Edinburgh is an incredible city and a great place to base yourself when you visit Scotland. If you’re planning on staying there, but want to venture outside the city and explore more of the nearby country, check out these 20 amazing day trips from Edinburgh.
The Scottish capital city of Edinburgh is an unbelievably beautiful city and offers a snapshot of everything that travelers love about Scotland. Take the Royal Mile, the cobblestone heart of central Edinburgh, as an example. It has the dramatic Edinburgh Castle at one end and Holyrood Palace at the other, with churches, labyrinthine alleys, authentic pubs, and more in between.
Edinburgh is also a UNESCO City of Literature with a long history of famous authors, large city parks, and six hills. Not only can you see the city from several panoramic viewpoints but you can also appreciate the country’s famous natural landscapes right from Scotland’s capital.
But there are also so many amazing day trips from Edinburgh that will allow you to see much more of Scotland and other places in the British Isles. The Loch Ness Monster, the bustling metropolis of Glasgow, picturesque Glen Coe, and charming fishing villages are just a short car or train ride away.
This guide covers all of the best day trips from Edinburgh no matter your interests or travel style based on first-hand experiences with lots of insider tips. No matter which day trips you choose (because you should take more than one!), you’re bound to have an incredible time on your mini Scotland side trip.
If you’re looking for the best neighborhood to stay in, be sure to check out my guide on where to stay in Edinburgh.
Don’t have time to read a bunch of reviews & blog posts? Here are our top picks for visiting Scotland:
Get an Easy Scotland Itinerary
Our favorite hotels in Scotland
- Castle Hotel: Crossbasket Castle
- Edinburgh Hotel: Virgin Hotels Edinburgh
- Inverness Hotel: Kingsmills Hotel
- Isle of Skye Hotel: Skeabost House
Our favorite tours in Scotland
- Isle of Skye Tour
- Highlands Tour
- Harry Potter Tour in Edinburgh
- Edinburgh Food Tour
- Book a Photoshoot in Scotland use code WANDERLUST for $25 off
Renting a Car in Scotland
If you want to see authentic Scotland, I recommend you drive yourself. If you’re renting a car, there are two companies we prefer to use: Rental Cars and Expedia Cars. We have had no issues with them and have been able to find the best prices available.
Here's a Short Cut
- Don’t have time to read a bunch of reviews & blog posts? Here are our top picks for visiting Scotland:
- Getting Around on your Edinburgh Day Trips
- 1. Inverness and Loch Ness
- 2. Glasgow
- 3. Glen Coe and The Scottish Highlands
- 4. Rosslyn Chapel
- 5. Outlander Filming Sites
- 6. North Berwick
- 7. Stirling Castle and Falkirk
- 8. St. Andrews
- 9. St. Abbs and Berwick-Upon-Tweed
- 10. Hadrian’s Wall
- 11. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
- 12. Queensferry
- 13. Scottish Borders
- 14. Dundee
- 15. Cairngorms National Park
- 16. Doune Castle
- 17. The Fife Coast
- 18. Harry Potter Bridge and Steam Train
- 19. Alnwick Castle
- 20. Whisky Distillery Tours
- Tips for Public Transport in Scotland and Edinburgh
- Day Trips From Edinburgh FAQs
- Explore More of Scotland on Day Trips From Edinburgh
Getting Around on your Edinburgh Day Trips
You can choose to take the train, bus, tour, or rent a car on your day trips from Edinburgh. I’ll lay out each option for you.
1. Inverness and Loch Ness
Visiting Loch Ness, one of the largest lochs in Scotland, and searching for the mythical and illusive Loch Ness Monster is high on many people’s bucket lists. But if you look at a map, you’ll see that Loch Ness and Edinburgh are pretty far away.
They are, but visiting Loch Ness on the trail of the Loch Ness Monster is still doable and one of the most exciting and best day trips from Edinburgh. Especially if you take an Edinburgh to Inverness tour so you don’t tire yourself out with driving!
You can also visit the ruins of Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness and take a cruise on Loch Ness itself. If you have extra time, head into the city of Inverness (the unofficial capital of the Highlands that sits just north of Loch Ness) and visit Leaky’s Bookshop and Inverness Castle too.
