Are you looking for a day trip from Edinburgh? If so, then look no further. In this article, we have put together the best day trips from Edinburgh Scotland and not only show you what to do and see but also how to plan your trip.

Whether it’s visiting castles, exploring ancient ruins or learning about history and culture you can find the perfect day trip from Edinburgh for a range of interests in this article. To help plan your perfect day out we have included information about what to do at each destination plus how to get there too via public transport (bus or train from Edinburgh), by car if you plan to drive from Edinburgh or by joining some of the best day tours from Edinburgh.

Read on for all the information about the best Edinburgh day trips.

Table Of Contents
  1. Best day trips from Edinburgh
  2. The best themed day trips from Edinburgh
  3. Enjoy your day trip from Edinburgh

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Best day trips from Edinburgh

⭐️ Best multi-destination tours from Edinburgh

If you are on a tight schedule and want to combine two or more of these destinations into one day trip from Edinburgh we recommend considering a tour.

We have chosen our favourite tours from Get Your Guide (who list tours from a multitude of tour companies including Rabbies) They have excellent customer service and most tours can be cancelled up to 24 hours in advance. You can keep track of all your tour bookings on their app too.

  • Hogwarts Express and Scottish Highlands Tour – Escape the city for the day and head to the Scottish Highlands. Follow in the footsteps of the world’s most famous wizard, Harry Potter, and jump on board the Hogwarts Express on an unforgettable journey on the Jacobite Steam Train.
  • Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Highlands Tour from Edinburgh – Enjoy a full-day tour and experience some of the most dramatic scenery the Scottish Highlands has to offer. Spend time at mysterious Glencoe and have the chance to enjoy a cruise on Loch Ness and a visit to Urquhart Castle.
  • Loch Lomond, Kelpies, and Stirling Castle Small-Group Tour – Discover the Scottish Highlands on a full-day small-group tour, and see forests, lochs, and stunning mountains. Explore Scotland’s history and learn about its greatest heroes with visits to Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond, and more.
  • Loch Ness, Highlands & Whisky Distillery Tour – Experience the natural beauty of the Scottish Highlands on a full-day coach tour to Loch Ness, Glencoe, and the Trossachs National Park. Go to a working whisky distillery for an optional tasting. Stop for lunch in Fort Augustus and more.

Glasgow 

View over Glasgow.

Glasgow is located only an hour away from Edinburgh by train. It is Scotland’s largest city and is full of fascinating attractions and beautiful architecture.

Explore Glasgow’s rich history at the Glasgow Cathedral or the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art. The architectural beauty of The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the Hunterian Art Gallery and the University of Glasgow are also great places to visit.

Don’t miss the chance to visit Glasgow’s most iconic building, The Art Deco-styled City Chambers. After exploring this famous city hall be sure to stop for a drink or meal at the stunningly designed Grand Cafe, located on George Square.

Glasgow City Chambers, often referred to as ‘The People’s Palace’ are also worth a visit. Not only is it a beautiful building with an interesting history but it also houses a cafe and museum. It’s also the original headquarters of Glasgow City Council and is now a category A listed building.

How to Get from Edinburgh to Glasgow

  • By Car 

The journey from Edinburgh to Glasgow is just over an hour via the M8 motorway. 

  • By Public Transportation

Train – Scotrail run direct trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow Central Station, journeys take approx. 1hr 15mins.

Bus – National Express services also run from Edinburgh to Glasgow with a bus departing every 20 minutes from 7 am – 11 pm

Rosslyn Chapel 

Rosslyn Chapel is a popular day trip from Edinburgh.

Rosslyn Chapel lies about 7 miles south of Edinburgh city centre in the village of Roslin. The chapel was built in the mid-15th century and is known for its intricate carvings that depict biblical scenes as well as plants, heraldic symbols and a series of mysterious stone carvings depicting what some believe to be the Holy Grail or the ‘Holy Chalice’ along with other ancient relics. In Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code the “Holy Grail” was hidden in the chapel’s crypt.

The chapel is open to the public and guided tours are available during the day and at night when different light shows illuminate some of the carvings, including one that depicts a scene from Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’. 

