Day Trips From Edinburgh
Join me for a personal day trip from Edinburgh. This tour is for people with transport or groups looking for a different day out from Edinburgh. I also arrange mini buses/coaches and drivers where required. Each day is special and will be arranged according to your wishes. I book lunches and any visitor attractions on your behalf.
Below is an outline of places you could explore in a day, depending on your preferences. A day is 9.00 to 17.00 / 18.00 – but can start earlier or later!
Around the Firth Of Forth: Modern Technology and old Castles
A day trip here can have you marvel at technological ingenuity and Artistry alike. Only a 45 minutes’ drive from the centre of Edinburgh, you find the only boat lift in a wheel worldwide; and the sculpture “The Kelpies” are just amazing. Appetite for some Mary Queen of Scots? Find it in Linlithgow Palace where the queen was born or visit a filming location for Outlander!
The Kingdom of Fife: Sea, Sand and Nature v Fishing Villages, Ancient Monuments and Golf
Do not miss Fife on the way up north. A day out from Edinburgh offers a huge variety of places to visit from charming fishing villages and beaches through ancient castles and monuments. For the golfer the ancient golf course in St Andrews is a must as is the oldest university of Scotland – whose famous students include Prince William and Kate – to name but a few.
Borders: Meet Abbots and Sir Walter Scott on the Road Less Travelled
For a great day out from Edinburgh, head south into the empty landscapes of the soft rolling hills of the Borders region. Along the way discover old and new – weaving looms, distilleries, castles and abbeys – in quaint villages. This long fought over land is full of folklore and history. Have yourself inspired like Sir Walter Scott.
Glasgow: The City of Contrasts
Glasgow is reinventing itself as a city of culture. It is leaving its industrial past behind and impresses with countless museums, a fantastic, child friendly science centre, and famous shopping streets. But there are also the oldest cathedral still complete, the 19th century City Chambers and many beautiful parks to meander. And for those staying longer – theatres, music venues, bars and restaurants galore!
Trossachs: Adventures in the Highlands & Miniature
You don’t have the time to make it up further north? Use a day tour from Edinburgh to visit the Trossachs and cross the line from the Lowland to the Highland. It is a wonderful day trip where you can see the landscape change in minutes. It is another place to be reminded of Sir Walter Scott. Find out why he is so important to this area. This is definitely one for people who love the landscape and the great outdoors.
East Lothian: Discover Seaside Towns, Castles and Walks
Take your shoes off and walk on one of the beautiful beaches or put boots on and walk along the lovely rocky coastline – explore the Museum of Flight or a castle. Discover lovely seaside towns or a bustling market town inland. What is the making of golf courses and farming here, what the old industries? Find the answers. Make it cultural or active! You choose how to spend a day trip from Edinburgh!
Firth Of Forth
Modern Technology and Old Castles
You may be forgiven if our Central Belt reminds you of industry and busy towns.
But here you can bathe in the contrasting moments of modern technology and historical villages.
Take the chance to see Linlithgow Palace sited beautifully above a swan lake where Mary Queen of Scots was born. Linlithgow is a charming Fairtrade town and a very popular place to live.
The Kelpies are now as famous as Eilean Donan Castle in advertising Scotland. you feel dwarfed by the world’s largest equine sculpture, standing100 ft (30m) tall. All plated steel. The sculptor, Andy Scott, was inspired by the importance of horses in the local industries of the past and Scottish myths alike.
Also in Falkirk, you can marvel at the ingenuity of the Falkirk Wheel. This unique Millennium boat lift is amazing. It lifts boats up 100 feet from the Forth-Clyde Canal to the Union Canal, using the electricity of only eight water kettles – and it looks very aesthetic too ! It replaces the 16 locks of the old days.
Crossing to the northern side of the Firth, there are more photo opportunities. You could include a visit to Dunfermline, the old capital of Scotland with the Abbey aptly used for filming “The Bruce”. The hero is buried here ( see walks near Edinburgh ) . Or choose Culross, a conservation village of Outlanders fame in three episodes ! Soak up the atmosphere of a village that seemingly stood still in time , in the 17 / 18 century. The merchant’s palace (Culross Palace) and it’s beautiful gardens or Culross Abbey further up the hill invite to stay – with no shortage in cafés and eateries.
- See the old castle where Mary Queen of Scot’s life began
- Admire the world’s only boat lift in shape of a wheel
- Take a photo of the photogenic sculpture of the Kelpies.
- Roam the streets of Culross – the place where Outlander was filmed
- Take in the sight of 16/17th century Culross Palace. The home of a merchant it also has a beautiful garden on a steep hill within the village.
- Hear the stories of the old times and today.
- If you have children in your party – there are some great options to entertain them along the way
The Kingdom of Fife
Sea, Sand and Nature v Fishing Villages, Ancient Monuments and Golf
Cross the Firth of Forth where the ancient Kingdom of Fife beckons with a mix of seaside walks, fishing villages, history and golf. Filming locations include Falkland Palace or St Andrews,
Visit the ruins of Lindores Abbey with its new distillery right next door or one of the wonderful picturesque villages of the Neuk of Fife – the east corner that sticks out into the Sea. Fife is full of choices. Some villages attract with particularly picturesque harbours and their active fishing boats. Pittenweem awaits with its Saint’s Cave while Crail seems to stand still in the 17/ 18th century. This village was a major trading stop in times bygone….