Urquhart Castle is definitely one of the most picturesque castles in Scotland due to its position looming above Loch Ness. You’ll be able to compare Urquhart Castle to Edinburgh Castle when you return to the city.
Explore more in my guide to Inverness.
How To Take a Day Trip from Edinburgh to Inverness and Loch Ness
By Car: Head north on Motorway 9 (M9) and then the main A9 road which takes you all the way to Inverness. You can then drive south on the A82 and the smaller roads around Loch Ness. There are lots of places to park around Loch Ness.
By Train/Bus: Book a direct train on ScotRail or a Megabus service if you are on a budget from Edinburgh to Inverness. Hop on a local Inverness bus service (either N 17 or 917) to Lochend to reach Loch Ness.
By Tour: There are tons of Edinburgh day tours to Loch Ness via great tour companies like Rabbie’s Tours or Haggis Adventures. Take a guided tour that also includes Loch cruises on Loch Ness.
Distance from Edinburgh: 157 miles (approx 3.25 hours)
Taking a day trip to Glasgow from Edinburgh is perfect if you want to experience more city life in Scotland. Glasgow is only a few miles west of Scotland’s capital in Central Scotland (also known as the Central Belt) and it’s very easy to see most of what the city center has to offer on Edinburgh day trips.
Buchanan Street is Glasgow’s main high street and where you’ll find lots of great whisky bars, restaurants, and shops. George Square is close to Buchanan Street and is the home of lots of historic buildings like the Glasgow City Chambers and other beautiful Art Deco, Victorian, and Georgian buildings.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery is a must-visit in Glasgow for history buffs and a great place to take your kids. The Modern Art Gallery is also worth seeing, if only for the infamous orange traffic cone that sits on top of the Duke of Wellington statue outside which has become a symbol of the city. If Kelvingrove Art Gallery seems a little far out of the center, there’s an underground tube system you can use or you could just enjoy taking a long, leisurely stroll through Kelvingrove Park to get there.
How To Take a Day Trip from Edinburgh to Glasgow
By Car: Drive west along Motorway 8 (M8) from Edinburgh to Glasgow.
By Train/Bus: Hop on one of the many direct and fast ScotRail trains from Edinburgh to either Glasgow Central or Glasgow Queen Street station. They are both city center train stations. Or, take a CityLink bus or Megabus service if you are on a budget.
Distance from Edinburgh: 46 miles(approx 1 hour)
3. Glen Coe and The Scottish Highlands
Taking a day trip from Edinburgh to Highlands might seem a little far to go on a one-day tour, but if you cannot explore Scotland without including the Scottish Highlands on your itinerary! If you’re short on time, Scottish Highlands tours from Edinburgh are the perfect compromise.
There are many places to visit in the Scottish Highlands, but you should take a guided tour of Fort William. This is a mountain town at the base of Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in Scotland. During your journey to Fort William from Edinburgh, you’ll pass through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park as well as the dramatic Glen Coe which is the jewel in the crown of the Scottish Highlands.
Fort William has lots of small hikes (Cow Hill is a great one) if you don’t have enough time to tackle Ben Nevis. If you like craft beer, check out the Black Isle Brewery Bar here.
How To Take a Day Trip from Edinburgh to Glen Coe and the Scottish Highlands
By Car: Drive northwest along Motorway 9 (M9) until you get to Stirling. Then, take the A84 and the A85 through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park before taking the A82 to Glen Coe and beyond.
By Tour: There are lots of Edinburgh day tours to Glen Coe and surrounding areas. Just some of the tour operators that run these tours are Rabbie’s Tours and Highland Experience.
Distance from Edinburgh: 119 miles (approx 3 hours)
4. Rosslyn Chapel
Looking for Edinburgh day trips that are super close to the city? Visit Rosslyn Chapel, one of the most popular attractions in Midlothian. It’s a great wee (Scottish for little!) trip for Knights Templar history buffs and fans of The Da Vinci Code book and movie.
Yes, Rosslyn Chapel was an important filming location for The Da Vinci Code. But it’s not only its use as a filming location that attracts so many visitors.
Rosslyn Chapel is a 15th-century church that has links to the Knights Templar and also boasts skillful masonry with its ornate columns. There are plenty of secrets hidden within the designs of Rosslyn Chapel which you can find out more about on hourly tours.
