Discover the best day trips from Edinburgh by train with logistics, practical tips and information to help plan your excursion.

If you are based in Edinburgh for a few days or more you may be considering adding a day trip or two to your itinerary. In this article, we cover the best day trips from Edinburgh by train (click here for the best day tours from Edinburgh).

We have included details of various train routes from Edinburgh with possible stops along the way (you may wish to spend the day in one of these destinations) plus details of the duration, ticket costs and what to see along the route plus tips to make the most of the trip once you arrive at your chosen destination.

Travel Scotland by train with our 14 day best of Scotland by rail itinerary. Includes logistics, what to see and do plus practical tips to make the most of your Scottish rail adventure.

Best Day Trips from Edinburgh by Train

Edinburgh to Aberdeen via Dundee (North East Scotland)

Logistics

🕙 2 hours 30 mins to 3 hours in each direction depending on the selected service (some trains stop at every station).

🚂 Multiple daily trains.

➡️ Direct service, no changes.

💷 Approx. cheapest ticket (28/11/22) £60 return booked on the day. Advance tickets from £13 for a single journey. Click for prices on the trainline.com

Map showing  train route from Edinburgh to Aberdeen.

What to see along the route

  • Try to sit on the right side of the train as the train heads north for the best sea views en-route.  If you have booked seats and the train has spare seats move to a better seat.  Alternatively request a seat on the right-hand side when you reserve your seats.
  • The best sea views are between Edinburgh and Dundee.
  • Forth Rail Bridge over the Firth of Forth at South Queensferry is the famous World Heritage-listed cantilever bridge completed in December 1889.  Train passes over the bridge around 12 mins into the journey.
  • Tay Bridge on the approach to Dundee Station gives fantastic views of the Firth of Tay.  The famous bridge opened in 1887.
  • Between Stonehaven and Montrose the railway passes over beautiful clifftops with further views of the North Sea.
Many of the best day trips from Edinburgh by train cross the Forth Rail Bridge.
Tay Bridge and view of Dundee.

Things to do and see in the port city of Aberdeen

View of the city of Aberdeen.

The granite city’s top attractions include:

  • Maritime Museum
  • Footdee fishing village
  • Scottish whisky tours
  • Castle tours
  • Aberdeen is located around 1 h 15 mins from the Royal residency of Balmoral.

Edinburgh to Inverness (North East Coast Scotland) via Aberdeen or Perth, Pitlochry & Aviemore

Logistics

🕙 The Aberdeen route takes the longest at around 5 hrs each way or via Perth around 3 hours 30 mins – 4 hrs.

🚂 Choice of train routes to take, either via Aberdeen on the coastal route or through the central areas via Perth, Pitlochry and Aviemore.

➡️ Each route has multiple daily train options with changes or more direct services depending on your chosen route. 

✅ Why not make a circular trip and go one way and return the other?

💷 Approx. cheapest ticket found (28/11/22) £18 for each single journey. Return tickets are available but buying single journey tickets can be a cheaper option.  For forward planning the available “Advance ticket” option is often a good buy.  

Map showing train route from Edinburgh to Inverness.
Map showing train route from Edinburgh to Inverness.

What to see along the routes

Route via Aberdeen to Inverness

  • A beautiful and scenic route section that cuts through the Aberdeenshire countryside towards the county of Moray in Scotland’s North East.
  • From the mainline train station in Keith (approx. 65 mins from Aberdeen) an option is to break up the journey in ‘whisky country’ and catch the steam or diesel train service (see timetables) from Keith Town station to Dufftown.
  • The famous scenic heritage railway – Keith & Dufftown Railway known as the Whisky Line, the line runs for 11 miles.
    • Keith Town station is about 20 mins walk from the mainline station in Keith.
    • The line takes you over the Glenfiddich viaduct and to the Glenfiddich distillery. Not to mention stunning scenery along the way.
  • Take a whisky tour around the Worlds Malt Whisky Capital.  Including the Glenfiddich distillery and visitor centre close to Dufftown station.
Aerial view of Dufftown in Scotland.
The Whisky Train in Scotland.

Route via Perth, Pitlochry, Blair Atholl & Aviemore

  • Perth is located beside the River Tay. Approx. 1 h 30 mins from Edinburgh.
    • In Perth visit the Black Watch Castle and Museum, Kinnoull Hill and nearby the Scone Palace.
  • Pitlochry and Blair Atholl (next station, check train stops)
    • Approx.1 h 45 mins from Edinburgh. Historic town on the River Tummel.
    • Visit the dam and fish ladder, nearby Blair Athol Distillery, Edradour Distillery, falls of Bruar and Blair Castle and Gardens and the Queen’s view and visitor centre.
  • Aviemore (Approx. 3hrs from Edinburgh)
    • Located in the Cairngorms national park. Famous for beautiful lochs and walks and also for skiing and winter sports.
    • Cairngorm Brewery
    • Strathspey Railway (steam trains from Perth to Broomhill, 92 miles and takes around 1 h 45 mins) if you want a leisurely excursion, try an afternoon tea too.
View of sign for town of Pitlochry in Scotland.

Things to do and see in Inverness

View of the city of Inverness.
  • Inverness is the largest city in the Scottish Highlands and is where the River Ness joins the Moray Firth.
  • See the 19th Century cathedral, indoor Victorian market, Inverness Castle, Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, botanic gardens, and the famous Leakeys bookshop. Take a 2-hour walk circuit walk along the River Ness and Ness islands.
  • Places to visit from Inverness include
    • Clava Carins – Bronze Age Cairn.
    • Fort George- Artillery fortification.
    • Further away – the Kyle train line to the Kyle of Lochalsh and the island of Skye. 

Read – Inverness Travel Guide | Best Day trips from Inverness

Edinburgh to Glasgow via Falkirk (West Lowlands)

Logistics

🕙 Takes between 50 mins and 1 h 30 mins in each direction depending on the selected service and route, some trains stop at more stations than others – Multiple daily trains. Direct service, no changes.

💷 Approx. cheapest ticket (at date) £17 in each direction or return booked on the day £28. Advance or Anytime tickets available.

➡️ Two principal stations in Glasgow are Queen Street and Central. Both stations are in the centre of Glasgow.

Map showing train route from Edinburgh to Glasgow.

What to see along the route

  • Between the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, the train line travels along the central belt of Scotland.
  • Falkirk
    • The Kelpies, the 30-metre-high equine sculptures in Helix Park. They are visible from the train on the right-hand side from Edinburgh.  Located a short taxi ride away from the train station at Falkirk.
    • Also close by is the Falkirk Wheel, the rotating boat lift in Tamfourhill connecting the Forth and Clyde canals with the Union Canal.
The Kelpies.

Things to do and see in Glasgow

Street art in Glasgow.

Glasgow is famous for its Victorian and art-nouveau architecture and is a cultural hub for Scottish opera, ballet and national theatre. 

Things to do and see in Glasgow include

  • Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
  • Riverside Transport Museum
  • City centre mural trail
  • The Charles Rennie Mackintosh House
  • Glasgow Cathedral with Necropolis cemetery next door
  • The Botanic Gardens
  • City centre shops around Buchanan Street
  • Pollok Park on the outskirts of the city is a good place to see herds of highland cattle.

Read – Glasgow Travel Guide

Edinburgh to Stirling via Linlithgow & Falkirk (Central Scotland)

Logistics

🕙 Takes around 1 hr in each direction depending on the selected service – Multiple daily trains. Direct service is available, no need to change unless preferred.

💷 Approx. cheapest ticket (at date) £18 return. No Advance ticket savings were noted. 

Map showing train route from Edinburgh to Stirling.

What to see along the route

  • In Linlithgow – (20 mins from Edinburgh) Historic West Lothian town, the palace remains of the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and James V.
  • In Falkirk (Grahamston) – As above for the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel.
The Falkirk Wheel.

Things to do and see in Stirling

A Scottish cow looking over a wall with a castle in the background.