Are you interested in visiting Falkland and the Royal Falkland Palace? This was the hunting ground of the Stuart Dynasty and Mary Queen of Scots’ favourite palace. See where the queen played tennis 500 years ago (and people still do!)
More recently, the town of Falkland posed as Inverness in the Outlander series! This town also lends itself for a lovely walk and coffee stop.
St Andrews alone is worth a day trip with many things to do. The town offers beautiful beaches, the home of golf with its unique World of Golf museum and Scotland’s oldest university (C15). During medieval times St Andrews Cathedral was the centre of pilgrimage, only second to Compostela de Santiago. Admire the ruin of the Cathedral and St Rules Tower (C12) by the seaside and the remnants of the bishop’s Castle.
Stroll through the streets offering countless places for food and drink and excellent shopping for such a small town. Walk in Prince William and Kate’s footsteps. This is where the Royals met during their studies at the University of St Andrews.
Looking for something totally different? Go for a walk in Tentsmuir Forest and watch seals on the wide sandy beaches! – Too many choices for one day, really.
- Take a look at the beautiful views St Andrews has to offer
- Explore the intriguing lands of Falkland
- Experience a relaxing walk in Tentsmuir Forest – see the seals
- The villages of the East Neuk of Fife (Crail, Pittenweem, St Monans)
- Castles, distilleries
- Hear stories from now and then
The Borders Country
Meet Abbots and Sir Walter Scott on the Road Less Travelled
When everybody else heads up north to the Highlands – set off south into the rolling hills of the Southern Uplands!
Once the scene of many battles and raiding, this is now a very peaceful and sparsely populated land. It was the part of the country that suffered most from invasions up and down the country – and has the ruins of four ancient abbeys to show for. They were built to impress the king in the south and help secure the border to England !
You can choose from Jedburgh Abbey, Melrose Abbey, Dryburgh Abbey or Kelso Abbey. Each one of them has its own character and may be combined with other highlights and visits to beautiful villages on the way.
Be impressed by these imposing ruins that give you a feel for a very different way of life or head for a grand mansion, like Floors Castle or Traquair House – not to mention Rosslyn Chapel.
Fans of Dan Brown’s “da Vinci Code” book and film have helped pay for the new visitor centre and secure the Chapel’s future. The Chapel itself is truly memorable! You can combine this with a short walk to Roslin Castle … !
How about a Sir Walter Scott themed tour? Here, he built his home Abbotsford House not far from Melrose Abbey. Visit Jedburgh where Sir Walter Scott worked and Mary Queen of Scots stayed, admire the Abbey too. Discover some wonderful independent shops. As a child, he stayed with his grandfather near Smailholm Tower listening to the old Borders Ballads. Enjoy the amazing views at Scott’s View – it is one of the finest views of the Eildon Hills and Dryburgh Abbey.
Make the most of a day out in the home of Rugby Sevens and the Armstrong clan! Visit the working weaving mill where Princess Diane’s tartan is woven.
Brand new Visitor Centre – opened 26 August 2022 –
The Great Tapestry of Scotland. The new visitor centre has been built to house this new exhibition of 32 tapestries of the history of Scotland, woven by the people of Scotland. Alexander McCall-Smith was instrumental in this venture.
McCall Smith is an Edinburgh author, best known for his crime novels Mma Ramotswe, set in Botswana and novels set in Edinburgh, like 44 Scotland Street.
- A visit to a Borders Abbey
- Scott’s View and a walk to the Wallace monument
- Picturesque villages with lovey independent shops – food and drink, arts & crafts
- A visit to Rosslyn Chapel, a mansion or a castle
- A walk in a country park
- Hear the stories of the Borders Reivers and the local festivals of today!
Adventures in the Highlands in Miniature.
A day trip to the Trossachs gives you the chance to experience the spectacular change in landscape as you move from the Lowlands into the Highlands within minutes. See lochs, hills, woodlands of the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park in the midst of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park with romantic Loch Katrine at its centre. Sir Walter Scott made it famous in his ballad “The Lady of the Lake”. Hear about the real life of “Rob Roy” McGregor, hero of film and novel, who called this area home…
Why not get some action in?
Follow Rob Roy and be a brave hero – Go Ape . This adventure in the trees is exciting fun for the young and those young at heart. Meanwhile others may want to relax with a forest walk. We are in Forest territory, after all!
Hop on a steam boat to enjoy a fun trip on Loch Katrine – the fleet aptly named “Sir Walter Scott”, “Lady of the Lake” or “Rob Roy III” The round trip lasts around an hour.
Along the way we meet the Reverend Kirk. This remarkable man of the church researched the world of the “wee folk” in the woods around Aberfoyle. He wrote a book about them: “The Secret Lives of Elves and Faeries”.
In any case, the Duke’s pass may be the road for you with its wonderful views – to Loch Drunkie amongst other lovely lakes and hills.
