Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities. Between the beautiful streets, hilltop castle, and secret villages, I could spend a lifetime exploring. But there are lots of nearby places that are worth a visit, too. If I can tear myself away, I like getting out into the towns and countryside around the Scottish capital. If you’re the same, today I want to share 11 day trips from Edinburgh with you.
Day Trips from Edinburgh
I’ve traveled to all these destinations over the years, and each one has something special to offer. From stunning castles to seaside charm, there’s a trip to fit my every mood.
1. North Berwick
One of my favorite day trips from Edinburgh is North Berwick. This colorful town sits on the Firth of Forth and is an easy train ride from the city. With sandy beaches, pastel houses, and sweeping views of the Bass Rock in the distance, it’s easy to fall in love with this place.
Just down the coast from North Berwick, Dunbar is an under-the-radar coastal gem. It’s also the birthplace of John Muir, who played a major role in the establishment of America’s national parks. It’s easy to see where his love of nature came from, as the seaside landscapes and walking paths are both dramatic and inspiring. And that’s to say nothing of the colorful homes and castle around the harbor.
3. St Andrews
Just north of Edinburgh, St Andrews is one of the most famous places to visit in Scotland. While many know it for golf, there’s a lot more to do than play 18 holes. The ruins of St Andrews Cathedral and nearby castle are beautiful, as is the university. The town itself has great shops and cafes, and there’s even a beach for when the sun comes out.
4. Kellie Castle and Falkland
Near St Andrews lie Kellie Castle and Falkland, which can be combined into a day trip from Edinburgh. Kellie Castle is everything I’ve ever wanted from a Scottish fortress, with the added bonus of Arts & Crafts Movement interiors by Sir Robert Lorimer and a spectacular walled garden.
Nearby Falkland is another of Fife’s highlights. This village has everything from turrets to palaces, and has been used as a filming location for Outlander. Steeped in history, the streets are lovely to walk down and Falkland Palace is worth touring for its expansive grounds and historic interiors.
Dundee often gets overlooked, but this year is a particularly good one for a day trip since the new V&A Dundee museum will open in September. Housed in a contemporary building on the waterfront, it promises to showcase the best of Scottish design. Nearby, I love seeing the Dundee-built RRS Discovery, the ship responsible for conveying Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton on their first expedition to Antarctica.
One of my earliest memories of Scotland is a trip to Stirling Castle when I was five. I fell in love with the fortress back then, and have discovered a lot more to do around the area since. One highlight is The National Wallace Monument, which pays tribute to 13th-century Scottish hero William Wallace (of Braveheart fame). If there’s time after visiting Stirling, I like stopping to see The Kelpies in Falkirk. These eye-catching artworks are the largest equine sculptures in the world.
My Glaswegian grandmother once told me that the best thing about Edinburgh is the train to Glasgow. She might have been a wee bit biased, but she wasn’t wrong in believing Glasgow has a lot going for it. Given how close it is to Edinburgh, it’s easy to hop on a train for a day trip (and even easier to be tempted to stay longer). With amazing architecture, loads of hip shops and restaurants, world-class museums, and a beautiful university, there’s a lot to see and do in Glasgow.
In the other direction, England’s Berwick-upon-Tweed is only a 45-minute train ride from Edinburgh and well worth a visit. Another underrated seaside town, Berwick is home to stunning bridges, fortified walls, and charming streets. I spend a lot of time here when I visit the Scottish Borders, and always find something new to love about the town when I go.
9. Rosslyn Chapel
Da Vinci Code fans will remember Rosslyn Chapel from Dan Brown’s best-selling novel. But the chapel isn’t just part of a fictional narrative; it’s a landmark in its own right. The symbolism in the carvings and artwork rivals the mysteries Brown came up with in his story, and the exterior of the building is as attractive as the interior is intriguing.
10. Abbotsford House
A direct train line from Edinburgh to Tweedbank means the Scottish Borders are easy to visit on day trips from Edinburgh. My favorite place in the area is Abbotsford House. The home of Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott, the house and its adjacent gardens are straight out of a fairy tale. Just wait ’till you see the library.
11. Melrose Abbey
Not far from Abbotsford House, Melrose Abbey is another highlight of the Scottish Borders (and can be combined with Abbotsford on a day trip). The ruins of this Cistercian monastery are hauntingly beautiful, and it’s rumored that the heart of Robert the Bruce, one of the most famous Scottish kings, is buried here. The pretty town of Melrose is worth visiting in its own right, too.
I hope these day trips from Edinburgh have given you inspiration for your time in Edinburgh. They’ve certainly inspired me, and I can’t wait to explore more of the areas around the city. If I can persuade myself to leave, that is.
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