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From Edinburgh to Loch Ness: Must-See Destinations on Caledonian Travel Holidays
Caledonian Travel Holidays offer a unique experience for travelers looking to explore the stunning landscapes and rich history of Scotland. From the vibrant city of Edinburgh to the mythical Loch Ness, there are countless must-see destinations that will leave you in awe. Whether you’re a history buff, nature enthusiast, or simply looking for a memorable vacation, Caledonian Travel has something for everyone. In this article, we will take you on a journey through some of the top destinations you can visit on your Caledonian Travel Holidays.
Edinburgh: A City Steeped in History
Step into the enchanting city of Edinburgh and embark on a journey through time. As Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh is packed with historical landmarks and cultural treasures. Start your exploration with a visit to the iconic Edinburgh Castle, perched atop an ancient volcanic rock. Take in breathtaking views of the city and delve into its storied past as you walk through its medieval halls.
No trip to Edinburgh is complete without a stroll down the Royal Mile. This historic street connects two magnificent landmarks – Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere as you browse through charming shops selling tartans, kilts, and other traditional Scottish souvenirs.
For literary enthusiasts, make sure to visit The Writers’ Museum dedicated to Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson – three of Scotland’s most celebrated writers. Explore their lives and works through fascinating exhibits and artifacts.
Stirling Castle: Where History Comes Alive
Just a short drive from Edinburgh lies Stirling Castle – one of Scotland’s grandest castles with a history dating back over 900 years. Step inside its walls and be transported back in time to pivotal moments in Scottish history.
Marvel at the Great Hall adorned with tapestries that depict scenes from Scottish history. Explore the Royal Palace, where Scottish monarchs once held court, and imagine what life was like within these regal walls. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Chapel Royal and admire its stunning stained glass windows.
From the castle’s battlements, enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, including the famous Wallace Monument – a towering tribute to Scotland’s national hero, William Wallace.
The Isle of Skye: A Natural Wonder
Venture further north to experience the breathtaking beauty of the Isle of Skye. Known for its rugged landscapes and dramatic cliffs, this island is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.
Explore the mesmerizing Fairy Pools, a series of crystal-clear pools and waterfalls that weave through enchanting glens. Take a hike through the otherworldly Quiraing, where towering rock formations create an ethereal atmosphere that will leave you speechless.
Don’t forget to visit Dunvegan Castle, one of Scotland’s oldest continuously inhabited castles. Discover its rich history and explore its beautiful gardens overlooking Loch Dunvegan.
Loch Ness: Unraveling a Myth
No trip to Scotland would be complete without a visit to Loch Ness – home to one of the world’s most enduring mysteries: The Loch Ness Monster. Take a cruise across this vast freshwater lake and keep your eyes peeled for any signs of Nessie.
Aside from its mythical resident, Loch Ness offers stunning views of rolling hills and serene waters that stretch as far as the eye can see. Explore Urquhart Castle on its shores – a picturesque ruined fortress with a turbulent history.
For those seeking adventure, take part in water sports such as kayaking or paddleboarding on the loch or enjoy scenic walks along its banks.
In conclusion, Caledonian Travel Holidays offer an unforgettable journey through some of Scotland’s most iconic destinations. From exploring Edinburgh’s historical landmarks to immersing yourself in nature on Skye and unraveling the mystery of Loch Ness, there is something for every traveler. Embark on a Caledonian Travel Holiday and create memories that will last a lifetime.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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17 Best Day Trips From Edinburgh to Add to Your Itinerary
By: Author Laura
Posted on Published: 20th December 2020 - Last updated: 22nd July 2023
Categories Edinburgh , Travel , UK
In today’s post, 17 travel bloggers share their top recommendations for day trips from Edinburgh. Whether you’re interested in small Scottish towns, beautiful scenery or a spot of whiskey tasting, these Edinburgh day trip suggestions have got you covered!
Recommended by Maria from Maptrekking
Travelling in the UK would not be complete without visiting Edinburgh; there is so much to see nearby so it makes for a great place to base yourself.
If you love hiking and stunning views, the Pentland Hills provide a wonderful day away from the hustle and bustle of the city of Edinburgh.
Though it is only a 30-minute drive or 1-hour bus journey from the city centre, the Pentland Hills can make you feel like you have been transported to the Scottish highlands.
Along with bleating sheep and adorable highland cows, you will be met with views of the city and Arthur’s seat, water reservoirs, small waterfalls, and gorgeous rolling hills.
Most visitors tend to hike in the hills but there are other activities offered based on the season, like horse riding, skiing, mountain biking, etc. The hills are great for both a fun day trip with friends or a peaceful, solo hiking excursion. Whatever activity you choose, make sure to be prepared!
There are remote areas and weather conditions can change rapidly. Though the hills are a short distance from Edinburgh and there are small towns nearby, it is a good idea to bring extra food, hiking supplies, and a proper navigational tool.
Even in the summer, make sure to bring a good quality waterproof raincoat and hiking boots.
Recommended by Sophie and Adam from We Dream of Travel
Loch Lomond, nestled in the heart of the Trossachs National Park, is a popular spot on a Scottish road trip . However, it also makes for a great day trip from Edinburgh.
Easily accessible from Edinburgh by car in under 2 hours, Loch Lomond offers a beautiful escape to the spectacular Scottish countryside.
Covering over 71km² and a shoreline of over 153km, Loch Lomond is the largest lake in Britain. Therefore, you’ll discover plenty of things to see and do.
Here you’ll discover numerous walks through impressive scenery, from a gentle loch-side stroll to longer, more vigorous hikes.
The loch also provides the perfect opportunity to try a number of water sports, including kayaking, water skiing, stand-up paddleboarding and even water trampolining!
For a gentler on-the-water experience, you can explore some of the 30 small islands on the loch by cruise, ferry or hiring your own boat.
For those looking for some retail therapy, you can’t find a more picturesque location for it than Loch Lomond Shores, situated at the southern end of the lake.
Here you’ll find a mix of boutique stores and national favourites, so you’re guaranteed to find what you’re looking for!
Whether you’ve spent the day out exploring nature or shopping til you drop, you’ll likely have worked up an appetite!
Don’t leave without stopping by one of the many waterfront restaurants for some mouth-watering local food.
Recommended by Sheree of Winging the World
Former Scottish capital Stirling lies just an hour from Edinburgh by car and makes for a great day trip. This historically important city has played a pivotal role in Scotland’s history and has a number of outstanding attractions.
Perhaps the best thing to do once you arrive in the city is to get your bearings on a Stirling walking tour . Numerous companies offer these kinds of tours, however, if you are short on time, a DIY option is ideal for getting stuck in.
After you tour the main sights of the city which include the Mercat Cross and Old Town Cemetery , don’t miss the opportunity to visit Stirling Castle.
The royal connection and colourful history of the castle’s former inhabitants make this a fascinating place to explore. Free castle tours run regularly throughout summer.
While you’re in Stirling, make sure you head over the other side of town to climb the National Wallace Monument.
If you’ve seen Hollywood blockbuster Braveheart, you’ll already be more than familiar with William Wallace. This monument was built to honour Scotland’s most famous hero and the structure even houses Wallace’s sword.
The views from the top are outstanding but be warned, you’ll have to trudge up 246 steps to get there!
Recommended by Elina from Empnefsys & Travel
Dundee is one of Scotland’s largest cities and makes a great day trip from Edinburgh that combines culture, history and architecture.
To get there, take a direct train from Edinburgh Waverly or Haymarket station. Once you reach Dundee, you can move around on foot as the main sights of the city are near the train station.
There are various things to do in Dundee , such as visiting the city’s museums. V&A Dundee is the newest addition to the museum collections of the city.
The V&A is a sister museum to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the first design museum in Scotland. It is most known for the impressive architecture of its building that resembles a boat.
Inside the museum, you will find the Scottish Design Galleries featuring art and design from around the world, as well as numerous temporary exhibitions.
Other museums you can visit in Dundee are the Discovery Point and RRS Discovery , the Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre and the McManus Art Gallery & Museum .
The Tay Rail Bridge is another important sight in Dundee. The bridge connects the two sides of the River Tay and was built in the 1870s. Unfortunately, a few months after it was opened for train use, the bridge collapsed while a train was crossing.
Since then, a replacement bridge was constructed using sturdier materials. You can find the bridge, by walking towards the west of the city along the riverside footpath.
Recommended by Nichola of Globalmouse Travels
Ayrshire is an easy day trip from Edinburgh, accessible by road or train in around two hours. From the Victorian seaside town of Ayr to the historic buildings of the surrounding areas there’s plenty to keep you occupied for at least a day.
There are some fantastic castles and stately homes in this area from Kelburn Castle to Dumfries House . If you’re looking for family holidays in Scotland then don’t miss Culzean Castle with its amazing playground.
Robert Burns House and Museum is a brilliant place to explore this Scottish icon’s past and you can also take a trip back in time at the Scottish Maritime Museum with its reconstructed tenement building.
This area has some absolutely beautiful beaches including Toon, Seamill and Culzean Bay. The views across to the Isle of Arran are gorgeous.
Ayr has a really growing foodie scene so it’s a good place to stop in for supper and a steaming bowl of sticky toffee pudding. As night starts to fall then head to The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory, around 30 minutes from Ayr.
This is one of the best places in the UK to stargaze from and they have fantastic sessions to use the telescopes and hear talks about exactly what you’re able to see.
Recommended by Angela of Where Angie Wanders
There a so many fabulous day trips from Edinburgh but one of the most fun is to go monster hunting on Loch Ness !
Fort Augustus is the town where Loch Ness is located and will take around 3.5 hours to reach from Edinburgh. But don’t be alarmed because the route there will take you through the most beautiful Scottish Highland scenery and with plenty of places to stop en route to make the day trip even more enjoyable.
Once at Loch Ness jump aboard one of the boat trips that line the canal. A scenic cruise will sail down the loch to Urquhart Castle and then back again. Hear all about Nessie, the Loch Ness monster and decide for yourself whether she is fact or fiction!
If you love speed, then choose the rib boat ride and before you know it you will be crashing across the loch and discovering hidden stories about the highlights of this iconic Scottish destination.
Back on shore, check out the craft shops, visitor centre and of course one of the many cafes or pubs dotted around the town. If you are feeling peckish then order haggis with neeps and tatties, a traditional Scottish dish or maybe sample a dram of Scotch whisky in the “Loch Inn” situated on the banks of the Caledonian canal.
Whatever you choose to do Loch Ness will be a day out to remember. For ease, you can book a pre-arranged loch ness tour from Edinburgh:
Recommended by Ucman from BrownBoyTravels
Glasgow is the biggest city in Scotland and just under an hour away from Edinburgh by train but it’s poles apart from the Scottish capital when it comes to culture, life and people. There is a lively rivalry between the two cities but both have their own strengths.
Gone are the days of Glasgow being a dangerous city, it has become a friendly, safe city to enjoy a great day here. Glaswegians are famous for being friendly and very warm and their hospitality is world-renowned.
The heart of Glasgow is the city centre which is made up of three main streets: Buchanan Street, St Vincent Street and Sauchiehall Street. All three streets are located within a few minutes of walk from Glasgow central station and an easy 5-10 mins walk from the main bus station.
From these streets, you can explore many places including museums, art galleries and shopping centres.
Make sure the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art is on your itinerary and look out for the iconic Equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington. You can’t miss it as the Duke has an orange traffic cone placed over his head! The city has tried to remove it on a number of occasions but without success. It just keeps coming back.
If you want to enjoy the city in style head to Blythswood Square for a great choice of afternoon tea. If that’s not your cup of tea, there is no shortage of bars and clubs in the city. Glasgow is known for the best nightlife in the north of UK due to its large student population including a number of LGBTQ+ bars and clubs.
No matter what your taste and interests are, Glasgow has something to offer everyone and this one day trip from Edinburgh will definitely be worth your while. However, one thing you should definitely know in advance is that Glasgow has a lot of steep rises and falls so you should come prepared with sturdy shoes!
Recommended by Heather from Conversant Traveller
Just an hour away from Edinburgh, the small Borders town of Melrose sits beside the famous triple peaks of the Eildon Hills. Don’t miss visiting the spectacular ruins of Melrose Abbey in the heart of town – it dates from 1136 and according to legend is the final resting place of Robert the Bruce’s heart.
Next to the abbey, the rustic walled garden of Priorwood is also worth a visit, with dozens of varieties of apple trees and a herb garden to admire. For sweeping views across the hills and back towards the abbey, head over to Harmony Garden, which is especially impressive during the blooms of summer.
One of the best places to visit in the Scottish Borders is Abbotsford House, which lays on the banks of the River Tweed around 3 miles from Melrose. This romantic manor house was once home to novelist Sir Walter Scott, author of Rob Roy and Ivanhoe , and is a must for all fans of Scottish literature.
Visitors can explore the beautifully restored ground floor state rooms, including the library and writing room where many of Scott’s books where penned. An audio guide takes you back in time to discover what it must have been like living here.
Outside there’s a picturesque walled garden and several woodland trails to explore, so you could easily spend several hours here. The onsite café offers lunch and afternoon tea, and there’s plenty of parking if you come by car.
Recommended by Chelsea from The Portable Wife
Situated just 30 minutes outside of Edinburgh by train, North Berwick is a charming seaside town and popular summer holiday spot with Scottish locals.
While you could spend your entire Edinburgh day trip relaxing on the beaches that overlook the Firth of Forth, there are plenty more things to do in North Berwick regardless of the season.
The town’s most popular attraction is Tantallon Castle, a stunning half-ruin on a seaside cliff. While the castle was mostly destroyed by the 1600s, several walls and towers remain. Visitors can explore the grounds and climb up the remaining ruins for incredible views over the sea and countryside.
Just a short walk from Tantallon, you’ll find the unique Drift cafe. This converted shipping container with glass walls overlooking the sea serves fantastic coffee, sandwiches, and pastries.
If you’re visiting North Berwick with kids (or you’re a nature enthusiast yourself), check out the Scottish Seabird Centre . The Centre houses hands-on cameras to zoom in on local wildlife, including seals and puffins.
Depending on the time of year, you might see newborn seal pups on Bass Rock or a flock of Gannet seabirds. They also offer boat tours of the nearby islands for up-close views of Scottish wildlife.
Recommended by Sam from Travels With My Boys
Linlithgow is a historical town in West Lothian, which is approximately 20 miles from Edinburgh. It has a lot to offer which is why it makes a great day out from Edinburgh. Here you’ll find the ruins of Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of James V and Mary, Queen of Scots.
As well as the Palace, you can find St Michaels Parish Church nearby, which was constructed in the 15th Century and is one of Scotland’s largest medieval churches. It is a beautiful building with its exterior statues and stunning stain-glassed windows – not one to miss!
After enjoying some of the incredible food that the town has to offer in its many cafes, pubs and restaurants you could take a leisurely walk around the 2.3-mile circular walk around Linlithgow Loch.
Be warned, it can get muddy if it has been raining! If a walk does not take your fancy, then take a stroll along the high street with its many shops where you can find handmade arts and crafts among other delights.
Linlithgow is easily accessible by train from Edinburgh city centre which makes it a great day out if you are staying in Edinburgh and do not have a car. You will not be disappointed!
Recommended by Nicholas from Rambling Feet
A day trip from Edinburgh to St Andrews is perfect on a breezy sunny day. Most of the seaside town’s major sights are within walking distance from one another in the old centre and a stroll is even better with a tasty cone of gelato from either Jannettas or Luvians in hand.
Take your pick from one of the many flavours available! These ice-cream parlours are among the better-kept secrets about St Andrews, along with the Tailend shop that still fries their fish and chips in beef fat. It’s fantastic if you’re on a budget and not so health-conscious.
The things that St Andrews is most famous for include its University, where William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met. The buildings are scattered across the city centre but you’d want to see some of the oldest parts like St Mary’s Quad and St Salvator’s Quad.
St Andrews is also considered the home of golf and you can visit and walk around the Old Course, where the Open Championship is held. You can walk the fairways on Sundays if you want to avoid getting hit by stray balls, or learn about the history of the sport in the little British Golf Museum. As for playing there, there’s a very, very long waiting list.
