There Are Loads Of Great Day Trips From Edinburgh!
Once you’re done exploring the magical Scottish city of Edinburgh, you may be looking for day trips from Edinburgh. And you wouldn’t be alone in your quest to see more of the country!
From historic castles and ruins to the beautiful Highlands with lochs and trails, to towns and cities – and even local whisky distilleries-, there is a day experience to suit every interest!
Travelling outside of Edinburgh can be easier if you have a car or the option of renting a vehicle. In that case, you might consider some of the ideas below for day trips from Edinburgh by car.
For those travellers that have flown into Edinburgh or taken the train, don’t worry. There are plenty of amazing places you can get to with public transit (bus or train) or on a guided day tour from Edinburgh.
So, if you’re ready to get exploring outside of the Scottish capital – let us walk you through a few of the best day trips from Edinburgh!
Table of Contents
The Highlands – Loch Ness, Glencoe, Inverness
Distance to Inverness from Edinburgh: 250 km (157 miles) driving
Exploring the Scottish Highlands on a trip from Edinburgh is very popular. The Highlands are a vast region primarily comprised of rolling hills, charming lakes, rocky cliffs, castles, and windy islands up in the North of Scotland.
There are many lochs (Gaelic for lake), the most famous of which is probably Loch Ness. It’s here where you’ll find the famed mythical creature Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster.
There are lots of smaller towns and villages like Inverness. Inverness is considered “the capital of the Highland Region” and has been consistently named one of the happiest places to live in Scotland.
If you’re up in the Highlands, you’ll also have the opportunity to see Glencoe, a small town in the west of Scotland.
It is known for its waterfalls and system of hiking trails that weave in and out of rolling valleys and peaks such as Buachaille Etive Mor.
Our Highland Tip: If you’re looking for top day trips to the Scottish Highlands, this day tour explores Loch Ness, Glencoe, and has an optional cruise and visit to Urquhart Castle!
If you’re near Glencoe, you might even go a tad farther into the small hamlet of Glenfinnan to see the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct – that beautiful curved train bridge made famous by the Harry Potter movies!
How to Get to Inverness from Edinburgh
Given that Inverness is a popular Scottish destination, there are a few different ways to get there from Edinburgh.
Tours from Edinburgh to the Highlands
Because the Highlands are such a popular destination to explore from Edinburgh, there are extensive tour offerings to get you there. A tour is a great option if you don’t want the hassle of renting a car and/or you have limited time in Edinburgh.
Many tours show off slightly different places around the Highlands so choose the one that works best for your interests!
- Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Highlands Tour from Edinburgh (run by Timberbush Tours)
- Loch Ness, Glencoe & Highlands from Edinburgh (run by The Hairy Coo)
- Loch Ness, Glencoe, and Highlands Tour from Edinburgh (run by Highland Experience Tours)
A friend of ours did a Scottish Highlands Day Tour and loved it. This is a great option if you want to see a few different attractions in one day but don’t know the Highlands that well.
Driving from Edinburgh to Inverness/Loch Ness
To get to Inverness from Edinburgh by car, you just have to hop on the A9 and head north. Do note that the highway can be quite busy in the summertime and a tad slippery in the winter months.
The 250-kilometre (157 mi) drive will be beautiful and will take you about 3 hours – but could be slightly longer if there’s traffic or if you’re unfamiliar with the way. Alternatively, taking the train to Inverness is simple.
Train from Edinburgh to Inverness
Just hop on a train from Waverley Station in the city centre of Edinburgh. You might have to change in Perth or Stirling, depending on the route you take.
You can check the rail times on ScotRail’s website but trips are fairly frequent and they average around 4 hours in length. A train is also a great option if you want to stretch your legs, but it can be pricier.
Bus from Edinburgh to Inverness
Travelling by bus is an affordable way. Depending on the bus/route you take, it will take around 4 hours – so quite similar to the train. However, keep in mind that there are routes that will take longer.
You can check out the bus schedules and buy tickets at the City Link website.
Flying from Edinburgh to Inverness
Don’t do it. From Edinburgh, you’d end up taking KLM and connecting through Amsterdam or British Airways and connecting through London Heathrow.
