10 amazing day trips from Edinburgh

Crail Harbour in Fife

While Edinburgh itself offers a wealth of attractions (in fact, it’s one of my all-time favourite cities to explore!), venturing out on one of the best day trips from Edinburgh showcases the best of Scotland’s scenery, history and culture. 

Whether you’re drawn to the allure of ancient castles, the bustling streets of nearby cities, or a touch of Harry Potter magic, I’ve got you covered with my top picks of Edinburgh day trips.

These excursions are perfect for anyone looking to add a little variety to their Edinburgh adventure. 

I’ve included a mixture of day trips from Edinburgh by train, as well as a few locations only accessible by car.

Plus, I’ve also added in some of my favourite bookable tours to take the hassle out of planning.

So, grab your camera, don your walking shoes, and join us as we explore some of the best day trips from Edinburgh. 

Author Bio: Jessie Moore

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

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1. Stirling

Best for: History lovers

Travel time by car: 1 hour

Travel time by train: 50 minutes

Top tours to book: 

Stirling Castle

Just an hour away from Edinburgh by train, Stirling presents a fascinating day out with its rich history and strategic importance in Scotland’s story.

The city is dominated by the impressive Stirling Castle, perched on a volcanic rock.

I’d definitely recommend a visit, especially for the beautiful views of the surrounding landscape that it provides.

Don’t miss a wander through the castle’s grand halls and mysterious dungeons, where you’ll feel immersed in Scottish history.

I’d also recommend visiting Wallace Monument, a towering tribute to Sir William Wallace, one of Scotland’s most legendary figures.

Climbing to the top rewards you with breathtaking views and a closer look at Wallace’s sword.

Stirling effortlessly combines its historical legacy with a lively town centre, making it a one of my favourite day trips from Edinburgh. 

2. Loch Lomond

Best for: Nature lovers

Travel time by car: 1 hour 30 minutes

Travel time by train: N/A

Top tours to book: 

Loch Lomond

A bit further afield, about an hour and a half drive from Edinburgh, lies the serene beauty of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.

This area is a haven for nature lovers – if you’re an outdoor enthusiast like me then I know you’ll love this day trip from Edinburgh.

Loch Lomond, Britain’s largest inland stretch of water, offers a plethora of activities, from leisurely boat cruises to kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.

The surrounding Trossachs National Park is crisscrossed with trails that invite you to explore its lochs, glens, and forests at your own pace.

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat in nature or an active day out, you’ll find it at Loch Lomond.

The charming villages around the loch, such as Luss and Balloch, provide quaint spots to enjoy local cuisine or pick up unique Scottish souvenirs.

Loch Lomond is a testament to Scotland’s natural beauty and definitely one of the best day trips from Edinburgh.

3. North Berwick

Best for: Foodies

Travel time by car: 45 minutes

Travel time by train: 33 minutes

Top tours to book: 

North Berwick

Just a half hour train ride east of Edinburgh, North Berwick offers a delightful escape to the Scottish coast.

This picturesque seaside town is known for its beautiful beaches, such as the expansive sands of West Bay.

Perfect for a leisurely stroll or a refreshing dip in the sea – if you’re feeling brave!

I’d recommend a visit to the Scottish Seabird Centre, which provides insights into the local wildlife.

Plus, make the most of opportunities to spot puffins, gannets, and other seabirds on the nearby islands.

Golf enthusiasts will find plenty to love, with North Berwick boasting one of Scotland’s oldest and most revered links courses.

Local eateries and seafood restaurants dot the landscape, offering fresh, locally-sourced dishes that reflect Scotland’s rich culinary heritage.

From cosy cafés serving up homemade treats to upscale dining spots with sea views, I’d definitely suggest North Berwick for foodies.

The Lobster Shack, for instance, offers a quintessential seaside dining experience, where you can enjoy freshly caught seafood with the sound of waves in the background.

For those drawn to historical sites, the ruins of Tantallon Castle, perched dramatically on a cliff overlooking the sea, offer a fascinating glimpse into Scotland’s mediaeval past. 

4. Rosslyn Chapel

Best for: Da Vinci Code fans

Travel time by car: 25 minutes

Travel time by train: N/A

Top tours to book: 

Rosslyn Chapel

Less than a half hour drive from Edinburgh (in good traffic!), Rosslyn Chapel is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. It’s rich in ornate carvings and shrouded in mystery.

Made famous by Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code,” the chapel attracts visitors not just for its role in literature and film, but also for the mysterious symbolism and legends that surround it.

Each stone and carving tells a story, from biblical tales to Knights Templar lore, inviting speculation and wonder.

The surrounding Roslin Glen offers peaceful walks through scenic woodlands, and I think it’s the perfect way to experience the gorgeous Scottish countryside. 

5. South Queensferry 

Best for: Seaside charm

Travel time by car: 30 minutes

Travel time by train: 17 minutes (+15 minute walk)

South Queensferry

Just a 20-minute train ride from Edinburgh, South Queensferry is another of the most accessible day trips from Edinburgh.

South Queensferry sits in the shadow of one of Scotland’s most impressive feats of engineering: the Forth Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This picturesque town offers a unique blend of historic charm and excellent views of the Forth Rail Bridge, the Forth Road Bridge, and the Queensferry Crossing.

Strolling along the quaint high street, you’ll find a variety of independent shops, cafes, and eateries, perfect for enjoying a leisurely day out.

