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Day trips from Edinburgh can be easily arranged so you can explore beyond the city. While there is ample to do in Edinburgh itself, getting outside the city can show you more of Scotland from different angles.
For some Edinburgh day trip ideas, I pulled together my favorite days out that we’ve done in the years we’ve lived here. There are probably plenty more to do, too! But, so far, these are my favorites.
Advice for Taking Day Trips from Edinburgh
I don’t recommend rushing around and trying to do long day trips back-to-back! Take your time, see what you want to see, but – more importantly – try to experience Scotland. That means talking to locals and slowing down to look around you.
I’ve been an American expat in Scotland for years, so I’ve seen the American-style whirlwind trip plenty of times!
It’s a good idea to base yourself in one place and enjoy day trips to avoid the check out/check in, carry your bags everywhere issue. And basing yourself in Edinburgh for several days is, frankly, always a good idea!
While you’re here, look up to spot unicorns in random places. Look down to watch your step as you ramble back down from Arthur’s Seat or through the narrow closes and wynds off the Royal Mile.
Edinburgh boasts plenty of character and intrigue. When you’re ready to explore further afield, you’ll find endlessly fascinating day trip options to meet any interest!
Local Tip: Edinburgh has many levels and lots of cobblestones, so be ready for stairs, hills, and uneven ground!
Looking for the perfect place to stay while in Edinburgh? Check out what’s available on booking.com:
My Favorite Easy Day Trips From Edinburgh
When you’re ready to leave the capital, hop on a train or a bus and take these easy day trips from Edinburgh to explore a little more of this beautiful country. If, for whatever reason, you don’t want to take public transportation for your day trips, there are countless fabulous small tour companies you could explore.
The following are suggestions based on my own day trips over the years, including trips by train, bus, and small group tour.
1. Easy Trip to South Queensferry From Edinburgh
South Queensferry is not technically part of Edinburgh, but it does feel like it!
Just outside the city, you’ll find this cute village along the Firth of Forth, which is the estuary separating Edinburgh from Fife.
Visit South Queensferry for an easy afternoon trip to a seaside town with character.
I recommend you pop into a restaurant or cafe, as well as taking a stroll along the main street to check out any cute little shops that draw your eye.
Walk through town to the Port Edgar Marina to scope out some boats and enjoy a variety of waterfront restaurants. You can even do some water-based activities…if you’re ready to brave the elements!
You can learn to sail, try paddleboarding, or just strike out on a boat tour of the Forth.
The Maid of the Forth is a popular tour that leaves from South Queensferry so you can get a beautiful view of the three bridges and even stop off at Incholm Island for a mosey.
In South Queensferry, I can recommend Orocco Pier or The Boat House for seafood. Head to Down the Hatch for brunch or Scott’s for views and fab fare; both are at Port Edgar Marina.
2. Day Trip to St Andrews via the Fife Coastal Route
I’ve written about this day trip from Edinburgh with Rabbie’s before, but I’ll say it again!
St Andrews and Fife is an easy day trip from Edinburgh where you can see pretty coastal and hillside views, explore the home of golf, and wander the ruins of St Andrews Cathedral.
Read next: A day trip to St Andrews and Fife with Rabbie’s tours.
St Andrews itself is lovely to wander, with its university focus as well as its tourist angle. They know how to retain an attractive town without getting kitschy!
The beaches are beautiful, especially due to the dunes and wildflowers – depending on the time of year.
While St Andrews isn’t directly accessible by train from Edinburgh, you have several options. You can take the Rabbie’s tour of St Andrews and Fife that I took.
This driving route will allow you to stop and see some of the Fife fishing villages along the way, which makes for a lovely day out!
Check out all of the Rabbie’s tour options right here.
Alternatively, you could take the train from Edinburgh through Fife, enjoying the views en route – especially as you cross the rail bridge between South and North Queensferry! The view above is the new road bridge, look to your right for the iconic rail bridge as you drive across toward Fife.
Love Fife? Check out this incredible travel guide for Fife by Gemma from Two Scots Abroad!
The shortest journey is to take a train to Leuchars station and then hop on a bus to St Andrews itself. It’s only about 12 minutes by bus so it’s very easy.
I, personally, think using public transportation is a fantastic way to feel more familiar with a place.
You’ll overhear locals chatting and get to see some more towns that aren’t as popular on the tourist track. And the trains in Scotland are just so easy to navigate and convenient to use.
Don’t forget to get your Two-Together Railcard if you’ll be making several train journeys in the UK with the same person!
3. Visit Glasgow on a Day Trip From Edinburgh
Glasgow and Edinburgh are separated by just a one-hour train journey, so you should definitely plan a day trip from Edinburgh!
If you love art and live music, Glasgow is your place for sure.
From fantastic street art to gorgeous museums and galleries, Glasgow offers visual delights for those who seek them.
It’s also a fantastic walk between those two that highlights much of Glasgow!
Dining in Glasgow is also top-notch. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Scotland’s largest city!
Looking for an awesome walking tour of Glasgow? Book with Kathi from Watch Me See – she’s passionate about her expat home!
4. Head to North Berwick From Edinburgh
Seaside North Berwick is a popular day trip from Edinburgh, but mostly for locals.
Hop on the train and enjoy the coastal track with pretty views en route. Upon arrival, plan to mosey about the town to stop into quaint shops and quirky cafes.
