Destination Deep-Dive 9 MINS READ

The 12 Most Incredible Day Trips From Edinburgh, Scotland

The 12 Most Incredible Day Trips From Edinburgh, Scotland

Destination Deep-Dive 9 MINS READ
Green landscape of Scotland, UK.

Edinburgh is a city that captures the hearts of its visitors with its rich history, stunning architecture, and breathtaking views. Nestled atop a series of hills overlooking the North Sea, the capital of Scotland is also famous for its big-name attractions, such as the medieval Old Town, the glorious Edinburgh castle, and the vibrant Royal Mile, filled with shops, cafes, and restaurants.

But what makes Edinburgh even more special is its proximity to some of the most beautiful places in Scotland.  

From exploring the breathtaking scenery of the Scottish Highlands to experiencing the vibrancy of Glasgow and uncovering magical historic castles, we’re taking you on a journey through the 12 day trips from Edinburgh.

The 12 Best Day Trips From Edinburgh, Scotland


The University of Glasgow, in Scotland.

Located just 42 miles (1-hour drive) from Edinburgh, Glasgow is one of the most exciting places to visit in Scotland. This port city located on River Clyde is a vibrant cultural hub famous for its architecture, culture, and historical heritage, meaning you’ll have plenty to see and do here.

Tried and true experiences in Scotland’s largest city include visiting the Riverside Museum, which harbors over 3,000 objects, focusing on historic vehicles, and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, home to  “The Christ of Saint John of the Cross” painting by Salvador Dalí.

Visit the Glasgow Botanic Gardens to see over 9000 plants, and go to Glasgow Cathedral to see the building’s world-famous stained glass windows.

Before your day trip, make sure to read our guide to the top things to do in Glasgow, which rounds up the top experiences and attractions in the city.

Find Places To Stay in Glasgow, Scotland

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

Trossachs National Park, in Scotland.

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is one of the best Edinburgh day trips for nature lovers. Centered on Loch Lomond (the largest inland body of water by surface area in the UK) and the glens and hills of the Trossachs, within a 1h30 drive from Scotland’s capital, the park encompasses over 700 square miles of breathtaking landscapes.

While exploring this national park through scenic hiking trails, you’ll see a spectacular medley of wooded hills, glens, forests, lochs, and towering mountains above 3,000ft.

These scenic environments are home to over 200 species of birds and animals like reed deer, wildcats, and golden eagles, making it a prime place for wildlife watching.

Outdoor enthusiasts visiting Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park can also go biking, camping, climbing, and kayaking.

Stirling Castle

Dramatic drone aerial view of the Stirling Castle during the sunset, Scottland.

Located in central Scotland, Stirling is an atmospheric city that, despite being the youngest in the country, encompasses incredible scenery and rich history.

Here, make sure to visit the emblematic Stirling Castle, a majestic royal residence where notable Scottish and British people, including Mary Queen of Scots and James VI and I, spent their childhood.

If you have some extra time up your sleeve, explore the city’s medieval Old Town, and visit the Church Of The Holy Rude, where infant King James VI was crowned. Art lovers will love seeing the Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum, home to a stunning collection of Scottish pottery.

Find Places To Stay in Stirling, Scotland

Fort William

Aerial View of Neptune's Staircase in Fort William, Scotland, UK.

Known as “the outdoor capital of the UK,” Fort William is the ultimate destination for adventure seekers. The town is located on the northeastern shore of Loch Linnhe and provides easy access to Ben Nevis, which offers the most amazing views of Scotland’s hypnotizing landscapes.

If you’re in the mood for a long walk, hit the Great Glen Way, a 77-mile trail that begins at the ruins of the Old Fort, Fort William, and runs Scotland’s longest glen, following the Caledonian Canal.

Fort William is also a great starting point for exploring the scenic Scottish Highlands. A bucket-list experience here is the Jacobite Train Ride, aka the Hogwarts Express. This 84-mile round trip, which starts in Fort William and ends at Mallaig, allows Harry Potter fans to see the magnificent Scottish locations made famous in the movies, such as the 21-arched Glenfinnan viaduct.

