15 Best Day Trips from Edinburgh

I love Edinburgh. A big city that somehow feels like a small town, it’s absolutely worth the hype.

But Scotland is way more than just its iconic capital, and you should explore it in as much depth as you can. I’d recommend spending at least your whole life in the nation, but you’re probably short on time like most tourists are.

If that’s the case, there are lots of excellent day trips you can tackle from the nation’s capital (lucky you!). So in this guide, I’ve brought you the 15 best day trips from Edinburgh. Come join the fun!

Best Day Trips from Edinburgh

Best Outdoor Adventure Day Trips from Edinburgh

1. North Berwick

Best for: Excellent beaches, a charming seaside town, and bird-based boat trips

I reckon this is Berwick’s best close-by seaside town (others might think it’s Musselburgh or Port Seton, but they’re wrong). At North Berwick, you get lovely beaches, cute cafes and restaurants (Steampunk Coffee is an independent favorite), and the planet’s largest colony of northern gannets.

Along with that stuff, the town also has golf courses, endless independent stores, a charming harbour, and lots of great walks (both long and short).

But the major attraction here is the Scottish Seabird Center, where you can tackle boat trips, spy on live webcams, and learn all about the native (and non-native) bird populations of Scotland.

If you want to venture a little bit further, head to Seacliff, around 5 miles (20km) east of North Berwick. This imaginatively-titled place has a beautiful bay, and it’s a great place for quiet walks.

And last of all, make sure you explore nearby Tantallon Castle. An impressive ruined fortress hanging over some low-level cliffs, it’s one of Scotland’s most underrated castles.

  • Distance from Edinburgh: 25 miles/40km
  • How to get there: By car, follow the A1 east before turning north just past Haddington. By train, there’s a regular direct service between Edinburgh and North Berwick
  • Time taken to get there: Around 1 hour
  • How much time to spend there: All day

2. Pentland Hills

Best for: Underrated hills, great views of Edinburgh, and excellent (but easy-to-access) hikes

Just south of Edinburgh, you have Pentland Hill Regional Park, an underrated spot for hiking, running and outdoor adventures. Alright, the hills here aren’t huge, but it’s a great place to explore, with nine distinct peaks clocking in at over 450 meters (1500 feet), and lots more smaller ascents.

The hike up Allermuir Hill is probably the most popular (and maybe best), but there are a ridiculous number of great accessible routes.

Aside from walking, people come here to fish, paddle board, ride horses, walk their dogs, and even meet alpacas. If you want to explore Scotland’s outdoors, but don’t want to venture far from Edinburgh, this is without doubt the best pick for you.

  • Distance from Edinburgh: The northern tip of the park is only 6 miles/10km away
  • How to get there: Driving is easiest, for flexibility, but the 101 and 101A buses serve some locations
  • Time taken to get there: 25 minutes by car (to the closest point)
  • How much time to spend there: Half a day or a full day

3. Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park

Best for: Real outdoor adventures, intense hikes, and exploring one of Scotland’s best national parks

If the Pentland Hills don’t offer big enough adventures for you, here’s your next option.

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is absolutely massive, with endless hikes, cycle routes, water-based activities, and loads more. So because the park is so big, and because you only want a day trip (you diva), you need to be selective.

Hiking in Scotland towards Loch Lomond
Hiking in Scotland towards Loch Lomond

A good option for an exciting but accessible day hike from Edinburgh is Ben A’an, in the south of the park. Callander Crags and Conic Hill are two other great options. If you’re looking for something less intense, there are lots of shoreline walks around several of the park’s lochs.

For eating and drinking in between hiking and adventuring, Callander and Balloch are your two best options.

  • Distance from Edinburgh: 50 miles/80km to Callander
  • How to get there: By car, follow the A84 or the A811. By public transport, it’s not worth the hassle
  • Time taken to get there: By car, 90 minutes
  • How much time to spend there: As long as possible!

4. The Northumberland Coast

Best for: Heading south to England, lots of great beaches and castles, and exploring some of England’s most underrated landscapes

Most day trips on this list take you to other parts of Scotland. But on this trip, you head south to Northumberland, England’s most northern region.

Northumberland Coast Path
Bamburgh Castle on the Northumberland Coast Path

Now I might be biased because I’m from the area. But Northumberland is one of the nation’s most underrated regions—and it’s probably most famous for its castles and its beaches. My top three spots are Alnmouth, Bamburgh and Craster, but Amble, Berwick, Holy Island and Seahouses are great too (Seahouses is especially good if you’re traveling with kids).