Stirling train station is located in the city centre. Stirling is quite hilly to walk around so be prepared!

Things to do and see in Stirling include:

  • Medieval Stirling Castle
  • The National Wallace Monument (that commemorates the 13 Century hero William Wallace) – from the top you can see the site of the 1297 Battle of Stirling Bridge
  • Battle of Bannockburn Experience
  • Deanston Distillery
  • The Old Town Jail
  • Close to the Battle of Bannockburn visitor centre.
  • 1 hour from Loch Lomond

Edinburgh to Leuchars (for St Andrews Golf course) (North East Scotland)

🚂 Leuchars is on the same train line as Edinburgh Waverley to Dundee and Aberdeen.

⛳️ Closest train station to the famous St Andrews golf course, the home of golf.

🕙 Takes 55 minutes to 1 h 15 mins in each direction depending on the selected service – Multiple daily trains. Direct service, no changes.

💷 Approx. cheapest ticket (at date) £20 return booked on the day. Cheapest single ticket approx. £9.

Map showing train route from Edinburgh to Leuchars.

What to see along the route

Forth Rail Bridge over the Firth of Forth at South Queensferry is the famous UNESCO World Heritage-listed cantilever bridge completed in December 1889. 

The train passes over around 12 mins into the journey.

What to do and see in Leuchars (St Andrews)

View over St Andrews.
  • In Leuchars  –  St Andrews Castle, St Andrews Aquarium and West Sands beach.
  • In St Andrews  – Approx. 15 mins by bus from Leuchars train station to travel the 5 miles to the iconic golf club and its famous golf courses. 

Edinburgh to Dundee via Aberdour (North East Scotland)

Logistics

🚂 On the same train line as the Edinburgh Waverley to Aberdeen service.

🕙 Takes 1 h 10 mins to 1 h 30 mins in each direction depending on selected service – Multiple daily trains. Direct service, no changes.

💷 Approx. cheapest ticket (at date) £31 return booked on the day. Cheapest single ticket approx. £11.

Map showing train route from Edinburgh to Dundee.

What to see along the route

  • As per Aberdeen details above for best seat views.
  • The best sea views are between Edinburgh and Dundee.
  • Forth Rail Bridge over the Firth of Forth at South Queensferry is the famous World Heritage listed cantilever bridge completed in December 1889.  Train passes over around 12mins into the journey.
  • Tay Bridge on the approach to Dundee Station gives fantastic views of the Firth of Tay.  The famous bridge opened in 1887.
  • Aberdour – Consider breaking the journey with a stop at Aberdour, 33 mins from Edinburgh for a walk around the Fife Coastal trail and see the Hawcraig Cliffs and woodlands to Starley Burn and take in the stunning waterfalls.
Forth Rail bridge.

Things to do and see in Dundee

City of Dundee.

Dundee is a coastal city located on the Firth of Tay estuary.

Things to see in Dundee include

  • The two nautical museums of Captain Scotts Antarctic ship RRS Discovery and the 19th-century warship HM Frigate Unicorn
  • The V&A Dundee. 

Edinburgh to Tweedbank (Borders Railway) (Scottish Borders)

Logistics

📍 Tweedbank is a village located southeast of Galashiels on the Scottish Borders.

🕙 Takes around 1 hr in each direction depending on the selected service – Multiple daily trains. Direct service, no changes.

💷 Approx. cheapest ticket (at date) £20 return booked on the day. Cheapest single ticket approx. £9.

Map showing train route from Edinburgh to Tweedbank.

What to see along the route

Enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Midlothian countryside en route.

What to do and see in and around Tweedbank

Melrose Abbey.
  • Abbotsford House – 2km outside Tweedbank was once the home of Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. An impressive mansion house with lovely gardens.
  • Melrose Abbey – 15mins bus ride to the historic part ruins St Mary’s Abbey famous for its architecture and the interred heart of Robert the Bruce.
  • Other mustsees – Leaderfoot Viaduct and Dryburgh Abbey.

More resources to help plan your visit to Scotland