Day Trips Guide: 10 Of The Coolest Places To Visit Near Edinburgh!
Table of Contents
Edinburgh’s clubs, bars, history, and Big Albert make it one of the top places to live in the UK.
Be that as it may, sometimes you just need a change of scenery, and luckily for those living and studying in Edinburgh – there’s so much to do!
From sipping on whiskey to spotting mythical creatures, here is a useful guide to the best and coolest day trips around Edinburgh.
All times are approximate and from Edinburgh Waverly train station.
1. North Berwick
A haven from the bustling city, North Berwick is our top day trip destination.
This small fishing town has everything you need; pastel cottages, cobbled streets, cool coffee shops (Steampunk Coffee), and mega beaches.
We could spend all day strolling down North Berwick’s shores but there is so much more to this seaside town.
For instance, The Scottish Seabird Centre operates a variety of seasonal bird-watching boat trips allowing you to experience the local wildlife.
If you’d prefer something different why not head down to the Firth of Forth estuary?
These mysterious volcanic islands have an otherworldly aura and are said to have inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
Feeling boujee? Sample delicious local seafood at the Lobster Shack.
Obvious why this seaside town tops our list right?
Train: from 24 mins
Car: from 34mins
2. St Andrews
Slightly further than North Berwick lies the historic and dramatic city of St Andrews – the home of golf, the University, and a world-famous castle.
Visiting the castle is a must and make sure you go down the coastal path to Castle Sands- a small, secluded beach ideal for a rare sunny day picnic.
You could also try your luck at meeting a Prince or Princess charming by grabbing a toastie at the North Point café, known to be where Prince William met Kate Middleton. Finally, end the day at Anstruther Fish Bar for some secret recipe Scottish haddock.
Not enough? More activities can be found here.
Not bad for a city with only three streets.
Train: from 1hr 35mins
Car: from 1hr 17 mins
Edinburgh’s edgy cousin is only a stone’s throw away from the capital.
In addition, it’s said to be the birthplace of the UK’s most treasured dish: Chicken Tikka Masala.
This classic curry was actually invented within the humble walls of Shish Mahal NOT India. Why not book a table and try this delicacy?
Round off your day trip with a walk up the Necropolis, a tomb-covered hill in the east, to watch the sunset over the city.
Train: from 47 mins
Car: from 1hr
Sitting on Edinburgh’s borders are the gorgeous Pentlands, just the thing if you’re feeling more ‘fresh air’ vibes.
For those with a keen sense of adventure, a circular 18km walk starting in Flotterstone takes in surrounding hills and the picturesque Glencorse Reservoir.
Our preferred day trip is the shorter 1.5km trail with a pit stop at the Flotterstone Inn. One of our cooler outings, but you’ll defo work up a sweat.
Bus: from 45mins
Car: from 14 mins
Ok, you might have to get up super early for this trip, but a visit to the world-famous Loch Ness is surely worth it right?
Upon arrival, you can explore the Loch and hopefully get a selfie with Nessie- the infamous sea monster that is said to inhabit the loch.
It really is jawdroppingly beautiful up there and the views will probably leave you (and your followers) speechless.
Remember though, this is the Scottish Highlands, so even in summer take some warm clothes.
Falkirk and Linlithgow Palace are both on the Edinburgh to Glasgow train line, less than half an hour away from Edinburgh.
In Falkirk, you’ll find The Kelpies; the world’s largest horse head sculpture standing at 98 feet.
These steel stallions are especially Instaworthy when lit up at night.
Historic Linlithgow Palace is also a must-see. The medieval royal residence was the birthplace of King James V and Mary Queen of Scots and if the sun is shining, you can take the path to the breathtaking Loch below the palace.
Tartan, castles, shortbread, haggis, Irn Bru, and whiskey; that’s basically Scotland right? (sorry Scots).
While a “How Haggis is made tour” might be too stomach curdling even for nonvegans, a charming lope around Glenkinchie distillery is a wonderful way to spend the day, especially as you can sample a wee dram.
Glenkinchie is only 1.5 hours away by car and 2 hours by train.
Dundee is a hidden gem approximately 1hr and 20 minutes away from your luxury accommodation and THE place for art and music lovers.
The freshly opened V&A Dundee (designed by Kengo Kuma) has a whole programme of exciting and interesting exhibitions.
The city truly comes alive at night with live music everywhere so get involved with the scene that brought the world brilliant bands such as The View and Snow Patrol.
You can’t get more Harry Potter than Edinburgh.
You can take the Jacobite Train and delve even deeper into the Potter universe, one of the best Edinburgh day trips for big fans!
Starting at Fort William and ending at Mallaig, this is THE Hogwarts Express. If that’s not enough, you can go full Potterhead by opting in for the “First Class Compartment Carriage HP Style” seats.
Fort William is about 3-4 hours drive away but there are many tour operators available and you can easily reach the sites using bus or train.
Brimming with history, Roslin is one of the shorter day trips from Edinburgh (40 minutes by car and 18 minutes by train).
It has something to pique everyone’s interest; from a 1303 Scottish Independence battle site to the Roslin Institute where Dolly the Sheep was cloned in 1996.
If you’re one for religious mystery and antiquity, you should join the Knights of the Round Table seeking the Holy Grail at Rosslyn Chapel.
Whilst we cannot assure you success in your quest, we can promise you magnificent stain-glass windows and intricate gothic architecture. After your adventures, follow the herd and enjoy afternoon tea at Dolly’s Tea Room.
With restrictions finally easing up, a (safe) mini-adventure with your mates is long overdue. Please remember to check Covid guidelines before planning.
And there you have it! Our top Edinburgh day trips just waiting for you to come and visit. There’s so much to see when living and studying here, all a short distance away from your luxury student accommodation.