Rosyth, Scotland – Cruise Port Guide

Rosyth Port guide

What to do in Eight Hours ashore… ROSYTH, Scotland – a Cruise Port Guide…

ROSYTH – is situated on the north bank of the River Forth, just 40 minutes from Edinburgh. Its position on the Firth of Forth is dominated by 3 bridges – the Forth Bridge, the world’s largest multi-span cantilever bridge carrying the railway, the Forth Road Supension Bridge and the new Queensferry Crossing . As your ship arrives – passing Edinburgh on the south shore of the Firth – it passes directly under all bridges, so they are unmissable on both arrival and on sail away. Rosyth is a large industrial port and naval base and, although there is a small Cruise Terminal here, it mainly functions as a base for day trips to Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital.

Other ports used ‘for’ Edinburgh include South Queensferry – a tender port on the south bank of the river and Leith on the east coast – where smaller ships can enter the harbour and larger ships tender into Newhaven pier. I will give them their own separate Port Guides with their own transport information…

A HUGE CONSTRUCTION PROJECT– a very short history …

Rosyth – on the north coast of the Firth of Forth, on the east coast of  Scotland – was built in 1909. A key naval base during World War 1, its easy access to the North Sea played a large part in the success of Britain’s war effort.  A Garden City was built to provide homes for the port workers over the year 1915 -1918 and the dockyard remained in action for WW2, later becoming home to the UK’s nuclear deterrent with a Polaris submarine base. In 1997 Rosyth became the first British naval dockyard to be privatised when it was purchased by Babcocks, a large ship builder. The 65,000-tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth was built in Rosyth –  the largest, most expensive, warship ever built in the UK, expected to be the Navy’s flagship for the next 50 years. Rosyth is also home to 7 decommissioned nuclear submarines…


Rosyth is a busy industrial port and shipyard, you cannot wander around it! Cruise line excursions will leave directly from the ship’s side, otherwise you will take a short free shuttle to the Terminal Building. Rosyth has an excellent Welcome Team of local volunteers who are really helpful and always delighted to share information about various options for your day ashore.  

The terminal has free wifi for both passengers and crew but is no Duty Free shopping, although  occasionally there will be some souvenir stalls.

Cruise lines sometimes run a pre-booked shuttle to the nearby rail station for regular trains to Edinburgh. The route crosses the historic Forth Bridge, which has featured in many films including a a hair raising chase on the bridge in The 39 Steps! If your cruise doesn’t provide a shuttle option then taxis are available at the terminal, with journeys to Inverkeithing Station costing around £10 one way for up to four people.

The Cruise Terminal usually offers free shuttles to both Dunfermline, the ancient capital of Scotland which is about fifteen minutes away, and to North Queensferry, which is literally in the shadow of the two Forth bridges and a great walking and photography location.  

HOW TO GET TO EDINBURGH… from the ship

Your best route is by train which will take about half an hour from the railway station and cost approximately £11.00 return. If four share a taxi, it would cost around £16.00 return in total. A Taxi would be slightly quicker at about half an hour from the port  and would cost about £40 each way – if you are a group of four that would cost about £20.00 a head return.  Local bus would be about £5 return each but it would certainly take over an hour and could take up to two depending on connections. 


There is plenty to see and do in Edinburgh, it is a compact, hilly city so be prepared for a lot of walking with flat sensible shoes!  Listen out for the Mons Meg, the one o’clock gun fired from the imposing battlements of Edinburgh Castle which can be heard throughout the city. The Castle homes Scotland’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny, historically used for the coronation of Scottish rulers.

Edinburgh has a medieval Old Town and elegant Georgian New Town with parks, gardens and neoclassical buildings beneath the surrounding hills. You don’t need to spend much to have a good day as many of the attractions in the city are free to visit: 

  • The Royal Mile which runs between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace
  • Princes Street with chopping on one side and dramatic views on the other.
  • Calton Hill great views, the Dugald Stewart Monument & the National Monument
  • St Giles’ Cathedral – 14th Century Cathedral of the patron saint of Edinburgh.
  • The Grassmarket historic market place, crafts and artisan shops
  • National Museum of Scotland – diverse exhibits showcase Scottish history.
  • Museum of Edinburgh, in beautiful Huntly House tells the history of the city.
  • National Galleries of Scotland – a world class exhibition of art from all eras
  • The Writer’s Museum – celebrates three of Scotland most famous writers – Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Highlights of Edinburgh that incur an entrance fee include:

  • Edinburgh Castle – but you could spend a whole day here!
  • Holyrood Palace the official residence of the Queen in Scotland, founded as a monastery in 1128.
  • The Georgian House – see both sides of life – both the luxurious ‘upstairs’ rooms and the ‘below stairs’ servants quarters are open to visitors.
  • Scotch Whiskey experience – all about Scotlands national drink with free samples.
  • Camera Obscura for a unique perspective on the city.
  • Real Mary King’s Close – the cities hidden, underground, streets & history.
  • John Knox House, oldest medieval building and storytelling centre.

