15 Best Day Trips from Edinburgh

With magnificent stone buildings, wonderful pubs on every corner and winding little streets, Edinburgh can be the trip of a lifetime. The city has so much to offer for travelers from all walks of life, looking for different experiences – it’s so vast that even a whole week might not be enough to explore everything it’s got.

However, Edinburgh is also one of the most visited tourist cities – especially in August, during the Fringe Festival. But don’t worry, because another advantage Edinburgh has is that it’s in Scotland, which is arguably one of the most beautiful parts to the UK. So, if you’re looking for a day’s worth of adventure in the land of wonder that is Scotland, why not take a look at these 15-day trips from Edinburgh. We promise you won’t regret it.

1. Glasgow

Glasgow, Schotland

Source: CappaPhoto / shutterstock

Glasgow

Only a 40-minute train ride from Edinburgh, Glasgow is not one to miss.

The biggest town in Scotland has a lot to offer, from wonderful architecture and lots of green space, to many bars and pubs, almost rivalling Edinburgh’s variety.

If you find yourself there, don’t miss the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, where you can see some stunning artwork and the Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel, winner of the 2013 European Museum of the Year award.

Finally, if you’re looking for a nice place for an afternoon tea, there’s a plethora of these around the University area, where you can enjoy a relaxing drink among some stunning views of the buildings that partially inspired J.K. Rowling’s Hogwarts.

Included in this tour: Scotland’s West Highlands: Full-Day Tour from Edinburgh

2. Stirling

Stirling, Schotland

Source: cornfield / shutterstock

Stirling Castle

Stirling is often referred to as the “gateway to the highlands” by the locals and is ideal for a day trip because there’s a small number of interesting things to explore.

Easily accessible by train from Edinburgh, Stirling is home to Stirling Castle that many believe is one of the most impressive castles in Scotland.

It’s impressive architecture and riveting history will leave you breathless and willing to explore every corner of it.

Other wonderful things to see in Stirling are the Wallace monument and Logie Old Kirk.

Legend says that if you listen hard enough, you can sometimes hear the howls of a wolf echo in the old walls; it is the beast of Stirling and, if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of one.

3. Alnwick

Alnwick, Schotland

Source: Kraft_Stoff / shutterstock

Alnwick, Schotland

Head down across the Scottish border to go to the historical city of Alnwick, in the picturesque Northumberland county.

Alnwick is a small town with a lot to see.

Little cafes and picturesque shops are huddled in the small streets, waiting to be discovered.

By far though the most impressive attraction in the city is Alnwick Castle, also known as the “Windsor of the North”. Visit the famous Poison Gardens of the castle and the gorgeous Grand Cascade fountain.

Many Harry Potter fans will recognize Alnwick Castle as the shooting location for a few of the films – and you can even take a flying lesson if that tickles your fancy!

4. Holy Island

Holy Island

Source: Michael Conrad / shutterstock

Holy Island

Once again in Northumberland and south of the Scottish border lies the charming Holy Island.

The best way to reach it is by car or coach – since there’s no rail lines and the island is only accessible at low tide – so make sure to check the tides before you go so you don’t get stranded! After the beautiful causeway, you’ll find yourself in the little town of Lindisfarne, where you can enjoy beautiful views, the sounds of the sea and some of the best ice cream in this part of the United Kingdom.

Spend some time exploring the Priory and the picturesque Lindisfarne Castle and enjoy the mead, brewed by the monks still resident on Holy Island.

5. Loch Ness

Loch Ness

Source: Botond Horvath / shutterstock

Loch Ness

If you want to experience a wonderful adventure but you’re slightly strapped for time, then a visit to Loch Ness combines all the amazing things about journeying in Scotland.

Take a bus up to the famous lake and experience the wonder of its mysterious dark waters and surrounding hills.

Utilize your inner mystery hunter and keep an eye out for the Loch Ness monster, more fondly known as Nessie.

If you’ve got the time, make sure to take the hike up to Urquhart Castle and enjoy the beautiful views over the lake.

And take lots of photos – who knows, Nessie might be lurking in the corner of one of them.

6. The Scottish Highlands

Scottish Highlands

Source: Kanuman / shutterstock

Scottish Highlands

If you’re after a very long day trip that will spend all your energy but will give you the most gratifying experience, a trip over to the Highlands is for you.

The easiest and fastest way to reach the Highlands is by car and it gives you the joy to experience most of the wonderful sights on your way there.

There’s no one particular place to go in the Highlands, but you might want to pick somewhere fairly close to Edinburgh, just past Loch Ness.

You’ll probably recognize some of the landscapes from the James Bond film Skyfall and we can guarantee that it’s the top experience for any nature lover visiting Scotland.

7. St Andrews

St Andrews, Scotland

Source: STLJB / shutterstock

St Andrews

Former royal burgh and parish of St. Andrews is home to the oldest university in Scotland, with famous alumni such as Kate Middleton and Prince William.

Even so, it’s still a lovely place to visit just for a day.

The University buildings are spectacularly grand but there’s a lot more to discover in St.

Andrews – and it’s a very straightforward train journey from Edinburgh, too.

Make sure to stroll down the Lade Braes Walk and, if you’re feeling the stress of the big city getting to you, spend a relaxing hour or two in the Kohler Waters Spa.

For a leisurely, romantic stroll, make sure to also visit the West Sands Beach.

8. The Villages Of Fife

St. Monans

Source: Nigar Alizada / shutterstock

St. Monans

Fife is so close to Edinburgh that you can even see it from some points in the city.

There’s extremely convenient buses that can take you all the way there, or you can also hire a car for a great experience, too.

On the way, you’ll pass through Queensferry, where you can experience some wonderful views and take a photo with the famous Forth Rail Bridge.

Visiting the villages of Fife is a wonderful way to explore local fishing and mining culture and the impacts that these industries have had over the Lothians.

Make sure to stop at St. Monans and Pittenween, as well as a short refreshing lunch in Crail with fresh seafood.

9. Falkirk

Falkirk, Scotland

Source: Nadezda Murmakova / shutterstock

Falkirk

If you have the good fortune of nice weather in Scotland, your top priority will be to head over to Falkirk.

Like with most towns near Edinburgh, it’s very well connected by train and bus, so you can easily plan your own way there.

Bask in the town’s history and explore the remnants of the historic Battle of Falkirk, which saw the defeat of William Wallace in 1298. Then, when you decide to come back into the modern days, enjoy the city’s great choice of wonderful shops that are sure to cover all your tourist needs.

And a day in Falkirk wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the famous Kelpies, the largest equine sculptures in the world.

10. Roslin

Roslin, Scotland

Source: Anton_Ivanov / shutterstock

Roslin

If you’re a Dan Brown fan, you’re probably itching to explore Rosslyn Chapel and see if you can find the Holy Grail yourself.

Now you can – the famous chapel mentioned in the book is just a short ride away from Edinburgh, in the little town of Roslin.

Maybe you’ll run into Tom Hanks or Audrey Tautou while you’re at it, who knows? Explore the marvellous 15th century architecture and bask in the serene atmosphere.

Look at the intricate carvings on the Apprentice Pillar and try to solve their secret.

And, if you’re unsuccessful, don’t despair, just go down for a lovely pint of ale in the pub nearby and all your worries will be gone.

11. North Berwick

North Berwick, Scotland

Source: Tom Gowanlock / shutterstock

North Berwick

Just 30 minutes on the train from Edinburgh lies North Berwick, a picturesque little town with probably the most beautiful beaches you would have ever seen.

Very close to the Scotland/England border, North Berwick boasts an amazing coastline, ideal for leisurely strolls with your loved one.

if the weather permits, make sure to enjoy a lovely ice cream as well.