The seaside town’s most iconic landmark, however, is not a patch of grass, but the ruins of its ancient cathedral and castle.
St Andrews Cathedral was ransacked during the Scottish Reformation and subsequently fell into disrepair. Today, only the eastern and western faces, some tombs and St Rule’s tower remain standing. You can climb one hundred and sixty-eight steps up the latter tower for a commanding view of the town to end a day trip here.
It takes roughly two hours to get to St Andrews from Edinburgh via public transport, and an hour and twenty minutes by car. Stagecoach service X60 is a direct bus service but if you prefer trains, they go from Waverley station to nearby Leuchars and Dundee, where you can catch a bus to complete the journey
Recommended by Kelly from The Girl With the Passport
An iconic UNESCO world heritage site, the Forth Bridge is a symbol of Scottish ingenuity and just one of many famous landmarks in and around Edinburgh . It is also a short thirty-minute train ride away from the city, easily making it one of the best day trips from Edinburgh by train.
To get here, simply get on the train at Edinburgh Waverley Station, stay on board for three stops, and then get off at Dalmeny Station in South Queensferry.
Upon arrival, ample signage will direct you towards the charming town of Queensferry and the Forth Bridge itself – an enormous, red, trussed railway bridge that was first built in 1890 and that spans an impressive, 641 meters to connect Fife with Edinburgh.
For the most impressive views of the Forth Bridge, head to Hawes Pier in South Queensferry and board the Maid of the Forth – a lovely little sightseeing cruise that will take you past the Forth Bridge and to nearby Inchcolm Island and Inchcolm Abbey.
You can opt for either an hour and a half sightseeing cruise where you remain on the boat, or a three-hour Inchcolm landing trip where you can get off the boat and spend an hour and a half exploring Inchcolm Island and the Abbey there.
When you finally find yourself back on dry land, take some time to explore the picturesque town of Queensferry itself, which is home to a wealth of lovely shops, restaurants, bakeries, and even the Queensferry Museum.
Although, if you’re looking for a real sit down meal, head over towards the Hawes Inn at Newhalls Road for some traditional Scottish fare. Otherwise, you can always enjoy a bit of tea at Stables Tearoom. This lovely establishment sits inside the historic, Hopetoun House, a historic home that was first built in 1699.
Recommended by Chris from Explore Now or Never
One of the best day trips from Edinburgh is a visit to Glengoyne Distillery with Heart of Scotland tours . It’s approximately 90 minutes away from Edinburgh, tour groups are small and the guides are friendly and entertaining.
After touring the distillery itself, you can choose from a 45-minute tasting experience (£18) which includes two drams or an hour-long tasting of three drams (£25). Both tastings feature the distillery’s incredible 18-year-old single malt whiskey. Some patrons actually purchase a cask of whiskey and then visit it over the years to taste it as it ages!
After the tasting, there’s plenty of time to explore all the incredible things to do in Perthshire afterwards. This Glengoyne tour includes a stop at beautiful Stirling Castle and a short hike at a nearby loch.
You can take a stroll up to the waterfall and hidden glen to enjoy a tranquil moment before heading back to Edinburgh.
If group tours from Edinburgh aren’t for you and you’d prefer to visit Glengoyne Distillery independently then that’s an option too. In fact, you can even do an online whiskey tour from home !
You can combine a trip to the distillery with a drive through the beautiful Scottish scenery north of Edinburgh or head west towards Loch Lomond.
Recommended by Shobha by Epic England Travel
If you are a fan of Harry Potter and giant brooding Northumberland castles , Alnwick Castle is a must-visit destination.
Alnwick Castle has been the family home of the Percy family, the Dukes of Northumberland, for over a thousand years. Alnwick was an important fortification on the border with Scotland during the time there were endless border skirmishes between the two countries.
Alnwick Castle has been used for many movies but the most famous is as the setting of Hogwarts in Harry Potter. Children can participate in a broomstick riding class on the grand lawn, which is lots of fun. Visitors will also discover that movie magic made Hagrid’s forest seem more vast than it was!
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There’s also a lot of parkland to explore, including a garden done by the preeminent landscape designer to the stately homes, Capability Brown.
Another interesting aspect is the Poison Garden where the current Duchess has created a walled garden of dangerous and medicinal species of plants. You need to have time entry to the Poison Garden and you are lead around by a guide who explains the different plants and their properties.
Although you may spend most of your time at Alnwick Castle, if you have time, check out Barter Books , the charming used book store in the former train station for Alnwick. It’s a mishmash of cafe and posters and old and rare books which makes it feel like a treasure trove.
Edinburgh to Alnwick Castle is a distance of 88 miles and will take less than 2 hours by car or bus. When the Percys are not in residence at Alnwick, they can be found at their other home in Scotland.
Recommended by Kenny from Knycx Journeying
Durham is about 220 kilometres away from Edinburgh and merely 30 kilometres away from Newcastle upon Tyne. The historic Romanesque town in England may not be known to many tourists, however, its cosy size is perfect for a day trip from Edinburgh.
To get there from Edinburgh, hop on a train in the Waverley Station and the train departs every hour to Durham in less than 2 hours.
As the train approaches Durham, a striking and enormous Norman cathedral comes into view, standing in the centre of the cluster – the Durham Cathedral. Dating back from 1093, it was originally a monastic Cathedral and remained so for over one thousand years.
Visitors are welcome to visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site for free, and it is also the venue of various ceremonies and events, including the congregation of the nearby Durham University through the year.
Do not forget to walk through the cloisters in the cathedral, they were featured in the first two Harry Potter movies as the courtyard of Hogwarts.
Aside from Durham Cathedral, you can take a tour of the Durham Castle Museum, which is part of the oldest college in Durham University. Then explore the hilly and cobbled streets in the historic town centre, and take a pleasant walk along the wooded riverbanks of River Wear.
On this walk you can admire the many stone bridges including the Framwellgate Bridge, Prebends Bridge, Elvet Bridge, and Kingsgate footbridge.
Recommended by Polly Taylor from Let’s Travel UK
One of the highlights of living or staying in Edinburgh has to be the fantastic options for day trips you can take from the Scottish capital. One of these involves leaving Scotland altogether – albeit briefly. Heading over the border into England is highly recommended, to explore the beautiful coastal county of Northumberland.
It takes around 90 minutes to drive from Edinburgh to Seahouses, a village on the North Northumberland coast just over 12 miles from Alnwick. In an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, boat trips can be taken to the nearby Farne Islands.
These boat tours are very popular, especially among birdwatchers and nature lovers. Grey seals and puffins are among the fauna you can expect to see.
En route to Seahouses, don’t miss a pitstop at Bamburgh Castle. This fortress occupies the most dramatic cliff-top position above the rolling waves of the North Sea. Golden sands stretch out for miles below, so take a walk along the beach if you can.
If you don’t have sea legs or castles are more your forte, then you could visit a trio of castles instead of taking that boat trip. Alnwick Castle is famous as the setting for various Harry Potter film scenes , while the ruins of nearby Warkworth Castle featured in Shakespeare’s plays.
Recommended by Ella from Many More Maps
Although there’s enough to see in Edinburgh to keep you occupied for days, hopping over the border to the English city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne is a fabulous idea for a day trip from Edinburgh.
Newcastle is a hugely underrated city, and at just 1 hour and 33 minutes by train from Edinburgh, it’d be crazy not to visit for a day trip!
Depending on when you visit, one of the highlights of a day trip to Newcastle is catching the metro to the charming suburb of Tynemouth, which is right on the beach! You can sunbathe, eat fish and chips, and even go surfing if you’re brave enough.
In winter, there are plenty of things to do in Newcastle that don’t involve the beach. Exploring the old-fashioned quayside and ancient Newcastle castle are great all-weather activities, and Newcastle also has a whole host of museums such as the Life Science centre and the Great North museum. To warm up, you absolutely HAVE to visit Fat Hippo for some incredible BBQ food!
Obviously, a trip to Newcastle would not be complete without stopping by one of its many pubs to sample a pint of its iconic Newcastle Brown Ale. Some people love it, some people hate it, but you’ll have to try it to make your own mind up!
Where to Stay in Edinburgh
If you liked this post, check out these: 11 Best Things to Do in Edinburgh Harry Potter Tour of Edinburgh Harry Potter Graveyard in Edinburgh 10 Best Edinburgh Bookshops A Literary Tour of Edinburgh
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The 8 best day trips from Edinburgh
Looking for a rural escape from the city? Here are some of the best day trips from Edinburgh
Edinburgh is top notch, but in its most touristy months, it can be a little, you know, much . So if you’re looking for a day off from the hustle and bustle and the Harry Potter fans, we’ve got good news: there’s loads of great spots nearby for a day trip, and you can reach them all by public transport or a quick drive.
On our list you’ll find coastal towns, mountainous landscapes, cultural monuments and more, where beach walks, quaint shopping streets and rigorous hiking routes await you. Our top tip? Stop for lunch, and then head back to Edinburgh for a great dinner and pub trip. That’s where the good stuff is, eh? Here are the best day trips from Edinburgh.
RECOMMENDED: 📍 The best things to do in Edinburgh 🎨 The best art galleries in Edinburgh 🏰 The best attractions in Edinburgh 🏘️ The best Airbnbs in Edinburgh
This guide was updated by Edinburgh-based Arusa Querishi . At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines .
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Best day trips and places to visit near Edinburgh
1. The East Lothian beaches
Edinburgh itself has a beach at Portobello, a suburb with a jolly seaside-resort feel. Beyond the city, however, there are more expansive and equally attractive beaches to be found in East Lothian.
The first bus from the centre to Aberlady takes just under an hour. A few minutes’ walk east of the village, along the A198, you’ll find Aberlady Local Nature Reserve, a haven for birds big and small. Follow the path round to the sands on the north side of Aberlady Bay and there’s beach and headland all the way to Gullane (approximately 5km). This village has a beautiful sweeping beach, some decent places to eat and drink, and a regular bus service to take you back to central Edinburgh.
2. Cairngorms National Park
As the largest national park in the British Isles, there's naturally huge amounts to explore within the Cairngorms. But with such a variety of options for activities in the area, choosing one or more highlights can make for the perfect day trip.
Whether you're into skiing, birdwatching, fishing or hiking, you can do it all within this stunning mountain range. But for a more chilled out activity, there are numerous castles and historical sites to check out too, including Balmoral Castle (the Queen's private residence), Braemar Castle and the Highland Folk Museum. And then there's the Dalwhinnie Distillery, currently the highest distillery in the country, where you can get a tour or a masterclass if you so desire.
If you're heading up there with the family, the Aviemore Zip Trek Park, the Landmark Forrest Park and Highland Wildlife Park are just some ways to keep everyone entertained. The drive-through reserve at the Highland Wildlife Park is particularly wonderful for spotting animals like bison, red deer, elk and vicuna.
3. The Kelpies
If you’re visiting the nearby Falkirk Wheel, you’d do well to stop by at at Helix Park, home to the Kelpies, two monumental sculptures of mythical water horses , each nearly 100ft high. Legend has it kelpies had the strength of 10 horses and could shape-shift into human form – just as the landscapes in these parts have metamorphosed drastically over millennia. They’re made of steel in a nod to both contemporary sculptural trends and traditional artisan techniques. Enormous, glittering and utterly magnificent, the dual artworks have been open to the public since spring 2014, alongside a visitor centre where you can get guided Kelpie tours and explore exhibits relating to their history.
The main reason tourists flock to Linlithgow is to see the striking ruins of its royal castle. The birthplace of both James V and his daughter Mary, Queen of Scots, Linlithgow Palace echoes with the history of the Stuart dynasty that ruled Scotland from 1371.
Perched on the shore of the town’s small loch, right next to St Michael’s Church with its distinctive modern steeple, you couldn’t deny it’s in a prime location. There’s been some form of royal palace here since the 12th century, although the current structure was built in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its heyday as the Stuarts’ primary residence came to an end when James VI became king of Great Britain in 1603 and relocated to London with his court. The building fell into disrepair over the next hundred years; a fire finally put the old place out of its misery in 1746.
Atmospheric and resonant, it’s now cared for by Historic Scotland and, if you catch it on a fine day, its red sandstone comes alive in the sunlight. The High Street is where to find cafés and restaurants, while the town also sits on the Union Canal, perfect for a bucolic saunter. ScotRail trains from Edinburgh Waverley to Linlithgow take around 20 minutes.
5. Loch Ness
It takes less time than you’d think to get up to the Highlands, so a day trip to Loch Ness is completely doable. You’ll probably know it as home to Nessie, a cryptozoological sea creature whose sightings began in 595 and have continued ever since. There’s more to an excursion to Loch Lomond than monster-spotting, however. Lots of touring companies in Edinburgh will take you there (check out The Hairy Coo, Timberbush Tours or Rabbies). Some pass by Stirling Castle before stopping at Kilmahog – frequented by fairies, we’re told – while others go via Glencoe. Once at Loch Ness, you can cruise its waters, explore nearby Urquhart Castle and take part in whisky tastings. The whole trip will take up a full day (with an early rise), so it’s not for the faint-hearted. And remember to bring layers – this is Scotland, after all.
6. North Berwick
A small and attractive seaside town, North Berwick has beaches stretching east and west from its harbour, a decent selection of bars and restaurants, small islands immediately offshore and the imposing presence of the Bass Rock, with its gannet colony, around 5km out into the Forth. Standing sentinel over it all is the 187-metre bulk of North Berwick Law directly behind the town, an ancient volcanic plug which affords brilliant views if you make the effort to reach the top.
Nearby you’ll find the Scottish Seabird Centre, which is great for children and birdwatching enthusiasts, and there are also scenic seasonal boat trips, some going all the way to the Isle of May – the last stop before Scandinavia. Put all that together and you have a well-rounded day trip in store; trains take less than 35 minutes from Edinburgh Waverley.
7. The Pentlands
It may be a bit cheeky to describe this range of hills as outside Edinburgh, given a chunk of it sits well within the city boundary. All the same, the Pentlands stretch over 30km away to the South West of the capital with a number of peaks over 500 metres – the area was designated the Pentlands Regional Park back in 1984.
Among the hills, you’ll find an artificial ski slope at Hillend (the Midlothian Snowsports Centre), farms, lochs, a military training zone that has live firing exercises and no end of trails to follow. The gentle way to experience the Pentlands is to drive or catch a First bus from the city centre to Flotterstone, walk 1.5km up the minor road to the picturesque Glencorse Reservoir, take in the view, then walk back the way you came, stopping for a drink and some pub grub at the Flotterstone Inn before heading back to the city. The more adventurous might also want to start at Flotterstone but instead embark on a circular walk of 18km taking in some of the hills, including Scald Law, the Pentlands’ highest peak at 579 metres.
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Travel Around Scotland
9 Epic Day Trips From Edinburgh
There is a whole list of things to do in Scotland’s capital, however, you may want to explore outside the city’s boundaries and see what the rest of Scotland has to offer. This post lists the best day trips from Edinburgh .
Edinburgh is located in the central belt of Scotland and it is surprising how far you can get in a day. You are not too far away from pretty coastal communities or iconic Highland landscapes.
On a wee day trip from Edinburgh , you can explore castles and historical attractions, tour gin and whisky distilleries , practise some golf, explore national parks and see where popular movies and TV shows were shot.
There are a good few options that you can take to view the best parts of this beautiful country. You can take your own vehicle, rent a car, use public transport or take a tour.
Below are some great ideas for completing a day out in Edinburgh . The day trips range from the scenic Scottish Borders to the diverse Scottish Highlands .
A good few tour operators run a few small coach trips from Edinburgh . These include The Hairy Coo , Experience Scotland’s Wild , Rabbie’s Small Group Tours and Highland Experience Tours .
Also, plenty of friendly tour guides are eager to share useful insights and local information.
Table of Contents
Loch Ness, Glencoe, Highlands & Ben Nevis
From Edinburgh , guided tours go from Edinburgh to the Highland . Specifically, you can view the dramatic mountains and landscapes in Glencoe , Loch Ness and Ben Nevis .
Loch Ness is the home of the Loch Ness Monster . Lots of touring companies will take you there.
At Loch Ness , you can cruise the waters, explore Urquhart Castle or take part in whisky tastings.
Glencoe is a scenic and atmospheric glen of volcanic origins in the Scottish Highlands . The glen is a special scenic area and nature reserve.
Glencoe has a deep dark history, the most significant is the Massacre of Glencoe , where 38 people were murdered. Most people do not know Glencoe for its history, but mostly for its beauty.
The glen has been used as a filming location for Highlander , Braveheart and the Harry Potter films. Many great viewing points exist, including Loch Achtriochtan , the Three Sisters and the Meeting of the Three Waters .
Glen Coe is a magnificent place for hiking, climbing and mountaineering. For things to do in Glencoe follow this guide: Best Things to do in Glencoe .
Most of the glen is owned by the National Trust of Scotland . A visitor and exhibition centre run by the National Trust is a good place to stop for information and hiking routes.
Ben Nevis is the highest mountian in the British mainland, standing at 1,345 metres. Below Ben Nevis you can visit the stunning Glen Nevis or stop in Fort William – a small town known as the outdoor capital of Scotland .
The whole trip will take a full day, so it is not for the faint-hearted.
- Loch Ness is 168 miles away and the total drive time is 3 hours and 20 minutes.
- Glencoe is approximately 119 miles away and it takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to get there
- Ben Nevis is 146 miles and it is a three hours drive
From Edinburgh , you can experience the extraordinary beauty of the Scottish Highlands . The 12.5 hour day tour run by the Hairy Coo will take you through Loch Ness , Fort Augustus , Glencoe and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park .
St Andrews & Fishing Villages
St Andrews is located on the east coast of the Kingdom of Fife . This is a small town which is best known for St Andrews University , one of the oldest Universities in the world and it is where Prince William and Catherine the Duchess of Wales met.
St Andrews is blessed with beautiful long beaches and crumbling ruins which are great to explore. In addition, there are a number of shops and well-rated attractions which will keep you busy for the day.
Also, St Andrews is best known for being the birthplace of modern gold and its golf courses. In St Andrews , you can take a golf-orientated guided tour.
Fife’s small historic fishing villages in the East Neuk region include Crail , Anstruther , Pittenweem , St Monans , Elie and Earlsferry . Popular attractions include the Scottish Fisheries Museum and the Anstruther Fish Bar .
On the way to St Andrews , you will cross the iconic Forth Bridges into Fife .
- St Andrews is 1 hour and 40 minutes drive from Edinburgh . There is a large car park by the waterfront.
- Anstruther is a 1 hour and 37-minute drive from Edinburgh . There is a small parking area at the waterfront.
By Public Transport
- St Andrews : Take a ScotRail from Edinburgh Waverley to Leuchars . From Leuchars , take the 99 bus to St Andrews
- Anstruther : Take a ScotRail train to Markinch train station in Glenrothes . From there, take the 43/44A bus then the 95 bus.
A day tour from Edinburgh will first take you across the Forth Bridges . Then through the ancient fishing villages of Crail and St Monans .
Finally, you can explore the medieval town of St Andrews and enjoy lunch and refreshments in the cobbled streets.
Loch Lomond, Stirling Castle & Kelpies
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park was designated as Scotland’s first national park in 2002. The large national park includes first, lochs, farmland and small villages.
Loch Lomond is the UK’s largest inland body of water by surface area. The national park has many long-distance walking routes, including the West Highland Way , The Three Lochs Way and Rob Roy Way .
The national park is a great place for hiking, camping, biking and water sports. Look at this guide which lists the best things to do in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park .
On route, you will see the Kelpies , two large metal sculpture horse heads designed by Andy Scott. The Kelpies are 98 feet tall steel horse sculptures, the largest equine sculptures in the world.
The fascinating structures can be seen from the M8 or you can stop at the Helix Park to visit them. For more things to do in Falkirk , read this guide: Top Things To Do in Falkirk .
Soak in the views of Stirling Castle , a castle that dominates the skyline of Stirling . The castle has a medieval home for Scottish royalty and witnessed many battles and sieges throughout the centuries.
Today, Stirling Castle is a popular visitor attraction where visitors can learn about long and see the principal rooms. Follow this guide: Top Things To Do In Stirling to see what more there is to do in Stirling .
- Loch Lomond is almost 80 miles away, in total the drive is 1 hour and 50 minutes away.
- The Kelpies is 28 miles west of Edinburgh . The total drive time is 55 minutes.
Loch Lomond : Two trains will be required to get to the shores of Loch Lomond . The first train is from Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Queen Street , Glasgow Queen Street to Balloch .
From the train station in Balloch to the shores of Loch Lomond the walk is 10 minutes long. The total journey time is between 2 hours and 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Kelpies : Take the ScotRail train from Edinburgh Waverley to Falkirk High , then there take the 5 bus from High Station Road to the Helix Visitor Centre . This route takes between 1.5 hours to 2 hours in total.
This day tour starts off in Edinburgh , heads to Stirling Castle then onto Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park . On the way back the tour stops at the Kelpies , in the Helix Park, Falkirk .
Holy Island, Alnwick Castle & Norththumbria
From Edinburgh , you can take a day trip to the medieval kingdom of Northumbria in North East England .
Visit Lindisfarne , once the important religious learning in the British Isles . The tidal island becomes inaccessible when the tide washes over the causeway.
When it is safe to cross the causeway, expect to find charming cafes, an ancient priory and a castle that teeters on the coastline. Lindisfarne Castle is perched on a rocky plateau overlooking the island.
Holy Island is the endpoint for one of the UK’s greatest long-distance walking trails – St Cuthbert’s Way .
Visit the beautiful Alnwick Castle , known as ‘ Windsor of the North ’. The castle exterior and courtyard were used as Hogwarts to shoot several scenes in the first two films.
At the castle, visitors can complete Harry Potter -related activities including broomstick lessons. Also, Alnwick Castle has been used as a filming location for Downton Abbey , Transformers: The Last Knight , Elizabeth and other films.
- Holy Island is located 70 miles away from Edinburgh on the east coast of England . Driving time to the car park from Edinburgh is 1.5 hours.
- Alnwick Castle is located 86 miles south of Edinburgh . The total drive time is approximately 1 hour 45 minutes.
- Holy Island : Catch the CrossCountry train from Edinburgh Waverley to Berwick upon Tweed . From there ride the bus service 477 from Berwick Railway Station to Chare Ends car park .
- Alnwick Castle : rake the CrossCountry/LNER to Alnmouth , then take the X18 bus to Alnwick bus station . From the bus station walk six minutes to Alnwick Castle . The total journey time is between 1.5 hours to 2 hours.
The scenic coastal tour takes you from Edinburgh to the Kingdom of Northumbria , Holy Island and the market town of Alnwick where you can find Alnwick’s stunning castle and garden.
Rosslyn Chapel & Scottish Borders
Rosslyn Chapel and the Scottish Borders can be viewed as part of a tour or you can take your car and do it yourself.
The route passes Scott’s View which has stunning views across the Tweed Valley and Eildon Hills . Also, there is an opportunity to see the original Wallace Monument .
From here, you will head down to Melrose and view the great Border’s abbey which was founded by Cistericians in the 12th century.
South of the city is the spellbinding Rosslyn Chapel , this stunning feature was featured in the blockbuster film, The Da Vinci Code . Rosslyn Chapel is a 15th-century chapel located in the small village of Roslin .
Rosslyn Chapel is also known as the Collegiate Chapel of St Matthew and was built for the Sinclair family as a Roman Catholic church. It became part of the Scottish Episcopal Church after the Scottish Reformation .
This chapel is considered one of the architectural gems of Scotland. Many famous people have visited the church in the past, these include Queen Victoria, Tom Hanks, Robert Burns and Samuel Johnson.
Tours are run throughout the tour in the chapel and it is free to visit. There is a small cafe and a gift shop area.
Also, in Roslin , you can visit the ruins of Roslin Castle or hike one of the trails in Roslin Glen Country Park . More general things you can do in this area are hike in the Pentland Hills or view Craigmillar Castle on the outskirts of Edinburgh .
Look at the Scottish Borders Towns and Villages Guide for historical attractions to visit. Also, there are a number of abbeys and castles in the Scottish Borders to visit.
- Roslin is 10 miles away from the centre of Edinburgh , and this will take 30-40 minutes to drive. Car parking costs are applied for visitors to Roslyn Chapel .
- Melrose is 39 miles away from the centre of Edinburgh , this will take 1 hour to drive by car.
- Roslin : Take the 37 from Prince Street to Original Rosslyn Hotel . The journey time is approximately 1 hour.
- Melrose : Take the ScotRail service from Edinburgh Waverly to Tweedbank . From there take the 67/68 or 61 bus to Melrose . Total journey time is from 1.5 to 2 hours.
This exciting day tour starts in Edinburgh , then visits Scott’s View , Melrose and Rosslyn Chapel .
Waterfalls Hike, Scone Palace & Queens View
The beautiful Perthshire countryside is not far away from Edinburgh . There are so many places to explore including Perth , Pitlochry , Killiecrankie , Blair Athol , Aberfeldy and Kenmore .
Near Perth , take a short hike up Kinnoull Hill to get wonderful views across Perth .
Outside Perth is the grand fortress of Scone Palace . Scone Palace was once the coronation site of many Kings and Queens of Scotland .
Queen’s View is located outside Pitlochry . It is one of the greatest viewpoints in Scotland and is apparently named after Queen Victoria who decided to stop here with her husband Albert.
At Killiecrankie , you can learn about the 1689 Jacobite Uprising Battle of Killiecrankie , led by Bonnie Dundee . Follow the trails down to Soldier Leap where there is a scenic view of River Garry and the Killiecrankie Viaduct .
Near Aberfeldy , you can find gorgeous waterfalls. Birks of Aberfeldy is a lovely Perthshire waterfall which once inspired Robert Burns to write a poem about the falls.
Also, there is another lovely waterfall walk near Kenmore . Acharn Waterfalls has two viewing points, one of which you have to walk through a dark cave to get spectacular views.
Visitors enjoy the small town of Pitlochry located on the River Tummel . Take a look around Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre , Blair Athol Distillery , Faskally Wood and the Black Spout Waterfall .
- Perth is 43 miles north of Edinburgh and it is a one-hour drive in the car.
- Queens View is 77 miles from Edinburgh and is a 1 hour and 45-minute drive from Edinburgh .
- Killiecrankie is 75 miles from Edinburgh and is 1 hour and 35 minutes from Edinburgh .
- Aberfeldy is 75 miles from Edinburgh and is a 1 hour and 45-minute drive from Edinburgh .
- Perth : Take a train from Edinburgh Waverley Station to Perth Train Station which will take between 1 hour and 1.5 hours.
- Pitlochry : From Edinburgh Waverley , there are trains available to Pitlochry . The journey time is 1 hour and 50 minutes.
There is a tour which takes you to Scone Palace , Killiecrankie , Birks of Aberfeldy , and Queens View . You can enjoy waterfall walks and learn about Jacobite History.
Oban, Lochs and Inveraray
Visit the West Highlands , pass through Glasgow City , and then to the lovely towns of Oban and Inveraray . On route, you can explore Loch Lomond and enjoy some views of Kilchurn Castle .
On the way to Oban , you will pass through Scotland’s main city, Glasgow . Then shortly, the route will follow up the shores of Loch Lomond , where you can stop at the scenic village of Luss .
On the way to Oban make sure to stop at Loch Awe , the longest of Scotland’s lakes. Kilchurn Castle is a castle ruin located on the shores of Loch Awe .
Once you arrive in Oban you can enjoy a couple of hours in this lovely seaside Victorian town. Climb up McCaig’s Tower , take in the views of the islands of Mull and Kerrera and try some of the freshest seafood you have ever tasted.
On the way back to Edinburgh , stop at Loch Fyne and view the lovely Inveraray Castle .
- Oban is 122 miles away from Edinburgh . The drive time is approximately three hours.
- Inveraray is 110 miles away from Edinburgh . The drive is approximately 2 and a half hours.
On a 12-hour day tour from Edinburgh , you can see Glasgow , enjoy lunch in the Victorian seaside town of Oban and visit Loch Lomond , the country’s largest expanse of fresh water.
Hop on a train at Waverley Train Station and head to the charming town of North Berwick . In approximately 30 minutes, you will have an ice cream in hand, enjoying the glorious seaside views.
North Berwick has beaches, a harbour and a selection of bars and restaurants. Also, there are small islands offshore, the most notable one is Bass Rock .
North Berwick Law is located directly behind the town. There are brilliant views from the top.
Look at the East Lothian Towns and Villages Guide to see what other places you can go for a day trip from Edinburgh .
Glasgow is Scotland’s main city and is only a train or bus ride away along the M8 from Edinburgh . You can see the contrast between the two cities.
The residents of Glasgow are very welcoming and the slogan for the city is ‘ People Make Glasgow ’. Located on the River Clyde , the city is only 46 miles west of Edinburgh .
There are plenty of museums, shopping outlets, amazing street art stunning parks and a thriving live music scene. Many of the buildings were designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
For things to do look at the Glasgow Street Art Guide .
The drive from Edinburgh to Glasgow will take approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes depending on traffic.
ScotRail runs trains from Edinburgh Waverly Station to Glasgow Queen Street Station . The journey time is approximately 50 minutes.
Taking a vehicle will give you so much freedom to explore. There are places you can visit which you will not be able to reach by public transport.
Fife Coastal Path
The Fife Coastal Path is a perfect long-distance walk or you can drive to each of the attractions along the route.
The Fife Coastal Path begins in Kincardine . Some of the best tourist attractions along the route are Culross Palace , Forth Bridges , Ruby Bay, the villages of East Neuk , St Andrews Cathedral , St Andrews Castle and Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve .
The Forth Rail Bridge is a UNESCO -designated Victoria-era rail bridge which was completed in 1890.
There are stunning views along the coastline, including the small Isle of May . Stop for lunch at the world-famous Anstruther Bar, where many celebs have enjoyed a fish supper.
Forth Valley Tourist Route
The Forth Valley Tourist Route features many tourist attractions including the Falkirk Wheel , The Kelpies , Linlithgow Palace and the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre .
Can You Do a Day Trip to the Isle of Skye From Edinburgh?
If you want to visit the Isle of Skye on your trip to Scotland it is best to spend two or three nights here at a minimum. Skye is 227 miles away from Edinburgh , the journey will take five hours in a car.
How Many days in Edinburgh is enough?
Edinburgh is a great city, with so much to see and do. It is possible to spend a day here but to make the best of your time here I would recommend staying here for at least two to three nights.
How to explore Scotland from Edinburgh?
The main cities in Scotland are easily accessible by train and bus links. For more rural sights and activities it might be best to book a tour.
Car rental is available from Edinburgh airport . Be aware that Scotland’s roads feature bends and are single-laned as you drive through parts of the Highlands, so be careful.
Scotland has some of the most striking and diverse landscapes, from rolling green hills to stunning white beaches. The country is a paradise for photographers, walkers and history enthusiasts.
This post lists the best day trips from Edinburgh . Some places that are good to go are Fife , Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park , Oban , Glencoe , Loch Ness and Fort William .
Also, Glasgow , Stirling , Falkirk and villages in the Lothians are good places to go for a day trip. Alternatively, head south to the Scottish Borders or Northumberland in England .
Scotland is a safe place, with a diverse landscape and the people there speak English. It is easy to get to the best parts of Scotland .
However, driving is not always the easiest, there are a lot of single-lane roads with passing places, that wind through the hills. Scotland’s major towns and cities are connected by train and bus.
Citylink runs long-distance express coach services to the west coast and Highlands . Other popular services include FlixBus .
A Scottish lass who loves to travel, take photos, and enjoy nature and hiking. Doing my best to encourage people to explore the best and most hidden parts of Scotland. As a solo traveller, I have been on many trips to different countries in America, Asia, Oceania and Europe. Now I enjoy making travel itineraries and giving people the confidence to travel solo.
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Day Trips from Edinburgh by Train
16th August 2022
With its medieval old town, storied history and world-class festivals, it’s easy to spend a week exploring enigmatic Edinburgh. But beyond the Scottish capital’s ancient winding alleys and striking castle walls, there are brilliant day trips worth experiencing – and all easy to get to by train for less with a Railcard .