The beaches of North Berwick are very popular in good weather. If you want to learn more about Scotland’s wildlife, visit the Scottish Seabird Centre along the shore.
You can also take a boat out to the Isle of May to (hopefully) see some puffins!
Read next: Find out why I think expats are the best tourists and advocates for their new home countries.
5. Day Trips to Stirling From Edinburgh
Stirling boasts everything from a fantastic castle (many say it’s better than Edinburgh Castle), to a quaint town, to a lovely viewpoint at the Wallace Monument.
Whatever strikes your fancy, day trips from Edinburgh to Stirling are well worthwhile!
From the train station, walk up to the center of town where cobblestone and narrow streets lead uphill all the way to Stirling Castle.
You should go inside the castle for a tour, but if you opt out, at least walk up for lovely views and a glimpse from the outside.
Grab a bite to eat in town and then make your way to the Wallace Monument.
To celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2019, it’s been recently refurbished and offers plenty of historical context plus gorgeous views.
Survey the valley below and check out where the English were heartily defeated by Sir William Wallace at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297.
Stirling is easily reached from Edinburgh by train; it’s only about a 40-minute journey. If you’re driving instead, be sure to stop in Falkirk en route to Stirling. There, you’ll see the giant horse heads called The Kelpies.
This infamous Scottish tale seeks to warn children away from the edges of lochs in an effort to prevent drowning. The Kelpies were shapeshifting monsters who lured kids to them by posing as beautiful stallions.
The rest of the story is dark, but the Falkirk Kelpies, in contrast, are a beautiful sight!
6. Visit Pitlochry From Edinburgh
Pitlochry is one of my favorite areas of Scotland! This town was made popular in the Victorian era due, in large part, to Queen Victoria’s adoration of Scotland at large.
Pitlochry is ideal for a full weekend visit. Read all about my favorite things to do in Pitlochry!
Edradour is one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland and offers a fabulous tour to highlight its traditional practices and lovely whisky options. The distillery is lovely, historic, and boasts some very popular whiskies to try!
Also within Pitlochry itself, a walk along the River Tummel can be a great circular route that’s easily accessible from the train station.
Cross the river over the dam to check out the fish ladder and then cross back to the side of town via the hanging bridge.
You should also enjoy the local shopping – Heathergems is a personal favorite!
Just outside of town, stop at Queen’s View for an epic vantage point that will take your breath away. This will require a vehicle or a bus as it’s several miles outside of town. This is also why I think Pitlochry can be done in a day trip from Edinburgh, but there’s just so much to enjoy here that I’d spend at least two days!
Another point of interest just outside of Pitlochry is Blair Castle.
The estate is extensive and offers beautifully landscaped grounds to explore, as well as a well-maintained castle.
During the autumn, visit Pitlochry for The Enchanted Forest, an event I absolutely adored and hope you will all get to see someday!
Pitlochry is easily reached by train from Edinburgh; the ride is just under 2 hours, so it’s best to get an early start to maximize your day there! Or, as I suggested, take full advantage of this beautiful town and stay the night.
7. Day Out to the Borders From Edinburgh
The Borders is an area along the English/Scottish border, which isn’t a hard border at this time. Think of it like crossing a state border in the US – you hardly even notice it’s there.
On the Scottish side, the Borders area is filled with literary history, rolling pastures, beautiful castles and estates, and so much more.
We drove to Traquair House recently, which is Scotland’s oldest inhabited home. The Stuarts have lived in this house since the 1400s!
Bonus: Traquair House has its own brewery on site! There’s also a hedge maze and small farm, plus several artisan craft shops on the estate grounds. We were thoroughly impressed by the talent at Centaur Design!
If you don’t have a car, you can easily hop on the train in Edinburgh headed toward Tweedbank to enjoy lovely scenery en route.
Upon arrival, explore the old town and grab a bite to eat.
From there, you can take a bus or taxi to the home of Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford or to Melrose Abbey to pay your respects to Robert the Bruce. The Borders is also where you’ll find Scotland’s largest inhabited castle: Floors Castle.
The Borders are part of the Lowlands of Scotland, so don’t expect the dramatic Highlands scenery. Rather, enjoy the rolling agricultural fields along the way.
8. Group Day Tours From Edinburgh
Want to go farther afield? The best way to see and do more is Edinburgh day trips with Rabbie’s tours in Scotland.
You can depart from Edinburgh and see the highlands, tour distilleries, explore historic sites, and be entertained with stories and tales throughout the day!
These are the types of day tours you simply cannot do via public transport. Trains and buses in Scotland are fantastic, but you do need patience if you’re hopping from point to point. If you want to pack in as much as possible in a single day trip from Edinburgh, I recommend a tour.
Organizing your own travels from overseas can be daunting. Book a tour with Rabbie’s and they’ll take care of everything for you. As they say here: Sorted!
Rabbie’s offers plenty of options to choose from, so go ahead and take a look.
Some day tours are very long. You’ll pack in tons of sites in a day, which is excellent to maximize your time! But try not to plan back-to-back days like these…you’ll just be knackered (exhausted).
So, what do you think? Are you keen to try any (or all) of these day trips from Edinburgh? I’ll surely have more to add over the years as we continue to explore locally, so bookmark this and check back later!