If you like beaches, you should absolutely explore Northumberland’s coast on a day trip from Edinburgh.

  • Distance from Edinburgh: Seahouses (the most central point I’ve mentioned) is 80 miles/130km away
  • How to get there: By car, keep following the A1 south. By public transport, there are regular trains between both Edinburgh and Berwick, and Edinburgh and Alnmouth
  • Time taken to get there: 90 minutes to Seahouses by car
  • How much time to spend there: All day

Best Town and City Day Trips from Edinburgh

5. Glasgow

Best for: A totally different atmosphere to Edinburgh, lots of art and museums, and exploring Scotland’s other famous big city

Glasgow is massively overlooked in favor of Edinburgh. But it shouldn’t be.

Yeah, Edinburgh is great, it’s beautiful, and I love the place. But Glasgow is more gritty, more ‘real’,’ less of a tourist playground, and arguably more friendly (just don’t tell anyone from Edinburgh I said that). If you like edgy, interesting and authentic, you’ll probably prefer Glasgow to Edinburgh.

Related: Best Day Trips From Glasgow

Top stops on any decent Glasgow day trip include Glasgow Cathedral, the neighboring necropolis, the Victorian Tall Ship, Barras Market, the Kelvingrove Gallery, and all the city’s street art. And make sure you visit a traditional pub—you’ll find plenty of them.

If you like being all fit and active, consider cycling between the two cities, on the largely-off-road National Cycle Network route 75. It’s flat and easy, and it’s doable even for long-distance newbies. Oh, and you can take your bike on the trains in both directions, so you only need to cycle one way.

  • Distance from Edinburgh: 47 miles/76km
  • How to get there: By car, follow the M8 west. Or take one of the many regular direct trains
  • Time taken to get there: 45-60 minutes
  • How much time to spend there: All day

6. Pitlochry

Best for: Cute cafes, good food and drink, and exploring the southern tip of the Cairngorms

I really really love Pitlochry.

There’s not really much to do there, but it’s hugely charming. If you like jumping from cafe to cafe to restaurant in the pursuit of tasty treats to shove in your big fat face, you’ll love it. Cute and cozy, it’s a loveable little place right on the southern edge of Cairngorms National Park—it’s the sort of town your grandma would probably like.

A main road runs right through lots of the town, so it’s really easy to access.

If you have time, and if you like hiking, wander north to the rest of Cairngorms National Park, the biggest national park in the UK. On a one-day jaunt from Edinburgh, Cairn Gorm is the logical choice for a hike (it’s the most accessible of the big peaks).

  • Distance from Edinburgh: 70 miles/113km
  • How to get there: If you’re driving, follow the M90 and the A9 north. By train, you’ll need to change at Perth
  • Time taken to get there: Around 2 hours
  • How much time to spend there: 3-4 hours

7. St. Andrews

Best for: Family-friendly fun, a charming seaside town, and playing some world-class golf

Mainly known as Scotland’s ‘home of golf,’ St Andrews is mega-famous across the planet. It’s a great place to play a few rounds, with award-winning courses, and even a golf museum—but there’s way more to the town than just putting and pitching.

It’s a fantastic pick if you’re traveling with kids and you’re looking for a family day out. In St. Andrews, you get nice beaches, a cute working harbour, a ruined castle, endless fish and chips, and a fantastic aquarium. All in all, it’s fun for kids, adults, and everyone in between (I put myself in that final category).

(By the way, here’s more information on other aquariums throughout the UK).

  • Distance from Edinburgh: 50 miles/80km
  • How to get there: By car, follow the A90, A92 and A915. By public transport, get a train from Edinburgh to Leuchars before hopping on a quick bus from Leuchars to St. Andrews
  • Time taken to get there: Around 90 minutes
  • How much time to spend there: A whole day

8. Roslin

Best for: Visiting a famous chapel, getting all quaint and cozy, and an easy and accessible day trip from Edinburgh

Roslin is a little village, not far from Edinburgh, making it an easy day trip if you can’t be bothered with the hassle of traveling far.

The town is most famous for its chapel, which was featured in the Da Vinci Code movie. Have a wander inside and you’ll see some impressive carvings, crevices, and stained glass windows.

Rosslyn Chapel, also known as St. Matthew's Chapel, in the village of Roslin
Rosslyn Chapel, also known as St. Matthew’s Chapel, in the village of Roslin

Make sure you also visit partially-ruined Rosslyn Castle, built high on a mound, and overlooking the twists and turns of the River Esk.

Aside from those things, there’s not much to do in Roslin except fall in love with its small-village charm. Humble and wholesome, it’s a retro place with a retro vibe.

  • Distance from Edinburgh: 7 miles/11km
  • How to get there: By car, follow the A701 south. There’s no train, but the 37 bus is direct and regular
  • Time taken to get there: 25-50 minutes
  • How much time to spend there: Half a day

9. Stirling

Best for: Exploring an underrated city, enjoying great food and drink, and seeing a mini version of Edinburgh Castle

In some ways, Stirling is like a mini Edinburgh. It has a massive castle on an ancient volcano, it’s cute and cozy, and it’s brimming with trendy places to eat and drink. Oh, and it’s full of Scottish people.

Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle

Aside from its big castle, other attractions in Stirling include Cambuskenneth Abbey, Stirling Old Town Jail, the Holy Rude, and the National Wallace Monument (along with the lofty hill surrounding it). When you’re done with it all, make sure you eat and drink plenty of Stirling’s tasty treats.

Only around 40,000 people live there, so it doesn’t feel much like a city (even though it is), perfect if you like quaint places.

While you’re in Stirling, you should also go to Bridge of Allan, an alluring little town full of character.

  • Distance from Edinburgh: 36 miles/58km
  • How to get there: In a car, follow the M9. By train, there are regular direct connections between the two cities
  • Time taken to get there: 40-60 minutes
  • How much time to spend there: Half a day

10. Dean Village

Best for: A sort-of village in a city, gentle riverside strolls, and tackling the world’s easiest day trip

Dean Village is actually part of Edinburgh, so it’s not quite a day trip. But if you’re short on time, it’s a nice alternative—and because it feels so different from the rest of Edinburgh, it’s sort of like a day trip anyway.

Dean Village
Dean village, Edinburgh, with the river Leith flowing through

Just a short walk from Princes Street (one of the most well-known streets in Edinburgh), Dean Village is a picturesque little place right on the Water of Leith, and a top spot for Edinburgh’s Instagrammers. Once a water-milling village, the place still has lots of millstones along with beautiful old-school homes and a massively loveable atmosphere.

There’s not much to do in Dean Village, but it’s pretty and quaint, and it’s a charming city-center retreat.

  • Distance from Edinburgh: It’s part of Edinburgh
  • How to get there: Just walk from Edinburgh’s center
  • Time taken to get there: Just a few minutes!
  • How much time to spend there: 1-2 hours

11. Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Best for: A quick trip to England, meeting friendly faces, and exploring England’s most underrated city

Again, I’m probably biased, cos I was born here, and I’ve spent loads of my life living in and around England’s most northern city.

Most of Newcastle’s best stuff is found outside of the city center (with loads of nearby hikes, hills, shores and sands).

Angel of the North, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Angel of the North, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

But the city itself is pretty charming too. You get a beautiful riverside area, lots of welcoming pubs, great nightlife, and a laid-back atmosphere. And on top of all that, I reckon it’s the friendliest city in England. Go to the Ouseburn, walk along the Tyne, wander down Grey Street, and make lots of friends. Just don’t be surprised if you can’t understand anyone.

And as a sweet little bonus, the train ride between Edinburgh and Newcastle is brimming with lovely views (of the east coast, so sit on the correct side).

  • Distance from Edinburgh: 120 miles/193km
  • How to get there: There are regular direct trains in both directions. By car, it’s too long to justify a day trip
  • Time taken to get there: 90 minutes by train
  • How much time to spend there: All day

Best Family-Friendly Day Trips from Edinburgh

12. Arthur’s Seat

Best for: Great views, an easy green escape from the center of the city, and lots of lovely picnic spots

Alright, the lovely peak of Arthur’s Seat is actually inside of Edinburgh. But once you’re up there, it hardly feels that way. A brilliant city escape right in the heart of Holyrood Park, it’s a good place to visit if you’re traveling with kids who don’t want to venture far into the wild.

Arthur's Seat Edinburgh

The panoramic views you get from the top of Arthur’s Seat are fantastic, and they far outweigh the effort required to get them. It’s a surprisingly short stroll, with an ascent of only 279 meters/915 feet. At the top, you’ll find loads of families, picnickers and dog walkers.

If you want more information on the hike, and if you and your family can tackle it (spoiler: you probably can), have a look here.

  • Distance from Edinburgh: Just outside the very center
  • How to get there: Short walk from the city center
  • Time taken to get there: 2 hours to the top
  • How much time to spend there: 2-4 hours

13. Eyemouth

Best for: Arcade games, splashing around in the sea, and a fun-packed seaside town

Eyemouth is a massively popular family seaside escape. People from both the south of Scotland and the north of England come here for day trips and vacations.

Beach view at Eyemouth
Beach view at Eyemouth

You get all the clichéd British seaside traditions here, including arcades, fish and chips, buckets and spades, boat trips, sandy beaches, and plenty more. I love the place, kids love the place and adults love the place. Basically, everybody falls in love with Eyemouth’s charms, and you will too.

Between Eyemouth and Edinburgh, you have Cockburnspath. The on-road stretch between Eyemouth and Cockburnspath is one of my favorite coastal stretches in Scotland (and the best part of the long-distance Coast and Castles bike ride). Dramatic, beautiful and ridiculously scenic, make sure you lookout for it.

  • Distance from Edinburgh: 50 miles/80km
  • How to get there: By car, follow the A1. If you want to use public transport, take a train to Berwick before catching a bus from Berwick to Eyemouth
  • Time taken to get there: 60-90 minutes
  • How much time to spend there: All day

14. Anstruther and Crail

Best for: Cozy harbours, quaint settlements, and an underrated walk between two lovely places

Anstruther and Crail (around 4.5 miles/7km away from one another) are a pair of cozy seaside settlements that are both worth a visit. Anstruther is slightly bigger, while nearby Crail is cuter.

Crail, a small fishermen village in Fife, Scotland
Crail, a small fishermen village in Fife, Scotland

Again, they’re both great for families. They’re a little more quiet and low-key than Eyemouth, but you still get lots of fun, including harbour hangouts, ice cream, cobbled streets, fish and chips (Anstruther Fish Bar is regularly voted as one of the best fish and chip places in the UK), and boat trips to the remote Isle of May.

If you want to walk between Anstruther and Crail (I reckon it’s the best way to explore the area), head here for more information. For great views, varied landscapes, and kids with energy to burn, it’s a good option.

  • Distance from Edinburgh: 50 miles/80km
  • How to get there: By car, follow the A92 and A915. By public transport, I wouldn’t bother with the hassle
  • Time taken to get there: 90 minutes
  • How much time to spend there: Half a day to a full day

15. Go Ape, Dalkeith

Best for: Ziplines, treetop walks, and crazy kids who like an adventure

This branch of Go Ape is set in the 1,000 sprawling acres of Dalkeith Country Park, just south of Edinburgh. It’s one of those places where you get ziplines, physical challenges, treetop walks and team building activities right in the middle of the forest.

Go Ape Adventure

Throughout the UK, Go Ape has a great reputation. All of the UK-wide Go Ape branches (nice pun) are great, but this is one of the best of them. You get towering platforms, eight separate ziplines, and adrenaline-inducing tests and challenges. If you have brave kids who like outdoor adventures, they’ll absolutely love it.

Though Dalkeith’s Go Ape seems pretty remote and rural, it’s actually very close to Edinburgh, so you don’t need to venture far to find it. Convenient!

There’s another Go Ape near Peebles, only around 25 miles (40km) from Edinburgh. It’s set in underrated Glentress Forest (another great day trip option from Edinburgh!).

  • Distance from Edinburgh: 7.5 miles/12km
  • How to get there: By car, follow the A7. If you’re using public transport, the easiest option is the 49 bus from Edinburgh to Dalkeith
  • Time taken to get there: 30-60 minutes
  • How much time to spend there: 2-3 hours

Final Words and Further Reading

That’s everything you need to know about the best day trips from Edinburgh. Thanks for reading!

For adventures in the region, check out my guide about the best road-trips from Edinburgh.

If you want to know anything else about the city, check out our guides on how to spend 2 days in Edinburgh, the best time to visit Edinburgh and the best places to stay. Or if you want to know anything else about Scotland, head here. In our Scottish guides, we’ve covered hiking, beaches, castles, towns, and whatever else you can imagine.

See you next time kids!

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