It’s also the greenest way to travel. To show you just how sustainable it is, we’ve worked out the CO2 savings you’ll make for each trip when you travel by train. Enjoy!
Linlithgow: walk among royalty
Linlithgow’s main attraction is the red-stone ruins of its royal palace. Birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and the Stuarts’ legacy, the 15th-century palace was originally a pleasure palace for travelling royals. Despite its ruined state, Linlithgow is still majestic.
The castle overlooks the scenic waters of Linlithgow Loch, where boat trips amble from nearby Union Canal during the summer. Linlithgow town is small and pretty, with pubs, cafes, and restaurants galore. And on the 4th Saturday of every month, it has a popular farmers market.
Journey time: 20 minutes on average
CO2 emissions: Train 1.4 KG CO2 e | Car 4.55 KG CO2 e
Hike in the Pentland Hills
Like to hike? Head for the Pentland Hills, a wild expanse of nature on Edinburgh’s doorstep.
One of the most active day trips from Edinburgh by train, this gentle range of hills stretches 20 miles with criss-cross hiking trails for all abilities. Try North Esk Reservoir, Turnhouse Hill, West Kip and Scald Law for a well-liked trek. Visit during late spring or early summer for the best hiking conditions.
For exquisite views of Edinburgh’s skyline, make the steady hike up Allermuir Hill towards the northern end of the park. Near here, you’ll also find the Midlothian Snowsports Centre, the second longest dry ski slope in Europe.
Journey time: 30 minutes on average
CO2 emissions: Train 0.55 KG CO2 e | Car 1.84 KG CO2 e
North Berwick: seaside by the city
A beautiful beach backed by charming redbrick houses, North Berwick is one of Scotland’s loveliest seaside towns. Its two beaches, Milsey and West Bay, are ideal for escaping the city, especially come summer.
The Scottish Seabird Centre is also in North Berwick. This award-winning charity dedicates itself to preserving Scotland’s sea life. It runs seasonal wildlife boat trips out to the gannet colonies of Bass Rock, the Isles of May and the Three Islands Seabird Safari.
The wildlife and birds join you on a stroll along the coastal path between North Berwick and Edinburgh, too. Or you could hit the green at one of the three golf courses nearby.
Journey time: 35 minutes on average
Station: North Berwick
CO2 emissions: Train 2 KG CO2 e | Car 6.7 KG CO2 e
Stirling: a castle on the hill
Few Scottish towns match Stirling for sheer beauty. The hill-town’s iconic castle is the centrepiece, with sweeping views of the rolling Ochil Hills. Visit the castle for a treat of costumed characters bringing its history to life.
But Stirling isn’t all about the past. Its large student population inspires a busy nightlife and packed cultural calendar. The Stirling Highland Games in August and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s festival (at Stirling Distillery) in October draw the crowds.
While you’re in town, Deanston Whisky Distillery, the National Wallace Monument, and the Old Town Jail are definitely worth visiting.
Journey time: 45 minutes on average
CO2 emissions: Train 2.6 KG CO2 e | Car 8.8 KG CO2 e
Glasgow: the dear green place
Though only an hour by train, Glasgow feels a world away from the medieval wynds of Edinburgh. A lively city with a proud industrial past, epic nightlife and excellent museums, Glasgow is jam-packed with brilliant attractions.
Kick off your trip with a visit to the weird and wonderful Kelvingrove Gallery and Museum, an eclectic mix of natural history, art and artefacts. Next, hit the shops in Princes Square with some of the city’s finest fashion. For more shopping, head over to St Enoch Centre and Buchanan Galleries.
Finish your trip on Ashton Lane, where bars and restaurants line the cobbled streets, before catching the train back to Edinburgh.
Journey time: 1 hour 10 minutes on average
Station: Glasgow Central
CO2 emissions: Train 3 KG CO2 e | Car 10.05 KG CO2 e
Explore the Scottish Borders by train
Take a trip to the rolling hills, valleys and tiny villages of the Scottish Borders. The whole trip takes less than an hour, trundling over and through 140 bridges and tunnels towards Tweedbank.
Along the way, hop off in the picturesque town of Galashiels and visit the Old Gala House Museum and Gallery. The National Mining Museum at Newtongrange and Rosslyn Chapel near Eskbank are also superb. At Tweedbank, the final stop, make the 45-minute stroll to the ruins of Melrose Abbey. One of the four Borders Abbeys, Melrose is the final resting place of the legendary king, Robert the Bruce.
For added charm, travel in August when a vintage steam train makes special trips along the route. Check before booking.
CO2 emissions: Train 2.09 KG CO2 e | Car 7 KG CO2 e
Dundee: the regenerated city
The spectacular waterfront V&A Dundee art gallery is worth the train journey from Edinburgh alone. Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the towering structure houses a brilliant collection of Scottish design from Mackintosh to the modern day. Alongside permanent Scottish design exhibitions, there’s an ever-changing line-up of art, photography and international design.
After your design fix, wander along the city’s waterfront, part of a £1 billion regeneration project almost 20 years in the making, then trek 1.5 miles up Dundee Law. The steep hill gives stunning panoramic views over the city and the steely grey of the River Tay.
You could round off your trip in a bar or restaurant in the city centre. The pubs around Union Street and Whitehall Crescent are both a five-minute walk from the train station.
Journey time: 1 hour 30 minutes on average
CO2 emissions: Train 4.5 KG CO2 e | Car 15 KG CO2 e
When you travel with a Railcard you could save 1/3 on your fare for just £30 a year –
a cost that can be made back in savings in a couple of journeys.
Savvy Travel Advice
Edinburgh Day Trips: 15 Best Day Trips from Edinburgh Scotland
Last updated: June 12, 2023 - Written by Jessica Norah 34 Comments
After four years living in Edinburgh, we’ve put together a guide to our favorite day trips from Edinburgh Scotland. There are so many things you can do and see on a day trip from Edinburgh, which include exploring castles, touring whisky distilleries, teeing off on a famous golf course, exploring historical attractions, birdwatching, hiking in national parks, and visiting filming locations for popular movies and TV shows like Outlander , Harry Potter , and Downton Abbey .
We suggest ideas for 15 different day trips from Edinburgh that cover a range of interests as well as a wide array of regions from the Scottish Borders to Glasgow to the Scottish Highlands. For each day trip from Edinburgh, we provide all the information you need about how to plan your day out, from how to get there to things you can do there. We provide information on traveling by car, bus, train, and as part of a guided day tour.
We lived just south of Edinburgh for four years and have visited all these places a number of times, both by ourselves and on tours. We’ve also explored a lot more of Scotland. So just shout if you have any questions or need further Edinburgh day trip ideas!
Table of Contents:
15 Best Day Trips from Edinburgh Scotland
If you’ve exhausted all the things to do in Edinburgh , and are looking for more things to do in Scotland, Edinburgh can be a great base for some terrific day trips. You can set off to Scotland’s largest city, learn about Scotch whisky , search for Nessie at Loch Ness , explore a medieval castle, or take in the dramatic scenery of the Scottish Highlands
Here is our list of the 15 best day trips from Edinburgh in no particular order:
Rosslyn Chapel, also known as the Collegiate Chapel of St Matthew, is a 15th century chapel located in the small village of Roslin. It was built for the Sinclair family as a Roman Catholic church, but after the Scottish Reformation it became part of the Scottish Episcopal church. It is still an active church that is privately owned by the Earl of Rosslyn.
The small chapel with its intricate stonework alongside the ruins of Rosslyn Castle have attracted many famous visitors over the centuries including Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Robert Burns, William Wordsworth, Queen Victoria, and Tom Hanks.
The chapel is considered one of the architectural gems of Scotland. The stone that forms the chapel’s pillars and arches, including the exterior, contains intricate carving work portraying a number of religious and secular symbols and imagery. The most notable feature is the Apprentice’s Pillar, which is a pillar that is covered in intricate carvings and stonework, and was clearly made by a very talented stonemason.
However, today, it is best known for its speculated connection to freemasonry and the Holy Grail as was made famous by Dan Brown’s bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code . In the book, members of the Knights Templar hide the “Holy Grail” in the chapel’s crypt. Since the book and subsequent film starring Tom Hanks, the number of visitors to the chapel have multiplied and a new visitor center was built for the chapel.
There is a fee to visit the chapel. Talks and tours are given regularly by staff each day which are free to take part in. There is also a small cafe and gift shop area. Photography is not allowed inside the chapel.
If the weather is nice, we recommend taking the walking path over to see the ruins of Roslin Castle (part of this is a private residence though so stay beyond their parking area), and then doing a hike on one of the trails in Roslin Glen Country Park.
If you are looking for other things to do in this general area (we live in this part of Scotland), some suggestions are Newhailes House & Gardens in Musselburgh, Craigmillar Castle on the outskirts of Edinburgh, Butterfly World in Lasswade, National Mining Museum in Newtongrange, or hiking in the Pentland Hills .
Or you can also head further south to explore part of the Scottish Borders region which we cover later in the article.
How to Get from Edinburgh to Rosslyn Chapel
It is easy to get to Rosslyn Chapel by car, bus, or day tour.
Rosslyn Chapel is located about a 10 mile (16 km) drive south of Edinburgh, and it takes about 30 to 40 minutes to drive there. There is free parking located at Rosslyn Chapel for visitors.
By Public Transportation
There are regular buses from Edinburgh to Roslin but there is no train station in Roslin. The journey by bus takes about 50 minutes. From the nearest bus stop (Rosslyn Inn), it is about a 3 minute walk to the chapel.
Most of the other attractions mentioned in the area can also be easily reached by bus. The National Mining Museum in Newtongrange can also be reached directly by train from Edinburgh.
Day Tours from Edinburgh to Rosslyn Chapel
There are several day tours from Edinburgh that visit Rosslyn Chapel and most tours also visit other attractions as well. This day tour visits Rosslyn Chapel and also visits some attractions in the Scottish Borders, including Melrose Abbey.
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and well worth a visit as it offers a refreshing contrast to the more tourist-oriented Edinburgh. The city is known for its friendly residents who can be a bit hard to understand with their famous Glaswegian accents. The city sits alongside the River Clyde and is only about 45 miles west of Edinburgh.
The city is home to lots of free museums and attractions, a thriving live music scene, beautiful parks, amazing street art, and the best shopping in Scotland. For architecture lovers, there are a large number of buildings in the city designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. There are also breweries and distilleries you can visit and tour within the city.
If you are thinking of taking a day trip to Glasgow from Edinburgh, check out our guide to things to do in Glasgow and our Glasgow street art guide . There’s a lot to do and see in Glasgow, so I’d plan ahead so you can make the most of your day trip. Some of the city’s attractions and tours need to be booked in advance.
There is plenty to keep you busy for a day in central Glasgow, but some attractions outside of central Glasgow, depending on your interests, include Pollock House , House of an Art Lover , and the National Museum of Rural Life .
How to Get from Edinburgh to Glasgow
The easiest ways to get to Glasgow from Edinburgh are by car, bus, or train. You can also get there via plane, taxi, or day tour.
For drivers, Glasgow is about 50 miles west from Edinburgh and the drive normally takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes from the city center. However, it really depends on traffic. We recommend avoiding the morning and afternoon rush hour traffic to save on driving time.
There are two main routes, taking the M8 or taking the M9 and M80. Both roughly take about the same amount of time, but check traffic before setting out as this is often the busiest section of road in Scotland as the routes link the country’s two largest cities.
Train connections are regular between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Trainline and ScotRail are good websites to check for schedules and train tickets.
Bus connections are regular between the two cities. You can check National Express for coach connections and prices between the two cities. You can also book a CityLink shuttle bus which provides direct service between Edinburgh and central Glasgow.
Day Tours from Edinburgh to Glasgow
Glasgow is probably best visited by train or bus from Edinburgh as there are a number of regular connections. However, if you would prefer a tour you might consider this custom private trip to Glasgow with a chauffeur.
St. Andrews, Dundee, & Fife Villages
Fife is both a historical area, often referred to as the Kingdom of Fife , and a council region of Scotland. There are a number of places worth visiting in the area, with the most notable being St. Andrews, Dunfermline, and the fishing villages. Just north of Fife is the city of Dundee which is also well worth a visit.
Dunfermline is known for its long history of royal connections and its large number of well-preserved historical buildings. The most notable is Dunfermline Abbey which was originally built in the 12th century during the reign of David I. The abbey is most notable for its architecture and for being the burial place for 18 members of Scottish royalty. Dunfermline is also the home town of the famous philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and you can learn more about him at the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum .
St Andrews is located on the northeast coast of Fife. It is well known for the University of St Andrews, one of the oldest universities in the world, the ruins of St. Andrew’s Castle and the Cathedral of St Andrew , and for being the birthplace of modern golf. It is also the town where Prince William went to university and met Kate Middleton.
St. Andrews offers a number of museums and attractions, the oldest golf course in the world ( Old Course ), and a number of shops and well-rated restaurants. Plenty to keep you busy for a full day. There are also a number of golf courses in and around St. Andrews, so if you want to play a round, be sure to book a tee time in advance.
About 7 miles outside of St. Andrews is also the Secret Bunker , a Cold War nuclear command center and secret bunker that has been opened to the public. Note that it is closed for part of the winter months.
The small historic fishing villages along the Fife coast are a nice places to stop over for a seafood meal and a stroll along the harbor. Many also offer other attractions as well, such as the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther. A few villages to consider are Crail, Anstruther, Elie, and Pittenweem.
Dundee is a coastal city on the Firth of Tay and is best known as a UNESCO city of design and for its museums and maritime attractions which include the RRS Discovery , Captain Scott’s Antarctic expedition ship, and the HMS Frigate Unicorn , a 19th-century Georgian wooden warship. The city’s newest attraction is the V&A Dundee , Scotland’s first ever design museum, which opened in September 2018. The museum is free to visit although there is an extra charge for some temporary exhibitions.
Try to avoid leaving or returning to Edinburgh during rush hours as the traffic in and out of Edinburgh and across the bridges at Queensferry is often slow during these times.
But we do recommend making a quick stop to take in the view of the three bridges crossing the Firth of Forth. The Forth Rail Bridge is an UNESCO designated Victoria era rail bridge that is architecturally significant for being the longest single cantilever bridge span when it was completed in 1890.
How to Get from Edinburgh to St. Andrews
The easiest way to get to St. Andrews from Edinburgh is by car, bus, day tour, or private transfer . Dunfermline and Dundee can be easily reached by train, bus, car, or day tour.
Buses are options to almost all the mentioned locations, but if you want to visit multiple towns in this area in one day, we’d recommend either driving or booking a day tour.
For drivers, Dunfermline is about an 18 mile drive north of Edinburgh and it usually takes about 30 to 40 minutes, St. Andrews is about 50 miles and takes about 1.5 hours, and Dundee is about 60 miles away and takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.
Parking is limited in St. Andrews city center but there are free and paid parking areas as you enter the city. We normally park in the large parking area next to the British Museum of Golf. This parking area is free during the low season but there is a parking charge during busier times of year. It is located just across from the Old Course.
Buses operate from Edinburgh to most of the mentioned cities and towns. A bus to Dunfermline takes about 40 minutes. A bus from Edinburgh to St. Andrews takes about 1.5 to 2 hours. A bus from Edinburgh to Dundee takes about 1.5 hours. You can check National Express for coach connections and prices.
Dundee can easily be reached by train from Edinburgh and the train takes between 1 hour and 1.5 hours. Dunfermline can also be reached by train in 30 to 45 minutes. You can check ScotRail and Trainline for schedules and train tickets.
There is currently no operating train station in St. Andrews and the nearest station is located in Leuchars, about 5 miles away. If you want to travel by train from Edinburgh, you’ll need to take a train to Leuchars and then take a bus or taxi to St. Andrews.
For more complicated itineraries, you might want to use Traveline to figure out the best way to get from place to place.
* Note: There are tentative plans to reopen the train station in St. Andrews and provide a direct rail link between Edinburgh and St. Andrews and strengthen rail links throughout Fife. So worth checking if you’re wanting to travel by train.
