Edinburgh is an incredibly picturesque capital, but there's also a lot see and do just beyond the city line. Visit legendary lochs and crumbling castles, explore the buzzy city of Glasgow and breath the sea air at one of east Scotland's little fishing villages. Find out more with our guide to some of the best places for day trips near Edinburgh.


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Myth and Legend at Loch Ness

Thanks to the myth of the Loch Ness monster, this lake is world famous. Loch Ness is in the Scottish Highlands, north of Edinburgh, and surrounded by lush, rolling hills. And, fun fact, it has more freshwater than all the lakes of England and Wales combined.

Take a boat trip to see if you can spot Nessie or keep your eyes open for her as you stroll the shoreline. If she's showing herself, spend some time exploring the stories in the ruins of the 1,000-year-old Urquhart Castle.

Depart Edinburgh early to make the most of your time in the Highlands and beat rush-hour traffic. You can also catch the train to Inverness and then get a bus, hire a car or cycle to Loch Ness.

Travel Time

By car: three hours, 30 minutes

By train: three hours, 45 minutes to Inverness. Loch Ness is eight miles away, accessible by bus or bike.


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Step Back in Time at Stirling Castle

Stirling is the gateway to the Highlands, and it's only a short drive from Edinburgh. Stirling Castle is on a forested hill, lord of all it see - which is quite a lot. The medieval castle has seen off Viking attacks and was home to Scottish royalty.

There are lots of educational activities to keep kids entertained. Try the History Hunters Tours or grab the chance to meet the royal family's servants, who will tell you what life was like back in the Middle Ages.

Travel Time

By car: one hour

By train: 40 minutes

Tee Off in St Andrews

The home of golf, it was invented here in the 15th century, St Andrews attracts golfing fans from all over the world. The town has 10 courses, including the Old Course, which you must have a handicap to play.

If you don't fancy a full round of golf, make your way to one of the mini-golf courses, instead. The oldest university in Scotland is here, too, as well as beautiful medieval buildings and the West Sands Beach, which is perfect for a long seaside walk.

Travel Time

By car: one hour, 10 minutes

By train: one hour to Leuchars, then a 10-minute bus ride.


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Glasgow: Scotland's 'Second' City

Edinburgh tends to hog most of the attention, but edgier Glasgow is a must-visit city and only a short train journey away. In recent years, the city has become increasingly popular, thanks to its great shopping, pumping nightlife, history, distilleries and museums. Check out the Riverside Museum, designed by Zaha Hadid, which has a collection of vehicles, think horse-drawn carriages and old police cars.

Glasgow Science Centre is inside another eye-catching modern structure, while the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum opened in 1901 and is in a grand baroque-style manor. Notable booze attractions include Clydeside Distillery for whisky and Drygate Brewery for craft beer.

Travel Time

By car: one hour

By train: 45 minutes

By the Sea at North Berwick

North Berwick is a scenic seaside town easy to reach from Edinburgh, just a 25-minute train journey along the east coast. It is perfect for a sunny day at the beach, complete with fish and chips or an ice-cream. You can paddleboard, hop on a boat trip or visit the Scottish Seabird Centre or Bass Rock, home to the largest northern gannet colony in the world.

Travel Time

By car: 40 minutes

By train: 25 minutes

Roslin: The Holy Grail

Just seven miles south of Edinburgh, Roslin reached international attention when the protagonists in The Da Vinci Code visited Rosslyn Chapel in their quest to find the Holy Grail. The chapel is a late-Gothic church, rich in history and surrounded by legend.

The town is also - contrastingly - where Dolly the sheep was cloned in 1997. Roslin is full of traditional pubs and tea rooms to visit, plus there's the woodland Roslin Glen and the ruins of Roslin Castle.

Travel Time

By car: 20 minutes

By train: 45 minutes

Escape to St Abbs

The little fishing village of St Abbs is a peaceful coastal retreat with long empty beaches and craggy cliffs overlooking the sea. Take rambling walks along the heather-carpeted clifftops or pull on a wetsuit to surf some of the North Sea waves.

The village's name comes from Æbbe, a seventh-century princess of Northumbria who founded a nunnery here when she washed up on the shore after being shipwrecked.

Travel Time

By car: one hour

By train: 50 minutes to Berwick upon Tweed, then a 30-minute bus ride.