13 Most Scenic Road Trips From Edinburgh

Because Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital, it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK… and it’s of course packed with stuff to do.

But it’s also a hugely underrated base. Right from the city, you can easily tackle hikes, cliffs, other cities, and… as you’ve probably guessed from the name of this blog post… lots of great road trips.

So in this guide, I’ve served up the 13 best road trips from Edinburgh. Hop in the driver’s seat, rev up that engine, and come join the four-wheeled fun!

Best Road Trips from Edinburgh

Note: I’ve added a recommended duration for each journey. That recommended duration isn’t an indication of how quickly you can drive around each route without stopping (although, if you’re short on time, that’s obviously an option too). Instead, it’s an indication of how much time you should take if you want to see all the sights, have some stop-offs, and enjoy the road trip properly (instead of just rushing around it). Enjoy!

1. Edinburgh to Glasgow

2 hours from Edinburgh (55 miles, 90 km)

Stop at the Linlithgow Palace during your Road Trip from Edinburgh to Glasgow
Stop at the Linlithgow Palace during your road trip from Edinburgh to Glasgow

This ride takes you between Scotland’s two biggest—and two most famous—cities. And here’s some good news for you: between the two great places, you can cram in lots of highlights.

But before you jump in your car, this part’s important: you don’t want to drive the quickest route. Obviously, there are countless ways to get from Edinburgh to Glasgow… but if you want to avoid boring roads without taking outrageous detours, you should drive via Linlithgow, Falkirk, Bonnybridge, Drumpellier Country Park, and Seven Lochs Wetland Park.

(Along the way, make sure you visit both the Kelpies and Linlithgow Palace, two of the most interesting sights in the region).

The Kelpies, Falkirk, Scotland
Stop at the impressive Kelpies in Falkirk

The vast majority of Scotland’s residents live in this part of the nation… so it can be difficult to find interesting en-route sights. But if you follow the above, you’ll see a nice mixture of natural beauty, heritage sights, historical stuff, and pretty towns and villages.

If you want to make a potentially-boring journey into a much-prettier one, this is among the best road trips from Edinburgh. It’s way way better than the route most people ride on.

⛪ What to Do in Glasgow

Because it’s the most populous city in Scotland, Glasgow has plenty to offer. Check out the cathedral and the necropolis, wander along the river, and munch on a picnic at Pollok Country Park. And because you’re in the heart of the UK’s UNESCO City of Music, don’t miss Glasgow’s music mile tour followed by the Silent Disco adventure tour. And if you’re an Outlander fan, you’ll love this full-day tour! Oh, and if you have time, make sure you also tackle some day trips.

🏠 Where to Stay in Glasgow

Glasgow (of course) has endless places to stay… including some subpar spots. Avoid the bad stuff by heading to either Voco Grand Central (which is very classy and very central) or Acorn Hotel (which is a little quieter, and a little more affordable).

🗺️ Route Map and Details

  • Itinerary: Edinburgh – Linlithgow – Falkirk – Bonnybridge – Glasgow
  • Distance: 55 miles/90km
  • Full trip duration: 2-5 hours
  • Highlights: Linlithgow Palace, Falkirk, the Kelpies, some surprisingly small towns, seeing the two biggest cities in Scotland, and an alternative way of riding between Edinburgh and Glasgow

2. Edinburgh to Eyemouth

2 hours from Edinburgh (60 miles, 95 km)

Road Trip from Edinburgh to Eyemouth with Seagull

One of the prettiest, best, and most popular seaside towns in southern Scotland, Eyemouth is always packed with people.

Though this isn’t a particularly lengthy route, it offers loads of beauty and variety. For the whole route, stay as close to the coast as you can, and always take the smaller roads instead of the main ones.

The section between Cockburnspath and Eyemouth is my favorite coastal stretch in southern Scotland, with colossal cliffs, steep exciting ascents, and endless incredible views. You’ll want to stop for photographs every five minutes.

Other highlights include Musselburgh, North Berwick, Tantallon Castle, Dunbar, and Coldingham.

Tantallon Castle in Scotland
Tantallon Castle

If you like coastal drives but you don’t have a huge amount of time to spare, this is one of the best road trips from Edinburgh. It’s also a great option if you have kids—there are lots of child-friendly attractions and eateries along the route. One of the best is East Links Family Park just west of Dunbar.

And whether you’re traveling with little ones or not, you should definitely check out the Scottish Seabird Center in North Berwick.

🛥️ What to Do in Eyemouth

Eyemouth is the archetypal UK seaside town. Make sure you slurp on some ice cream, chow down on some fish and chips, wander along the lovely beaches, and visit the excellent natural harbor. And if you have time, tackle one of the town’s excellent boat trips.

🏠 Where to Stay in Eyemouth

The Glenerne Guest House is one of the most charming spots in Eyemouth, with great food, comfy beds, and lots of warm welcomes. If you prefer to have your own self-catering cottage, head to The Old Library instead.

🗺️ Route Map and Details

  • Itinerary: Edinburgh – Musselburgh – North Berwick – Cockburnspath – Eyemouth
  • Distance: 60 miles/95km
  • Full trip duration: 1-2 days
  • Highlights: Massive Tantallon Castle, pretty North Berwick, the stretch between Cockburnspath and Eyemouth, exploring a lesser-known part of Scotland’s coast, and lovely Eyemouth itself

3. Edinburgh to St Andrews

2 hours 30 minutes from Edinburgh (70 miles, 110 km)

Elie Ness Lighthouse in Earlsferry Scotland
Elie Ness Lighthouse in Earlsferry

If you like coastal towns, fishing villages, and populated ports, this is absolutely one of the best road trips from Edinburgh.

Instead of heading south (as you do in the route above), you instead drive north, driving to one of Scotland’s most impressive, significant, and historic settlements.

Again, you don’t want to drive the direct route. Stay as close to the coast as you can, and you’ll have a much better time. The main challenge on this route is whittling down the places to stop — there are lovely highlights dotted all the way along this part of the coast, with nice pretty settlements about every ten minutes.

Some of your best choices are Kinghorn, Dalgety Bay, family-friendly Aberdour Beach, charming Earlsferry, and harborside Pittenweem.

But whatever you do, make sure you stop at both Anstruther and Crail (and overnight in one of them if you have time). They’re both super charming and super pretty, and there’s an easy-but-beautiful walk connecting the two of them.

Beautiful house with lobester decorations in Crail, Scotland
A cute house with original lobster decorations in Crail

🏌️ What to Do in St Andrews

Visit the old cathedral, wander around the cobbled streets, and gawp at all the ancient architecture. To see all of the best places and more, join this guided walking tour which is a “must-do tour for anyone visiting St Andrews”. And if you like golf (which is mainly what the place is famous for), make sure you check out some of St Andrews’ courses and participate in this Golf History Tour.

Another original and interesting activity that I recommend is to explore the supernatural locations of the city searching for ghosts! This award-winning activity will let you do just that!

🏠 Where to Stay in St Andrews

For a big fat slice of ridiculously self-indulgent luxury, head to the Old Course Hotel. Or for the UK sleep-in-a-pub-style experience, get yourself along to Rooms at the Saint instead.

🗺️ Route Map and Details

  • Itinerary: Edinburgh – Queensferry – Kinghorn – Anstruther – Crail – St Andrews
  • Distance: 70 miles/110km
  • Full trip duration: 1-2 days
  • Highlights: Riding over the iconic Forth Road Bridge (UNESCO listed site), a huge number of en-route beaches, lots of pretty lighthouses, Kinghorn, Pittenweem, and the lovely fishing settlements of Anstruther and Crail

4. Edinburgh to Tyndrum

3 hours 30 minutes from Edinburgh (108 miles, 174 km)

Aerial View of the A82 Road Along the Loch Lomond During Autumn
You’ll take the scenic A82 road along the Loch Lomond during your road-trip to Tyndrum

If you want to explore Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, this is obviously one of the best road trips from Edinburgh. It takes you on a north-to-south journey through the entirety of the park, and you tick off lots of highlights along the way.

There are endless ways you can reach Tyndrum from Edinburgh. But the most common is by heading west to Glasgow, before then riding north through Balloch and Inverarnan, along the western banks of super-famous Loch Lomond. And that’s exactly what I’m recommending to you.

(In our next route, to Oban, I’ve covered some alternative parts of the national park).

Between Edinburgh and Glasgow, you’ll pass all the stuff we’ve already covered above. From here, other en-route highlights include Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Center, Inchmoan Island (which you’ll need to take a boat trip to visit), surprisingly-quiet Culag Beach, the tiny settlement of Inverbeg, and the pretty village of Tarbet (where you can take some great boat trips).

