Edinburgh Day Trips: Uncovering Scotland’s Beauty

Edinburgh Day Trips: Uncovering Scotland's Beauty

Updated On: May 26, 2024 by   Panseih GharibPanseih Gharib

Do you dream of escaping Edinburgh’s bustling streets for a day of discovery? But with countless Edinburgh day trips vying for your attention, feeling overwhelmed is perfectly natural! Scotland boasts a treasure trove of historic sites, breathtaking landscapes, and one-of-a-kind experiences. Choosing just one can be a daunting task.

Fear not, adventurous traveller! This meticulously researched guide, informed by firsthand exploration, will be your key to unlocking the secrets of Edinburgh day trips. We’ll delve into both the popular tours that grace every travel brochure and the hidden gems waiting to be unearthed by the curious explorer.

So, are you ready to answer the call of adventure? Prepare to be swept away by the magic of day trips from Edinburgh. Let’s embark on a journey through the captivating landscapes and rich history that lie just beyond the city walls!

Top Edinburgh Day Trips

Edinburgh, Scotland’s historic capital, is a captivating city brimming with iconic landmarks, from the imposing Edinburgh Castle to the charming Royal Mile. But beyond the city walls lies a treasure trove of destinations waiting to be explored on day trips. Whether you crave dramatic landscapes, historical intrigue, or charming towns, there’s a perfect day trip from Edinburgh to suit every interest.

Here’s a glimpse into some of the top picks:

The Scottish Highlands

Immerse yourself in the untamed beauty of the Scottish Highlands, a region renowned for its rugged mountains, glistening lochs (lakes), and rich history. Explore the iconic Glencoe Valley, a dramatic landscape carved by glaciers, or take a boat trip on Loch Ness, home to the legendary monster. Don’t miss a visit to charming villages like Fort William, nestled amidst the mountains, or Pitlochry, a delightful town known for its scenic setting and traditional architecture.

Loch Lomond & Stirling Castle

Combine a visit to Scotland’s largest loch (lake), Loch Lomond, with a fascinating journey through history at Stirling Castle. Take a scenic cruise on Loch Lomond, admiring the lush green hills and dramatic peaks that fringe its shores. Then, step back in time to Stirling Castle, a magnificent fortress that played a pivotal role in Scotland’s War of Independence.

St Andrews & the Fishing Villages of Fife Small-Group Day Tour

I highly recommend the St Andrews & the Fishing Villages of Fife Small-Group Day Tour for those looking to explore Scotland’s rich history and charming coastal towns. This day tour takes you through the picturesque fishing villages of Anstruther and Pittenweem, where you can admire colourful harbours and enjoy delicious seafood.

You’ll also have the opportunity to visit the famous St Andrews, known for its historic university and stunning medieval ruins. As you stroll along the beautiful beaches, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

The Kelpies & Falkirk Wheel

Join an Edinburgh day trip to Witness the awe-inspiring sight of The Kelpies, two 30-meter-high horse head sculptures that have become an iconic landmark of central Scotland. Then, take a trip on the Falkirk Wheel, a remarkable feat of engineering that allows boats to be lifted between two canals.

Rosslyn Chapel & Scottish Borders

Unveil the mysteries of Rosslyn Chapel, a 15th-century church famed for its intricate stone carvings and associations with the Knights Templar. Afterwards, delve into the history of the Scottish Borders, a region steeped in tales of battles and rebellions. Explore grand abbeys, charming towns, and imposing castles, all set against a backdrop of rolling hills.

Outlander Explorer Day Tour

Edinburgh Day Trips: Uncovering Scotland's Beauty

The Outlander Explorer Tour is a must for fans of the popular TV series and history buffs alike. On this tour, you can step back in time and visit the real-life locations used in the show.

You’ll be transported to historic castles, like Doune Castle, where many scenes were filmed. And you’ll also get to explore the charming village of Culross, which served as the fictional town of Cranesmuir.

But this tour is not just about reenacting scenes from the show—it also provides fascinating insights into Scottish history. Your knowledgeable guide will share stories about Jacobite rebellions and life in 18th-century Scotland. Plus, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take stunning photos of Scotland’s breathtaking landscapes.

Edinburgh Tattoo Tour

The Edinburgh Tattoo Tour is a must-see for anyone visiting the city. It is an incredible display of military pomp, music, and dance that takes place every year on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.

This iconic event showcases the talent and precision of military bands, bagpipers, and performers from all over the world. The grandeur of the setting, combined with the impressive performances, creates a truly unforgettable experience.

Taste of Scotland Day Tour

The Taste of Scotland Tour is perfect for foodies and those who want to experience the flavours of Scottish cuisine. On this tour, you’ll have the opportunity to taste traditional dishes like haggis, a savoury meat dish.