Day Tours from Edinburgh to St. Andrews
There are several day tours that head up to Fife, most focusing on a visit to historic St. Andrews. We’ve done and enjoyed this day tour which stops at St. Andrews, the historic town of Falkland, and at a couple of the Fife fishing villages.
There is also this full day private tour which includes St. Andrews and a number of other locations along the Fife coast.
Outlander Filming Sites
Outlander is a romantic fantasy drama TV series set in Scotland that was adapted from the best-selling books by American author Diana Gabaldon. The storyline is set in both the 1940’s and the 18th century as Claire Randall is transported back in time to 1743. In the 18th century she meets a Highland warrior named Jamie Fraser and the series mainly centers on their love and relationship amongst tumultuous circumstances.
To be honest, we are not huge fans of the show but we have visited most of the filming locations for Outlander and most are places worth visiting whether you are a fan of the show or not. If you are a fan, we’d recommend considering joining an Outlander themed tour to enjoy a day out with other fans.
The show is primarily shot at the filming studio near Glasgow, but a number of scenes for Outlander have been shot in filming locations throughout Scotland. Here are some of the better known and more interesting ones that are within a 2 hour drive of Edinburgh. You can choose a handful of these to visit to make a full day trip of it.
- Blackness Castle – A 15th century sea-edge fortress that is shaped like a ship, located about 20 miles (45 minute drive) from Edinburgh. In Outlander , it was used as Fort William and is where Jamie received lashings from Captain Randall and where Jamie rescues Claire from Black Jack.
- Culross – Culross is a picturesque village with a number of historic buildings that are under the care of the National Trust for Scotland . Many scenes for Outlander were filmed here as it was used as Cranesmuir in the show and you’ll also find Claire’s herb garden here. It is located about 25 miles away (45 to 55 minute drive) from Edinburgh.
- Doune Castle – Doune Castle was built around 1400 and was used as the fictional Castle Leoch in Outlander. However, it is better known for being the primary setting for the majority of the scenes in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail . It is located about 45 miles from Edinburgh (1 hour to 1.5 hour drive).
- Falkland – A small historic village located in Perthshire, about a 40 mile (50 to 60 minute drive) from Edinburgh. Its most notable landmark is Falkland Palace which is run by the National Trust and open to the public. Falkland was used as 1940’s Inverness in the show.
- Hopetoun House – Hopetoun House is a gorgeous 17th century mansion home which featured as the stately home of the Duke of Sandringham in Outlander. Located about 14 miles from central Edinburgh (30 minute drive). Open seasonally to the public.
- Midhope Castle – Midhope Castle is a tower house (used as Lallybroch in the TV show) that is also on a private section of the Hopetoun Estate and is sometimes accessible to visitors. The building is derelict so you can only see the exterior. Parking pass needed to visit. Open seasonally.
- Linlithgow Palace – A partially ruined medieval royal residence and the birthplace of King James V and Mary Queen of Scots. It featured as Wentworth Prison in Outlander . It is located about 18 miles drive from Edinburgh (35 to 50 minutes).
- Newhailes House – A 17th-century Palladian villa located about 6 miles (20 minutes drive) from Edinburgh. Scenes were shot here for Outlander of Jamie discussing land grants with Governor Tryon in North Carolina. The house is open seasonally for guided visits and run by the National Trust.
Note that almost all the attractions mentioned charge a fee for entry, and many close during the winter months.
For more Outlander locations, see our detailed guide to all the Outlander filming locations in Scotland .
How to Get from Edinburgh to Outlander Sites
The easiest way is going to be by car or day tour. Although you can get to many of the sites by public transportation it would be difficult to visit more than 2 or 3 locations in one day.
All of the attractions can be visited by car and all are within a 2 hour drive of Edinburgh, and there are several within a 1 hour drive.
Many of the Outlander filming sites can be visited by bus or train from Edinburgh, including Linlithgow Palace, Falkirk, Blackness Castle, and Newhailes House. I’d check Traveline for the best method and route depending on the filming sites of most interest to you.
Day Tours from Edinburgh to Outlander Sites
There are several tours from Edinburgh that go to several Outlander sites in one day, most visiting the same filming locations. We’ve done this 1 day tour with Rabbies that includes stops at several Outlander filming locations including Culross, Blackness Castle, Doune Castle, and Linlithgow Palace.
If you’re a super fan, you may consider a longer Outlander tour such as this 4 day tour that visits just about all the major Outlander sites in Scotland, or this shorter 2 day tour option .
Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park
Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park was designated as Scotland’s first national park in 2002. The large national park includes mountains, forest, lochs (lakes), small villages, and farmland. Loch Lomond is the largest inland body of water by surface area in the UK.
The park is a popular place for hiking, camping, biking, and water sports. It’s particularly well known for hiking and is crossed by two of Scotland’s most popular long distance paths, the West Highland Way and The Three Lochs Way. There are also historic villages, scenic viewpoints, adventure parks, and boat cruises. This is also the land of Scottish outlaw and folk hero Rob Roy MacGregor .
If you are thinking about visiting, check out our travel guide to the top things to do in Loch Lomond to help plan your time here. A great place for a day trip or an overnight trip.
How to Get from Edinburgh to Loch Lomond
The easiest way to get from Edinburgh to Loch Lomond is by car or day tour, but you can also get there by bus or train. If traveling by public transit, you’ll want to plan carefully to make the most of your time.
Loch Lomond National Park covers a large area, but it is about 80 miles away from Edinburgh. It takes between 1.5 to 2 hours to reach the village of Luss alongside Loch Lomond from Edinburgh.
You can travel by bus or a combination of bus and train to several villages within Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park. These include Luss, Balloch, Tarbet, Callander, and Killin. But almost all routes include stops and changes. Travel times vary from 1.5 to 3 hours, depending on the village.
If traveling by train, a few villages in and around Loch Lomond & the Trossachs are on a train line, such as Balloch and Tarbet. If you get off at Balloch, you can walk to several attractions (Balloch boat pier for loch cruises, aquarium, Birds of Prey centre, Balloch Castle Country Park ). Check ScotRail and Trainline for schedules and train tickets.
For planning journeys by bus or multi-stop journeys, you can use Traveline to figure out the best route.
If you get to Balloch by bus or train, you can join a bus tour there such as this one of the park to explore further afield.
Day Tours from Edinburgh to Loch Lomond
There are several day tours from Edinburgh that include visits to Loch Lomond, such as this one that visits Stirling Castle, the Kelpies, and Loch Lomond, this one that visits Loch Lomond and 2 whisky distilleries, and this one that visits Loch Lomond as well as three castles.
If you want to do a cruise of Loch Lomond on a day tour, this one visits Stirling Castle and Loch Lomond and includes the option for a 1 hour boat cruise.
Whisky Distillery Tours
Whisky is the drink most associated with Scotland and many visitors want a chance to learn more about it, see how it is made, and taste a few drams. There are lots of places in Edinburgh where you can try Scottish whisky but there are no distilleries currently open to the public in the city. But luckily there are several within a 1 to 2 hour drive of the capital.
There are a number of whisky distilleries within driving distance of Edinburgh that you could visit on a day trip. I’d try to choose one or two based on a particular brand, type (single malt or blended), or taste (e.g., peaty or fruity) of whisky you personally enjoy.
If you are new to Scotch whisky, I’d recommend doing a tour and tasting at the Scotch Whisky Experience or a local history and tasting tour first in Edinburgh, and then that should help you know better about what kind of whisky you enjoy.
Many whisky distillery tours are fairly similar so we’d advise that one or 2 are plenty for most people. You can easily combine a couple into one day. Also if you are traveling with someone who doesn’t enjoy whisky, try to combine the distillery visit with another attraction of interest.
For instance we’ve done this whisky tasting tour from Edinburgh that stopped at both Glengoyne Distillery and Deanston Distillery. I actually opted to visit Doune Castle (located nearby) instead of the Deanston Distillery as the tour gives you flexibility to do as much or as little as you want at the distilleries themselves.
Here is a list to get you started of several distilleries located within a 2-hour drive of Edinburgh:
- Glenkinchie Distillery – This single malt Lowlands distillery is just a 19 mile (31 km) drive from Edinburgh (30 to 40 minute drive) in the town of Tranent. Offers tours and tastings.
- Glengoyne Distillery – A popular whisky distillery located in Dumgoyne, about 55 miles (88 km) from Edinburgh (1.5 hour drive). It has been in continuous operation since its founding in 1833 and makes its unpeaty single malt whisky using slow and traditional methods. Tours and tastings available.
- Deanston Distillery – Deanston Distillery is a popular whisky distillery in Doune situated alongside the River Teith. It is located about 45 miles (72 km) from Edinburgh (1 hour to 1 hour 30 minute drive). It produces single malt whisky and offers tours and tastings.
- Glenturret Distillery – This distillery is located in Crief about 55 miles (88 km) from Edinburgh (1 hour 20 minute to 1 hour 50 minute drive). The Glenturret Distillery produces single malt whiskies and offers tours and tastings. Pre-booking is recommended.
- Aberfeldy Distillery – The Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery is located outside Aberfeldy, about 74 miles (119 km) from Edinburgh (1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours drive). It produces single malt whisky and offers tours and tastings.
There are also a few newer distilleries, like Clydeside Distillery in Glasgow, within driving distance but they are relatively new and don’t have their own whiskies yet (should have a 5 year by 2022). Although they do tours of their distilleries and include tastings of other whiskies from around Scotland. So still worth visiting if you don’t mind that they are not producing their own spirits yet.
Most whisky distilleries offer several tours throughout the day and can be booked on arrival, but some do require advanced booking, especially in the low season, so be sure to check ahead. Also special tours and experiences (e.g., masterclasses, food and whisky tours) often need to be booked in advance.
Whiskey distillery visits are great for rainy days as the majority of tours take place indoors and you can get warmed up with a dram. Most of the larger distilleries offer a cafe or restaurant where you can get hot food and drinks. As they say in Scotland, today’s rain is tomorrow’s whisky!
It is easy to combine a visit to a distillery to a visit to another attraction in Scotland such as Loch Lomond National Park, Stirling Castle, Falkirk, Glasgow, Doune Castle, or Rosslyn Chapel. Many day tours from Edinburgh and Glasgow include a whisky distillery stop as part of the itinerary.
How to Get from Edinburgh to Whisky Distilleries
The easiest ways to visit a whisky distillery from Edinburgh is by car or day tour, but it is also possible by public transportation. You can also book private transfers such as this one .
All of the whisky distilleries can be reached by car and most have free dedicated parking lots. They range from 30 minutes to 2-hour drives from Edinburgh.
If you are thinking of driving yourself, note the Scottish drinking and driving laws are very strict, so almost all distilleries offer to-go sample cups for drivers and bikers. If you don’t want to drive, I’d recommend booking a driver or guided tour.
Some whisky distilleries can be reached by bus or train and some are not well-served by public transit. So you’ll want to check on the distilleries you want to visit on Traveline for the best bus or train services. For instance you can visit the Glengoyne Distillery, Deanston Distillery, Aberfeldy Distillery, and Glenturret Distillery by public transit
In most cases, it is likely going to be easier and more time efficient to join a day tour from Edinburgh to visit distilleries than to do it via public transit.
Day Tours from Edinburgh to Whisky Distilleries
Several tours from Edinburgh include stops at a whisky distillery. This whisky tour includes stops at two single malt whisky distilleries and a visit to Loch Lomond. This day tour include a stop at a distillery as well as stops in small villages, scenic viewpoints, and Highland lochs. This day tour includes Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond and a stop at one distillery.
Cairngorms National Park
Cairngorms National Park was the second national park established in Scotland and is currently the largest national park in the British Isles. It is most notable for its mountain range, the Cairngorms. It is a popular area for a number of outdoor recreation activities including hiking, boating, climbing, fishing, camping, skiing, and birdwatching.
It is a popular area for families with lots of activities such as the Landmark Forrest Park (amusement park), Highland Wildlife Park (animal park), and Aviemore Zip Trek Park (ziplining park). The Strathspey Railway , which offers steam train rides, is also a popular attraction for people of all ages.
There are a number of castles and historical attractions located within the park that can be visited by the public, including Blair Castle, Braemar Castle, Ruthven Barracks, and Balmoral Castle (Queen’s private residence). There are also museums such as the Highland Folk Museum (large open-air museum) and Grantown Museum .
The park is also home to several whisky distilleries that can be visited including Dalwhinnie, Glenlivet, Tomintoul, and Speyside. The best known of which is probably Dalwhinnie Distillery .
It is one of the best wildlife and birding areas in Scotland, home to a number of species including red squirrels, capercaillie, osprey, deer, badgers, and the Scottish wildcat. You can take a guided wildlife tour here with Speyside Wildlife and/or visit the Osprey Centre .
If you are thinking of visiting in winter, we have a guide to visiting the Cairngorms in winter for tips and things to do. The park is the most popular area for winter sports in Scotland and is home to three of Scotland’s five ski resorts. Scotland is the only place in the British Isles with ski resorts and you can read our guide to skiing in Scotland for more information.
How to Get from Edinburgh to Cairngorms National Park
The best way to get from Edinburgh to the Cairngorms National park is by car, but you can also get here via bus or train. Some towns, such as Aviemore, are well-connected by bus and train from Edinburgh, whereas others, such as Braemar, are not.
It depends where you are driving, but it takes about 1.5 hours to reach the southern part of the park (e.g., Blair Atholl). It is about 130 miles (209 km) from Edinburgh to Aviemore (largest town in park) and the drive takes about 2.5 to 3 hours.
There are bus connections from Edinburgh to several villages and towns within the Cairngorms National Park, including Aviemore, Blair Atholl, and Newtonmore. However, the best connections are primarily to those town and villages in the southern and western areas of the national park.
Train connections are possible to some villages and towns including Aviemore, Dalwhinnie, Blair Atholl, and Newtonmore. Trains can take 2 to 4 hours depending on destination and route.
You can check the bus services and routes online via National Express and Stagecoach (local operator for most services within Cairngorms). Check ScotRail and Trainline for train routes and tickets.
If you are planning to travel around the Cairngorms by public transit, I’d check out this brochure (just note it was last updated in 2015) for an idea of the bus, train, and national cycle routes within the park itself.
Day Tours from Edinburgh to Cairngorms National Park
We don’t know of any day tours from Edinburgh that only focus on Cairngorms but some do drive through or make a stop or two.
If you want to do a day tour to explore the Cairngorms National Park while in Scotland, we’d recommend taking the train to Inverness or Aberdeen and then booking a day trip from there. Both cities are closer and will allow you to explore this area better.
This day tour from Inverness and this day tour from Aberdeen both explore parts of the Cairngorms National Park.
Loch Ness is a large deep freshwater lake in the Scottish Highlands and is the second deepest loch in Scotland. It is best known for the numerous sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, known as “Nessie”. The first such reported sighting of the mysterious sea monster was in 1933.
There are several things to do in and around the loch, and the most popular is to take a cruise on the loch , which range from about 30 minutes to 3 hours. A visit to the picturesque ruined Urquhart Castle can be done as part of a cruise or on its own.
A few other places of interest are the village of Drumnadrochit, the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition , scenic Glen Affric, and a visit to the town of Fort Augustus which is a good place to get a look at the Caledonian Canal. There are also a number of hikes and outdoor activities in this area, and there is even a little beach area near the Dores Inn .
For more information, see our complete guide to visiting Loch Ness , which has details of all the attractions in the area.
How to Get from Edinburgh to Loch Ness
The easiest ways to get from Edinburgh to Loch Ness are by day tour or car, but you can also reach Loch Ness by bus or a combination of train and bus.
Although Loch Ness can be done as a day trip from Edinburgh and is a popular place to visit, it is a long way to go for a day trip. So we recommend either doing it as an overnight trip or booking a day tour to avoid having to do so much driving in one day. In winter, the limited amount of daylight hours, means you’ll likely be driving back in the dark.
It is about a 175 mile (281 km) drive to Drumnadrochit from Edinburgh, which can take between 3.5 to 4.5 hours depending on traffic. You can get to most places in the Loch Ness area within 4 to 5 hours.
Given the long drive, we’d recommend doing this as an overnight trip from Edinburgh or as a day tour so you don’t have to worry about 7 to 8 hours or more of driving.
By public transportation you can reach Drumnadrochit, Clansman Harbour (one of the places cruises depart), Urquhart Castle, and Fort Augustus. This is possible by bus or via a combination of bus and train. Travel time is 4.5 to 5.5 hours each way, many requiring stops and changes, making this not an ideal way to travel for a day trip.
Different bus services operate here and most journeys require multiple stops so you can use Traveline to plan the best route. Many journeys require you to stop first in Inverness. Check ScotRail and Trainline for train routes and tickets.
If planning to visit as a day trip, we’d strongly recommending booking a day tour instead. Or consider staying overnight in Inverness or surrounds, there are lots of great places to stay in the area.
Day Tours from Edinburgh to Loch Ness
There are several companies offering day tours from Edinburgh to Loch Ness, including Rabbie’s Loch Ness tour that also visits scenic Glencoe as well as this day tour option .
A day tour from Edinburgh to Loch Ness is a long day with lots of time in a bus, and ideally we’d recommend taking the train to Inverness and doing a tour to Loch Ness from Inverness as it will allow you to see more at a slower pace.
Stirling Castle & Falkirk
Stirling is a city north of Edinburgh that was once a very powerful town in Scotland. Stirling Castle, alongside Edinburgh Castle, was one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland and it dominates the city’s skyline. It was the medieval home for Scottish royalty and it saw many battles and sieges.
Today, Stirling Castle is the most popular visitor attraction in Stirling, and a tour here allows you to learn about its long history, the people who lived here, and see its principal rooms. You may also want to visit the Church of the Holy Rude, a nearby church that was used by royalty staying at Stirling Castle in the medieval period.
Other things to see in or near Stirling is the battle site of the Battle of Bannockburn , which was a famous battle fought between the Scottish and English in 1314 where Robert the Bruce’s army beat the army of King Edward II in what is often referred to as the First War of Scottish Independence. You can learn more at the Battle of Bannockburn 3D Experience .
Nearby is the National Wallace Monument , a large memorial completed in 1869 to commemorate William Wallace , a Scottish knight and hero, who fought alongside Robert the Bruce. He is the man who was famously portrayed by Mel Gibson in the 1995 film Braveheart . Wallace’s sword is also on display here. You can see the monument from a distance for free (it is 220 feet high!), but there is a fee to visit.
On the way to Stirling, you’ll pass by the town of Falkirk, where you’ll find a number of additional attractions. The Kelpies are 98 feet tall steel horse head sculptures and they are the largest equine sculptures in the world. You can get a glimpse of them from the highway but we recommend stopping to visit them (free to visit, but small fee if you want to climb inside one of them).
Other attractions worth visiting nearby include the Falkirk Wheel (an interesting boat lift connecting 2 canals, can take a short ride) and Callendar House (grand 19th century mansion with medieval core). For history buffs, the remains of a section of the Antonine Wall (a smaller northern version of Hadrian’s Wall) runs through the grounds of Callendar House.
Yet, another attraction that could be visited as part of a day trip to Stirling is Linlithgow Palace , a partially ruined medieval royal residence and the birthplace of King James V and Mary Queen of Scots. A great piece of history although we had a very confusing time trying to navigate it due to its ruined layout! On a nice day, you may want to walk the path around Linlithgow Loch located below the palace.
How to Get from Edinburgh to Stirling
It is easy to get from Edinburgh to Stirling by train, car, bus, or day tour. It is also possible to reach Falkirk by car, train, bus, or day tour.
Stirling is about a 36-mile (58 km) drive from Edinburgh, and the drive takes about 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes. Falkirk is about a 45-minute drive away from Edinburgh. The M9 goes past both cities.
You can reach Stirling bus or train, and the journey takes about 1 hour.
The train between Edinburgh and Falkirk takes about 30 minutes. From here, you would need to take a local bus (check First Bus ) to get closer to most of the city’s visitor attractions.
You can check the bus services and routes online via National Express . Check ScotRail and Trainline for train routes and tickets.
Day Tours from Edinburgh to Stirling
You can visit some of these sites, most notably Stirling Castle and the Kelpies, via a day tour. This day tour includes a visit to Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park, and the Kelpies.
If you want to see the Falkirk Wheel and explore Callendar House as well, you might consider this private day tour . It includes pick up and drop off from Edinburgh hotels and time spent at the Kelpies, Falkirk Wheel, and Callendar House. See more tour options for Falkirk here .
The Scottish Borders is the southern region of Scotland that borders England. It is a hilly, bucolic, and largely rural area that was once occupied by the Romans and saw the coming and going of many Scottish and English armies over the centuries. It is the area of Scotland just south of where we live!
We enjoy exploring the Scottish Borders as it is relatively unknown to most tourists and there is a lot of scenery and historical sites in the area. You’ll find historic market towns, Roman sites, ruined grand abbeys, brochs, castles, nature areas, and a network of hiking paths.
Scenic towns that are easy to explore on foot include Jedburgh, Kelso, Melrose, and Peebles. The area is known for its four great ruined medieval abbeys (ruined during the reign of King Henry VIII) at Kelso, Jedburgh, Melrose, and Dryburgh. The most famous of which is probably Melrose Abbey which was the first Cistercian abbey in Scotland.
There are also a number of castles, museums, and historical attractions. Castles that are open to the public in the area include Floors Castle , Hermitage Castle , and Thirlestane Castle . Museums include the Mary Queen of Scots Visitor Center in Jedburgh, Jedburgh Castle Jail and Museum , and the Coldstream Museum .
Many sites in the Scottish Borders have a relationship with writer Sir Walter Scott who spent much of his childhood living in the area with his aunt and would later make this his home as an adult. For example, you can find a plaque and bust in Kelso (where he went to school and spent many summers with his aunt and uncle), visit the courthouse museum in Selkirk where Scott served as sheriff for almost 30 years, tour his grand house Abbotsford , and see his burial place in Dryburgh Abbey .
If you’d like to hike in the area, you can check out local walking routes here . If you like history you might consider walking a section of the 65 mile Borders Abbeys Way which connects the four abbeys and other attractions as well. The Sir Walter Scott Way also runs through the region.
The Scottish Borders is a large area, so it really depends on what your interests are but it is definitely a region worth exploring if you are looking for a lesser known and less busy destination in Scotland. You can read about the first two day trips we took ourselves to this area to come up with a list of things to do in the Scottish Borders .
You can also combine a visit to the Scottish Borders with a stop at Rosslyn Chapel or a visit across the border to Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland. Both are covered in detail in other sections of this article.
How to Get from Edinburgh to the Scottish Borders
It is easy to visit the area by car, bus, or day tour. You can also reach the area by train.
You can easily reach the Scottish Borders by car. It takes about 1 hour to 1.5 hour to reach towns in the Scottish Borders. For instance Peebles is 23 miles (37 km), Melrose is 37 miles (59 km), Selkirk is 39 miles (62 km), and Jedburgh is 48 miles (77 km) from Edinburgh.
You can reach most of the towns by bus from Edinburgh which include Melrose, Selkirk, Galashiels, Kelso, and Peebles. Travel times vary widely but most towns can be reached in 1 hour to 2 hours. You can check bus services and routes online via Borders Buses.
In many cases you can save time by taking the train and then getting a bus from Galashiels or Tweedbank. You can reach Galashiels and Tweedbank by train from Edinburgh on the Border Railway. You can book tickets via ScotRail or Trainline . From these stations, you can connect by bus to reach most of the other towns in the Scottish Borders or book a taxi.
Galashiels is the largest town in the Scottish Borders and here you’ll find the best transport links and the most services.
Day Tours from Edinburgh to Scottish Borders
There are a number of day tours that can give you a taste of the Scottish Borders. This Rabbies tour includes a visit to Rosslyn Chapel and Melrose Abbey, this one visits the Scottish Borders with a stop in Jedburgh and Hadrian’s Wall, and this day tour visits Alnwick Castle with a stop in Kelso.
Scottish Seabird Centre
The Scottish Seabird Centre is a charity-run discovery center in North Berwick that runs birdwatching boat trips and also participates in a number of local conservation efforts. The Firth of Forth is an important breeding area and is believed to be used by almost half of all of Europe’s seabirds!
Species that breed here each year include razorbills, Atlantic puffins, Atlantic gannets, Arctic terns, kittiwakes, shags, cormorants, and numerous duck species. Most notably, the world’s largest colony of northern gannets (over 150,000!) nest each year on Bass Rock.
The Discovery Centre is an interactive information and museum center, designed to be family-friendly. From here, you can learn about all the local species and even watch the birds on live cams that are set up on the island and local cliffs. There is also a cafe and gift center here.
The boat tours run from about April to November, and leave from the Scottish Seabird Centre. The boat tours go to or around one or more of the small rocks or islands where the birds nest each Spring and Summer. These include Bass Rock, Lamb, Craigleith, and the Isle of May. Some of the special tours include landings on either Bass Rock or the Isle of May.
If you love birds, especially sea birds, and are visiting in the Spring or Summer, we’d definitely recommend considering a visit here. In addition to birds, you also have the chance to see dolphins, seals, and whales in these waters. There is also a view of the ruined Tantallon Castle.
We’ve visited twice and done two boat tours so far, one RIB boat tour that circled the three islands and one regular boat tour that landed on the Isle of May. Both tours were educational and fun, and we got to see a lot of birds on both trips. You can read about our experiences and tips for visiting the Scottish Seabird Centre to help plan your own trip. It is best to pre-book the boat tours in advance.
North Berwick is a nice town to wander around and has a number of casual eateries and pubs; we recommend trying the local seafood. Other attractions around North Berwick include Tantallon Castle , a ruined 14th century castle, and the National Museum of Flight . There are also dozens of golf courses along the coast between Edinburgh and North Berwick; just be sure to book a tee time in advance if you want to play.
You can also combine a day trip out to North Berwick with a visit to other attractions such as Rosslyn Chapel in Roslin or Newhailes House & Gardens in Musselburgh.
How to Get from Edinburgh to Scottish Seabird Centre
It is easy to reach North Berwick by car, train, or bus.
It is about a 25 mile (40 km) drive from Edinburgh to North Berwick, which usually takes about 45 to 50 minutes. There is a pay-and-display car park located at the Scottish Seabird Centre or street parking in town.
North Berwick is well connected to Edinburgh by public transit. You can travel by train from Edinburgh to North Berwick by train in about 30 to 40 minutes. You can book tickets via Trainline or ScotRail .
Or you can take a bus (check schedule online with East Coast Buses ) to North Berwick, which takes about 1 hour.
Day Tours from Edinburgh to Scottish Seabird Centre
We are not aware of any day tours that visit the Scottish Seabird Centre or stop in North Berwick, but it is easy to reach North Berwick by public transit. However, you could arrange a private transfer or private tour.
Hadrian’s Wall was a defensive fortification built by the Romans in the northernmost part of the Roman province of Britannia, which is now northern England. It is believed construction on the wall started around 122 A.D. during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, and it was used by the Romans until they left Britain in the early 5th century. It is 73 miles long (80 Roman miles) and runs from Wallsend to the Solway Firth.
Games of Thrones fans will likely know, or be interested to learn, that the Game of Thrones book series written by George RR Martin was inspired by Martin’s visit to Hadrian’s Wall in 1981. He notes that the Wall was the first thing he developed in the books, and you can read more about that in his 2014 interview with Rolling Stone .
Hadrian’s Wall was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and has become a popular tourist attraction. Many people, especially UK residents, do a week-long walk from one end to the other during the summer months. But as a day trip, you can still see a section of the wall and visit one of the forts.
There are hundreds of Hadrian’s Wall and Roman related sites in the area, and if you are really interested in seeing specific things I’d recommend getting a recent guidebook on the wall to help you learn more and choose the best things to visit. But if you are just happy to see a few highlights, we’ll recommend some places that work well as a day trip from Edinburgh below.
You can see stretches of it by car or bus along the Roman Dere Street and then one of the most popular places to get out and see the wall up close is at Steel Rigg. Nearby, Sycamore Gap (easy to spot from the Roman Dere Street) is a scenic spot that was featured in the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
There is a parking area at Steel Rigg which provides a nice view of the wall and you can follow a path along a decently preserved section of the wall. Please don’t sit or walk on the wall as it is a protected monuments and both the wall and the surrounding ground is quite fragile.
An alternative to Steel Rigg is Heddon-on-the-Wall which is another well-preserved stretch of the wall that you can see up close. This gets less visitors than Steel Rigg which is where most of the tour buses and cars stop. There is no dedicated parking here but there is street parking.
Before or after you’ve seen a stretch of the wall, I’d recommend visiting one of the ruined forts and museums along the wall. There were originally at least 14 larger Roman forts built along the wall and you can still see the ruins of many of these today. We’d recommend planning a visit to either Housesteads or Vindolanda . Both have fort ruins and a museum with archaeological finds and information to help you learn more about the sites.
If you want to do a long walk in the area, we’d recommend this 8 mile circular walk around a section of the wall which includes Steel Rigg, Sycamore Gap, Housesteads, and a lake. It takes about 3 hours at a normal pace and starts and ends at the Housesteads Visitor Center. This would make for a great day out for those who want to combine hiking with sightseeing.
A day trip to Hadrian’s Wall could be combined with a short stop at Rosslyn Chapel or to a town in the Scottish Borders such as Melrose or Jedburgh. You might also want to stop at Carter Bar which is the border of Scotland and England for short photo stop. You can read more about our own day trip to Hadrian’s Wall from Edinburgh for more ideas.
How to Get from Edinburgh to Hadrian’s Wall
The easiest ways to reach Hadrian’s Wall are by car, booking a day tour, or booking a private transfer . Public transportation is very limited in this area.
Hadrian’s Wall is about a 100 mile (160 km) drive south of Edinburgh. It takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to reach the mentioned sites along Hadrian’s Wall by car. The sites are then spread out alongside the wall, but we’d recommend trying to stick to those within 30 to 60 minutes drive of each other.
There is very limited public transportation in this area which is primarily rural and many of the recommended sites are outside of towns. If you want to visit without a car, we’d recommend booking a day tour from Edinburgh.
Day Tours from Edinburgh to Hadrian’s Wall
There are several day tours from Edinburgh to Hadrian’s Wall, many of which make a stop or two in the Scottish Borders. This day tour (which we’ve done) stops in a Scottish Borders town, Carter Bar, Steel Rigg, and (usually) Vindolanda. If you’d like to combine a trip to Rosslyn Chapel and Hadrian’s Wall, you might consider this tour although it spends less time at Hadrian’s Wall.
Harry Potter Filming Sites
While much of the Harry Potter books were written in Edinburgh by J.K. Rowling , Edinburgh was never used as a filming location for any of the films. Although you can find several related sites to Harry Potter in Edinburgh .
Hogwarts is of course set in Scotland and there are a number of Harry Potter filming locations in Scotland . You can put together your own list if you already know where you want to go. Just know that there is not too much to see at some of them.
We’ve listed some below for you to consider, but just note most are 3 hours or more drive time from Edinburgh if you head north so this makes for a very long day trip. The closest in terms of driving time is Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England which is a 2-hour drive away.
- Glenfinnan Viaduct – The Glenfinnan Viaduct is a railway viaduct on the West Highland Line just outside the town of Glenfinnan. It opened for operation in 1901. In Harry Potter, it is the viaduct or bridge that the Hogwarts Express is seen going over in the films.
- The Jacobite Train – This is the steam train run by West Coast Railway used for shots of the Hogwarts Express. The train mainly runs between Fort William and Mallaig. For the full Harry Potter like experience we recommend booking the “First Class Compartment Carriage HP Style” seats. The train operates seasonally, normally April to October.
- Rannoch Moor – Rannoch Moor is a boggy moorland area near Loch Rannoch. This is where the Death Eaters board the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 .
- Steall Falls in Glen Nevis – Steall Falls, Scotland’s second highest waterfall, and surrounding area were used in the background for scenes where Harry fights the dragon in the Triwizard Tournament during Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire . You can find hiking information here .
- Alnwick Castle – Located in northern England, the castle exterior and courtyard were used as Hogwarts to shoot several scenes in the first two films, including where the students learn to fly on their broomsticks. The castle offers Harry Potter related activities like broomstick lessons. The castle has also been used as a filming location for Downton Abbey , Transformers: The Last Knight , Elizabeth , and other films. The castle is worth a visit in its own right and there is also an amazing garden located here!
- Glen Coe – Glen Coe is a scenic glen and also the site of a terrible massacre in 1692. In Harry Potter, the area was used in a few films and it is best known as the location for Hagrid’s Hut (although the hut was a film set not a real place). You can view our Glen Coe photography guide .
It is not possible however to visit all of the mentioned filming locations in one day so you’ll need to figure out which ones you are most interested in seeing. You can fit several locations into a day if you head northwest. But Alnwick Castle, for instance, is in the opposite direction (in England) than all the rest.
If you are looking for just one Harry Potter thing to do, I’d probably choose The Jacobite train ride (a fun experience and nice scenery), a visit to Alnwick Castle (iconic castle with broomstick lessons), or a visit to Glen Coe (dramatic landscape and good area for a walk/hike).
For more ideas, see our Harry Potter Scotland guide for a full list of filming locations.
How to Get from Edinburgh to Harry Potter Filming Sites
It is easy to reach the Harry Potter filming sites by car or day tour from Edinburgh, and some can also be visited by bus and/or train.
It takes 1.5 hours to 2 hours to reach Alnwick Castle by car, and the rest of the sites can be reached by driving 3 to 4 hours from Edinburgh.
If you plan to head north towards Fort William and Glen Coe, we’d actually recommend doing this as an overnight trip if you can and perhaps stay overnight in Fort William . Or consider a day tour so you don’t have to do the driving yourself.
Many of the filming locations can be reached by bus and/or train including Fort William (where the steam train departs), Alnwick Castle, Glenfinnan, Rannoch Moor, and Glencoe. Check Traveline for the best routes to each.
Day Tours from Edinburgh to Harry Potter Filming Sites
There are day tours that include many of the Harry Potter sites, just note that most focus on Alnwick Castle since it is much closer than the others. For instance, this day tour visits Alnwick Castle, the Scottish Borders, and the Northumberland Coast.
If you are wanting to take the Jacobite Steam Train, I’d check this day trip with train ride as it includes transport to and from Edinburgh, the steam train ride, and views of some Harry Potter filming locations in the Highlands.
If Glen Coe is the top site on your list, you might consider this day tour that includes Glen Coe as well as Loch Ness.
Glen Coe & Scottish Highlands
Glen Coe , or Glencoe, is a glen of volcanic origins in the Scottish Highlands that is well-known for being scenic and atmospheric. It is an area designated as a special scenic area and nature reserve. Most of the glen is owned and conserved by the National Trust of Scotland .
It is also the site of a terrible massacre in 1692, known as the Massacre of Glencoe , where 38 people from the MacDonalds of Glencoe clan were murdered unarmed as they slept by those that had given them shelter. The government initiated massacre was led by a member of the Campbell clan and this has led to a MacDonald and Campbell feud that lasted for generations (in some cases may still exist).
However, most people come to Glen Coe not for its history, but for its scenic beauty. It is a draw for many photographers and has been used as a filming location for a number of movies including Highlander , Rob Roy , Braveheart , and the Harry Potter films. You can view our Glencoe photography guide .
It is a popular place for hiking, climbing, and mountaineering and there are a number of paths and routes within the area. Nearby Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles.
There is a visitor center and exhibition center (fee for non-members) run by the National Trust here which is a great place to stop for information and hiking routes. The National Trust staff sometimes led guided walks or safari tours. There is also the Glencoe Folk Museum which presents local history presented within thatched cottages.
On the way to Glen Coe, you might like to stop and explore a bit of the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park.
How to Get from Edinburgh to Glen Coe
The easiest way to get here is by car or day tour. It is possible to get to the village and many areas of Glen Coe by public transit as well.
It is about a 120 mile (193 km) drive from Edinburgh to Glencoe, and the drive takes about 3 hours. Can take longer depending on traffic.
It is possible to travel to Glen Coe by public transit, either by bus or a combo of bus and train. See Traveline to help you plan your journey.
Day Tours from Edinburgh to Glen Coe
There are day trips from Edinburgh to Glen Coe, such as this one that visits both Loch Ness and Glencoe, as well as this similar tour .
Castles were built in Scotland from the 11th century to 20th century, and range from tower houses to large fortresses to fairytale palaces. Many are open to the public and are within day tripping distance of Edinburgh.
Castles in Scotland range from almost forgotten about ruins to prime tourist attractions, and you can find them in just about any part of Scotland. I’d take a look at this castle list as it organizes castles by council area in Scotland so you can identify which ones are near where you’d like to go and are worth visiting.
If there is a particular castle you really want to visit, I’d then explore the area around it to find other castles that are open to the public. It is easy to visit 3 to 4 castles in a day trip from Edinburgh if you plan ahead.
There are dozens of castles that are within day tripping distance from Edinburgh, here are some to help get you started (all within a 2.5 hour drive):
- Cragmillar Castle – A ruined castle with parts dating back to the 14th century that was used by Mary Queen of Scots. Only a 20 minute drive from Edinburgh.
- Blackness Castle – A 15th castle that is shaped like a ship located on the south shore of the Firth of Forth. Filming location for Outlander . 45 minute drive from Edinburgh.
- Thirlestane Castle – A privately owned 16th century castle located in the Scottish Borders that is home to the Maitland family. Located about a 45 minute drive from Edinburgh.
- Stirling Castle – A large medieval castle that served as one of the most important fortresses in Scotland for a long period and was used as a residence by Scottish royalty. Lots of resemblance to Edinburgh Castle. About a 1 hour to 1.5 hour drive from Edinburgh.
- Doune Castle – Castle dating back to about 1400 that became derelict but was significantly restored in the 20th century. Filming location for Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Outlander . Located 1 hour to 1.5 hour drive from Edinburgh.
- Alnwick Castle – A picturesque and mighty castle with sections dating back to the 11th century. Located in northern England, it is the seat of the Duke of Northumberland. Filming location for Harry Potter and Downton Abbey . Adjacent to the beautiful Alnwick Garden . Located a 1.5 to 2 hour drive from Edinburgh.
- Dunnottar Castle – A dramatically situated ruined medieval fortress along the coast that has a rich history and was a significant place of defense during the Jacobite rebellions. Dunnottar Castle is about a 2 hour to 2.5 hour drive from Edinburgh.
- Balmoral Castle – Castle built for Queen Victoria and now the private home of Queen Elizabeth II. Beautiful grounds and gardens, but only the Castle’s Ballroom and stables are open to the public to tour. Only open to the public during certain times of the year. About a 2.5 hour drive from Edinburgh.
Note that all the castles listed charge an admission fee for visitors. If you plan to visit several castles while in Scotland, you might check out the Scottish Heritage Pass (valid for travel between April to October) which gives you free entry to over 120 National Trust and Historic Scotland sites.
There is also the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass which includes entry into over 70 Historic Scotland sites. These passes include entry into lots of castles including Edinburgh Castle, Blackness Castle, Craigmillar Castle, Stirling Castle, and Doune Castle.
You can also join the National Trust for Scotland for free entry into their properties.
Most castles in Scotland have seasonal hours and some close throughout the winter months. So be sure to check head before planning a visit to be sure they’ll be open during your visit.
We’ve visited loads of castles in Scotland, so if you are looking for a castle in a particular area to fit into a day trip or a castle of a particular type, feel free to ask us in the Comments section and we can give you our recommendations.
How to Get from Edinburgh to Castles
Castles in Scotland can be reached by car or day tour, and many can also be reached by bus or train.
The mentioned castles are all within a 20-minute to 2.5 hour drive of Edinburgh.
Most of the mentioned castles can be reached by public transportation. Use Traveline to help you plan your route to specific castles. Just note that it may be hard to visit more than one or two castles on a day trip using public transit.
Day Tours from Edinburgh to Castles
Castles are a part of a lot of day tours from Edinburgh. This castle-focused day trip visits several castle as well as Highland lochs and scenery. You can also find day tours that include a particular castle along with other attractions including this one to Stirling Castle and this one to Alnwick Castle .
A Few Tips for Planning Day Trips from Edinburgh
Here are a few tips for planning a day trip from Edinburgh whether you plan to drive, take public transportation, or book a guided day tour.
- It rains a lot in Scotland and can be windy so be sure to take along raingear, warm layers, and practical shoes! Check the weather forecast before setting out. Don’t let bad weather stop you from exploring, just be prepared!
- When planning day trips from Edinburgh, we recommend sticking to places within a 2.5 hour drive or less from the city. Any further and you’ll spend half of your day simply driving and not getting to see as much. Also be sure to take daylight hours into account as you have more limited hours in winter.
- If you are thinking of going to places that are further away, such as the Isle of Skye or northern Scottish Highlands, we strongly recommend an overnight or multi-day trip. If you don’t want to make arrangements, many local tour companies such as Rabbies offer overnight tours from Edinburgh to more far-flung places in both Scotland and England.
- If driving, try to avoid rush hour if leaving or returning to Edinburgh on a weekday. Morning rush hour is normally from about 7:30am to 9:30am (7:30 to 9:30) and afternoon rush hour is normally from 4:00pm to 6:00pm (16:00 to 18:00). You can check road conditions and traffic online at Traffic Scotland .
- New to driving in the UK? Check out our tips for driving in the UK and navigating single track roads .
- We recommend the Traveline website for helping to plan journeys in the UK via public transportation. The site is especially helpful if you are having trouble figuring out which bus to take or how to do a multi-leg journey.
- If planning to do day trips by public bus or coach, know that there are several bus stations in Edinburgh but the buses of most of the bus companies start and end their journeys at the Edinburgh Bus Station (also known as St. Andrews Bus Station) on Elder Street.
- For bus tickets, you can often purchase them online through sites like National Express or the local service website. But others you will need to purchase in person at the bus station or directly from the driver (cash usually needed).
- We currently have two train stations in central Edinburgh, the main one where most trains arrive and depart is Waverley Station . But there is also the Haymarket Station which handles a lot of commuter train traffic. Just be sure you know which station you need.
- If you plan to do a lot of travel by bus or train from Edinburgh, we recommend booking your accommodation within walking distance of the train or bus station to make your travels easier.
- If traveling by public bus or train and you want to visit more than one place in the same day, be sure to check the routes and schedules in advance to make the most of your day. Public transit is not that frequent in some areas.
- If you plan to use a taxi or private transfer to get from one place to another, we often use minicabit to compare cab fees. We do have Uber in Scotland (launched in 2015 after we moved here) but it is currently limited to pick-ups in and around Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen only.
- If looking for day tour operators in Edinburgh, we can recommend Edinburgh-based Rabbies . You can also see a wider selection of tours from Edinburgh on GetYourGuide and Viator .
- If doing a day tour, tipping or leaving a small gratuity to your guide and/or driver is appreciated and common, although not necessary, if you enjoyed their services.
- If you plan to visit a number of historical and cultural sites while in Scotland, you might check out the Scottish Heritage Pass (valid for travel between April to October) which gives you free entry to over 120 National Trust and Historic Scotland sites. There is also the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass which includes entry into over 70 Historic Scotland sites including Edinburgh Castle, Urquhart Castle, Stirling Castle, Melrose Abbey, and St Andrews Castle.
- Be sure you allow enough time to see all the things you want to do in Edinburgh! We sometimes hear from visitors who did so many day trips, they didn’t get to see much of the city itself. Edinburgh is a cultural hub of Scotland and there is a lot to do here. If you’ve tired out all the top things to do in Edinburgh , you can also check out our list of less known things to do in Edinburgh !
- If you are looking for more Scotland day trip ideas, also check out our guides to day trips from Glasgow and day trips from Inverness .
So that is our guide to the best day trips from Edinburgh! Hopefully it has helped you plan your own Edinburgh day trip.
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Have you done any day trips from Edinburgh? If so, feel free to tell us about your day trip experience and how you planned it.
If you have a question about planning a day trip from Edinburgh or anything else about visiting Edinburgh, just leave us your question in the Comments section below!
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Steve Post author
May 12, 2023 at 10:51 am
hello there and thank you for this great resource! We’ll have 3 full days in Scotland, based out of Edinburgh. To get as much of the Scottish experience possible, do you think 1 day touring Edinburgh and 2 days doing day trips with a car would be best, or 2 days to tour Edinburgh and only 1 day to devote to a day trip? Thanks
Jessica & Laurence Norah Post author
May 16, 2023 at 9:09 am
I don’t think there is any correct answer to this. You could easily find enough in and around Edinburgh to fill three days as you can probably see in some of our other posts on things to do in Edinburgh. But with three days only in Scotland, I’d definitely recommend at least one day on a day trip or tour of some kind, especially if you don’t think you’ll be returning to Scotland.
In terms of which days trips and one or two days really depends on what you are most interested in doing/seeing. What are your main interests after looking over the options? If you think you’ll never return to Scotland, then you might want to do a day trip that goes up to the Scottish Highlands as I would say that is what most people think of in terms of Scottish landscapes (lochs, hills, moors). Many people also want to visit a Scottish distillery (best on a tour so driver can drink) or another castle or two (in addition to Edinburgh Castle).
Hope that helps, and happy to answer more questions as you have them!
Rita Shemchuk Post author
April 9, 2023 at 11:59 am
Hello Jessica and Laurence. We are planning a trip to Scotland in the spring 2024. I am enjoying reading your Edinburgh day trip suggestions with travel tips and places not to miss. I stumbled onto your blog doing research for our trip.
We are flying into Edinburgh and staying there 3 days then onto Glasgow 1 day. And then onto to rest of the country. Up north to Inverness and continuing down to Stirling before returning to Edinburgh for departure.
We are planning to get a rental car. Is it worth having the car in Edinburgh? Different travel people are suggesting getting the car in Glasgow as opposed to Edinburgh.
My question to you is this. Should we rent a car at the Edinburgh airport as that’s where we’re going to end up OR after visiting Edinburgh take the train to Glasgow and get the car there for the rest of our journey.
Thanks, Rita Shemchuk
April 10, 2023 at 12:23 pm
I would not recommend renting a car in Edinburgh unless you have a specific need for one (e.g., to get somewhere specific that you can’t get via public transit or walking). Even for some of the day trips, it is usually easier to use public transit or join a day tour.
We lived outside Edinburgh for many years and normally just took the bus into the city as it can be difficult to find parking and you will need to pay to park each day (unless your accommodation offers free parking). If you stay centrally most things are easy to get to on foot or a short bus or taxi ride. So it is can be more expensive and more stressful to have a car.
You can get a bus or train to Glasgow easily and then once you are in Glasgow you can rent a car there. Depending on where you are staying in Glasgow and what you plan to do, you may or may not want a car there. But it is easy to rent a car in Glasgow either on arrival or as you are leaving to head to more rural destinations.
Hope that helps, and just let us know if you have more questions as you plan your visit to Scotland!
Scott Post author
April 3, 2023 at 11:10 pm
Love your website, it’s been instrumental in helping me plan my trip to Scotland!
I’ve got about 2.5 days in Edinburgh planned with enough time for 2 day trips. I’ve decided to use Rabbies as you recommended. So far I’ve decided on the West Highlands and Castles tour. I’m torn on the last one though and would love some help.
I’m torn between seeing Hadrians Wall, or doing the Alwick Castle + Northumberland Coast and Borders, and also the St. Andrews/Fife fishing villages. The first two are interesting to me to see Northumberland since I’m seeing the West Highlands with the first trip. St. Andrews and the fishing villages are also high on your list so I’m heavily considering that. Thoughts?
April 4, 2023 at 12:43 pm
So glad to hear that our website has been helpful in planning your upcoming trip to Scotland.
Yes, there are so many good day trip possibilities from Edinburgh. I think it is hard to recommend one tour over the other as they are all fairly different. We’ve done all three and I think you’d probably enjoy any of them. I would read through all the descriptions and see what appeals most. What are you most interested in seeing/doing?