Boat on Loch Lomond
Have a break and take a boat trip on Loch Lomond from the village of Tarbet

You’ll also hit lots of great viewpoints along the way, and loads of hiking spots. Some of the top en-route ascents are Ben Vorlich, The Cobbler, and Beinn Ime.

🧺 What to Do in Tyndrum

Eat some fish and chips at the Real Food Cafe, have a picnic at Lochan na Bi, and head north to Loch Tulla. And make sure you see the iconic Green Welly, an age-old service station. Oh, and if you’re with kids, check out the family-fun wander of the Tyndrum Gruffalo Trail.

🏠 Where to Stay in Tyndrum

Well-located bed and breakfast Clifton Cottage is welcoming and friendly and offers great breakfasts. If you’d prefer to stay in a “real” hotel, your best option is Muthu Ben Doran Hotel.

🗺️ Route Map and Details

  • Itinerary: Edinburgh – Glasgow – Balloch – Inverarnan – Tyndrum
  • Distance: 108 miles/174km
  • Full trip duration: 1-3 days
  • Highlights: Some excellent en-route hikes, the wander up The Cobbler, lots of picnic spots along the western shores of Loch Lomond, and seeing loads of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

5. Edinburgh to Oban

4 hours from Edinburgh (130 miles, 210 km)

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

This trip is absolutely packed with loads of good stuff and offers a huge amount of variety. It’s hard to pick an absolute best route from this list, but I’m tempted to nominate this one.

There are endless different ways you can drive from Edinburgh to Oban. But for filling your trip with as many beautiful and interesting highlights as you can, here’s what I recommend:

First, head west to Falkirk and Stirling, for the populated part of your ride. During this stretch, you’ll want to stop off at both The Kelpies and Stirling Castle.

From here, head through Callander, Strathyre, and Tyndrum, for a stretch that takes you along some of the most underrated and unknown parts of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. Good hike options during this section include the wanders up Ben Ledi, Ben Vorlich, and Ben Vane.

Make sure you also stop to eat at lochside The Cabin, and make the short detour to Ardvorlich for some great views of Loch Earn.

From Tyndrum, you then head west through Lochawe and Taynuilt to finally reach lovely lovely Oban.

Historic Ruins of Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe
Ruins of Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe, on your way to Oban

On this ride, you get towns, cities, a national park, some great lochs, beautiful castles, remote mountains, an excellent coastal stretch, and an outrageously beautiful finale.

🎣 What to Do in Oban

One of the prettiest fishing towns in the whole of Scotland, Oban is ridiculously beautiful… and just wandering around the harbor is beautiful. But you should also do some scuba diving at the Puffin Dive Center, and stroll to Dunollie Point. And if you have time, take a boat to the excellent Isle of Mull. And all cases, don’t leave the city before participating in this (very cheap) guided town highlights walking tour.

🏠 Where to Stay in Oban

Pub-based The Scot is modern, trendy, family-friendly, and relatively affordable. If you’re traveling on a much tighter budget, your best bet is Oban Youth Hostel, which is surprisingly pretty.

🗺️ Route Map and Details

  • Itinerary: Edinburgh – Stirling – Callander – Strathyre – Ardvorlich – Tyndrum – Lochawe – Oban
  • Distance: 130 miles/210km
  • Full trip duration: 2-3 days
  • Highlights: Alternative parts of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, and the cities of Falkirk and Stirling; the beautiful Loch Earn then Loch Awe.

6. Edinburgh to Newcastle Upon Tyne (the Inland Route)

3 hours 30 minutes from Edinburgh (130 miles, 210 km)

Kielder Water and Forest Park in Northumberland
On your way to Newcastle, you’ll drive close to the Kielder Water and Forest Park in Northumberland

Most people drive from Edinburgh to Newcastle via the coast. And later in this guide, we’ll do that too. But this route to Newcastle is an excellent alternative and drives through some lesser-known inland areas.

If you like rolling hills, low-level hikes, old-school abbeys, or history and heritage, you’ll think this is one of the best road trips from Edinburgh. And I’m probably a bit biased (cos I’m from Newcastle), but I agree with you.

To kick things off, you want to drive southeast out of Edinburgh, along the A7. Head through Melrose, Selkirk, Hawick, and Bellingham (following the massive Kielder Reservoir on your way into Bellingham).

You then want to venture northeast for a little while, from Bellingham to Otterburn. From Otterburn, head southeast again, following the A696 into Ponteland, then through into Newcastle.

On the Scottish borderlands section of your route, make sure you stop at Melrose, with its big brilliant abbey, and its nice hike up to the Eildon Hills. When you hit Northumberland, stop for a picnic at Kielder (and then again at Bellingham).

The stretch through Northumberland National Park is also great for hiking, while there are excellent mountain biking trails just north of Kielder Reservoir.

⚽ What to Do in Newcastle

Explore the city center, eat and drink in the Ouseburn area, discover the castle, the city’s imposing Norman fortress, and head to St. James Park for a football game (no, it’s not called soccer) for the best sporting atmosphere you’ll ever experience. You should also get yourself to the nearby coastal towns of Tynemouth and Whitley Bay.

🏠 Where to Stay in Newcastle

If you’re traveling on a budget, the super-central YHA Newcastle is new, modern, and comfortable. If you’re instead looking for a standard hotel, Motel One Newcastle is classy, stylish, and surprisingly affordable.

🗺️ Route Map and Details

  • Itinerary: Edinburgh – Melrose – Selkirk – Hawick – Bellingham – Ponteland – Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • Distance: 130 miles/210km
  • Full trip duration: 2-3 days
  • Highlights: Melrose Abbey, riding along Kielder Reservoir, pretty Bellingham, exploring the remote hills of Northumberland National Park, and wandering around Newcastle when you’re done

7. The Arran Loop

6 hours 30 minutes from Edinburgh (155 miles, 250 km) – This route includes a ferry

A Country Road Through the Isle of Arran

The west coast of Scotland is home to loads of massive islands. But the southern part of the east coast isn’t… so if you want to explore any major island life from Edinburgh, you have no choice but to head west.

Of all the west coast islands, Arran is the closest to Edinburgh… which is partially why it’s on this list. But it’s also on this list for a much better reason: because Arran is a circular shape, it has an excellent (and accessible) ring road running around its perimeter.

So if you want to see the entirety of the island, road-tripping around this perimeter is the perfect solution.

Once you get to Arran from Edinburgh, you can ride around this road, ticking off most of the island’s highlights en route. They include Whiting Bay, Blackwaterfoot, the island-from-an-island of Holy Isle, and the wild roaming deer in Lochranza. If you have time, you should also walk along the coast from Lochranza to Sannox—it’s the best coastal stretch on the island.

To get to Arran, you should drive to Glasgow via the route we’ve already outlined. From there, head to Ardossan, where you (and your car) can hop on the ferry to Brodick.

🦌 What to Do in Arran

Brodick is the natural place to overnight on Arran. From Brodick, you should climb up Goatfell (if you haven’t already done that on your drive), visit Brodick Castle, and explore the valley of Glen Rosa. There’s also a road running from Brodick to Machrie, which offers another fun drive. For more options head over to my guide about the best things to do in Arran.

🏠 Where to Stay in Arran

As I said, you should spend the night in Brodick. If you’re looking for classy and fancy, check out Auchrannie Resort. But for a much more no-frills experience, head to the excellent Shore Lodge instead.

🗺️ Route Map and Details

  • Itinerary: Edinburgh – Glasgow – Brodick – Lochranza – Blackwaterfoot – … and back to Brodick
  • Distance: 155 miles/250km
  • Full trip duration: 3-7 days (you should overnight on Arran for a few days if you have time)
  • Highlights: Overnighting in Glasgow, the ferry to Arran, climbing up Goatfell, wandering around Glen Rosa, the deer in Lochranza, the village of Blackwaterfoot, and seeing pretty much the entirety of one exciting island

8. Edinburgh to Aberdeen

4 hours 15 minutes from Edinburgh (155 miles, 250 km)

Dunnottar Castle in Aberdeen, Scotland
Dunnottar Castle in Aberdeen

This route’s especially good if you have kids—the entire ride is populated, well-equipped, and full of big settlements, so it has all the conveniences you (and your little ones) need. It also has lots of family-friendly fun, along with a big bunch of brilliant beaches.

(Though you don’t need kids to enjoy this trip, obviously).

First up, you’ll drive to St Andrews on the route we’ve already outlined. From St Andrews, you then keep following the road for a lot longer, staying close to the coast as you ride.

Some of the en-route highlights between St Andrews and Aberdeen include the quiet and remote Kinshaldy Beach, the views from Tay Road Bridge, the cute town of Carnoustie (and its excellent beach), Dunninald Castle and Gardens, Montrose Basin Wildlife Reserve, and the clifftop ruins of Dunnottar Castle.