Don’t forget that the city will be very busy during the Edinburgh Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe. Also many venues host shows and exhibitions and may alter their opening hours.  The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place at the castle which will restrict access. If you are visiting in August, it is best to double check everything!


Slightly out of Edinburgh city centre but definitely worth considering , especially in very high or Festival season… 

  • Royal Yacht Britannia is on the coast at Leith – five decks of staterooms, crews quarters exhibitions and engine rooms. Fascinating!
  • Edinburgh Zoo – a world class, parkland zoo offering keeper talks, hands-on animal encounters and free hilltop safari rides with a panda enclosure and the only koala in the UK
  • Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 72 acres of the some of finest botanic gardens in the world, with fantastic views of Edinburgh Castle and skyline. The classic glasshouses contain an amazing collection of plants which have been part of Edinburgh for 350 years.

If you have visited EDINBURGH before

Two easy options would be Dunfermline and North Queensferry, both quite nearby and accessible by a shuttle from the cruise port.


was the ancient capital of Scotland and has just become a city. There are three notable attractions,

  • Dunfermline Palace and Abbey – an 11th century abbey ,the final resting place of King Robert Bruce, notably minus his heart, along with seven other Scottish royals. in the grounds you can see the the ruins of the Royal palace where Charles 1 of England was born in 1603.
  • Pittencrieff House Museum and Park a 17th century mansion house is set in beautiful parkland was purchased and donated to the city in 1903 by Andrew Carnegie – probably the most famous resident of Dunfermline who made his fortune in America in the late 1800s.
  • The Birthplace of Andrew Carnegie, the weaver’s cottage where he was born in 1835 is now a museum – displays in the memorial hall tell his life story. Heritage walks are organised by the museum in summer.

North Queensferry

  • The Ferry originally ran from the rocky promontory extending south into the Firth of Forth. Dunfermline Abbey held the rights to this profitable service which provided a good income until the Forth Bridge was built to carry the railway across the firth. The ferry service ran until the opening of the Forth Road Bridge in 1964.
  • The Lantern Tower, set between the two bridges is the the world’s smallest working lighthouse. It used to be a guiding light for the ferries.
  • The Coastal Path – runs from directly beneath the Forth Rail Bridge. It is about 3.5 miles in total and covers an interesting mix of coast, wildlife and industrial landscape on the circular route.

Further from the port…

These options will need car hire or a taxi for the day when they could be combined with other attractions.

Hopetoun House is just outside South Queensferry on the opposite side of the Firth. The beautiful 17th century house is home to Lord Hopetoun and his family.

You can visit the house and grounds, there is a tearoom and you can book clay pigeon shooting.

Rosslyn Chapel
Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel was founded in 1446 – it is 23miles from Rosyth and still a place of worship with weekly services. The unusual decoration, and use of symbolism in the Chapel, led to speculation regarding possible connections with the Knights Templar, Freemasonry and even the Holy Grail.

This rose to fever pitch with the publication of Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, in 2003.

Linlithgow Palace The ruins of this magnificent Royal Palace are about 28 miles from Rosyth. Both James V and his daughter Mary Queen of Scots were born in this superb Renaissance castle overlooking the peaceful loch and peel (park). This countryside retreat was an ideal place for the royal family to break a journey between Edinburgh and Stirling Castles. Today high towers look out over the park and loch, designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its varied wildlife and waterfowl.

Linlithgow Palace
Linlithgow Palace
Falkland Palace 
Falkland Palace 

Falkland Palace is about 30 miles from Rosyth – a  16th Century Royal palace inspired by the grand châteaux of France, built by James IV and restored in 1860.

Mary, Queen of Scots loved this palace and its estate where she spent hunted, learning falconry and, suprisingly, a game of tennis.  Today, visitors can visit the house, Britain’s oldest tennis courts, the formal gardens, orchard and a living willow labyrinth.

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