How to Get from Edinburgh to Rosslyn Chapel

  • By car

The trip takes about 30 minutes via the A701 from central Edinburgh

  • By Public Transportation

To get to Rosslyn Chapel from Edinburgh, take a train to the nearby town of Penicuik and then catch the local bus that takes you directly to Roslin village and the chapel. The journey takes around 1 hour 30 minutes.

Alternatively, take the bus Lothian Service 37 from Edinburgh City Centre to Roslin village. Journey time is around 60 minutes.

  • On a tour

Stirling Castle 

Stirling Castle.

Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s most famous castles and a popular day trip destination. The fortress has been home to kings and queens over the centuries with many important historical events taking place here. Visitors can get an insight into life at the castle by visiting the Stirling Castle Exhibition, which tells the story of this historic site through the eyes of those who lived here. Former residents include Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Robert the Bruce.

Don’t miss a visit to the National Wallace Monument which was built in 1869 to commemorate William Wallace who defeated the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. If you have watched Braveheart starring Mel Gibson this is the character he plays.

How to Get from Edinburgh to Stirling Castle

  • By Car 

The journey takes about 1 hour via the M9 motorway

  • By Public Transportation

Train – Scotrail run direct trains between Edinburgh and Stirling Train Station, journeys take from 40 minutes.

Bus – National Express services also run from Edinburgh to Stirling with a bus departing every 20 minutes from 7 am – 11 pm

  • On a tour

Doune Castle 

Doune Castle in Scotland.

Doune Castle is just 9 miles outside Stirling so makes a perfect day trip from Edinburgh. The castle features in the movie Game of Thrones as Winterfell Castle, in the TV series Outlander as Castle Leoch and even in Mony Python’s Holy Grail!

On a more serious note, it is worth visiting for anyone who is interested in learning more about Scotland’s political history. 

How to Get from Edinburgh to Doune Castle 

  • By Car 

The castle is just 9 miles west of Stirling via M9 and A91. Allow around 30mins for the journey. 

  • By Public Transportation 

Train – Scotrail runs direct trains between Edinburgh and Stirling that stop at Doune, journey time is approx. 30mins. 

  • On a tour

Falkirk and The Kelpies 

The Kelpies.

The Kelpies, which are 30-metre high equine sculptures, stand on the edge of Falkirk in Scotland. Designed by artist Andy Scott to resemble the carousel horses he used to ride as a child these impressive structures are definitely worth visiting. The construction of the Kelpies was completed in October 2013 and they were opened to the public in April 2014.

The Kelpies are located at the Helix, a land art project created by Falkirk Council to regenerate a large area of brownfield land that had once been used for heavy industry. The Helix is now home to several structures including the newly opened Titan Crane visitor’s centre and The Falkirk Wheel, which links the Union Canal with the Forth and Clyde Canal, both of which are also worth visiting.

How to Get from Edinburgh to The Kelpies

  • By Car

The Kelpies are located next to the M9 motorway (the journey takes about 40 – 60 minutes). Parking is available at The Kelpies for a fee.

  • By Public Transportation

Train – A direct train service between Edinburgh and Falkirk Grahamston Station runs every 30 minutes. Journey time is just over an hour, however, allow extra time for the walk from the station to The Kelpies which takes about 45 mins. Or take a taxi or a bus (the bus stop is outside the train station)

  • On a tour

Linlithgow Palace 

Linlithgow Palace in Scotland.

The birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, Linlithgow Palace is a must-see for anyone interested in Scottish history. The palace was the official residence of the monarchs of Scotland from 1424 through to 1603 when James VI moved to London after becoming King of England and Scotland. 

Linlithgow Palace appears in scenes from the TV series Outlander.

How to Get from Edinburgh to Linlithgow Palace 

  • By Car 

The palace is just west of Edinburgh via the M9. Allow around 45 mins for the journey. 

  • By Public Transportation

Train – Scotrail runs direct trains between Edinburgh and Linlithgow every hour. Journey time is around 20 minutes.

  • On a tour
  • The Trossachs National Park & Loch Lomond

    The Trossachs offer beautiful landscapes and an array of wildlife including red deer, beavers, osprey and wild cats. Located just east of Stirling it makes a perfect day trip from Edinburgh.

    Loch Lomond is the largest inland stretch of water in Great Britain covering an area of about 23 miles. It’s also one of the most famous lochs so it would be a shame to not pay a visit when in Scotland! 

    Enjoy cruises along the loch or explore some of the picturesque villages and castles in the surrounding area.

    How to Get from Edinburgh to Loch Lomond 

    • By Car 

    Loch Lomond is 75 miles north of Edinburgh via M8, A82. Allow around 2 hours for the journey. 

    • By Public Transportation 

    Train – Take the Scotrail service from Edinburgh Waverley to Glasgow Queen Street and change for the Balloch train. Once at Balloch a taxi to Loch Lomond takes around 10 minutes. Allow 2 hours for the journey from point to point.

    • On a tour

    Inveraray Castle 

    Inveraray Castle in Scotland.

    With its fairy tale turreted structure Inveraray Castle is a popular castle located overlooking Loch Fyne on the west coast of Scotland.

    The beautiful castle with its turrets, towers and grand interiors is the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll and the seat of the Clan Campbell. The construction of the castle was completed in 1789 though the third floor and conical roofs on each of the corner towers were added in 1877 following a fire.

    How to Get from Edinburgh to Inveraray Castle

    • By Car 

    It takes about 2 hours via M9, A82 and A83. Allow extra time for traffic especially in summer.

    • By Public Transportation

    Train – The nearest train station is Dalmally Railway station. Journey time from Edinburgh to Glasgow Queen Street and onto Dalmally (one change) is approximately 4 hours.

    Bus – Pick up the bus service from Glasgow City Centre with Scottish Citylink to Inveraray. Travel time is approximately 1 hour 40 minutes.

    • On a tour

    If you are pressed for time taking a tour which combines a number of destinations may be the best way to visit Inveraray.

    Alloway 

    Just south of Ayr in the lovely county of South Ayrshire, Scotland lies the delightful town of Alloway. This small town made famous by Scottish poet Robert Burns is well worth a visit.

    Burns House provides a fascinating insight into the life of Robert Burns, one of Scotland’s favourite sons. The museum also hosts an interesting collection of artefacts including some that belonged to the famous poet himself. The town is filled with several other historic houses and buildings which provide great photo opportunities.

    Alloway Aisle was built in 1320 and is where the poet Robert Burns is buried along with his wife Jean Armour and daughter, Isabella.

    How to Get from Edinburgh to Alloway

    • By Car 

    Alloway is 84 miles southwest of Edinburgh in Ayrshire. via M8 motorway. The journey by car will take around 1 hour 50 minutes via the M8 and M77.

    • By Public Transportation

    Train – Scotrail run direct trains between Edinburgh and Ayr Train Station, journeys take approx. 1hr 10mins. 

    • On a tour

    Cairngorms National Park 

    Cairngorms National Park

    The Cairngorms National Park is Scotland’s largest national park and home to one of the UK’s highest mountains, Ben Macdui.

    The area offers a wide range of outdoor activities from skiing, snowboarding and climbing to walking, cycling and kayaking making it an ideal getaway for those who love nature.

    How to Get from Edinburgh to the Cairngorms National Park

    • By Car 

    The Cairngorms National Park is located 130 miles north of Edinburgh via M90 and A9. Allow around 2 hours for the journey. 

    • By Public Transportation 

    Train – Scotrail runs direct trains between Edinburgh and Aviemore in the Cairngorms. Journey time is approx. 3 hours 25 mins. 

    Bus – Scottish Citylink run direct buses between Edinburgh and Aviemore and take around 3 hours.

    • On a tour

    Many tours to the Scottish Highlands include a drive through the Cairngorms on the way to Loch Ness.

    Loch Ness & Inverness

    The famous Loch Ness is home to one of the most mysterious and interesting attractions in Scotland; ‘Nessie’ the Loch Ness Monster! The area also includes Urquhart Castle which sits on a beautiful lochside setting. 

    Enjoy a cruise across the loch and enjoy the beautiful Scottish scenery.

