Cafe

For a great start to your day in North Berwick, head to Steampunk Coffee. 

This rustic café specialises in small-batch, single-origin coffees, with all their beans roasted in-house. 

They also offer delicious brunch options, including savoury muffins, toasties, and homemade cakes and pastries.

Vegetarian and vegan options are also available and the café is dog-friendly.

35. Visit Buttercup Cafe for sweet or savoury treats

Buttercup Cafe is the perfect place to indulge your sweet tooth or satisfy your cravings for something savoury. 

Treat yourself to one of their ultra-decadent cakes or go for their hot-filled rolls, stovies, or sandwiches if you’re more of a savoury person. 

This charming cafe is a must-visit spot in North Berwick and a favourite of many locals and tourists alike.

36. Enjoy coffee with a view at The Drift

best things to do in north berwick

The Drift cafe, located just a 15-minute walk from Tantallon Castle, is the ideal spot for a relaxing afternoon pick-me-up with stunning views. 

Built out of shipping containers and perched on the edge of a sea cliff, (just up from a beautiful beach) The Drift offers an unforgettable experience. 

The floor-to-ceiling windows provide a unique perspective of the sea, and if you snag a seat near the window, it feels like you’re almost on the water. 

You’ll likely have to wait for a table here as it’s super popular.

37. Indulge in some award-winning gelato

A visit to North Berwick wouldn’t be complete without a delicious scoop of ice cream, and Alandas Gelateria in the town centre offers a slightly fancier option with its mouth-watering gelato. 

This delightful gelateria has won numerous awards for its creations and offers an impressive selection of flavours. 

Even if you’re a die-hard Mr Whippy fan, you won’t be able to resist the delectable options available at Alandas Gelateria. 

38. Bostock Bakery

For those with a love for baked goods, a visit to Bostock Bakery is a must. Their delicious selection of savoury pastries, freshly-baked bread, and cheese-filled croissants are sure to satisfy your cravings. 

39. The Sugar Mountain

If you’re in the mood for something sweet, stop by The Sugar Mountain for a wide selection of traditional Scottish sweets and mouth-watering ice cream. 

Be sure to try their American Cream Soda-flavoured ice cream, it’s a definite crowd-pleaser!

40. The Herringbone

The Herringbone North Berwick is one of the town’s best restaurants. They pride themselves on serving locally sourced food and cater to various dietary requirements, including a great separate vegan menu.

Where to stay in North Berwick

north berwick hotels
Marine North Berwick

Marine North Berwick

Escape to the Marine North Berwick for a seaside retreat with stunning views, spacious rooms, and award-winning dining. 

The grand Victorian property features a spa with an indoor pool, fitness classes, and beauty treatments. It’s the best option when it comes to hotels in North Berwick. 

Located just minutes from North Berwick’s sandy beaches and a short walk to the railway station, it’s the perfect base for exploring the coast.

Bass Rock Beachside Flat

Escape to the Bass Rock Beachside Flat in North Berwick for the ultimate coastal getaway. 

This stunning 2-bedroom apartment features sea views, free WiFi, and barbecue facilities. 

It’s super close to the beach and walking trails too. 


Escape to Whitehaven, a beachfront accommodation retreat in North Berwick just a 1-2 minute walk from the beach.

This 2-bedroom apartment features a private patio, garden access, and walking trails nearby. 

Final thoughts on visiting North Berwick things to do

North Berwick is a charming seaside town located just 30 minutes away from Edinburgh by train.

It is a popular day trip destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the fresh sea air. 

There are so many fun things to do in North Berwick including visiting its stunning beaches, historic castles, beautiful gardens, and cute harbour. 

A visit to North Berwick makes for a perfect day trip from Edinburgh, offering a mix of outdoor activities, history, and culinary delights.

FAQs on the best things to do in North Berwick

Is North Berwick worth visiting?

North Berwick is definitely worth visiting! It is a charming coastal town located in East Lothian, Scotland, known for its beautiful beaches, golf courses, and wildlife.

What to do in North Berwick in the rain?

If you happen to visit North Berwick on a rainy day, there are still plenty of things to do. One option is to visit the Scottish Seabird Centre, which offers interactive exhibits, live cameras of local seabirds, and boat trips to nearby islands. 

What is the nicest beach in North Berwick?

The nicest beach in North Berwick is arguably West Beach, which is located on the west side of the town. It’s a long stretch of golden sand that is popular for walking, sunbathing, and swimming. It’s also a great place for families as there are plenty of rock pools and caves to explore.

Does North Berwick have a promenade?

Yes, North Berwick does have a promenade. The promenade runs along East Beach and provides stunning views of the town, beach, and the surrounding islands. It’s a great place to take a leisurely walk, jog, or cycle.

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