These journeys would take over 6/7 hours when it can be done in 3.5 for a fraction of the cost. Not to mention the ground route is far prettier and is better for the environment.
Stirling and Stirling Castle
Distance to Stirling from Edinburgh: 60 km (38 miles) driving
Stirling, the small town in central Scotland, is surrounded by farmland – but don’t let that fool you. The town itself is full of history from medieval battles to a nice old town and a castle!
Many visitors to Stirling do so for the Castle which sits high atop a volcanic rock in the centre of town. The views from up there are amazing.
Inside the castle, you’ll get to visit the armoury as well as special exhibitions that are on at the time. You can visit the Stirling Castle website for opening hours and prices.
Stirling is known for another iconic thing that stands proudly above the treetops. The Wallace Monument stands on the site of the Battle of Stirling Bridge.
For the non-history buffs: This monument commemorates Sir William Wallace (yes, like Mel Gibson in the movie Braveheart) on his greatest victory over the English.
You can climb the steps of the tower and experience great views of the Trossachs, the Forth valley, and the Pentland Hills, among other things.
In the Old Town of Stirling which is near the Castle, you’ll find one of the best collections of medieval-era buildings in Scotland. You can visit the city’s old jail – Tolbooth – which is now a centre for live music and the arts.
There’s an art gallery and a museum and Stirling has lots of authentic Scottish pubs to have a pint and a bite to eat. Overall, Stirling is a great day trip from Edinburgh that packs a punch of history, adventure, and authentic Scotland without being a far drive.
How to Get to Stirling from Edinburgh
You can get to Stirling from Edinburgh in a bunch of different ways. It’s not far so you can consider it a day trip without too much hassle overall.
Driving from Edinburgh to Stirling
Leave Edinburgh by either the A90 or the M8 and then take the M9 to Stirling. The driving distance is about 60 kilometres (38 miles) and it’ll take about an hour or less to drive – but with traffic, it may take more!
Train from Edinburgh to Stirling
The train trip from Edinburgh to Stirling takes about 50 minutes. You’ll leave from Edinburgh Waverley and head to Stirling.
It’ll only set you back around £10.00 or so for a “single, anytime” day ticket. You can get it here on the ScotRail website.
Bus from Edinburgh to Stirling
The bus takes about 1 hour and 25 minutes from downtown Edinburgh to Stirling’s centre and will cost about £8.70 for a single adult ticket one-way! Here’s the City Link website again to grab a ticket.
If you want to take a tour: You can easily see Stirling Castle + Add on Loch Lomond With a Day Tour.
St. Andrews and The Kingdom of Fife
Distance to St. Andrews from Edinburgh: 84 km (52 miles) driving
St. Andrews itself is a small town on Scotland’s east coast, northeast of Edinburgh. Home to the oldest university in Scotland (The University of St. Andrews) founded in 1413, St. Andrews has a younger and more lively feel because of the student population that lives there.
St. Andrews is also the home of golf. With 7 courses, it is the largest golf complex in Europe. Golf fanatics can have their photo opportunity at the famous “Swilcan Bridge” on the Old Course’s 18th hole and visit the British Golf Museum.
There are many sights like the ruins and museum of St. Andrews Cathedral (shown above), St Rule’s Tower which is located within the ruins, and a seaside walking path where you can appreciate the sea air and the fishing culture.
There are also lots of great places to eat and grab a drink in St. Andrews so be sure to take your time and enjoy the town!
Technically, St. Andrews is located in Fife. The Council Area known today as Fife used to be referred to as “The Kingdom of Fife” in ancient Scotland.
As such, there’s a rich history to the area that includes St. Andrews and smaller coastal villages like Crail and Kingsbarn.
There’s also a distillery in Kingsbarn – Eric went on a tour there in 2015. Fun Fact: Their first barrel of whisky was to be ready for tasting in March of 2018 – so Eric never got to try it!
You can check out the Kingsbarn Distillery on their website. It is a great way to see classic Scotch Whisky made right!
How to Get to St. Andrews from Edinburgh
Getting to St. Andrews from Edinburgh isn’t hard either via car, train/bus or even on a tour. The bus/train combination feels complicated but we did it several times and it’s very easy.