You’ll also visit local farmers’ markets, where you can sample fresh produce and artisanal cheeses. Your guide will share interesting facts about Scotland’s culinary history and traditions along the way. This tour not only allows you to indulge in delicious food but also gives you insights into the cultural significance of Scottish cuisine.

Planning Your Edinburgh Day Trip

So you’ve chosen Edinburgh for your adventure, but the options for day tours seem endless! Don’t worry; this guide will help you navigate the exciting possibilities and plan a truly unforgettable experience.

Tailor Your Trip

Immerse yourself in Scotland’s rich past at iconic landmarks like Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, or the mysterious Rosslyn Chapel. Explore the dramatic landscapes of the Scottish Borders, a region brimming with tales of battles and rebellions.

Craving fresh air and breathtaking scenery? The Scottish Highlands offer a rugged wilderness filled with majestic mountains, sparkling lochs, and charming villages. Alternatively, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park beckon with their tranquil beauty and opportunities for outdoor activities.

Tantalise your taste buds with a visit to a traditional whisky distillery, savouring the golden dram that Scotland is famous for. Explore charming coastal towns and indulge in the freshest seafood Scotland has to offer.

For a unique experience, seek out the awe-inspiring Kelpie sculptures and towering horse head monuments that have become a symbol of central Scotland. Then, marvel at the engineering marvel of the Falkirk Wheel, a rotating boat lift that connects two canals.

Plan Like a Pro

  • Seasonal Savvy: Consider the time of year! Summer boasts warm weather and long daylight hours but can be crowded. Spring and autumn offer pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds. Winter, while chilly, presents a magical atmosphere and affordability.
  • Be Prepared: Edinburgh’s weather is known for its whims. Pack layers for flexibility and a raincoat or umbrella for any sudden downpours.
  • Comfort is Key: A day trip often involves a lot of walking, so comfortable shoes are essential.
  • Fuel for Adventure: Pack some snacks and drinks to save money and avoid tourist-trap prices.
  • Capture Memories: Don’t forget your camera to document the unforgettable sights and experiences.

Relax and Explore

Edinburgh Day Trips: Uncovering Scotland's Beauty

The most important tip? Relax and enjoy the adventure! Edinburgh and its surroundings are brimming with beauty and history, so simply soak it all in.

Transportation Tips

Exploring Edinburgh’s surroundings is a breeze once you know your transportation options! Here’s a breakdown to help you navigate smoothly:

Public Transportation

  • Buses: Lothian Buses is the main operator, offering an extensive network across the city and surrounding areas. It’s a budget-friendly option, but it can be crowded and time-consuming for longer trips.
  • Trams: The Edinburgh Tram system links the airport to key city centre locations and offers a comfortable, scenic journey. Perfect for shorter distances within the city.

Organised Tours

Many companies offer day trips with transportation included. This takes the hassle out of planning routes and schedules but can be more expensive than using public transport.

Renting a Car

  • Flexibility: Renting a car gives you the most freedom to explore at your own pace and reach off-the-beaten-path locations. Ideal for adventurous travellers or those in small groups.
  • Considerations: Be aware of potential parking costs in Edinburgh city centre and driving regulations in Scotland, which differ slightly from other parts of the UK.

Sustainable Travel

Here are some tips to ensure your day trip is filled with adventure and eco-consciousness:

Respect the Environment

Always follow designated walking paths and trails. Avoid littering and dispose of any waste responsibly in designated bins. Remember, “leave no trace” is the key to preserving the beauty of these natural landscapes.

Embrace Walking & Cycling

For shorter distances or exploring charming towns, consider walking or cycling. Not only is it a healthy option, but it allows you to experience the local atmosphere at a slower pace and appreciate the scenery in a more mindful way.

Responsible Photography

Be respectful of wildlife and avoid disturbing their natural habitat. Ask permission before taking photos of locals, especially in traditional villages. Focus on capturing the beauty of the landscape and historical sites, leaving a positive impact through your photography.

Bonus Tips

  • Budget travellers can explore free activities like the Royal Mile, Scottish National Gallery, and Arthur’s Seat for panoramic views.
  • Travelling with little ones? Consider child-friendly options like The Kelpies or a Loch Lomond cruise.
  • Limited mobility? Many day trips are accessible by public transport.
  • Check the opening hours of attractions beforehand to avoid disappointment.
  • Consider a travel card if using public transport extensively.
  • Tipping isn’t mandatory, but a small gratuity is appreciated for exceptional service.


Embark on Edinburgh day tours to uncover the beauty of Scotland. With a variety of options available, from exploring Loch Ness and the Highlands to visiting St Andrews and the fishing villages of Fife, there is something for everyone.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *