15 Best Day Trips From Glasgow

I’ve spent loads of my life in Scotland, and I absolutely love the place.

I love its towns, cities, road trips, island adventures and outdoor fun. Because it has so much variety, it’s a great place for day trips, no matter where you’re based.

So in this bumper guide, I’ve brought you all the best day trips from Glasgow. I’ve covered outdoor adventures, charming towns, other cities, and lots of family-friendly stuff. For some of these day trips from Glasgow, you’ll need access to a car—but for others, public transport is enough.

Slip into your kilt, pull your bagpipes out the attic, and grab that ginger hair dye. Today, you’re joining Travelness as we explore the 15 best day trips from Glasgow. On we go!

Best Day Trips from Glasgow

Best Outdoor Adventure Day Trips from Glasgow

1. Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park

Best for: Kayaking, hiking, getting great views, and enjoying Glasgow’s closest national park

There are loads of things to do in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, so it’s impossible to list them all in a little entry here.

But I reckon the best way to see the area is on a hike. For quick one-day options, I’d go for Ben A’an, Conic Hill or Callander Crags. But if you have the time and the energy for something much bigger, my top picks are Ben Lomond and Ben More.

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

You can also enjoy other outdoor adventures in the national park, including kayaking, canoeing, swimming, cycling and boat trips. Or if you’re with kids, check out Go Ape in Aberfoyle (which I’ve covered in much more detail later).

If you’re not into outdoor adventures, and you just want to explore the towns and villages of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, three popular picks are Callander, Tyndrum and Balloch.

  • Distance from Glasgow: Balloch (the southernmost tip of the park) is 25 miles/40km from Glasgow
  • How to get there: By car, follow the A82 north. You have countless train options, depending on where you want to go
  • Time taken to get there: Minimum 30 minutes
  • How much time to spend there: All day!

2. Arran

Best for: Riding a ferry, exploring my favorite Scottish island, and seeing ‘Scotland in miniature’

Arran is a variety-packed island off the west coast of Scotland, accessed only by riding a ferry from mainland Ardrossan.

It’s massively overshadowed by Skye, which might be more beautiful—but I reckon Arran is much more charming. It has way fewer tourists, it’s harder to access, and it has a hard-to-argue-with reputation for being ‘Scotland in miniature.’

A red deer stag and Lochranza Castle in the Isle of Arran, Scotland
A red deer stag and Lochranza Castle in the Isle of Arran

On Arran, you get small settlements, beautiful coastlines, brilliant walks, and the towering mountain of Goatfell.

To get to Arran, you’ll need to drive to Ardrossan from Glasgow before taking your car on a ferry (you’ll also need to tackle the same return journey for coming back). Make sure you book your ferry trips in advance here.

Although it’s a bit of a hassle, it’s absolutely worth the trip. If you have time, and you’re not tired of driving, I recommend riding around the entirety of the island on Arran’s big ring road. It’s a great way to enjoy and experience the island’s diversity, and you can stop off whenever and wherever you like.

  • Distance from Glasgow: 48 miles/77km
  • How to get there: By car, drive west along the A737 before getting on the ferry from Ardorssan to Brodick. By public transport, don’t bother.
  • Time taken to get there: 2 hours and 15 minutes
  • How much time to spend there: All day

3. Great Cumbrae

Best for: Visiting a tiny island, exploring an entire perimeter, and seeing Britain’s smallest cathedral

Lesser-known and lesser-explored than nearby Arran, few people bother taking the trip to Great Cumbrea, one of Scotland’s littlest (and most underrated) islands.

Once you’ve arrived on the island, it only takes around 30 minutes to drive around the entire thing. So if you’re a completionist, you’ll probably love the place. It’s also popular with hikers and cyclists (it’ll take you around 3.5 hours to walk around the entire island and 1.5 hours to cycle it).

Go to Millport, check out Britain’s smallest cathedral (Cathedral of the Isles), and fall in love with how cute and cozy the whole island is.

Again, just like Arran, make sure you book your ferry in advance. The ferry ride is really short and simple—Great Cumbrae is considered to be Scotland’s most accessible island (or, at least, the most accessible island that doesn’t have a bridge to the mainland).

  • Distance from Glasgow: 37 miles/60km
  • How to get there: By car, head on the A737 west before following the signs to Largs (where you’ll take the ferry to the island). By public transport, it’s not worth the trouble
  • Time taken to get there: 90 minutes
  • How much time to spend there: All day

4. Isle of Bute

Best for: Art deco oddities, lots of wildlife, and yet another island escape

Another island! Just west of Great Cumbrae, you have the Isle of Bute.

Again, it’s only accessible by ferry, but the over-water ride clocks in at a measly 35 minutes, so it’s absolutely possible as a day trip.

Bute is a tiny place, but it’s massively varied—little places aren’t normally this diverse. You get the art deco anomaly of Rothesay, lots of much-smaller settlements, and plenty of cliffs, crags, sands, shores and volcanic lumps. You also get seals, deer, wild goats, great fishing, loads of hikes, and even a weird little seaweed shop.

Lots of Glasgow’s residents come to Bute for weekends away. It’s most famous as a hiking retreat, and there are loads of lovely walks both long and short dotted all over the island. If you want a big meaty challenge, check out the Northern Bute Circuit, a 13-mile (21km) loop.

  • Distance from Glasgow: 40 miles/64km
  • How to get there: By car, follow the A78 west to Skelmorlie, then take your car on the ferry to Bute. If you’re only using public transport, don’t bother
  • Time taken to get there: Around 1 hour and 45 minutes
  • How much time to spend there: All day

5. Dumbarton Castle

Best for: History buffs, great castletop views, and excellent insights into Scotland’s past

Scotland is absolutely packed with brilliant castles. And this is one of the best of them (especially if you don’t want to venture too far north).

History fans absolutely love this place—it has the oldest recorded history of all the castles in Scotland. Records of Dumbarton Castle go back more than 1,500 years.

Perched right over the shores of the River Clyde, and on the top of ancient volcanic rock, the views from the top are incredible. On a good day, you can see as far as Ben Lomond, almost 30 miles (50km) away.

Once a royal refuge during conflict, now a popular tourist site, Dumbarton Castle is one of the best historical day trips from Glasgow.

  • Distance from Glasgow: 20 miles/32km
  • How to get there: If you’re driving, follow the M8, the M898 and the A82 to Dumbarton. By train, there’s a regular direct service between Glasgow and Dumbarton East
  • Time taken to get there: 30-45 minutes
  • How much time to spend there: A couple of hours

6. Outlander Tour

Best for: Outlander fans, a unique way to see Scotland, and people who just can’t stop watching TV

Apparently, Outlander is some TV show. I’ve never seen it, I’ve never heard of it, and I’ve got no idea what it’s about.

But according to Google, Outlander tours from Glasgow are really popular—here’s the type of itinerary you can expect.

Though Rabbies offer very popular tours (all over the world), you’ll find loads of different companies offering similar Outlander experiences. I’ve never done an Outlander tour, so I can’t recommend one, so my only advice is this: make sure you shop around.

7. The Ayrshire Coast

Best for: Castles, coastal towns, hidden hikes, and exploring one of the most underrated coastlines in the UK

The Ayrshire coast is brilliant. Yeah, it’s not as nice as Scotland’s northwest coast (or north coast), but it’s massively underrated and underexplored.

I’d drive to Irvine from Glasgow, then ride all the way south from Irvine along the coast, until you get to Portpatrick. Portpatrick itself is beautiful, Stranraer is surprisingly charming, Girvan is nice, Culzean Castle is beautiful, and inland Galloway Forest Park is a massively underrated hiking hub.

But just drive down the coast, and stop wherever you feel like it. You’ll find loads of beaches, bays and picnic spots, and you’ll wonder why you’d not heard of the Ayrshire coast sooner.

If you’re not traveling by car, you can still get a train to Irvine. Then from there, you can hitchhike south along the coast (hitchhiking is really fun, and it’s really easy in Scotland).

  • Distance from Glasgow: 31 miles/50km (to Irvine, the most northern place I’ve recommended)
  • How to get there: By car, follow the M77 south before turning west onto the A71 to Irvine. If you want to use the train, there’s a regular direct service from Glasgow to Irvine
  • Time taken to get there: 40 minutes
  • How much time to spend there: All day

Best Town and City Day Trips from Glasgow

8. St. Andrews

Best for: Exploring a historic town, kid-friendly activities, and playing a few rounds of golf

St. Andrews is most famous for being Scotland’s so-called ‘home of golf.’ And although they have award-winning championship golf courses, there’s way more to the place than just that.

North of Edinburgh, on Scotland’s east coast, St. Andrews also has a massive cathedral, a ruined castle, some nice beaches, a charming working harbour and a family-friendly aquarium, great if you’re traveling with kids.

And on top of all that, you get some of Scotland’s best fish and chips (make sure you throw on plenty of salt and vinegar).

It even has a golf museum, perfect if you just can’t get enough of putting and pitching.

  • Distance from Glasgow: 73 miles/117km
  • How to get there: By car, follow the M80 and A91 east. If you want to travel by train, there’s no direct route. Instead, you can take a train from Glasgow to Dundee before taking a bus from Dundee to St Andrews
  • Time taken to get there: 90 mins to 2 hours
  • How much time to spend there: All day

9. Pitlochry

Best for: A cute town, eats and treats, and exploring the bottom edge of the Cairngorms

I love Pithlochry. A cute little town right on the southern tip of the Cairngorms, there’s not a huge amount to do here. But it’s cozy and charming, and it’s a great place to eat pub food and cafe cakes. If you like eating, drinking and lazing about rather than doing active stuff, you’ll probably think this is the best town-based day trip from Glasgow.

If you prefer active stuff, you might want to explore the Cairngorms in more depth. Doing it as a day trip isn’t ideal, because it’s the biggest national park in the UK. But if you’re short on time, and one day is your only option, I recommend clambering up Cairn Gorm, the mountain that gives the national park its name.

  • Distance from Glasgow: 83 miles/134km
  • How to get there: If you’re driving, follow the M80 and the A9. If you’re relying on public transport, there’s a regular direct service from Glasgow to Pitlochry
  • Time taken to get there: Around 1 hour and 40 minutes
  • How much time to spend there: 3-4 hours

10. Oban

Best for: Incredible seafood, a charming harbour town, and one of Scotland’s most photogenic spots

If I could only go on one day trip from Glasgow, it would be here. Oban is like someone took all the Scottish port town cliches, rolled them into a big loveable bundle, and dropped the result onto Scotland’s west coast.

Oban Harbor on the Argyll Coastal Route, Scotland
Oban Harbor on the Argyll Coastal Route

Set right on a beautiful little shoreline, Oban is a popular place for photographers, who come to capture the town from endless angles. The best view of the place is from its shores—look back, and you’ll see the charmingly-stacked three-tier town is topped by the looming presence of a not-quite-coliseum.

Oban is massively famous for its seafood. Oban Seafood Hut and Ee-Usk serve up some of the most well-known meals and morsels, but you’ll find all sorts of seafood treats no matter where you eat.

The place is slightly further away from Glasgow than most places I’ve recommended so far, but it’s absolutely worth the trip.

  • Distance from Glasgow: 100 miles/160km
  • How to get there: If you’re driving, follow the A82 and the A85. There’s a direct train from Glasgow to Oban, but it takes three hours
  • Time taken to get there: Between 2 and 3 hours
  • How much time to spend there: All day

11. Stirling

Best for: Enjoying a mega-small city, clambering around a beautiful castle, and a day trip close to Glasgow

Stirling is a pretty little city. Overshadowed by Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness, few people come here, but way more people should.

Stirling Castle
Stirling castle

Although it’s a city, Stirling only has a population of around 40,000 people, so it feels more like a cozy town than a big ol’ metropolis. Because of that, it’s alluring and endearing, with lots of lovely places to eat and drink. Its most famous sight is Stirling Castle, built on the top of a towering volcanic outcrop. You get great views from its lofty heights.

Because Stirling is really close to Glasgow, it’s a good option if you’re looking for a no-fuss day trip.

  • Distance from Glasgow: 26 miles/40km
  • How to get there: By car, follow the M80. If you’re using public transport, take the regular direct train from Glasgow to Stirling
  • Time taken to get there: 40 minutes
  • How much time to spend there: All day

12. Edinburgh

Best for: Venturing between two big cities, seeing world-famous sites, museums & free museums, and exploring the iconic capital of Scotland

Alright, you’ve all heard of Edinburgh. And it’s best explored over at least a weekend—but if you’re short on time in Scotland, one day is (just!) enough.

Edinburgh is probably the most tourist-heavy city in the UK after London, with loads of stuff to do. You get cobbled lanes, varied architecture, Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood Park, the city’s iconic castle, the 1 o’clock gun, and plenty more. Try to visit in August if you can—every year, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (the largest theater festival on the planet) absolutely dominates the city.

Glasgow and Edinburgh are closer to one another than most people realize, making Scotland’s capital an easy day trip from Glasgow.

Pro-tip: you can even cycle between the two cities on the excellent National Cycle Network route 75. It’s almost completely traffic-free, and it’s nice and flat—so if you’ve never before tackled a long-distance ride, it’s a good introduction. In both directions, you can take your bike on the train, so you only need to cycle one way.

  • Distance from Glasgow: 47 miles/76km
  • How to get there: If you’re driving, follow the M8 east. Or take a direct train between the two
  • Time taken to get there: 45-60 minutes
  • How much time to spend there: All day

Best Family-Friendly Day Trips from Glasgow

13. M and D’s Scotland’s Theme Park

Best for: Thrillseekers, slightly-older kids, and exploring the best theme park in Scotland

Alright, this isn’t Disneyland, but it’s the best theme park in Scotland, perfect if you’re traveling with kids. They have 3 roller coasters, 2 great water rides, and lots more adrenaline-pumping adventures and attractions.

If you’re traveling with small kids, there are plenty of tamer thrills, including dodgems, bowling, trampolines, mini golf, an amusement arcade, a pirate ship, drive-in movies, and loads of fun festive events. They even have an excellent indoor rainforest, packed with loads of exotic animals.

Best of all, it’s pretty cheap, compared to lots of bigger theme parks you might have visited before. Check out more information here.

  • Distance from Glasgow: 12 miles/19km
  • How to get there: By car, follow the M8 and the M74. There’s no direct train or bus (but there are endless options with transfers)
  • Time taken to get there: 20 minutes to 1 hour
  • How much time to spend there: Full day

14. Kelburn Castle

Best for: Some of the world’s best street art, a strange little castle, and a weird combo of new and old

I know what you’re thinking: ‘Paul, children don’t like castles you moron!’

But hold up kid: they might like Kelburn Castle.

Though it’s been around since the 12th century, it doesn’t look that way. Instead, it’s daubed in graffiti, looking like something from an urban experiment rather than a historic site. But inside, it’s a little more serious, with portraits, old-school furniture, lots of elegant fixtures and fittings, and interesting insights into Scottish history and heritage.

Back outside, you get play areas, a ‘secret forest,’ waterfalls, alpacas, walking trails, picnic spots, yurts, and plenty more family-friendly fun. I know it’s a cliché, but this place has something for everyone, and it’s fantastic for kids.

  • Distance from Glasgow: 33 miles/53km
  • How to get there: If you want to drive, follow the A737 before turning off near Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park. By public transport, it’s not worth the fuss
  • Time taken to get there: 50 minutes by car
  • How much time to spend there: Half a day

15. Go Ape, Aberfoyle

Best for: Massive ziplines, treetop physical challenges, and kid-friendly adrenaline rushes

If you’re traveling with kids aged 8-14, they’ll absolutely love Aberfoyle’s Go Ape (assuming they’re not little wimps haha).

Go Ape Adventure

Here, you get ziplining, treetop challenges, mountain biking trails, high ropes, physical fun, team building activities, and lots more exciting adventures. It’s beautiful, it’s exciting, and it’s a great day out for kids who like scary experiences.

They have the longest dual zip wires in Scotland (clocking in at 400 meters/1300 feet).

  • Distance from Glasgow: 27 miles/43km
  • How to get there: By car, follow the A81 north. There’s no train connection, but it’s possible to take the X10A bus.
  • Time taken to get there: Between 1 and 2 hours
  • How much time to spend there: Half a day

Final Words

There they are—the best day trips from Glasgow. Thanks for reading!

If you want to know anything else about the city, read our guides on all the free things you can do in the city, and whether or not it’s safe (spoiler: it is).

And on top of that, we have way more information on lots of Scotland’s adventures here. We’ve covered hiking, beaches, road trips, cities, skiing, souvenirs, and anything else you can imagine. Whatever you want to know about Scotland, we have it right here on our site. See you next time!

Being a Digital Nomad - Book by Paul Mcdougal

Being a Digital Nomad: Tips, Tricks and Places

Do you want to be a digital nomad?

If you do, maybe you don’t know where you might want to live. Or how to live there. Or whether you need a visa. Or how to make friends in the scary sprawl of a brand-new city. Or how to stay productive while you travel. Or how to find an apartment. Or whether this lifestyle really is for you. Or… I’m sure you get the idea.

But with some insight and experience, it’s not as difficult as you think. So in this book, I’ve gathered my 6 years of digital-nomadding experience… and I’ve used it to answer all your questions, soothe all your fears, and get you on your way. After reading this, you’ll realise being a digital nomad is much easier (and much more possible!) than you think.