This ancient royal burgh is one of Scotland's oldest towns, though much of it 'only' dates from the 15th to 17th centuries. Its centre retains a certain charm, despite some ugly modern buildings and occasional traffic congestion, and the town makes an excellent day trip from Edinburgh. The tourist office is close to the palace entrance.
Queensferry is at the narrowest part of the Firth of Forth, where ferries have crossed to Fife from the earliest times. The village takes its name from Queen Margaret (1046–93), who gave pilgrims free passage across the firth on their way to St Andrews. Ferries continued to operate until 1964 when the graceful Forth Road Bridge was opened.
Dunbar was an important Scottish fortress town in the Middle Ages, but little remains of its past, save for the tottering ruins of Dunbar Castle overlooking the harbour. Today the town survives as a fishing port and seaside resort, famed in the USA as the birthplace of John Muir (1838–1914), pioneer conservationist and father of the US national park system.
Known as the 'Iona of the East', the island of Inchcolm (meaning 'St Columba's Island') lies east of the Forth bridges, less than a mile off the coast of Fife. Only 800m long, it is home to the ruins of Inchcolm Abbey, one of Scotland's best-preserved medieval abbeys, founded by Augustinian priors in 1123.