When you visit Rosslyn Chapel you are not just seeing a nice church as it’s also located in a picturesque rural part of the county next to the quiet town of Roslin. Check out Roslin Glen Country Park for easy hikes. You can also book day tours from Edinburgh to Rosslyn Chapel if you’d prefer to take an organized trip.
How To Take a Day Trip from Edinburgh to Rosslyn Chapel
By Car: Drive south from Edinburgh along the A701 road to Roslin where directions to the chapel are well-signposted.
By Bus: Edinburgh’s local bus company, Lothian Buses, have a direct service (N 37) from South Bridge to Roslin that departs every 30 minutes. There are other services with connections but this is the easiest and quickest option.
Distance from Edinburgh: 7.5 miles (approx 20 minutes)
5. Outlander Filming Sites
Admit it, the spark that fed the flames of your desire to explore Scotland was from watching the hit TV Outlander, right? Don’t worry! You’re far from alone which is why there are so many tours from Edinburgh, Scotland to places that appeared as filming locations in the series.
Some of the historic villages and locations you can visit on a guided tour are the small village of Culross (Cranesmuir), the historic town of Falkland (1940s Inverness), and historic buildings like Blackness Castle (Fort William) and Linlithgow Palace (Wentworth Prison). Linlithgow is a Royal Palace where Mary, Queen of Scots was born so it’s a fantastic place to visit on a day tour for history buffs too.
Let’s not forget Midhope Castle either, the charming estate that stands in for Lallybroch!
How To Take Day Trips from Edinburgh to See Outlander Filming Locations
By Car: Drive to Midhope Castle, then Blackness Castle, then Linlithgow Palace, then Culross, then Falkland before driving across the Forth Road Bridge back to Edinburgh in a loop. If you want to visit Doune Castle too, you can drive there in between Linlithgow and Culross.
Visiting these places, without Doune Castle, is an approximate 113-mile trip which will take around 3 hours in total to drive.
By Tour: Considering the popularity of the show, lots of tour companies offer Outlander day tours from Edinburgh. Rabbie’s Tours, Timberbush Tours, and Haggis Adventures are just some of your options.
6. North Berwick
One of the best day trips from Edinburgh by train is to North Berwick, a charming town in East Lothian by the sea.
North Berwick is home to the Scottish Seabird Centre and Bass Rock which is an important breeding island off the coast with a lighthouse and castle. If you love animals and bird spotting then taking a boat trip out to this island is a can’t-miss. Be warned that the smell of the smell can be pretty overwhelming! Bass Rock is white for a reason.
Other popular attractions to see in North Berwick on a day tour include the ruined 14th-century Tantallon Castle, climbing The Law Hill with panoramic views across the coast, and strolling along Milsey Bay Beach. Bostock Bakery is a great place to visit in North Berwick for delicious, homemade pastries. You won’t regret ordering their banana nut muffin.
How To Take a Day Trip from Edinburgh to North Berwick
By Car: Drive south along the main A1 road towards England before turning left onto a local road to North Berwick.
By Train/Bus: ScotRail trains depart from Edinburgh to North Berwick around every 30 minutes. Or, you can take a local X5 bus service to North Berwick and buy tickets from the driver.
Distance from Edinburgh: 28 miles (approx 1 hour)
7. Stirling Castle and Falkirk
While Edinburgh Castle is one of the most popular and visited historical sites in the country, Stirling Castle is also an important monument in Scottish history. This 12th-century former palace has lots of links to William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, and the ongoing fight for Scottish independence.
The position of Stirling Castle between the Highlands and the Lowlands meant the Scots fought many of their most important battles here. You can also see across the city to the Wallace Monument from the top of Stirling Castle too. If you’re driving, you can easily tag on a trip to Wallace Monument from Stirling Castle which history buffs (and Braveheart fans) will enjoy visiting.
One of the most popular attractions in this area is Falkirk or, more specifically, The Kelpies which are just outside of the city. These are 100 ft/30 meter-tall steel mythical horses that are fun to visit to break up long Edinburgh day trips.
How To Take a Day Trip from Edinburgh to Stirling Castle and Falkirk
By Car: Head north along Motorway 90 (M90) and then Motorway 9 (M9) where you can easily turn off to explore Falkirk or The Kelpies near Falkirk. Continue along the M9 to Stirling and Stirling Castle.