    The largest city and capital of the Highlands Inverness sits on the River Ness and River Beauly. The area includes two popular visitor attractions; Inverness Castle which dates back to 1847 and features stunning grounds that are open to visitors all year round, plus Inverness Museum and Art Gallery which houses a fascinating collection of historical items including the Ardross Cup.

    How to Get from Edinburgh to Inverness & Loch Ness

    • By Car

    It takes about 3 hours and 30 mins via M90 and A9 via Perth. Allow extra time for traffic especially in summer. 

    • By public transportation 

    Train – Scotrail runs direct trains between Edinburgh and Inverness. Journey time is around 3 hours 30 minutes. Hire a car or take a bus from Inverness.

    • On a tour

    A tour is the recommended option if you want to visit Loch Ness from Edinburgh due to limited public transport options. Many tours also include a drive through the Cairngorms and other Scottish highlights such as Glencoe.

    St Andrews and Fife 

    St Andrews in Scotland.

    St Andrews is one of Scotland’s oldest towns and home to the University of St Andrews, the third oldest university in the English-speaking world. The town has a charming atmosphere with cobbled streets and historic buildings.

    St Andrews is also the place where Prince William met Kate. The town is also known for its golf courses, as the game was invented here. If you are a fan of the game a visit to the British Golf Museum is the place to visit!

    How to Get from Edinburgh to St Andrews 

    • By car 

    St Andrews is 60 miles north of Edinburgh via M9, A92. Allow around 1 hour 30 mins for the journey.

    • By public transportation 

    Train – Take the train from Edinburgh to St Andrews with one change at Leuchers. Journeys take approx. 1hr 30mins – 2hrs 

    Bus – National Express run direct buses between Edinburgh and St Andrews that take approximately 1 hr 20 mins.

    • On a tour

    Dundee

    Dundee in Scotland.

    Dundee is Scotland’s 4th largest city and home to the Discovery Quay. The area includes an excellent aquarium, interactive science centre, art gallery and Dundee Contemporary Arts – which has regular contemporary art exhibitions including some of the world’s best street artists. 

    How to Get from Edinburgh to Dundee

    • By Car

    Dundee is 50 miles from Edinburgh via M90 and A90. Allow around 1 hour 20 mins for the journey. 

    • By Public Transportation

    Train – Scotrail runs direct trains between Edinburgh and Dundee. Journeys take approx. 1hr 20mins

    Melrose Abbey 

    Melrose Abbey in Scotland.

    One of the most beautiful and historic abbeys in Scotland, Melrose Abbey is a must-see for history lovers. The site features an active community with regular church services and includes a museum telling stories of Scottish kings and the Battle of Flodden Field. 

    How to Get from Edinburgh to Melrose Abbey 

    • By Car 

    The abbey is just southeast of Edinburgh via the A68. Allow around 1hr for the journey. 

    • By Public Transportation

    Train – Direct trains run between Edinburgh and Galashiels from where you can catch a bus to the abbey. The entire journey takes around 1 hour 30 minutes.

    Kelso 

    The town of Kelso is located on the banks of the River Tweed, in the heart of the Scottish Borders, well known for its vibrant market town atmosphere and beautiful abbey.

    There is a good selection of cafes, bistros and restaurants in the centre of town as well as some unique shops. The farmers market is held on the fourth Saturday of the month from 9.30 – 1.30.

    How to Get from Edinburgh to Kelso

    • By car 

    The journey from Edinburgh to Kelso takes about 1 hour 20 mins via A68 and A6089. Allow extra time for traffic in summer.

    • By public transportation 

    Train – Travel from Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank then onwards to Kelso by bus or taxi.

    • On a tour

    This tour to Alnwick Castle and Scottish Borders from Edinburgh also includes a visit to Kelso.

    North Berwick 

    North Berwick Scotland large rock by the sea.

    The town of North Berwick lies on the east coast of Scotland about 55 miles from Edinburgh. Visitors can enjoy pristine beaches, historic buildings and thriving fishing industry. The area is also home to some unique festivals like the World Pipe Band Championships held every year in August.

    How to Get from Edinburgh to North Berwick 

    • By Car 

    It takes about 45 minutes via the A1 from Edinburgh to North Berwick.