Pat Freedman Post author
February 23, 2023 at 3:14 pm
Thanks for this very useful blog. I have been feeling overwhelmed in planning a Scotland trip for me and my husband in September 2023, but your information has helped me get a handle on which day tour to take from Edinburgh–I think we will take the Rabbie’s tour to Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond, and kelpies. Do you think 4 nights will allow enough time to see the main city sights (half-day on arrival, plus 2 full days) and do the day tour (on the third full day)? We plan to rent a car after the last night in order to see more of Scotland, and we will return to Edinburgh for 1 or 2 nights at the end of the trip, so we can do a bit more city sightseeing then.
February 24, 2023 at 2:55 am
So glad that you are finding our travel blog useful in planning your visit to Edinburgh and the rest of Scotland!
Yes, I think that sounds like a very reasonable plan. It of course depends on how much you want to see in Edinburgh, but most people find 2 full days are enough to see most of their must-see places and have some time to walk around and explore. So I think 2.5 days plus some potential time at the end of your trip is a good amount. I would make a list of the places you really want to visit and then allocate how much time you think you’ll need to each and that should help you decide for sure if you are feeling a bit unsure.
I think a day tour to Stirling Castle is a good idea for Day 3 as it will give you a bit of a break from the city and someone else will be doing the driving. Rabbie’s drivers/guides are generally very friendly and good to ask for recommendations for things to do/see.
Since you are planning to visit Stirling Castle and probably also Edinburgh Castle, you may want to check out the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass as it allows to you visit dozens of properties in Scotland and includees those two castles. For example if planning to go up to Loch Ness/Inverness, it includes Urquhart Castle and Fort George. Normally it is worth it if visiting at least 3 included places on your trip. Many of Scotland’s castles and abbeys are included. Some you’ll want to book your timed entry in advance. You can read more about it here .
Hope that helps and just let us know if you have any further questions as you plan your trip to Scotland!
Jack Couture Post author
March 29, 2022 at 6:27 am
What a great resource you have put together with so many options! We are have put together a 5 week tour of Europe meandering from a start in Scotland to island hopping in Greece – with many places in between. We will arrive EDI from BOS 4/26 16:00, picking up a car and AirBnB near Edinburgh castle. Taking an evening walking tour of City. Thinking of driving up to St. Andrews area 4/27 after a morning in City. 4/28 we are driving to Connel near Oban by way of Loch Lomand and staying on a farm B&B. 4/29 we are returning to EDI by way of Glasgow for an afternoon flight. What are your thoughts on this plan? What would you recommend we do to make the most of this short stay within the itinerary we have laid out. Is the ride to Fife area the right move? Any thoughts you have on tightening up our plans would be most welcome. We are thinking the ride to the west coast should be rather interesting.
March 29, 2022 at 7:28 am
Glad you are enjoying our travel blog. Nice that you have included Scotland in your Europe tour; however, you do have very little time to spend there. You essentially have about 2.5 days which is about the time we’d recommend spending just in Edinburgh. So I would consider streamlining your itinerary a bit so you have a bit more time at the places you most want to visit.
I am not sure what time you need to return your car and check in for you flight, but I imagine you won’t have too much time on 4/29 if you have an afternoon flight (you’ll need to be there 2 hours before your flight to check-in). The drive from Oban to Edinburgh is at least 3 hours. I’d probably skip Glasgow that day unless something specific you want to see as that will make the drive longer that day and the traffic between Edinburgh and Glasgow can be heavy at times.
With limited time, I would recommend using it to spend at least 1 full day in Edinburgh (unless you’ve been before) rather than doing a day trip to St. Andrews. You’d have very little time in St. Andrews if you just had the afternoon and I’d recommend avoiding the 3 hours of driving unless it is a must-see of course for you.
I’d then use the rest of the time seeing Loch Lomond and then Oban since you are driving all the way there. I’d make sure you have time to explore Oban and the coast. There is a nice harbor to walk around, a castle/museum you can visit, nice walks (Battery Hill nice to walk up for view of town/harbor), a whisky distillery you can tour, boat tours you can take, etc.
Here’s what I’d suggest based on what you want to see/do and amount of time:
4/26 – arrive, check-in, do evening city walking tour, overnight Edinburgh 4/27 – Explore Edinburgh – lots to see/do, overnight Edinburgh 4/28 – pick up car, explore Loch Lomond area, drive to Oban/Connel, overnight Connel 4/29 – explore Oban in morning, drive back to Edinburgh, car drop off, flight out
For the rental car, if you decide that you don’t need it the first 2 days, you might wait to pick it up in the city to avoid the fees/parking for the first 2 nights (unless it is less expensive to pick it up from the airport). Then do drop off at airport on return. You don’t need a car for getting around Edinburgh – most places are within walking distance and public buses (or sightseeing bus) can get you pretty much anywhere else you’d probably want to go.
Anyway, hope those suggestions help. Just let me know if you have further question as you plan your trip to Europe!
Mark T Post author
January 3, 2020 at 3:00 pm
Hi Jessica and Laurence. What a great article!
We are thinking of visiting for 10 days in mid-March. We don’t mind that the weather may not be ideal, but more concerned that the scenery will not be as green and beautiful as we hope.26
Can you tell me what the scenery is like in mid-March?
January 4, 2020 at 3:29 am
We think Scotland is scenic year-round and I would say it doesn’t change as much as in some other parts of the world. Some wildflowers flowers will already be blooming by March. The issue is as you noted the weather, and a lot of rain and gray skies can really dampen one’s outlook (and ability to see) the scenery. You also have fewer daylight hours than later in the Spring or summer.
That said, a clear winter day with some sunlight is a wonderful time to see Scotland’s scenery and a great thing with traveling in March is that it won’t be very crowded in most places. Just note that some attractions and activities, especially those outside the cities, won’t be operating in March (April to September is the main tourism season).
Photos of Glencoe in winter and Cairngorms in winter for some ideas of scenery – you can see there is still greenery and color even at the height of winter. The snow is just because we are at higher altitudes and you’d rarely see much snow in say Edinburgh even in the middle of winter.
But I would be very prepared for rain in March and make sure to pack your rain gear, coat, and good waterproof shoes so you can enjoy being outside even when the weather is bad.
Hope that helps and just let us know if you have further questions as you plan your trip to Scotland.
Dave Murray Post author
October 18, 2019 at 11:38 am
Hello. Great information. Looking for a suggestion. What would be the best for the following. First are there wineries near whisky distilleries. My wife would prefer the wine. The best case scenario would be going somewhere where there are a lot of castles to see on the trip there and back. Even if not stopping at them or maybe one or two. Just to see them. Then the destination have a castle, wine, scotch, etc. Thanks!
October 19, 2019 at 2:18 pm
Grapes don’t really grow well in Scotland and although there are a few fruit/grain wines being produced locally, the couple of wineries that have tried have not been very successful in producing much drinkable wine (you can read that story here ). So for wine, you are better off heading to a wine bar or nice restaurant in Edinburgh 😉
There are however several whisky distilleries within an hour or so of Edinburgh you can visit. Glengoyne Distillery and Deanston Distillery are easy to combine into one day. Deanston Distillery is very close to Doune Castle, and Stirling Castle would be an easy stop on the way north to Deanston. So you could head out of Edinburgh, head north to visit Stirling Castle, then stop at Deanston Distillery, then visit Duone Castle, and then end at Glengoyne Distillery before making you way back to Edinburgh. Then perhaps a nice glass of wine when you return for your wife 😉
Hope that helps, and let me know if you have any other questions, Jessica
Rohan Post author
August 28, 2019 at 7:55 pm
Hi, what is second picture on this page (it shows a small castle atop a hill surrounded by ocean)? And how to get there (using public transportation)? Thanks,
August 29, 2019 at 4:09 am
The castle is Dunnottar Castle, located near Stonehaven. It is currently open from 9:00 to 17:30 daily, and there is an admission fee to visit.
So there is no direct public transit route from Edinburgh. You have a couple of options if you want to do public transit. You can take a bus or train from Edinburgh to Aberdeen, and then catch a bus (X7 and 107) from Aberdeen which stop within a short walking distance of the castle. Or you can take a bus or train to Stonehaven and walk from the village – this is about a 40 minute walk.
Another good option that may be more time efficient, particularly if you want to see more of this region which has limited public transit in some areas, is to take the train (or bus) from Edinburgh to Aberdeen and then take this day tour with Rabbies . It includes a visit to Dunnotar Castle as well as stops at waterfalls, Royal Deeside, and scenery in Cairngorms National Park.
Hope this helps! Jessica
Lorelle Post author
August 11, 2019 at 10:15 pm
Planning a trip May 2020 with a week in Edinburgh & a week in Glasgow. I would like to do the 1 hour boat trip on the Falkirk wheel but can’t find a day tour that includes the boat trip. Any suggestions? We could hire a car. Is it worth taking the boat or is the view from the canal bank more interesting?
August 12, 2019 at 2:59 am
Yes, both Edinburgh and Glasgow are great cities and both are great bases for day tours around Scotland.
It is great to just learn about the Falkirk Wheel and watch it (without being on it) but it is also fun to be on it as well. So I’d recommend both if you plan to visit. But if you are short on time, you can still read the signs and watch it in action.
Falkirk Wheel is not included on any of the regular bus tours as it is a less known attraction; however, it is possible to still visit it with a tour. Here is the best priced tour I could find which is a private taxi tour and includes the Kelpies, the Falkirk Wheel, and a visit to Callendar House. You just need to take the train to Falkirk (easy ride from Edinburgh or Glasgow) and they will pick you up there and drop you off after the tour.
You can see more tour options here (most are private).
Hope that helps! Jessica
August 12, 2019 at 6:02 am
Thank you…….wonderful blog. I’m now thinking of hiring a car & visiting the Falkirk wheel on the way to Inverness & then fly to Orkney. Which leads me to another question. Am I better to hire the car in Edinburgh or Glascow? Which city is easier to drive out of? We will try to find accomodation that is very central in both cities.
August 12, 2019 at 6:40 am
If you are just renting the car to leave the city and head to Inverness (and not planning to drive around in the city itself) I think either would be about equal. We personally find it a bit easier to leave/enter Edinburgh by car than Glasgow. But I would just check prices and see where you can get the better deal. The drive to Inverness is about the same distance from both cities; the Falkirk Wheel is a bit closer to Glasgow than Edinburgh.
We don’t really recommend visitors explore either city with a car since you can get around most places by walking, public transit, or short taxi rides. So I’d just pick up the car on your way out to avoid having to find and pay for parking in the cities.
Orkney is a great, especially if you like Neolithic ruins and archaeology. Another option to get from Inverness to Orkney without driving (or flying) is this small group tour from Rabbies. We haven’t done this specific tour but we did meet and chat with the driver on our visit over the summer while on the island. The driver seemed great – the tour includes your ferry passage and it went pretty much everywhere we did on the main island.
Yes, I would definitely choose central accommodation if you can as it makes it easier to explore. We give some area recommendations and some specific hotel recommendations in both our Edinburgh and Glasgow guides that might be helpful. Let us know if you have any questions.
Natalie Post author
March 4, 2019 at 6:40 pm
Hi! I was wondering if you had any recommendations for half-day or afternoon tours from Edinburgh? I arrive in Edinburgh on a Friday morning (around 9:30am) and have the day free before my friend arrives. Since I’ve been here twice already, I was hoping to see something new outside the city but am having trouble finding afternoon tours. Any recommendations for something nearby or even something unusual to do in Edinburgh? I’ve been to Rosslyn Chapel and St. Andrews and we’ll head up to the highlands when my friend arrives. Thanks!
March 4, 2019 at 7:26 pm
No, I am afraid I do not as most leave between 8 and 9, so I think if you are arriving around 9:30 or later, you will miss most day tour departures. You can of course book a private day tour but it would be very costly for one person.
-Consider taking the bus or train to visit a nearby attraction or two such as Stirling Castle, an Outlander site, or other place of interest. We list info about public transit options for each day trip idea in the article. -If you enjoy hiking, you can spend the day walking or hiking around Edinburgh at places like Arthur’s Seat or along the Water of Leith or head by bus a bit further away like the scenic Pentland Hills. -Consider a day exploring Glasgow if you haven’t been before as it’s an easy bus or train ride away, see our Glasgow guide . -In Edinburgh, we have a guide to less known things to do in Edinburgh -Consider doing a walking tour or two in Edinburgh such as this 3 Hour Food Walking Tour or this bike tour .
Will Flight Post author
February 27, 2019 at 1:00 am
Hi Thanks for a great post! We’re planning a Scotland trip using Edinburgh as a base hand this has given us loads of ideas for things to do! One thing I’d like to mention is the National Museum of Scotland is Amazing, we went last time we were in Edinburgh just after the refurb and it’s amazing! It’s a great alternative if the weather is not up to scratch (as is often the case in Scotland)
February 27, 2019 at 3:37 am
Hi Will, Yes, the National Museum of Scotland is great and has gone even more changes probably since your last visit as they seem to be continually updating the museum. It has become the most visited attraction in the country I think since the changes! Enjoy your trip and let us know if you have any questions about potential day trips from Edinburgh. Best, Jessica
Micki Post author
January 31, 2019 at 11:01 am
This is fantastic! We’re looking at staying Edinburgh for a few days this spring, and this saves me so much work trying to sort out day trips. Thank you! I’m hoping for good weather! 🙂
January 31, 2019 at 11:06 am
Hi Micki, Glad you are finding our post helpful in planning possible day trips from Edinburgh. The weather here in Scotland is unpredictable and tends to vary throughout the day (its hailed, snowed, rained, and had glorious bursts of sunshine today for example!), but just come prepared with layers, waterproof shoes, and a waterproof jacket and you should be fine with whatever the weather throws at you 😉 Let us know if you have any questions as you plan your trip! Best, Jessica
Esther Post author
January 27, 2019 at 12:33 am
Oh, I really can’t agree more on this list. Scotland is gorgeous, isn’t it. I think that booking an extra day when in Edinburgh is just the perfect excuse to venture out and see some more of the country.
January 27, 2019 at 4:43 am
Hi Esther, Yes, indeed 🙂 I think that if you have more than 2 days in Edinburgh, it is definitely a good idea to think about taking a day trip from Edinburgh! So many great options. Best, Jessica
Nigel Post author
January 13, 2019 at 8:23 am
Wow, an amazing list of great day trips from Edinburgh – been to many but certainly not all of these. Will keep these handy for weekend trips with the family!
January 13, 2019 at 8:37 am
Hi Nigel, Glad you enjoyed our list of day trips from the capital, and hope you find a few new places on your weekend adventures with your family! Best, Jessica
Stephen Garone Post author
January 9, 2019 at 9:48 am
Rosslyn Chapel was amazing, wasn’t it???
January 9, 2019 at 10:06 am
Hi Stephen, Sounds like you enjoyed your visit to the chapel! We actually live within walking distance of Rosslyn Chapel so have been many many times 😉 It is definitely an amazing chapel and even though it is very small, there is a lot to see with all the carvings and features. The regular talks are also definitely worth taking the time to listen to during a visit. We often stop by to see William, the resident cat. It certainly makes for a good stop on a day trip from Edinburgh or half day trip if you only have time for the chapel. Best, Jessica
Seana Turner Post author
January 9, 2019 at 5:13 am
I absolutely love birds so I think I would love the Scottish Seabird Centre. It’s funny, this post is making me think of my family. My oldest would love the Harry Potter Filming sights, my youngest would be into the castle, and my husband would probably vote to visit the distilleries. Now that I have a new son-in-law, I am including his preferences as well. He would be all over the Outlander sights. I’ve never seen the show, but I’m glad to know I don’t need to be a fan to enjoy the scene!
January 9, 2019 at 7:51 am
Hi Seana, Yes, there is something to suit everyone and lots of choices. Many of the interests can definitely be combined as many of the Outlander sites (and one of the Harry Potter sites) are castles. You definitely don’t need to be an Outlander fan to enjoy many of the sites – Laurence and I did a full day tour of Outlander sites and enjoyed it and went to places we probably would not have done otherwise. The Scottish Seabird Centre is a great day trip from Edinburgh and would highly recommend pre-booking a boat trip there if you plan to visit. Best, Jessica
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