By Train: The Kelpies at Falkirk are right off the motorway, so it’s better to travel by car if you want to see those. Falkirk and Stirling both have train stations on the same ScotRail train line from Edinburgh, so it’s easy to explore one or both on the same day.
Distance from Edinburgh: 40 miles (approx 1.25 hours)
8. St. Andrews
Famous for being the place where Prince William met his future wife and the birthplace of modern golf courses, St. Andrews is one of the most popular of all the Edinburgh day trips. It’s a beautiful town with lots of historic buildings, cute cafes, independent stores, and lots of other things to do.
One of the most popular attractions in St. Andrews is the Old Course, one of the oldest golf courses in the world if not the oldest. If you love playing golf then hire a set of clubs and practice your swing! Some other historical sites include St. Andrews Castle and St. Andrews Cathedral. St. Andrews Castle offers beautiful views across the sea.
How To Take a Day Trip from Edinburgh to St. Andrews
By Car: Head north along Motorway M90 (M90) across the Forth Road Bridge and then the A92 from Edinburgh to St. Andrews.
By Bus: There isn’t a train station in St. Andrews, so the easiest and most direct type of public transport to take from Edinburgh to St. Andrews is a bus. You can take the X59 direct service from Edinburgh and it’s surprisingly cheap.
If you’d really prefer to take the train, there are ScotRail and LNER services from Edinburgh to Leuchars where you can take the N 42, 97, or 99 services to St. Andrews.
Distance from Edinburgh: 53 miles (approx 1.5 hours)
9. St. Abbs and Berwick-Upon-Tweed
It’s very possible to take a day tour to England from Edinburgh, especially if you visit the coastal town of Berwick-Upon-Tweed. This town is so close to the border, it’s changed hands between the Scottish and English multiple times over the centuries. Don’t miss the historical attractions of the Old Bridge and Berwick Town Walls.
If you’re driving to Berwick-Upon-Tweed, take a short detour to the small village of St Abbs en route in East Lothian. Not only is it one of the most picturesque fishing villages in Scotland, but it also appeared as New Asgaard in the Marvel movies.
How To Take a Day Trip from Edinburgh to St Abbs and Berwick-Upon-Tweed
By Car: You can drive south along the A1 straight from Edinburgh to Berwick-Upon-Tweed. St Abbs is a short detour left down a narrow country road.
By Train/Bus: Visiting At Abbs as well as Berwick-Upon-Tweed via public transport on day trips is tricky but doable. Many fast train services (LNER, Transpennine, and Cross Country) pass through Berwick-Upon-Tweed between Edinburgh and London so there are plenty of direct services.
To also visit St Abbs, take the 253 bus service from Berwick-Upon-Tweed. This service only leaves once every two hours, however, so you might need to skip it if it doesn’t fit your itinerary.
Distance from Edinburgh: 56 miles (approx 1.25 hours)
10. Hadrian’s Wall
For history buffs, there’s nothing much more exciting than visiting Roman ruins. The Emporer Hadrian built an 84-mile, coast-to-coast wall in 122 AD to protect Britannia from the ‘savages’ in Caledonia. Though less than 10% of the wall still exists, you can still visit many historical attractions along the wall like forts and turrets.
When taking a day tour from Edinburgh to Hadrian’s Wall, some of the closest attractions include Chesters Roman Fort, Housesteads Roman Fort, and Sycamore Gap.
How To Take a Day Trip from Edinburgh to Hadrian’s Wall
By Car: Drive south from Edinburgh along the A68 main road before turning right onto the Military Road. Chester’s Roman Fort is the first fort on Hadrian’s Wall you’ll reach, then Housesteads, and then Sycamore Gap.
Though there are some public transport options to explore parts of Hadrian’s Wall on Edinburgh day trips, it would involve taking at least two trains and a bus. There are so many easier day tours from Edinburgh via public transport you can take instead.
Distance from Edinburgh: 100 miles (approx 2.5 hours)
11. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
There are two national parks in Scotland: Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and the Cairngorms National Park. The first national park is a little north of Glasgow, so it’s close and easy to take tours from Edinburgh to this park.
Loch Lomond is the largest loch in Scotland by surface area (Loch Ness is the largest by volume) and it’s surrounded by beautiful hills, mountain towns, and hikes. Thousands of people hike the West Highland Way trail from Milngavie to Fort William, which runs alongside Loch Lomond, every year.
While in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, you could hop on one of the many loch cruises that depart from Balloch. Or, hike up Conic Hill which will reward you with stunning views across Loch Lomond on a clear day.
How To Take a Day Trip from Edinburgh to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
By Car: Drive northwest from Edinburgh along Motorway 90 (M90), then the M9 before heading west along the main A811 road all the way to Balloch.
By Train: There aren’t any direct train services between Edinburgh and Balloch, but it’s still a straightforward journey as you can change trains at Glasgow Queen Street Station.
Distance from Edinburgh: 66 miles (approx 1.5 hours)
Arguably the quickest day tour you can take from Edinburgh is to Queensferry. North and South Queensferry are two former fishing villages that bookend the Forth Bridge across the Firth of Forth. This brick-red Victorian bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and absolutely magnificent to see in person.
Walk along the high street in South Queensferry and stop off at The Ferry Tap, a quaint traditional pub, or The Little Parlour for some delicious ice cream. Take a boat trip to appreciate the Forth Bridge from different angles and learn more about the construction.
How To Take a Day Trip from Edinburgh to Queensferry
By Car: Head north of Edinburgh along Queensferry Road, then the A90 main road, and then B924.
By Train/Bus: Lothian buses, Edinburgh’s city bus network, depart from Edinburgh to Queensferry every 40 minutes. Take the N 43 bus from St Andrew’s House bus stop near Calton Hill.
Distance from Edinburgh: 11 miles (approx 30 minutes)
13. Scottish Borders
Outside of the national parks, taking a day tour of the Scottish Borders will allow you to see more of rural Scotland outside of the Scottish Highlands. Some beautiful towns to visit in the Scottish Borders include Melrose, Dryburgh, and Jedburgh.
All three of these villages have centuries-old abbeys that will fascinate history buffs as well as traditional Scottish pubs and old-world cobblestone lanes. The famous Scottish author Sir Walter Scott loved the Scottish borders so much, there is a viewpoint named after him and he is buried in Dryburgh Abbey.
How To Take a Day Trip from Edinburgh to the Scottish Borders
By Car: Drive south along the A68 main road to Lauder before turning right onto the A6091 from Edinburgh to Melrose. Visit Sir Walter Scott View, then Dryburgh, and finally Jedburgh before following the A68 road back up north.
By Train/Bus: Take a ScotRail service to Galashiels which is a gateway town to the Scottish Borders. From there, you can take local Border buses to Melrose, Jedburgh, and Dryburgh.
Distance from Edinburgh: 37.5 miles (approx 1 hour)
Now, I’m partial to Dundee. This is where I lived with my grandma as a little girl. One of the most underrated cities in Scotland, Dundee is experiencing something of a revival after the demise of its shipbuilding industry. It’s a thriving university town with more things to do and places to visit than you might think.
The only Victoria & Albert Museum outside of London opened in Dundee in 2018 and is packed with local and national exhibits that will fascinate history buffs. Right next to the V&A Museum is the Discovery Point and RRS Discovery exhibit. This ship transported explorers, Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott, on an Antarctic expedition way back in 1901. It’s a great place to take your kids.
How To Take a Day Trip from Edinburgh to Dundee
By Car: Drive north along Motorway 90 (M90) before taking the A92 the rest of the way from Edinburgh to Dundee.
By Train: ScotRail train services depart from Edinburgh to Dundee every 30 minutes. If you’re traveling on a budget, you can take these Edinburgh day trips to Dundee via a Megabus service which departs every 90 minutes.
Distance from Edinburgh: 60 miles (approx 1.25 hours)
15. Cairngorms National Park
The Cairngorms National Park isn’t just Scotland’s largest national park, but it’s also the home of Balmoral Castle. This was formerly the Queen’s private residence (now the King’s!) and was rumored to be her favorite estate.
Although this is one of the few incredible historical buildings in Scotland you can’t visit, luckily there is plenty more to explore in Scotland’s largest national park. From the main town of Aviemore, you can take hikes or even go skiing during the winter months. Some of the most popular circular trails are Loch an Eilein and Carrbridge and Docharn.
If you’re lucky, you might spot some of Scotland’s rarest and most endangered species like the Scottish wildcat, red squirrel, or golden eagle. Failing that, you’ll see miles and miles of heather-laded hills in summer which should make up for the lack of sightings!
How To Take a Day Trip from Edinburgh to the Cairngorms National Park
By Car: Drive north along Motorway 90 (M90) towards Perth before taking the A9 main road the rest of the way to Aviemore from Edinburgh.
By Bus: There are no trains that will take you all the way from Edinburgh to Aviemore, but there are plenty of direct Megabus services.
Distance from Edinburgh: 128 miles (approx 3 hours)
16. Doune Castle
You’ve no doubt seen Doune Castle before without knowing it as this castle is one of the most prolific filming locations in Scotland. It’s appeared as a filming location in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the TV show Outlander, and even in the pilot episode of Game of Thrones.
Aside from its appearance on screen in Holy Grail and the others, Doune Castle is also one of the most important historic buildings in Scottish history. Built during the 14th century, this castle was a royal retreat and hunting lodge for tons of Scottish monarchs including Mary, Queen of Scots.
The village of Doune also has lots of great antique shops and isn’t far from Deanston Distillery where you can sample some great Scottish whisky.
How To Take a Day Trip from Edinburgh to Doune Castle
By Car: Drive north along Motorway 9 (M9) before turning left onto the B824 main road from Edinburgh to Doune. The castle is just outside of the town near the River Teith and is well signposted.
By Train/Bus: Hop on one of the main direct ScotRail services to Stirling from Edinburgh. Then, take the N 59 bus from the bus stop outside Stirling Station to Doune.
Distance from Edinburgh: 44 miles (approx 1 hour)
17. The Fife Coast
Just north of Edinburgh is the historic county of Fife which is known for its adorable fishing villages and first-rate seafood and fish and chip shops. Though it’s not on the coast, you should include the new city of Dunfermline in your Fife Coast day tour itinerary. It’s an up-and-coming town and also where you’ll find the ruins of a Royal Palace and the burial place of Robert the Bruce in Dunfermline Abbey.
Other places to visit include the coastal town of Burntisland and Anstruther. Burntisland has a beautiful old harbor and lighthouse, while the Anstruther Fish Bar is legendary amongst locals.
How To Take a Day Trip from Edinburgh to the Fife Coast
By Car: Drive north across the Forth Road Bridge along Motorway 90 (M90) to Dunfermline. Your GPS will want you to drive a different route, but take the scenic A921 main road along the coast to Burntisland and Anstruther. Stop at any of the historic villages or towns en route that looks pretty!
By Train/Bus: There are plenty of ScotRail train services to Dunfermline or Burntisland from Edinburgh. You can also reach Anstruther by taking the X60 service from Princes Street in Edinburgh to Leven Bus Station and taking the connecting service (N 95) to Anstruther.
Distance from Edinburgh: 50 miles (approx 1.5 hours)
18. Harry Potter Bridge and Steam Train
Are you a fan of the Harry Potter movies? Whilst you can take a guided tour around Edinburgh of several places that inspired the Harry Potter books, you’ll have to venture further afield to visit filming locations. Luckily, there are plenty of Harry Potter Scotland tours from Edinburgh that you can take.
Most tours include a visit to Fort William where you can hop on the Jacobite Steam Train over the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The steam train is a dead ringer for the Hogwarts Express and Glenfinnan Viaduct is the bridge that appeared in no less than three Harry Potter movies, most notably in Chamber of Secrets.
If you’re into Harry Potter, be sure to read my guide to Harry Potter London!
How To Take a Day Trip from Edinburgh to the Harry Potter Bridge
By Car: Drive north along Motorway 90 (M90) to Perth and then take the A9 main road along the border of the Cairngorms National Park. Then, head west on the A86 main road to Fort William from Edinburgh.
By Train/Bus: You can take the 900 Megabus service to Glasgow and change to the 916 CityLink service straight to Fort William. There are ScotRail train services to Fort William from Edinburgh that change at Glasgow Queen Street but these are far less frequent.
By Tour: Edinburgh day tours to the Harry Potter Bridge are, by far, the best option. You don’t have to worry about missing the train or booking any tickets yourself! Plus, it’s quite a long distance to cover and could be very tiring.
Haggis Adventures and Highland Explorer Tours from Edinburgh are both great options.
Distance from Edinburgh: 147 miles (approx 3.25 hours)
19. Alnwick Castle
Speaking of Harry Potter, how would you like to take a short trip across the English border and see a movie location?! Alnwick Castle is located in Northeast England and appeared as Hogwarts in Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets. If you’re also a fan of Downton Abbey, Alnwick Castle appears in the 2014 Christmas special.
While at Alnwick Castle, you can take Quidditch lessons (the muggle equivalent of Quidditch) and visit the poison garden in Alnwick Park. Alnwick is a charming town with a huge second-hand bookshop called Barter Books and lots of antique stores.
How To Take a Day Trip from Edinburgh to Alnwick Castle
By Car: Drive along the main A1 road from Edinburgh before turning right just before you hit the village on the B634 road. Easy peasy!
By Train: Take an LNER or Cross Country train service from Edinburgh to Alnmouth which is very close to Alnwick. Then, hop on an X18 bus from the Curly Lane bus stop to Alnwick Bus Station.
Distance from Edinburgh: 86.5 miles (approx 2 hours)
20. Whisky Distillery Tours
Scotland has so many world-class Scottish whisky distilleries. Plus, most of them are in rural locations outside of the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. The best way to visit a few different distilleries in one day is to take a whisky tour.
Some of the best distilleries near Edinburgh that you could include in your whiskey tour are Kingsbarns Distillery, Glenkinchie Distillery, Deanston Distillery (near Doune), Glenturret Distillery, Tullibardine Distillery, and Holyrood Distillery.
I don’t personally drink, but if you do, whisky is a quintessentially Scottish experience.
How To Take Day Trips from Edinburgh on Whisky Distillery Tours
Unless one person in your travel group is happy to be a designated driver, these types of Scotland day trips from Edinburgh are much better on a tour! Then everyone gets to sample as much whisky as they (responsibly) can.
Rabbie’s Tours and Absolute Escapes both run whisky tours from Edinburgh to distilleries like Deanston Distillery and Glengoyne Distillery.
Tips for Public Transport in Scotland and Edinburgh
Taking day trips from Edinburgh and getting around via public transport in Scotland is a lot easier if you have a contactless credit card. You buy local city bus tickets (for example, in the Scottish Borders or from Edinburgh to Roslin) from the driver as you board with a tap of your card. They often don’t give change so it’s much preferable to paying with cash.
You should buy train tickets and intercity bus tickets (for example, CityLink and Megabus services) in advance. There are lots of ticket machines at Edinburgh Waverley Station (Edinburgh’s main train station) and Edinburgh Buchanan Bus Station (Edinburgh’s main bus station).
Trainline is the best app for train travel in the UK. You can buy electronic tickets and follow your route via this app. Intercity bus tickets are available from the bus company’s website.
Day Trips From Edinburgh FAQs
Can you do a day trip from Edinburgh to Glasgow?
Absolutely! Glasgow is one of the best day trips from Edinburgh for several reasons.
First, Glasgow is super close to Edinburgh and is between a 30 to 40-minute train or car ride away. Second, it’s the antithesis of Edinburgh’s old world and medieval charm. Glasgow is much more cosmopolitan with more live music venues, bars, shopping, and entertainment options.
Can you do a day trip to the Isle of Skye from Edinburgh?
Unfortunately, taking a day trip from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye isn’t feasible. It’s a 227-mile/365 km drive which means it’s a 10-hour round trip.
However, if you have the time then there are plenty of amazing multi-day tours from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye. That will allow you to take more hikes like the Quiraing Circuit, and the Old Man of Storr, and visit distilleries like Talisker.
Explore More of Scotland on Day Trips From Edinburgh
Whether you’re seeking mythical creatures at Loch Ness, great cocktail bars in Glasgow, or history at Doune or Blackness Castle, this guide to day trips from the Scottish capital has you covered.
These are the best day trips from Edinburgh, Scotland no matter your interests, how close you want to stay to the city, or whether you want to drive or take a train. Your Scottish vacation will be all the richer for discovering what else this magical country has to offer beyond Edinburgh’s borders.