If you’ve got a knack for birdwatching, make sure to visit the Sea Bird Centre.

Like with all small towns near Edinburgh, North Berwick is also notable for its winding streets, little independent shops and wonderful, refreshing pubs.

For a wonderful dining experience, make sure to stop by Steampunk, a wonderful eatery that roasts its own coffee.

12. St. Abbs

St. Abbs, Scotland

Source: Julietphotography / shutterstock

St. Abbs

If you’re looking for an escape from big city life, the small fishing village of St. Abbs is a perfect choice.

If you’re wondering where all the postcards of Scottish landscapes are from, it’s very likely they’re from this area.

There’s wonderful walking trails for anyone who’s more nature-oriented and looking for a healthy hike.

If you’re feeling tired afterwards, explore Number Four, a wonderful art gallery, or sit by the sea, watching the waves crash.

If you’ve got your surfing board with you, even better – get out there in the sea and ride the waves.

All the sea birds around you will make you happy for your choice to visit St. Abbs.

13. Wemyss Bay

Wemyss Bay, Scotland

Source: David Falconer / shutterstock

Wemyss Bay

This beautiful village dates all the way back to the 19th century and is easily accessible by train, bus or car.

Wemyss Bay is situated just on the coast of the Firth of Clyde and is a joy for all senses.

As soon as you walk in, you’ll marvel at the beauty of the train station, one of the most beautiful stations in all of Scotland.

If you’re feeling adventurous, hop on the ferry and head off to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute to enjoy the magnificent views and feel truly at one with nature.

Finally, make sure to stop at the Victorian toilets, however strange that might sound.

Even if it’s just to wash your hands, they’re a marvel on their own and their intricate designs deserve your attention.

Trust us, you can’t go wrong with Wemyss Bay!

14. The Lammermuir Hills

The Lammermuir Hills

Are you ready for a journey to the middle of nowhere? Then pick up your map and compass and get lost in the Lammermuir Hills.

It’s easiest to reach them if you hire a car, however for the more adventurous among you, you can always take the train down and then use a combination of buses/hiking to get to the hills.

If you’re a landscape photographer, this will be heaven for you.

The hills form the natural boundary between the Lothians and the Borders and the views will definitely leave you breathless.

If you’re into adventure, try and spot the elusive grouse, which has a habit of hanging around in that area.

And if you’re desperate for a cup of tea after the adventure, head over to Gifford, a nearby village with lots of comfy tea houses.

15. The Border Train

Borders Railway

Are you after an old-time style adventure? Then board The Border Train from Waverley and experience the amazing picturesque train journey to the Borders.

This journey is even more special than any other one you would have taken because it’s all done via steam train – so you’ll feel like you’ve truly travelled back in time.

If you’re feeling adventurous, disembark in one of the small towns on the way, such as Galashiels to Tweedbank, to discover more of Scotland’s wonderful past.

This off-the-beaten-path route is certain to steal your heart forever.


List of Image Sources

15 Best Day Trips from Edinburgh:

Glasgow, Schotland

  • Glasgow: CappaPhoto / shutterstock
  • Stirling Castle: cornfield / shutterstock
  • Alnwick, Schotland: Kraft_Stoff / shutterstock
  • Holy Island: Michael Conrad / shutterstock
  • Loch Ness: Botond Horvath / shutterstock
  • Scottish Highlands: Kanuman / shutterstock
  • St Andrews: STLJB / shutterstock
  • St. Monans: Nigar Alizada / shutterstock
  • Falkirk: Nadezda Murmakova / shutterstock
  • Roslin: Anton_Ivanov / shutterstock
  • North Berwick: Tom Gowanlock / shutterstock
  • St. Abbs: Julietphotography / shutterstock
  • Wemyss Bay: David Falconer / shutterstock
  • The Lammermuir Hills: Karen V Bryan / Flickr
  • Borders Railway: Walter Baxter / Wikimedia