    • By Public Transportation 

    Train – Scotrail runs direct trains between Edinburgh and North Berwick. Journey time is approx 34 mins. 

    St Abbs Head National Nature Reserve 

    St Abbs Head National Nature Reserve.

    Situated in the quaint fishing village of St Abbs on the Berwickshire coastline on the Scottish borders, one can find the St Abbs Head National Nature Reserve.

    The area was declared a national nature reserve for its rich marine life and extensive birdlife that includes puffins, kittiwake and gannets. The surrounding cliffs are also great for walks and birdwatching.

    How to Get from Edinburgh to St Abbs Head NNR

    • By car 

    St Abbs is about 50 miles east of Edinburgh via A1. Allow around 1 hour 30 mins for the journey.

    • By public transportation 

    Train – Scotrail runs direct trains between Edinburgh and Berwick-upon-Tweed which take around 45 minutes. From Berwick take the 235 bus to St Abbs (journey time 35 mins)

    Scottish Seabird Centre 

    Puffins like these can be seen at the Scottish Seabird Centre 

    This award-winning attraction features live footage of seabirds from the Scottish islands on a big screen. Visitors can also learn about conservation and follow trails to identify birds in their natural habitat. 

    How to Get from Edinburgh to the Scottish Seabird Centre (North Berwick)

    • By Car 

    The drive takes around 45 minutes on the A1 from Edinburgh to North Berwick.

    • By Public Transportation 

    Train – Scotrail runs direct trains between Edinburgh and North Berwick. Journey time is approx 34 mins. 

    Alnwick Castle 

    Alnwick Castle.

    Alnwick Castle is a popular attraction for visitors to Northumberland, especially the younger audience who have grown up with Harry Potter scenes shot in the castle! Alnwick Castle and Gardens was used as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It is also an easy day trip from Edinburgh.

    The castle is also home to St Mary’s Chapel which features some of England’s oldest stained glass.

    How to Get from Edinburgh to Alnwick Castle 

    • By Car 

    The castle is located in the Northumberland town of Alnwick over the border in England. Allow around 2 hrs for the journey on the M1.

    • By Public Transportation 

    Train – Take the train from Edinburgh to Alnmouth (1 hour) then the X20 bus to Alnwick Castle (11 mins)

    • On a tour

    We highly recommend taking a tour from Edinburgh to Alnwick Castle. These tours also include other popular destinations in Northumberland such as Holy Island or Hadrian’s Wall.

    Hadrian’s Wall 

    The remains of Hadrian’s Wall can still be seen today running from coast to coast in northern England. The wall marked the northernmost boundary of the Roman Empire and was built to protect against the fierce tribes in Scotland known as ‘the Picts. 

    Today, visitors can retrace parts of their footsteps on a tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    How to Get from Edinburgh to Hadrian’s Wall

    • By Car 

    The wall is 129 miles south of Edinburgh. Allow around 2 hours 30 minutes for the journey. Popular destinations are Housesteads Fort.

    • On a tour

    If you want to visit the Roman Wall from Edinburgh and do not want to drive we recommend taking a tour due to the difficulties of logistics with public transport.

    The best themed day trips from Edinburgh

    If you have a particular interest in whisky, Harry Potter or Outlander these tours are highly recommended.

    Best day trips from Edinburgh for whisky lovers

    There are a number of tours which visit the whisky distilleries for which Scotland is famous. If sampling some famous Scottish whisky at a distillery is on your bucket list these tours offer are the perfect options.

    Best day trips from Edinburgh for Harry Potter fans

    AS well as the many Harry Potter sights to explore in Edinburgh itself there are a number of themed tours which visit other famous destinations associated with the films such as Alnwick Castle and the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

    Best day trips from Edinburgh for fans of Outlander

    There are lots of great Outlander themed tours available from Edinburgh. If you are looking for the full Outlander experience it may be worth booking on a multi-day tour.

    Enjoy your day trip from Edinburgh

    As you have read Edinburgh is a beautiful city in Scotland with lots of day trips to offer. We’ve listed some of our favourites and why they should be on your must-do list if you are visiting the country for the first time! 

    For further practical tips, ideas and inspiration you will find these articles helpful