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle, Alnwick, England.

With a history spanning over 950 years, Alnwick is a top destination for history buffs. It was a Norman-style castle of motte and bailey until 1309, when it was purchased by the English knight  Henry Percy and converted into a mighty border fortress in the following years.

The Alnwick Castle has served as a military outpost, a teaching college, a refuge for evacuees, a film set, and a family home. In recent years, it has witnessed an extensive refurbishment program, and it’s now the second-largest inhabited castle in the UK.

Inside, you’ll stumble upon an eye-popping collection of 16th-century Old Master paintings, including works by Titian, Palma il Vecchio, Sebastiano del Piombo, and Canaletto, two Baroque cabinets made by Domenico Cucci for King Louis XIV’s palace of Versailles in 1683, and alluring ceramics made by European manufactures like Meissen, Sèvres, Paris, Chelsea, and Minton.

Address: Alnwick NE66 1NQ

Cairngorms National Park

Tourist walking down from Cairn Lick to Loch Lee, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland.

Cairngorms National Park is the largest national park in the United Kingdom. Located in the Scottish Highlands, this park has a rich landscape comprising towering mountains, heather moorlands and peatlands, emerald-green forests, and glittering rivers.

There are several ways for outdoor lovers to experience the natural beauty of the Cairngorms National Park. Throughout the park, adventure seekers will find lush walking trails, gorgeous lochside locations ideal for water sports, and even ski resorts and golf courses!

Address: Grantown on Spey PH26 3HG, Scotland

Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle, in Scotland, UK.

Nestled within the beautiful countryside of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the Balmoral Castle stands tall and proud as a symbol of Scottish baronial architecture. Since 1852, the castle has been the official residence of the British Royal Family in Scotland, and it remains a much-loved location. From April to July each year, the castle opens its doors to the public, allowing visitors to step inside and experience a piece of history firsthand.

Designed by Prince Albert and Aberdeen architect William Smith, Balmoral Castle was built in 1855 as a gift from Prince Albert to his wife, Queen Victoria. The castle features beautiful forestry, sprawling farmland, and formal gardens complete with a number of Victorian glasshouses brimming with potted plants. The Castle Ballroom, the castle’s largest room, is the only room open to the public during the tour. It’s worth noting that Balmoral Castle is classified as a category A listed building by Historic Environment Scotland, meaning it’s considered a building of national importance.

Balmoral Castle is a testament to the rich history and stunning architecture of Scotland. It’s no wonder that Queen Elizabeth used to spend her summer holidays here, as it was widely thought to be her favorite residence!

Address: Balmoral Estates, Ballater AB35 5TB, Scotland

Loch Ness & Inverness

Urquhart Castle, in Inverness, Scotland.

Gloriously located at the mouth of the River Ness, Inverness treats visitors to beautiful lush landscapes — from botanical gardens to golf courses and rolling hills—as well as age-old castles and historic buildings that document Scottish history.

One of Inverness’s top attractions is unarguably the mythical Loch Ness. This expansive freshwater loch is known for being home to the Loch Ness Monster, a legendary creature that has captured the imagination of people for decades. A scenic boat trip is a wonderful way to that experience the spectacular beauty of this lake and take in stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

Aside from enjoying loch cruises, visitors in Inverness can explore the well-preserved Old Town, visit the history-filled Inverness Castle, and go on a whisky tour in a century-old whisky distillery.

Balloch Castle Country Park

Balloch Castle Country Park, in Scotland, UK.

Balloch Castle Country Park is the perfect day trip for those seeking to escape the bustling streets of Edinburgh. Less than 3 hours from the Scottish capital (from Queen Street station, it’s a short train journey to Balloch), this idyllic park stretches over 200 acres and encompasses well-manicured lawns, gardens, and woodland. It also boasts an array of majestic trees, including some of the tallest in Scotland, which creates a stunning canopy of greenery for visitors to enjoy.

Additionally, the park is home to the stunning Balloch Castle, a 19th-century baronial mansion, which further adds to the park’s beauty.