Stop off at C14 Doune Castle. This castle served as film location for “Ivanhoe”, “The Bruce” and “Monty Python”. Outlander fans know it as Castle Leoch.
We pass Stirling Castle on our way – visible from afar on its rock.
As important as Edinburgh Castle, it is well worth a visit – I suggest to combine it with a different day trip.
- A visit to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
- Experience the Highlands in Miniature
- See lochs, forest, moorland and Highland cattle
- Go for a walk / go Ape / Go on a boat trip on Loch Katrine
- Get that Outlander feel at Doune Castle
- Hear Stories from past and present to bring the land alive
The City of Contrasts
It needs more than a day trip to really discover Glasgow. But it is a good start to get an insight to this cosmopolitan City that keeps reinventing itself. And it is the “People that Make Glasgow”, something that has stood the test of time.
This city is home to Charles Rennie MacIntosh – the big Art Nouveau architect and artist. Go on his trail and find schools, tearooms and lighthouses designed by him.
Check out the variety of museums and art galleries in Glasgow here – all for free! A joy for old and young, have a closer look at the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery. The Kelvingrove is a stunning building with an eclectic mix of exhibitions from a Salvador Dalí painting to the Spitfire plane hanging from the ceiling. Enjoy a walk in Kelvingrove Park.
The new Riverside Museum houses the transport collection where you can meander an old cobbled Glasgow street with shops or visit the Tall Ship, Glenlee. It is the UK’s only floating Clyde-built sailing ship. All very child friendly and interactive.
See the new Glasgow at the Clyde, the river that made Glasgow. Once a trademark of excellent ship building and heavy industry, it is now a cultural centre with new industries emerging. Here you find Call Centres, TV and filming studios, Museum and Conference and Event Centres for up to 13.000 people.
Glasgow is a popular shopping weekend destination and equally loved by culture vultures. Shop till you drop or enjoy food and drink, Glasgow has shops from artisan to modern indoor shopping centres and bars, restaurants and pubs for all tastes and purses. Stroll down hidden Ashton Lane, attracting all with a love for a flavour of the unusual, be it food, drink or shops.
Have some fun and learn ! Do your own experiments to learn about all the sciences (entry fee applies) at the Science Centre.
Delve into the past and see the C19 new build of Glasgow University, founded C15 or visit the impressive St Mungo’s Cathedral.
If you prefer the great outdoors, there are 70 parks to recharge your batteries or get rid of some excessive energy…!
Discover Seaside Towns, Castles and Walks
East Lothian with its dry climate and fertile land is the breadbasket for the Central Belt. Hard to believe that the Firth of Forth was once famous for its oyster beds!
Nowadays it sports a variety of pastimes from walking and golf to horse riding beside the typical seaside activities. Get close to seabirds either by getting out to the islands or by visiting the Sottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick with its interactive exhibitions and telescope to get a close look.
Maybe you should like to see some of the sea mammals that inhabit the Firth of Forth – take a special boat trip to get the experience of a lifetime.
Leaving nature and sea aside – some very attractive towns and villages are awaiting to be discovered. Get on a plane at the Museum of flight or learn about milling at 17th century Prestonpans mill. Also of interest might be the old coal mine at Prestonpans. The coal was used to pan salt – an industry that was revived this year.
Linger in North Berwick for golden beach, rock pooling, or a brisk hike on to North Berwick Law. Beautiful shops, restaurants and pubs are awaiting. Edinburgh’s most popular “suburb”.
There is a lot you could do in a day – and that is before we have started looking at Castles and stately homes or even the first parish where our reformer John Knox preached, in the attractive market town Haddington.
North Berwick with its Scottish Seabird Centre and a charming seaside resort, popular with tourists since the 19th century when Robert Louis Stevenson stayed here
Dirleton Castle – great not only for interested adults but also for adventurous children
Walks on golden beaches and rocky coastline
Museum of Flight
Get In Touch!
Interested in taking a tour? Get in touch today using the contact form below and select which tour location(s) you’d like to do. I’ll be in touch as soon as possible!
Find out more about other tour options I have available below!
Walking Tours in Edinburgh
The only way to really get to know Edinburgh and its people is a guided walk tour in a small group. Get in touch if you are interested in a private tour or check out the set tour suggestions.
Walking Tours Near Edinburgh
You need not travel far to feel totally removed from the big city – Dunfermline and South Queensferry are only a bus ride away from the centre of town. Combine a walk tour in a small group with time to
yourselves and make it a day trip. Find out more about the attraction of both to all ages by clicking below.
Day Trips From Edinburgh
There are some great day trips from Edinburgh in all directions. I have selected five suggestions for you to contemplate. They each contain more than can be done in a day – so select your favourite bits, add a distillery if you wish. I will adapt to your ideas and make it a great day out for all.
Private Tours Of Scotland
Planning for a tour of Scotland? This is my favourite page. It shows you a snapshot of places I have guided in the past. Including a few things to do in Scotland. Be inspired !
With Covid still around us, I follow the guidelines for walking tours of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association. You find the link to the guidelines here