You may have seen the amazing Inchcolm featured in my Edinburgh Itinerary or my Most Instagrammable Places in Edinburgh. If not, you’ll want to check those posts out, to give you an overview of Scotland’s beautiful capital city! Otherwise, read on to learn about the incredible Inchcolm Island & Abbey – which is a must visit day trip from Edinburgh!
About Inchcolm Island & Abbey
Inchcolm Island, found in the Firth of Forth, is an estuary formed by several rivers meeting in eastern Scotland. The northern edge of Edinburgh is bordered by the Firth of Forth. To access Inchcolm, however, you must take a boat from South Queensferry. Read more on this in the next section below.
Inchcolm Island played a large role in Scotland’s history. When Scotland attempted to gain independence from England in the 13th and 14th centuries, Inchcolm was a frequent target of English Troops. As a result, Scotland constructed a variety of defenses during World War I and II, which served as protection for Edinburgh during these times. The ruins of many of these defenses are still present today.
Inchcolm Abbey is the medieval castle found on the island, and the main reason for most tourist’s visits today. Built in the 12th century, the Abbey was actively used between the 1200’s and 1500’s. During the world wars, Inchcolm Abbey was used as a defensive measure. Currently, it is a tourist attraction, and the ruins are free for exploration.
To visit Inchcolm Island, you must take a boat from South Queensferry. There are two different boats that will get you there. These two boat services both depart from Hawes Pier, and drop you off at the island, giving you 90 minutes to explore. Maid of the Forth and Forth Tours take you on a sightseeing tour of the Firth of Forth before dropping you off on Inchcolm Island. The tours include sailing under the three nearby parallel bridges, showing off the beautiful Scottish coastline, and finding plenty of wildlife, such as birds and seals. Either trip costs approximately 21 pounds. I personally took the Forth Tours boat and had a lovely time! Just note that these daily tours only run from April to October.
The only other option to get to Inchcolm Island is chartering a private boat with Edinburgh Boat Charters. With this option, you leave from Port Edgar Marina, also located in South Queensferry. With a private charter, you choose your own route, for up to eight passengers. Prices start at 400 pounds for a half-day tour or 690 pounds for a full day tour.
There is plenty to do on Inchcolm Island. In fact, the 90 minutes provided by the boat tours is hardly enough time to fully explore everything! Right at the pier, you will find restrooms and a small visitor center. Beyond that are two trails. One trail heads toward the Inchcolm Abbey. The other goes upward to a fabulous bird’s eye view of the Firth of Forth and Inchcolm Abbey. On the way up, you will pass many of the ruins from the World Wars, such as troop barracks, underground tunnels, and other defense stations. It is all open for you to explore if you so desire. You can even go through the tunnels! Definitely take some photos of the view from above before heading down to explore the Abbey. If you’re lucky you’ll even get a glimpse of some seals hanging out in the harbor!
The Abbey itself is incredibly impressive. It’s in pretty good shape and the entire building is open for exploration. The unique thing about this place is definitely how “unregulated” it is. There are only two or three staff around, hardly any places roped off, no gates, etc. It’s kind of a free-for-all and I absolutely loved it! You just want to be careful in your exploration though, because the stairs and walkways in particular can be quite tight and slippery. If you are not cautious, you may get hurt. Otherwise, have fun taking amazing photos and checking out all the fabulous rooms, with their fabulous views!
What do you think? Does this seem like a great day trip from Edinburgh?! Because, let me tell you, it absolutely is! If you can’t tell from the photos, it’s quite a fascinating place. If you come here for a visit, please tag me in your photos on instagram @travelswithkayy!