Scottish Day Trips From Edinburgh
There are so many options for day trips from Edinburgh that it’s hard to know what to pick. Coming from middle-of-nowhere-Canada, pretty much everything seems close to Edinburgh. I mean a flight to Sweden is less than two hours! I’m not so fond of flying that I’d go there for the day, though. Plus, most people are looking to get more of a taste of Scotland when they’re planning their day trips from Edinburgh. These are some cities, towns, and villages in Scotland that you can easily get to and from in a day!
Let’s just get this one out of the way, shall we? As the former capital of Scotland, Glasgow is an even bigger city than Edinburgh. This, coupled with the fact that it’s easily as well known as Edinburgh, makes it the most common day trip from Edinburgh. Common tourists sightseeing includes Glasgow Cathedral, the Necropolis, and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. All are worth seeing, but some my favourite things to do are: visit the University of Glasgow courtyard (hello, Hogwarts!), and wander the West End.
Glasgow is incredibly easy to get to. There are a million and one trains going between Edinburgh and Glasgow each day – get the right one and your trip will only take about 45 minutes!
Balloch is a small village outside of Glasgow at the foot of Loch Lomond. I recommend it for that reason, and that reason alone. Take a train to Glasgow, and another to Balloch and you can easily get there in under an hour and a half. You couple up this day trip with Glasgow, and take a stop off in the city before moving on to Balloch (that’s what I did!). That gives you a taste of city life and rural life all in one! There’s not much to Balloch, apart from the hillwalking and views of the Loch! You can take boat tours from here, or you can spend your day hiking in the countryside.
Another one to get out of the way — Stirling is the next most common place to visit. It’s main attractions are Stirling Castle, and the Wallace Monument. The town of Stirling has its fair share of cafes and restaurants. It’s home to the Thistle Centre – a shopping centre that reminds me of a classic North American mall. Usually, though, people make the 45 minute train journey here because they’re big Braveheart fans. The castle, most say, is even more impressive than Edinburgh Castle. And, the Wallace Monument is a must-see if you’re a big William Wallace fan — you won’t be able to find anything like it in Edinburgh.
For the seaside lovers, North Berwick is the place for you! Hop on a train from Waverley for half an hour and you’ll find yourself well away from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh’s city centre. North Berwick has tons of charity shops, cafes, fish and chip shops, and beaches for you to enjoy. It’s one of my favourites because the train ride is so short, and so affordable!
Musselburgh is for those of you who are really low-commitment about your day trip. If you just want out of Edinburgh, but you don’t want to be sitting on a train for longer than five minutes, Musselburgh is the place you’re looking for. I really love coming here on a day off, because it’s (seriously) five minutes from Waverley train station once the train starts moving! They have awesome charity shops and very lowkey cafes, and a ton of beach walks. You also get what I think is one of the best views of Edinburgh’s skyline from here!
The Forth Rail Bridge is in a lot of the VisitScotland branding, and I’ve met a lot of tourists who really want to get up close and personal with it. You could do that by taking a train to Fife and going over the bridge… Or, you could get off the train just before it goes over the bridge in Dalmeny and do the quick 10 minute walk into South Queensferry. South Queensferry is a little town on the river, right next to the bridge. It has the cutest little streets and shops, and the absolute best views of the bridge. It’s a must-do if you’re a fan! (And if you live in Edinburgh because it’s so close and so cute!).
Take the train for about an hour from Haymarket or Waverley to Leuchars. If you buy your tickets from a person, and not a machine, you can buy a ticket all the way to St Andrews. Once you get off at Leuchars, there are buses every few minutes to connect you with St. Andrews. The whole adventure will take you just over an hour. St. Andrews is one of my favourite places to visit, and while I love to stay over, a single day will give you all the time you need to explore! That is, unless you’re a golf fan.
The Cathedral and Castle are lovely, but I prefer just wandering the beaches and popping into shops. If you are a golf fan, it might be worth planning your day trip on a Sunday, when the golf course is open to the public to walk on — so you can go over the famous Swilken Bridge.
Have you been to any of these places? Which was your favourite? Or, which would you most love to visit? My favourite is probably St Andrews, though I have a soft spot for North Berwick too!