And make sure you also stop off in Stonehaven, which has a pretty port, a great beach, and lots of saliva-inducing fish and chips.

Some of the best kid-friendly attractions along this route (apart from all the beaches) include canine-packed Huskyhaven, the atmospheric Arbroath Cliffs, and the family funfest of Arbroath’s Pleasureland.

🐬 What to Do in Aberdeen

Aberdeen is massively underrated and has loads to offer. To get started, check out Greyhope Bay (the best dolphin-watching spot in the UK!), the kid-friendly Aberdeen Science Center, and Donmouth Local Nature Reserve. You will also enjoy this special walking food tour to explore the city, its culture, and its tasty local delicacies.

🏠 Where to Stay in Aberdeen

For a big hearty portion of indulge-yourself luxury, choose the Sandman Signature Aberdeen Hotel & Spa. But if you want a basic-but-brilliant mid-range hotel, the Holiday Inn Express is affordable, reliable, and in a great location.

🗺️ Route Map and Details

  • Itinerary: Edinburgh – St Andrews – Dundee – Stonehaven – Aberdeen
  • Distance: 155 miles/250km
  • Full trip duration: 2-4 days
  • Highlights: Dunnottar Castle, Huskyhaven, Stonehaven, some excellent beaches, lots of family-friendly fun, and seeing the excellent city of Aberdeen

9. Edinburgh to Newcastle Upon Tyne (via the Coast)

3 hours 30 minutes from Edinburgh (145 miles, 235 km)

Warkworth Castle
Warkworth Castle. You’ll reach this impressive castle in the second half of your road trip from Edinburgh to Newcastle.

Here’s the more-popular way of reaching Newcastle from Scotland’s capital.

If you like coastal rides (or if you want to venture into England), this is one of the best road trips from Edinburgh. I’ve tackled the ride on the back of my bike, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done in the UK.

For the first half, follow the route to Eyemouth we’ve already outlined, then continue along the coast all the way to Berwick. From Berwick, you want to keep heading south, in the direction of Tynemouth.

During this second half, you’ll ride along one of the most underrated coastlines in England, the uncatchily-titled ‘Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.’

This whole area is famous for remote beaches, charming towns, and massive castles—some along-the-way highlights include Bamburgh Castle, Dunstanburgh Castle, Warkworth Castle, Craster, Alnmouth, Amble, Cresswell, and Tynemouth.

This is also one of the friendliest parts of the UK—and you’ll get plenty of warm welcomes and smiling faces (I told you I was biased).

Once you get to Tynemouth, head briefly west to the center of Newcastle. And if you can, hang around here for a couple of days.

🥾 What to Do in Newcastle

I’ve already mentioned Newcastle’s highlights earlier in this guide. But for this route, you haven’t seen any of the inland stuff… so if you have time, head to Northumberland and clamber along some of the region’s hikes. The Cheviots are a good place to start, while Simonside is another popular favorite. As previously recommended, you can also stay inside the city to wander its streets and explore its castle.

🏠 Where to Stay in Newcastle

I’m going to recommend the same places I’ve already recommended above. To reiterate, they are YHA Newcastle (perfect for backpackers) and Motel One Newcastle (which is a little more modern and upmarket).

🗺️ Route Map and Details

  • Itinerary: Edinburgh – Eyemouth – Berwick – Bamburgh – Alnmouth – Tynemouth – Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Distance: 145 miles/235km
  • Full trip duration: 2-5 days
  • Highlights: Craster, Bamburgh, Alnmouth, the excellent tucked-away beaches, all the massive castles, cycling along this well-equipped part of the coast, and exploring the lovely city of Newcastle

10. Edinburgh to Portpatrick

4 hours 30 minutes from Edinburgh (150 miles, 240 km)

Portpatrick village in Dumfries and Galloway
Portpatrick village in Dumfries and Galloway

If you want to continue west (and south) past Glasgow, this route is a great option.

Again, it’s a great choice for people traveling with kids—this area is beautiful, fun, (relatively) densely populated, and stuffed with family-friendly attractions.

Start by reaching Glasgow in the same way we’ve outlined above. From here, follow the M77 and A77 to Ayr. Then from Ayr, follow the coast south, all the way down to Portpatrick.

Some highlights along the stretch between Ayr and Portpatrick include Culzean Castle, the strangely-vivid behemoth of Turnberry Lighthouse, the overlooked harbor town of Girvan, beautiful Ballantrae Beach, unfairly-underrated Stranraer, and the northern part of Portpatrick’s peninsula.

And get this: if you have plenty of time to spare, you can even catch a ferry from Cairnryan to Belfast, and explore some of Northern Ireland.

If you are adventuring around with little ones, some of this route’s best family-friendly stuff include attraction-packed Agnew Park, Heads Of Ayr Farm Park, and the curiously-creepy Snib’s Cave.

⚓ What to Do in Portpatrick

Stroll down to the loveable harbor, visit the cliffy ruins of Dunskey Castle, and eat some tasty food at the super-quirky Port Pantry cafe/restaurant. And if you have time, you should take a day trip to the tiny dimensions of endearing little Port Logan.

🏠 Where to Stay in Portpatrick

The pub-based Harbor House Sea Front Hotel is basic but brilliant in the best possible ways. If you’re looking for something much more elegant and upmarket, wander to The Portpatrick Hotel instead.

🗺️ Route Map and Details

  • Itinerary: Edinburgh – Glasgow – Ayr – Girvan – Stranraer – Portpatrick
  • Distance: 150 miles/240km
  • Full trip duration: 2-5 days
  • Highlights: Girvan, Stranraer, Glasgow, Ballantrae Beach, all the kid-friendly en-route attractions, jumping on a ferry to Northern Ireland, and exploring Portpatrick when you’re done

11. The Borderlands Loop

4 hours 30 minutes from Edinburgh (170 miles, 270 km)

Dryburgh Abbey, Scottish Borders
Dryburgh Abbey on the Scottish Borders

If you’re looking for a loop (and there’s nothing more satisfying than road-tripping a loop), this is one of the best road trips from Edinburgh. It runs in a big long circle around the England-Scotland border, hitting coasts, inland hills, ancient abbeys, and some of the best under-the-radar villages in southern Scotland.

First, head south to Eyemouth via the route we’ve already described. From here, keep heading south to Berwick, the English border town. From Berwick, you then want to head west, running through Kelso, Melrose, Innerleithen, and Peebles.

You’ll pass abbeys at Melrose, Dryburgh, and Kelso, and lots of places for low-level hikes. Some of the best walks here include the Glentress Circuit (from Peebles), the Minch Moor circuit (from Traquair), and the great hike from Melrose up to the panorama-packed Eildon Hills. This region is probably the most overlooked hiking area in Scotland, and it’s brimming with great stuff.

When you pass Innerleithen and get close to Dolphinton, head northeast on the A702… and your route back to Edinburgh will bring you along the western side of Pentland Hills Regional Park.

This place is always overlooked by Edinburgh’s tourists, but you shouldn’t make the same mistake. If you’re only going to attempt one hike here, wander up to the summit of Scald Law, the loftiest peak in the park. It measures 579 meters (1900 feet).

🏰 What to Do in Edinburgh

When you get back to Edinburgh, there’s plenty of stuff to do (if you haven’t done it already). Start with Edinburgh Castle (get a skip-the-line ticket, this is mandatory to avoid waiting a long long time outside) and Arthur’s Seat (better with a bike), then check out The Royal Mile, Calton Hill, and the charming shores of watery Leith. If you’re a Harry Potter take this exciting tour.

For more ideas and recommendations, checkout my 2-day itinerary guide for Edinburgh.

🏠 Where to Stay in Edinburgh

When you’ve finished this one, you’ll be back in Edinburgh! If you’re on a budget, stay in the Royal Mile Backpackers. If you’re not, the Ibis South Bridge is still pretty affordable, but it’s a little more classy and comfortable.

🗺️ Route Map and Details

  • Itinerary: Edinburgh – Eyemouth – Berwick – Kelso – Melrose – Peebles … and back to Edinburgh!
  • Distance: 170 miles/270km
  • Full trip duration: 3-7 days
  • Highlights: All the excellent abbeys, exploring the underrated borderlands, hiking to some really isolated peaks, the climb up Scald Law, and the rewarding feeling of road-tripping a loop

12. Edinburgh to Carlisle (via Hadrian’s Wall)

4 hours 30 minutes from Edinburgh (190 miles, 300 km)

Road trip along the Hadrian's Wall
Road trip along the Hadrian’s Wall

You’ve probably already heard of Hadrian’s Wall. Built all the way back in AD122, this big long protective frontier was designed to keep the (then considered) northern barbarians out of England.

It’s one of the most significant Roman relics in the UK… and if you want to see lots of its most famous sites, you can do exactly that on this road trip.

This isn’t the direct route from Edinburgh to Carlisle. Instead, it’s a roundabout ride that takes you all the way along the coast to Newcastle (a journey we’ve already covered) before then heading west and following the A69 to Carlisle.

If you’re interested in history and heritage, this is of course one of the best road trips from Edinburgh. But the stretch between Newcastle and Carlisle isn’t just museums and relics—it also has loads of great hikes and bike rides, and a whole bunch of beautiful rolling-hill landscapes.

On this A69 stretch, you’ll also pass the nice towns of Hexham, Haydon Bridge, Haltwhistle, and Brampton. They’re all famous as good bases for walking… but they’re also just nice places to stop for some food and drinks.

🥾 What to Do in Carlisle

Admittedly, Carlisle isn’t particularly pretty or exciting, and I don’t recommend spending much time here. But there’s a nice hike from Carlisle to Bowness-on-Solway, while the city is also home to a massive 12th-century castle, and the pretty riverside Bitts Park.

🏠 Where to Stay in Carlisle

The city-center Crown & Mitre Hotel offers a nice balance between luxury and affordability. If you’d prefer to stay outside of the city (a choice I totally understand), overnighting in Warwick Hall is like having your own little royal residence.

🗺️ Route Map and Details

  • Itinerary: Edinburgh – Berwick – Newcastle – Hexham – Brampton – Carlisle
  • Distance: 190 miles/300km
  • Full trip duration: 3-5 days
  • Highlights: Passing through Newcastle, hitting the Northumberland coast, the nice towns of Hexham and Haydon Bridge, Roman ruins and relics, and hiking along iconic Hadrian’s Wall

13. Edinburgh to Inverness

6 hours 30 minutes from Edinburgh (280 miles, 450 km)

Lossiemouth City in Scotland
Lossiemouth city, east of Inverness

If you want to make the Edinburgh to Aberdeen ride even longer, you can extend the route by continuing to follow the coast from Aberdeen to Inverness. This adds a further 145 miles (233km) to your ride.

Some en-route Aberdeen-to-Inverness highlights include the fantastic (and easy!) Bullers of Buchan hike, the sands of Cruden Bay, and the lovely fishing village of Portknockie. Make sure you also stop at bay-backed Boyne Castle, Rosehearty Beach, and Newburgh Seal Beach, where you’ll always find dozens of the adorable fatsos lazing around.

This route also brings you right past RSPB Scotland Troup Head. This RSPB reserve is home to mainland Scotland’s biggest gannet colony, along with dolphins, porpoises, and minke whales.

And last of all, make sure you spend some time in Lossiemouth before you get to Inverness. It’s one of my favorite coastal towns in Scotland.

If you’re looking for long, this is one of the best road trips from Edinburgh. But because it’s a lengthy drive, and because there are so many highlights along the way, you’ll need at least a week to appreciate it.

🐬 What to Do in Inverness

Visit Loch Ness and the Urquhart Castle, check out Clava Cairns, the cute Ness Islands, explore the city, and the dolphin-and-otter-spotting cruises leaving from the north of the city. Or if you’re feeling really adventurous (and have a lot of time), you can extend your on-road adventures by tackling the North Coast 500.

🏠 Where to Stay in Inverness

The ever-reliable Holiday Inn Express is a great choice for relative luxury on a relative budget. If you instead want something much more affordable (but clean and cozy), our #1 choice is the Inverness Youth Hostel.

🗺️ Route Map and Details

  • Itinerary: Edinburgh – St Andrews – Aberdeen – Peterhead – Lossiemouth – Inverness
  • Distance: 300 miles/483km
  • Full trip duration: 7-14 days
  • Highlights: Stonehaven, Dunnottar Castle, Lossiemouth, Portknockie, watching lots of wildlife, some excellent coastal walks, and exploring a big long ride through lots of Scotland

Final Thoughts and Further Reading

Alright, put those brakes on and pull into the parking lot—we’ve reached the end of our guide to the 13 best road trips from Edinburgh!

For much more information on riding around Scotland, zoom on over to our guides on the best road trips from Inverness, the best road trips from Glasgow, and all the best road trips in Scotland.

Thanks for reading, thanks for choosing Travelness, and we’ll see you next time!