Day Trip Ideas From Edinburgh!

Scotland, UK

I have been meaning to write this blog since spring and since we're already in autumn, I figured I better get a move on before it's too late! In my opinion, going on a day trip has to be one of the loveliest things to do. It's wonderful to have a change of scenery and explore somewhere new, but with the knowledge that you're returning to the comforts of home at the end of the day. Thankfully, Edinburgh is not only a gorgeous city to explore but also a great jumping-off point to visit various parts of Scotland - so much so that I struggled narrowing the list down! So, without further ado, here's a few day trip ideas from Edinburgh - happy exploring!

1. Head to the seaside... Portobello or North Berwick

If you're looking to escape Edinburgh's city centre and head to the seaside, there are various great options but here are two of my personal favourites. First, if you'd rather stay in Edinburgh, Portobello is just a short bus journey from the city centre and is a popular spot amongst locals whenever the sun decides to make an appearance. As well as a sandy beach, which stretches for roughly two miles, Portobello has a lovely high street crammed full of independent businesses like Bross Bagels, Twelve Triangles, and Portobello Books. I also really enjoy a wander through its quaint streets.

If you'd like to travel a little further afield, North Berwick is just a 30-minute train journey from Edinburgh Waverley and has so much to offer. Much like Portobello, North Berwick has an eclectic mix of high street stores and miles of beach. For those who like something a little more adventurous, North Berwick has a Seabird Centre where you can take a boat ride out to visit the Bass Rock and do a little puffin spotting, as well as the North Berwick Law which you can climb for views of the surrounding areas.

Coffee shop recommendations (because a day trip isn't complete without a wee cuppa!):
  • The Beach House 57 Bath Street
  • Twelve Triangles 300 Portobello High Street 
  • Steampunk Coffee 49A Kirk Ports, North Berwick
  • Buttercup Cafe 92 High Street, North Berwick
North Berwick

2. For history & royal connections... Stirling

Just under an hour’s train ride from Edinburgh Waverley will bring you to one of Scotland’s most historic cities, Stirling. At one time, anyone looking to rule Scotland had to hold Stirling, making it an important city in Scotland's history. For those of you travelling by public transport, a 40-minute train journey will bring you straight into the town centre. From there, you can easily walk to Stirling's high street then wander up the hill to explore Stirling Castle. Along the way, you'll pass Stirling Old Town Jail which is open to the public and the Church of the Holy Rude which retains its original hammer-beam ceiling. Another historic site which is open to the public is The Wallace Monument built to commemorate one of Scotland's heroes, Sir William Wallace. The monument sits proudly on the shoulder of the Abbey Craig, a hilltop overlooking Stirling hills and is visible from various spots in the city centre.

Coffee shop recommendations:
  • Unorthodox Roasters 12 Friars Street
  • The Bluebell Tea Room 1A Pitt Terrace
  • Darnley Coffee House 18 Bow Street
Stirling Castle


3. Edinburgh's friendly rival city... Glasgow

Edinburgh and Glasgow, two of Scotland's largest cities and despite only a short distance separating them, they are starkly different yet equally fascinating in my opinion. Glasgow is lively, urban, known for their friendliness, and full of character, and I think it's a shame that it's often overlooked by visitors. There is a wealth of activities depending on what you enjoy, I've included a few of my favourites below. I've also previously written a blog on a few of Glasgow's Hidden Gems if that's of interest!
  • Over the years, Glasgow has created a brilliant mural trail which is well worth checking out, click here to see the map. 
  • When you're in the city centre why not pay a visit to the Lighthouse – a modern art gallery which pays homage to Glasgow legend Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Don't forget to climb up their tower for fantastic 360-degree views of the city. 
  • The city is also blessed with an easy-to-use Subway system making visiting various locations around the city very convenient. A few places to look out for are the Glasgow Science Centre, Finnieston, Riverside Museum, and Glasgow’s West End where you’ll find the Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens, and the University of Glasgow.
Coffee shop recommendations (there are so many for Glasgow, here are just a few):
  • Papercup Coffee Company 603 Great Western Road
  • Tchai-Ovna House of Tea 42 Otago Lane (for tea lovers!)
  • Spitfire Espresso 127 Candleriggs
Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

4. Visit the Kingdom... (of) Fife

Some of you may be familiar with the fact that Edinburgh is a Royal Burgh, but did you know that Fife's official name is the Kingdom of Fife - sounds straight out of a fairytale, right? I might be slightly biased as I grew up in Fife, but there are so many lovely places to visit and with various train stations dotted around the county, there are plenty of options for day trips even if you don't have access to a car. From extremely quaint fishing villages like Anstruther, Crail, and Pittenweem to historic treasures like Culross (pronounced Coo-ross), Dunfermline, and St Andrews - to name a few!

Don't forget to follow @WelcomeToFife on Instagram and check out their website here for more inspiration!

Coffee shop recommendations (Fife is a huge area, but these are just a few recommendations!):
  • The Bakers Field 19 Tolbooth St, Kirkcaldy
  • The Roasting Project - Coffee House 253a High St, Burntisland
  • Gorgeous 7 Bell St, St Andrews
  • Biscuit Cafe Sandhaven, Culross

5. Explore Palace Ruins in... Linlithgow

Linlithgow is only a short train journey (roughly 30-minutes) from Edinburgh and is known for its quaint high street and impressive palace ruins. You'll find the 15th-century palace ruins just a short walk from the trains station and next to the picturesque Linlithgow Loch. The palace is famous for being the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and despite its current ruined state, it has been well maintained and there is still plenty to see, plus I don't know about you but I always find it fun exploring ruins and trying to guess the purpose of each room. Don't forget to climb up to the very top where you'll be greeted by fantastic views of the surrounding area.

Coffee shop recommendations:
  • Taste 47 High Street
  • Granary Cafe 102 High Street 
  • So Strawberry Cafe 3 The Cross

6. Enjoy spectacular views... South Queensferry

From pretty pastel houses and cobbled lanes to scenic coastal paths, South Queensferry has all the makings of a picture-perfect seaside town. However, what truly sets it apart from other seaside towns is the spectacular views of Scotland's three iconic bridges, spanning three centuries– the Forth Bridge, the Forth Road Bridge, and the Queensferry Crossing. If you're looking to escape Edinburgh's city centre without travelling too far, South Queensferry is a great option as it's only roughly 15-minutes by train to Dalmeny train station then a short walk to the main high street. Once there, there's the option of exploring its quaint high street, enjoy a walk along South Queensferry’s coastal path to Dalmeny House and Estate, hop on a boat and cruise along the Firth of Forth, under the iconic bridges, and pay a visit to Inchcomb Island.

Coffee shop recommendations:
  • Honey Pot Creative Cafe 1 Longcraig Road
  • The Little Bakery 6-7 High Street 
  • Manna House Bakery & Patisserie 45-46 High Street
South Queensferry

7. Step into another time... New Lanark

New Lanark is a picturesque little village, roughly an hour's drive from Edinburgh, it earned UNESCO World Heritage status by telling the fascinating story of the cotton mill village of New Lanark. New Lanark was founded in the 18th century and flourished under the management of enlightened social pioneer, Robert Owen. Owen believed in providing good quality housing, education, fair wages, free health care, and the first workplace nursery school in the world! When you arrive in the village, you immediately feel like you've been transported to another era.

Coffee shop recommendations:
  • Unfortunately, there isn't any choice in New Lanark, so you'll either have to bring something from home or visit their Mill Cafe.
New Lanark

8. Step into Sir Walter Scott’s Home... Abbotsford House

Tucked away in a corner of the Scottish Borders lies Sir Walter Scott's grand home, Abbotsford House. There's either the option of driving or taking a train from Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank station (roughly an hour) then catching the free minibus to Abbotsford Estate. As you step into Abbotsford House, you'll be greeted by elegant and luxurious rooms, full of history and intriguing objects which inspired Scott's greatest poems and novels. Once you've explored the house, head outdoors to enjoy the beautiful formal gardens and tranquil woodlands which sits beside the River Tweed. All in all, it makes for a lovely day trip.

Coffee shop recommendations:
  • Similarly, there isn't any choice at Abbotsford, so you'll either have to bring something from home or visit their Ochiltree's CafĂ©.
Abbotsford House

9. Explore the Granite City... Aberdeen

Those of you who follow my explorations on Instagram may be aware that after one press trip to Aberdeen, I was completely won over! For this blog, I'm just focussing on the city centre as I think that's all you'll have time for on a day trip but if you'd like to read more about Aberdeen click here. From Edinburgh to Aberdeen by train takes roughly two and a half hours which may seem like a long time but there are some beautiful views along the way to keep you occupied. The train station is extremely central allowing you to easily explore the city centre, Footdee, and Old Aberdeen on foot.

Don't forget to follow @visitabdn on Instagram and check out their website here for more inspiration!

Coffee shop recommendations:
  • FoodStory 13-15 Thistle Street  
  • The Coffee House 1 Gaelic Lane
  • Books and Beans 22 Belmont Street
Old Aberdeen

10. Named Scotland’s coolest city by WSJ... Dundee

Last but not least, since the opening of the V&A, there has been a buzz surrounding Dundee and rightly so, the V&A is a fantastic addition to the city. I have to admit, I'm not very familiar with Dundee having only visited it a few times but I think the city deserves a mention! The train station is very centrally located and you'll be able to spot the V&A and the Discovery Point (a famous polar expedition vessel the RRS Discovery) as you exit the station. From there you have the option of exploring Dundee's high street, visiting the McManus Art Gallery, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Verdant Works Industrial museum, climb up the Dundee Law, plus much more!

Coffee shop recommendations:
  • Tatha Bar and Kitchen V&A (1 Riverside Esplanade)
  • Coffee & Co 64 Reform Street
  • Empire State Coffee Artisan Roasters 28 Whitehall Crescent
V&A, Dundee

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