Day trips from Edinburgh are a fantastic way to see more of Scotland when you are time poor. Whilst there are plenty of things to do in Edinburgh and the city has so much to see and do, once you’ve done it all, it’s nice to be able to see another side to our country. And with so many beautiful places within a stones throw from the city, a short day trip from Edinburgh couldn’t be easier.
The first of our short day trips from Edinburgh features the beautiful town of Linlithgow. Located only 20 miles outside of Edinburgh, it is easy to get to. Simply Jump on the train at Waverley Station, a 2 minute walk from Haystack Hostel, and 25 minutes later you will arrive.
There is so much to do here, from the Annet House museum to a brewery visit. But the highlight and main reason for going is Linlithgow Palace.
The palace was one of the main residences of the monarchs of Scotland in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was also birthplace to both James V and Mary Queen of Scots.
In 1424, the Palace, and much of the town of Linlithgow was destroyed by a great fire. King James I decided to rebuild the palace to be a home of Scottish royalty. Work continued on the castle throughout the reign of the next monarchs. Today it is largely a ruin, however, you can still walk around inside and get a sense of how grand it used to be. The views of the village from the castle are stunning and you can see why monarchs used to spend time here.
Tip: For the real adventurous, you can cycle along the union canal from Edinburgh to Falkirk!
Another town easily accessible from Waverly Station is North Berwick. This lies on the coast in East Lothian and is about 35 minutes on the train from Edinburgh. A great place to go to when you need a break away from the city. The train journey itself takes in some stunning coast line.
North Berwick is probably most famous for its Bass Rock, a volcanic rock island that is home to a large colony of gannets. The island is now uninhabited by humans however it hasn’t always been that way. An
important castle existed on the island, which was later used as a prison. Remains of the castle still exist however some of the stone was reused to build the lighthouse.
The Auld Kirk Green at the harbor has an interesting but dark history. Many people were accused of witchcraft at the site and were subsequently tortured into confessing before being burnt at the stake in Edinburgh.
North Berwick is also home to some nice restaurants to grab some lunch after all that walking. Try Zitos, for some Italian Food, or one of its many chip shops for some traditional fish and chips.
Cramond is one of our favorite off the beaten path locations around Edinburgh. It is also one of the most underrated short trips from Edinburgh you can take. Originally a Roman settlement, it is now a charming little village right at the mouth of the river Almond.
You can walk along the river out to the Forth Estuary, where Roman coins and even a stone lion were found. Then, providing the tide is out, you can take a walk out to Cramond Island.
You can then have a quiet pint of beer and a meal of fish and chips at the beautiful Cramond Inn pub.
WARNING: If walking to the island, please make sure you check the tide times and leave plenty of time to
get back before setting off!
45 minutes bus ride away from the city, Roslin is a village most well known for its chapel, Rosslyn Chapel. Featured in The Da Vinci Code, Rosslyn Chapel is a beautiful chapel dating back to 1446. Its architecture is considered to be among the finest in Scotland. They say it is home to the Holy Grail. The chapel is open daily and costs £9 to enter but is well worth it.
A few hundred metres away you will also find Rosslyn Castle which is partially in ruins. This castle was built in either the late 14th or in early 15th century.
To get there, the number 37 bus (from Princes Street Stop PJ) to Roslin.
Want to see some of the famous Scottish scenery but don’t have the time to go all the way up to the Highlands? Take a bus to the Pentland Hills for some breath-taking scenery.
A favourite haunt for the cities avid hikers, you can follow one of its many routes which will take in hills and a loch. You could also try a bit of skiing, with Hillend, a dry ski slope, being located here too. But the real draw for many is the opportunity to see Highland Cows which, depending on the time of year, can be found grazing the hills.
If you have a full day to spare and don’t mind travelling a little further, there our plenty of full day trips from Edinburgh to other parts of Scotland. You can travel from Edinburgh to places as far as Loch Ness, Dunkeld and even the Scottish Borders! These trips are slightly more expensive, however, you get all your travel included, an experienced guide and often times a packed lunch. You also get to meet other, like-minded travelers, so it’s a great experience and one we fully recommend. There are plenty of tour operators, however, the one we recommend is Haggis Adventures. They offer a wide range of tours all across Scotland and have very knowledgeable and friendly guides!
If you like the sound of any of these short trips from Edinburgh, or fancy something else a little different, let us know and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction! You can find out more on our tours page