Visitors to Balloch Castle Country Park can enjoy a variety of activities, including hiking, cycling, and fishing. The park has several walking trails, ranging from easy to moderate, that take adventure seekers through the stunning woodland, gardens, and along the banks of the River Leven. The park is also home to a play park and picnic area, making it an ideal spot for families to spend an afternoon.

Address: Loch Lomond, The Highlands, Drymen Rd, Balloch G83 8LX

Forth Bridge

Forth Bridge, in Scotland, UK.

The Forth Bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts visitors from all over the world. Located just outside of Edinburgh, this impressive structure is a must-see for anyone interested in engineering, architecture, or Scotland’s rich cultural history.

Spanning the Firth of Forth and connecting Edinburgh to Fife, this sculptural railway bridge was completed in 1890 and remained one of the most iconic structures in Scotland. The bridge is known for its distinctive red color and intricate lattice design, which was created to withstand the strong winds and currents of the Firth of Forth.

Visiting the Forth Bridge is a great way to experience Scotland’s industrial heritage and marvel at the ingenuity of Victorian-era engineers. The bridge is open to the public, and there are several ways to explore it. Visitors can take a guided tour, climb to the top of the bridge for a breathtaking view, or even take a boat tour underneath the bridge to appreciate its sheer size and scale.

Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel, in Scotland, UK.

Rosslyn Chapel is a magnificent example of medieval architecture and craftsmanship located in Scotland. This beautiful chapel is nestled in the picturesque Roslin Glen, just seven miles south of Edinburgh, making it a popular destination for tourists who are interested in Scotland’s rich cultural history.

The chapel was commissioned by Sir William St. Clair and built in the 15th century. It’s known for its intricate stonework, ornate carvings, and dreamy interiors featuring vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, and detailed carvings of angels, saints, and other religious figures.

One of the reasons Rosslyn Chapel became famous was because of Dan Brown’s novel, “The Da Vinci Code.” The chapel features prominently in the novel, and many visitors now come to see the chapel’s supposed connections to the Knights Templar, the Holy Grail, and other mysterious historical artifacts. Despite these fanciful claims, Rosslyn Chapel remains an incredible work of art and architecture that is well worth a visit.

A day tour from Edinburgh is a great way to visit Rosslyn Chapel. There are several tours that include other attractions in the Scottish Borders, including Melrose Abbey, Roslin Glen Country Park, and the ruins of Rosslyn Castle.

Address: Chapel Loan, Roslin EH25 9PU, Scotland


V&A Museum in Dundee, Scotland, UK.

Also known as Scotland’s sunniest city, Dundee is home to a number of world-class museums and galleries, including the V&A Dundee, Scotland’s first design museum, and the Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre, which showcases contemporary art from around the world.

Some of the top attractions in Dundee include the RRS Discovery, the ship that carried Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton to the Antarctic, and the McManus Art Gallery and Museum, which showcases Dundee’s rich cultural heritage. The city also has a thriving food and drink scene, with plenty of local restaurants and bars offering traditional Scottish fare and craft beer.

In addition to its cultural attractions, Dundee is also a great place to explore Scotland’s natural beauty. Visitors can take a stroll along the city’s waterfront, which offers stunning views of the River Tay and the surrounding hills. The nearby Angus Glens is also a popular destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.


What are the best Edinburgh day trips?

The best day trips from Edinburgh are:

  • Glasgow;
  • Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park;
  • Stirling Castle;
  • Fort William;
  • Alnwick Castle;
  • Cairngorms National Park;
  • Balmoral Castle;
  • Loch Ness & Inverness;
  • Balloch Castle Country Park;
  • Forth Bridge;
  • Rosslyn Chapel;
  • Dundee.

What should you not miss in Scotland?

The top places to visit in Scotland are:

  • Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park;
  • Edinburgh;
  • Cairngorms National Park;
  • Glasgow;
  • Inverness;
  • Loch Ness & Scottish Highlands;
  • Aberdeen;
  • Fort William;
  • New Lanark;
  • The Isle of Skye;
  • Stirling.

Which is the most beautiful part of Scotland?

The Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye are often considered the most beautiful places in Scotland.

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