As I have probably mentioned before, I used to live in Edinburgh for 3 years and during those years I explored a lot of Scotland. Here are my top day trips for anyone visiting Edinburgh whether you’re travelling by bus or with a car. These are easily visited within a day but you still get the feeling that you have seen more of Scotland than just the capital!
First, here are a few cities that are nearby and easily visited by frequent train or bus connections.
Looking for a contrast to Edinburgh’s prettiness? Head to Glasgow. These two cities could not be more different! A bit rough around the edges, Glasgow is a city with a completely different vibe from Edinburgh. It tends to be one of those ‘love it or hate it’-cities so it’s not for everyone. I’m personally not the biggest fan but if I was only visiting Scotland I’d add it to my list.
Are you a history buff? In that case, make sure to visit Stirling. It’s located about 65km from Edinburgh and you can easily go there by bus or train. Must see sights are the Stirling Castle (which many prefer over Edinburgh Castle) and the Wallace Monument. Frequent public transportation connections make it too easy not to visit.
Feeling fancy? Head to St Andrews for grand golf courses, sea side scenery, prestigious university…Or just to walk the streets of the city where Prince William and Kate met! A very picturesque city worth visiting, filled with cute coffee shops and restaurants.
Want to see a cute Scottish town? North Berwick is only half an hour train journey from the Scottish capital and it’s an adorably Scottish town. It used to be a popular holiday destination back in the 19th century because of its sandy beaches. Sunnier destinations have since taken all the crowds but the beaches remain – and like any place in Scotland it has plenty of stories to tell. A truly Scottish experience!
If you are looking for attractions to visit rather than cities, here are a few suggestions. Most people come to Scotland for its history, distilleries and castles – And trust me, there is plenty of those! These sites can be easily visited from Edinburgh in a day.
Doune Castle aka Monthy Python Castle
This medieval castle is located near Stirling. If it looks familiar, it’s because the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed here and more recently it was featured in Game of Thrones too. This castle is also one of the stops on the ‘free’ (tips only) Scottish Highlands tour of Hairy Coo.
Located within a 40 minute bus ride from Edinburgh, the Rosslyn Chapel is a beautiful building with architecture that is said to be among the finest in all of Scotland. Anyone who’s seen or read The Da Vinci Code will know this chapel and that the words ‘Freemasonry’, ‘Knights Templar’ and ‘the Holy Grail’ are often associated with Rosslyn Chapel. There has been some real life historic debate about the chapel’s connection to the above mentioned terms as well, so who knows? In my opinion it’s an intriguing place in either case.
Blair Castle & Blair Atholl Distillery
Most people come to Scotland for the history and whiskey, and there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, the country is full of castles and distilleries! If you want to experience both in one day, it can easily be done in Pitlochry (about 120km from Edinburgh) where Blair Castle and Blair Atholl distillery are located.