Driving from Edinburgh to St. Andrews
Head out of Edinburgh and across to North Queensferry on the A90 and take the A92 to the A91. The distance is about 84 kilometres (52 miles) and should take a little over an hour.
Taking Bus/Train to St. Andrews from Edinburgh
Again, just hop on a train from Waverley Station in the city centre of Edinburgh. There are lots of trains heading in the direction of Dundee which is what you’re looking for.
If you’re heading to St. Andrews, get off at LEUCHARS Station. It’ll cost you about £15.00 for an “any time, single” ticket. It’s going to feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere when you get off – because you will be. Don’t panic.
From the station, you have to take the 99C or 99D or 94A bus (most of the buses from there go to the city) to the St. Andrews Bus Station which is in the centre of the city.
Keep in mind after the train you’ll have to pay for the bus ticket into town but it isn’t very expensive – a few pounds.
Overall, this journey from Waverley to the city centre of St. Andrews takes about 90 minutes. You can check the rail times on ScotRail’s website.
Bus from Edinburgh to St. Andrews
Travelling by bus from Edinburgh to St. Andrews is simple. Head to Stage Coach Bus and you’ll find the timetables for some buses that start with “X”.
These buses take about 2 hours to St. Andrews and tickets start from £10.00.
Day Tour: If you want to hop on a guided tour and avoid figuring out logistics yourself, you can Book a Small Group Tour to Explore St. Andrew’s and Fife.
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
Distance to Loch Lomond from Edinburgh: 120 km (77 miles) driving
If you’re looking for true nature and good hiking on a day trip from Edinburgh, then you might consider a trek out to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
Established in 2002 by the Scottish Parliament as one of two of the first recognized National Parks in Scotland, the Park is centred around the beautiful Loch Lomond.
The rolling hills are known as the Trossachs, and they make up a great deal of the West Highland Way – a very long footpath/long-distance hiking trail measuring 154.5 km in length.
The West Highlands, in general, is a particularly stunning part of the Highland region of Scotland. For more information about the Park, check out the official website.
If you’re in the area, you might even consider heading to Falkirk for a quick stop to see The Kelpies, which are the largest equine statues in the world! Check out more information on the Kelpies here.
How to Get to Loch Lomond from Edinburgh
There are several options to get from Edinburgh to Loch Lomond – car, train, bus, or tour. It’s all very scenic so choose your method and enjoy!
Driving to Loch Lomond from Edinburgh
From Edinburgh, take the M8 through Glasgow, then you’ll get on the M898 to the Erskine Bridge, and finally, take the A82 into the National Park.
The drive is about 120 kilometres (77 miles) and will take from 90 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Train from Edinburgh to Loch Lomond
You’ll go through Glasgow and from there take a train directly into the Park. You’ll have two options from Glasgow: Glasgow – Balloch takes about 50 minutes and runs every 2 hours.
Glasgow – Oban/Fort William is one of the most scenic routes in the entire country (through the West Highlands) and has stops that are in or very close to the National Park (Helensburgh, Garelochhead, Arrochar & Tarbet, Ardlui, Crianlarich and Tyndrum).
You can get all your tickets and price estimates here on the ScotRail website.
Bus from Edinburgh to Loch Lomond
National Express buses travel through the National Park and have stops at Crianlarich and Tyndrum. It’ll cost you about £27.00 and most of the routes have one change.
Loch Lomond Tour Tip: You might consider a Jam-Packed Tour that includes Loch Lomond, the Trossachs, and Stirling Castle!
The Scottish Borders – Hadrian’s Wall and Rosslyn Chapel
Distance to Rosslyn Chapel from Edinburgh: 14 km (9 miles) driving
Distance to Brampton, England (for Hadrian’s Wall) from Edinburgh: 180 km (13 miles) driving
The Scottish Borders is an area to the south and the east of Edinburgh. The area is exactly like it sounds – it’s a geographical area that runs right up to the border with England. It’s an area rich with things to do and see from chapels to castles.
This day trip idea covers seeing Rosslyn Chapel (in Scotland) and working your way down to Hadrian’s Wall (in England).
Rosslyn Chapel is located in the village of Roslin, Scotland. It’s not that far outside of the Edinburgh city centre.
Originally called “Collegiate Chapel of St. Matthew”, this beautifully carved chapel built in 1446 gained popularity in recent years with The Da Vinci Code featuring the chapel as an integral part of the story. For more information about the chapel, check out the Rosslyn Chapel website.
Hadrian’s Wall is sure to please the history buffs in the group. The wall was built beginning in 122 AD. That’s old. It was originally set up as a defensive fortification for the Roman province of Britannia.
The wall stretches from sea to sea over 73 miles of interesting English terrain. Fittingly, the wall earns its name from the reign of the emperor at the time, Hadrian. To learn more about this historical wonder, check out the website for Hadrian’s Wall.
How to Get to Rosslyn Chapel from Edinburgh
Rosslyn Chapel isn’t far from Edinburgh – that’s why you should make it part of a larger Edinburgh day trip!
Driving to Rosslyn Chapel from Edinburgh
To drive to Rosslyn Chapel from Edinburgh, you take the A701. Follow signs to Newington or Liberton and then continue along the A701, towards Penicuik. The 14-kilometre (9 mile) drive will take about 30 minutes if traffic is light.
Train from Edinburgh to Rosslyn Chapel
You’d have to take the train and the bus – so honestly, we would recommend choosing another option that’s easier (e.g. bus only). However, if you want to go this route for the adventure, here’s how to do it.
From Edinburgh Waverley, you’ll take the train to Eskbank Station which will take about 18 minutes.
Then you’ll travel from Eskbank to Tweedbank which takes about 37 minutes. You’ll then hop on the Service 40 bus (which runs every 30 minutes) from the Tesco store that’s near the town of Roslin.
Sounds like fun? Get your train ticket to Tweedbank on the ScotRail website and it’ll set you back about £10.00 one way.
Bus from Edinburgh to Rosslyn Chapel
Since it’s so close to Edinburgh, you can opt to take public transit buses through Lothian Buses. Take Bus Number 37 and make sure it says “Penicuik/Deanburn” on the front.
The trip will take about 45-60 minutes and it’ll be cheap – only around £1.60 for adults. Remember to have exact change – but you can also tap!
How to Get to Hadrian’s Wall from Edinburgh
Since Hadrian’s wall is a wall that runs a great length, there are many ways to get down to it to explore it.
It kind of depends on where you want to start your adventure and which piece of the wall you want to see.
Tour Tip: Make this trip easy on yourself and Hop on a Tour to learn about the history of Rosslyn Chapel and Hadrian’s Wall.
Driving to Hadrian’s Wall from Edinburgh
To see some of the most interesting parts of the wall, you could head for Brampton, England – and then the small village of Banks.
Here, you’ll find different parts of the wall like Hare Hill, Banks East Turret, and Turret 49b – among others.
The drive is about 2.5 hours and you can take the A702 from the city centre of Edinburgh to the A74 through/around the Scottish Borders.
The A69 runs between Newcastle and Carlisle – basically parallel to the wall once you’re down there.
Train from Edinburgh to Hadrian’s Wall
The trip will take 3.5 hours from Edinburgh Waverley and you’ll have a few changes to get there. You can book on Transpennine Express heading for Carlisle.
The train ticket will cost you between £13.00 – and £30.00 one way, depending on how far in advance you book.
You’ll then have to hop on a bus (the 685 from Carlisle is just one example) and once on a bus, you’ll need to make a change in/near Brampton to end up at the wall. The bus portion will take about 30 minutes.
Bus from Edinburgh to Hadrian’s Wall
This is a different approach to the above route. If you can get to Newcastle, you can catch the AD122 bus route which runs along the wall. You can find out more information here.
Holy Island, Alnwick Castle, Northumberland
Distance to Alnwick Castle from Edinburgh: 141 km (87.5 miles) driving
While the border with England is quite a bit south of Edinburgh, there’s one area, in particular, that’s worth your time.
Located to the southeast of Edinburgh along the coastline just after you’ve crossed into England, you’ll find Northumberland National Park, Alnwick Castle, and Holy Island to the north of Alnwick.
Northumberland National Park is geographically England’s northernmost park that boasts “the cleanest rivers and cleanest air” – which makes sense given how rural and north it is from the other city centres!
There are plenty of trails and you’re also close enough to check out Hadrian’s Wall if you’re keen to see it on this itinerary.
As for Alnwick Castle, well, fans of Harry Potter or Downton Abbey – this is for you. The Castle itself was built in 1096 and has served as a royal home and seat to the Duke of Northumberland.
Perhaps most importantly for you, it’s one of the filming sites for movies and television shows like Harry Potter and Downton Abbey!
That’s why each year, Alnwick Castle receives almost a million visitors. You can check out more about Alnwick Castle here.
Continuing up the coastline, you’ll reach Holy Island. Technically referred to as the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, this castle is also a village that gets separated from the mainland twice daily because of the rising tides!
Visitors are welcomed but if you’re heading there by foot you must check with the crossing times or else there’s a chance you’ll be caught when the water is rising between the Island and the mainland.
There’s also a bus that runs between them if you’re not keen on walking.
You can learn all about the rich history as the castle was built back in the 6th century and remains to this day a place of pilgrimage. To learn more, check out the Northumberland website for Holy Island.
How to Get to Alnwick Castle and Holy Island from Edinburgh
You can get down to Alnwick Castle and along the coastline to Holy Island several ways – but the easiest would likely be with a car.
You’ll have a degree of freedom to move about the whole area that is just not as possible with other transit options.
A tour is also a genuinely good option for this day trip because then you’ll not miss anything and just get to sit back, relax, and enjoy!
Driving from Edinburgh to Alnwick Castle/Holy Island Area
Take the A1 from Edinburgh all the way there. You’ll end up driving about 141 kilometres (87.5 miles) along the coast which will offer you amazing views along the way.
The journey should take just under 2 hours and you’ll have the car to head up to Holy Island on your own.
Train from Edinburgh to Alnwick Castle/Holy Island
There are direct trains to the town of Alnwick (it’s Alnmouth Station) and then you’ll have to take the bus to the main town of Alnwick.
From there you can just walk to the Castle, or call for a taxi to the Castle from the train station.
Check out the ScotRail website for train times – the trip should take just over 2 hours and will cost about £6.00 one way in advance if you know the day and the train you’re taking.
This is the best course of action: book in advance. Otherwise, it can be upwards of £25.00 for a “single, anytime” ticket closer to the date of travel.
From Alnwick, it would be possible to work your way up the coast by bus or train to see Holy Island. Booking a bus would likely be on a Borders Bus.
Either way, you’ll make your way to Berwick-upon-Tweed and you’ll need to take the 477 to the Island.
Bus from Edinburgh to Alnwick Castle/Holy Island
Fares to Alnwick from Edinburgh will be about £18 one way depending on when you buy it with National Express and the trip is about 2 hours.
Again, from there it would be possible to work your way up the coast by bus or train to see Holy Island. See the instructions above from Berwick-upon-Tweed on the 477 route to the Island.
Distance to Aberdeen from Edinburgh: 194 km (120 miles) driving
Checking out another city is also a good idea for a day trip from Edinburgh. Perhaps you should plan a visit to Aberdeen?
The “Granite City”, as it’s known for its stunning grey stone architecture, is located in the northeast of Scotland right along the coast.
The city is built between the mouths of both the River Don and the River Dee as they reach the North Sea.
The Aberdeen shoreline is made up of long sandy beaches and the city enjoys a maritime climate – meaning the summer isn’t crazy hot and the winter is mild.
Discover Aberdeen the right way – on a City Walking and Food Tour!
There are lots of great things to see and do in Aberdeen. The area is rich with history – some of it is prehistoric. Villages that are over 8,000 years old have been found in the area.
There are many cathedrals, monuments, galleries, shops on Union Street, beaches, the famous Maritime Museum, Dunnottar Castle, and much more!
Check out the Visit Scotland website for more information about Aberdeen.
How to Get to Aberdeen from Edinburgh
Being one of the other larger centres in Scotland, the options to get to and from Aberdeen are numerous – by car, bus, or train.
Driving to Aberdeen from Edinburgh
Like with most places north of Edinburgh, take the M90 to the A90 and stay on that the entire way there for 2 hours and 45 minutes. The driving distance is about 194 kilometres (120 miles).
Alternatively, and even more scenic, the A93 splits from the A90 at Perth and takes closer to 4 hours but you’ll pass through Cairngorms National Park!