I’d recommend taking a boat tour from the harbour for a closer look at the bridges and the opportunity to spot marine wildlife.

For those interested in history, the 15th-century Hopetoun House and the 18th-century Blackness Castle are just a short drive away, providing a glimpse into Scotland’s noble past. 

6. St Andrews

Best for: Keen golfers

Travel time by car: 1 hour 20 minutes

Travel time by train: 1 hour 15 minutes (to Leuchars)

Top tours to book: 

St Andrews

St Andrews, often hailed as the ‘Home of Golf’, is about more than its world-famous greens and fairways.

Located around a one hour and 20 minute drive from Edinburgh, this historic town offers a blend of charming mediaeval streets and pretty coastal views.

Plus, it has a rich academic heritage thanks to its university, the third oldest in the English-speaking world.

I’d recommend exploring the ruins of St Andrews Castle and Cathedral, which offers a window into Scotland’s past with panoramic views over the town and sea.

The town’s beaches, like the West Sands, offer miles of unspoiled sand, perfect for a peaceful walk or even a brisk dip in the North Sea. I’d save this for a hot summer’s day though if I were you!

For those looking to sample local flavours, St Andrews’ array of cafés and restaurants serve up Scottish specialties and international fare.

St Andrews is one of the best day trips from Edinburgh for a variety of culture, history, and relaxation.

7. Scottish Highlands

Best for: Epic landscapes

Travel time by car: 2 hours 40 minutes (to Glencoe)

Travel time by train: N/A

Top tours to book: 

Glenfinnan Viaduct

It may be a little further afield than other day trips from Edinburgh, but the Scottish Highlands are well worth the travel time. 

While a day trip can only scratch the surface, it offers a taste of the Highlands’ breathtaking beauty and storied past.

A must-visit is Loch Ness, famed for its legendary inhabitant, Nessie. Here, amidst the serene beauty of the loch, the sense of mystery is palpable.

Take a boat tour for a chance to spot the elusive monster and soak in the stunning vistas.

No trip to the Highlands is complete without witnessing the dramatic valleys and towering mountains of Glencoe.

Known for its dramatic scenery, Glencoe is not just a feast for the eyes but also a site rich in history and lore.

If you’re a dedicated Harry Potter fan like me, the Highlands hold a special allure.

I’d highly recommend a visit to the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct where you can glimpse the real-life Hogwarts Express.

8. Glasgow

Best for: Arts and architecture

Travel time by car: 1 hour

Travel time by train: 52 minutes

Top tours to book: 


Just under an hour’s train ride from Edinburgh, Glasgow stands as a beacon of Scottish cultural and architectural innovation.

Scotland’s largest city is a dynamic blend of the old and new, where Victorian architecture meets cutting-edge design.

I love the city’s artistic soul which shines through in its numerous galleries and museums. Notably the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, and the modern Riverside Museum.

Glasgow’s West End is a bustling hub of activity, offering an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and bars, alongside the stunning architecture of the University of Glasgow.

The city’s music scene is legendary, with venues like King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut playing host to both up-and-coming and established acts.

A walk through the city’s streets reveals striking murals that tell stories of Glasgow’s identity and history, adding a contemporary twist to its rich heritage.

With its warm, welcoming atmosphere and an endless array of cultural experiences, Glasgow offers a lively contrast to Edinburgh’s historical charm.

9. Fife Fishing Villages

Best for: Picturesque villages

Travel time by car: 50 minutes – 1.5 hours (depending on village)

Travel time by train: N/A

Top tours to book: 

Crail Harbour in Fife

A journey to the Fife coast offers a serene escape to some of Scotland’s most picturesque fishing villages, each brimming with character and maritime heritage.

Nestled along the East Neuk of Fife, villages such as Anstruther, Pittenweem, St Monans, and Crail enchant visitors with their colourful harbours, cobbled streets, and historic buildings.

Anstruther, known for its award-winning fish and chips, invites foodies to savour the taste of the sea, fresh from the boats.

The Fife Coastal Path connects these villages, offering breathtaking walks with views over the rugged coastline and the chance to spot local wildlife.

Art and culture thrive here, with numerous galleries, shops, and festivals celebrating the area’s rich history and creative spirit.

The annual Pittenweem Arts Festival transforms the village into a vibrant showcase of artists and makers. 

Exploring these villages is one of the best day trips from Edinburgh for a serene escape that’s full of charm and character.

10. Linlithgow

Best for: A royal connection

Travel time by car: 40 minutes

Travel time by train: 24 minutes

Top tours to book: 


Just a short train ride from Edinburgh, Linlithgow beckons with its royal past and scenic beauty.

The town is dominated by the magnificent ruins of Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots.

This once-grand residence of Scottish monarchs now offers a fascinating glimpse into the country’s history, with its elegant fountain, grand hall, and peaceful loch-side setting.

I’d also recommend enjoying a leisurely walk around Linlithgow Loch, a haven for wildlife and a popular spot for picnics (on the rare occasion that the weather is good in Scotland!).

Linlithgow’s charming high street is lined with independent shops, cafés, and eateries, where you can sample local produce or find a unique souvenir.

The town also serves as a gateway to the wider West Lothian region, with its rich heritage and natural beauty. 

Do you have any favourite day trips from Edinburgh? Do let me know in the comments below!

For more Edinburgh inspiration, you may also like:

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Jessie Moore
Jessie Moore

Jessie is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

Find me on: Web | Instagram


Want up to 25% off hotels?

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