Train to Aberdeen from Edinburgh
This is probably the easiest way and the cheapest. From Edinburgh Waverley, it’s about a 2.5-hour train ride and prices for a one-way ticket start at around £20.00.
Lisa has done this train ride a couple of times and really enjoyed it.
Not bad to explore another great city and have an easy train ride up there. As usual, here’s that trusty ScotRail website.
Bus from Aberdeen from Edinburgh
The bus ride will take about 5 hours and if you’re taking National Express it’ll cost you about £60 and upward. Here’s the website for National Express.
Since that’s quite long for the purpose of a day trip, we would not recommend taking the bus unless you stay at least overnight.
Distance to Glasgow from Edinburgh: 75 km (46 miles)
Of course, we had to include Glasgow on a list of Edinburgh day trips because it is just so close and definitely a city worth visiting when you are in Scotland.
Glasgow has a little bit of everything – from numerous free galleries and museums like The Kelvingrove to the “best shopping outside of London” on Buchanan Street and Princes Square!
The modern buildings mix with the history of Glasgow – from Glasgow Cathedral to the Necropolis (a welcoming graveyard where people watch the sunset).
As a cultural hub, there’s never a dull moment. You can go out in Merchant City – the main district to grab food and drinks. There’s even a large music scene with dozens of weekly musical events in the evenings.
But don’t worry about missing out because you’re so close to Edinburgh that you can confidently stay later in Glasgow and still make it home to your base in Edinburgh!
To learn more about what makes Glasgow great, you can check out the Visit Scotland website.
How to Get to Glasgow from Edinburgh
There are many ways to get to Glasgow from Edinburgh: driving, by train, or even the bus. The two centres are well-connected so it should be pretty easy whichever method you choose.
Driving from Edinburgh to Glasgow
Take the M8 between the two centres. The drive is about 75 kilometres (46 miles) and should take around one hour (without traffic).
Caution: You’ll likely hit commuter traffic in the morning and the evening!
Train from Edinburgh to Glasgow
The train trip from Edinburgh to Glasgow takes about 50 minutes. You can leave from Edinburgh Waverley and head right into downtown Glasgow.
It’ll set you back around £12.90 for an “off-peak single” ticket and about £14.40 for an “anytime, single” ticket. You can get it here on the ScotRail website.
Bus from Edinburgh to Glasgow
It’s pretty cheap to get to Glasgow on the bus. You can take the Megabus at various different times throughout the day for around £3.75 if you book in advance.
The trip with Megabus can take as little as 1 hour and 7 minutes. With City Link, there are also lots of time throughout the day. Here’s that website again for City Link!
Renting a Car in Scotland
As you might have noticed above, we gave you different options for getting to each of the attractions or destinations.
The bus or train are often great options that we like because they save you the hassle of logistics and can be quite affordable.
However, a rental car allows for more freedom and can be a good choice if you are a group of people.
A car is also good for those who want to travel to off-the-beaten-path locations not easily reachable by public transportation.
That said, there are a few things to consider if you want to rent a car in Edinburgh.
Driving into the Highlands can be a new experience if you’ve never driven there before. The highways can be quite windy with sharp curves. Oftentimes, the road is very narrow and doesn’t allow for passing room or room on the shoulder.
Because of this, stopping to take photographs on the side of the road can be very dangerous. If you need to stop, find the nearest car park and walk (carefully) to what you are interested in seeing.
Driving Tips: Driving in the United Kingdom is done so on the left. Many cars have manual transmission. If you need to rent an automatic car, be sure to specify that on the rental before you agree and pay.
And there you have it – some of the best day trips from Edinburgh! These are just a few of the places you can discover in one day – there are so many small towns and other sights that we haven’t included.
As always, Happy Waddlin’!
If you need more Edinburgh information, check out the other parts of our Edinburgh guide below!
- Best Restaurants in Edinburgh – All Meals Covered
- Edinburgh’s Top Spots for Gorgeous Photos
- Bars and Pubs in Edinburgh
- Things to Do in Edinburgh: Free & Paid Activities
- Have One Day in Edinburgh? Here’s a Day Guide
- Finding a Place to Stay in Edinburgh – All Budgets
- Amazing Coffee Shops and Cafes in Edinburgh