From Edinburgh, you can reach loch shores, untamed highland wilderness and isolated castles by booking one of the following day trips.
History, adventure and the romantic backdrops of Scotland’s films and literature are all within striking distance of the capital. Escape the busy streets of Edinburgh and take away the hassle of organising transport with these guided day tours to the country’s best bits.
The Highlands are everything you want Scotland to be: rugged, fierce and unspoiled. Take this all-day coach trip to explore this beguiling wilderness, departing from the Royal Mile. A local guide will regale you with tales of the country’s bold and bloody history as you pass isolated castles and monuments on the way to Loch Ness. Take a boat trip out on the loch and search for Nessie, or tour a working whisky distillery to sample some of Scotland’s most famous export. Meeting point: Deacon House Café, 304 Lawnmarket, Edinburgh.
See the Highlands in style by booking this leisurely tour by steam train. Leaving from Victoria Street, enjoy a scenic coach journey to Fort William. From here, board the steam train and soak in the magic, as some compartments look just like those filmed for the Hogwarts’ Express. The view of the rugged Highlands is spectacular, overlooking wild, rugged terrain that stretches for miles. There’s time for lunch in a quaint fishing village and an opportunity to snap a photo of the train crossing the stunning Glenfinnan Viaduct (as seen in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets). Meeting point: Diagon House, Victoria Street, Edinburgh.
Decode the mysteries of the covenant on this wallet-friendly all-day tour of the Scottish Borders from Edinburgh. Explore Rosslyn Chapel, a prominent location in The Da Vinci Code, before heading on to the ancient ruins of Melrose Abbey, the burial site of Robert the Bruce’s heart. While most tourists head north to the Highlands, buck the trend and take in the Scottish Borders, where rolling countryside has inspired centuries of ballads and poetry. Meeting point: Rabbie’s Cafe, 6 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh.
From Edinburgh, wild, untamed countryside is right on your doorstep. Pair the natural beauty of the Trossachs with the enthralling history of Robert the Bruce, Mary Queen of Scots and William Wallace on this all day tour from Edinburgh to Stirling. After a guided tour of Stirling Castle, where you’ll learn about Scottish heroes and royalty, you’ll stop on the banks of Loch Lomond, deep in romantic Rob Roy MacGregor country. Take a serene cruise on the loch, or just lap up the stunning scenery of the ‘miniature highlands’. Meeting point: Ensign Ewart pub, 521-523 Lawnmarket, Edinburgh.
Combine fantasy and history on this Outlander-themed day trip to the castles and historic villages of Fife and Stirlingshire. At the little fishing village of Culross (aka Cranesmuir), discover cobbled streets unchanged since the 16th century. Afterwards, head for yet another Outlander location at Doune Castle, set in William Wallace and Robert the Bruce country, before moving on to Linlithgow Palace to uncover the real life tales of Mary Queen of Scots. It’s just a short hop to Blackness Castle, dramatically perched on the sea, before heading back to Edinburgh. Meeting point: Rabbie’s Cafe, 6 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh.
Adrenaline junkies and active explorers will love this canyoning trip to Aberfeldy, giving you the chance to experience Scotland’s wild side. Departing from the city centre, you’ll be whisked away to Keltyburn Canyon to the beautiful lush forests of Perthshire. A wet and wild day is in store, leaping from rock faces across the canyon, swimming and abseiling. It’s a fully immersive way to experience one of Scotland’s natural wonders. Hotel pick-up arranged in advance.
Cross the border on an all-day foray into historic Northumberland. Leaving from the Royal Mile, swap Scotland’s medieval past for England’s as you travel through the Scottish Borders and across the River Tweed. In the quaint coastal town of Alnwick, you’ll find streets harking back to the 14th century. A stop at Alnwick Castle will treat you to scenes familiar from the Harry Potter films and Downton Abbey. Cross the tidal causeway to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, where an atmospheric castle looms over the sea, and the small town is crammed with stories of monks and Viking raids. Meeting point: Timberbush Tours, 555 Castle Hill, Edinburgh.
The home of golf and Scotland’s oldest university, St Andrews is just a short drive from Edinburgh. Explore the medieval streets of this old university town and the picturesque East Neuk fishing villages on this day tour from the capital. Departing early from Waterloo Place, be whisked across the Forth into the Kingdom of Fife. Pause in the tranquil fishing village of Anstruther (home of the best fish and chips in Scotland) before heading on to St Andrews. Admire the famous Old Course, the home of golf, and take in the ancient university buildings that fill the centre. On the way back to Edinburgh, stop at Falkland Palace, once the residence of the royal Stewarts for a quick history lesson. Meeting point: Rabbie’s Tours, 6 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh.
Unearth the remains of the Roman Empire with a guided trip to Hadrian’s Wall. Travel through the heart of the Scottish Borders from the centre of Edinburgh and rewind 2,000 years. Stretch your legs and admire an Augustinian Abbey in a historic Borders town, before crossing into England to take in scenic lookouts. You’ll have a chance to explore the ruins of a Roman fort and to follow in the footsteps of Roman soldiers defending England against the wild north as you walk along the wall itself. Meeting point: Rabbie’s Tours, 6 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh.
Tackle challenging rapids and take in the raw beauty of the Scottish Highlands on this guided whitewater rafting adventure. Leaving from the city centre, you’ll leave the buildings and streets of Edinburgh behind for full immersion into Scotland’s wild countryside. North of Pitlochry, the Tummel River is your destination, where a dam release guarantees lively rapids. Navigate the raft with your trained guide over tempestuous waters, jagged rocks and down 18-foot drops for a day of adrenaline-fuelled fun. Don’t forget to bring your swimwear. Pick-up from your hotel arranged beforehand.
Get to know Scotland’s most famous export intimately on a dedicated day trip to two whisky distilleries. Leaving from Waterloo Place, your journey north will be filled with history, anecdotes and local secrets surrounding the creation of Scottish whisky. At the foot of a sweeping hill you’ll find the Glengoyne distillery, where you’ll be treated to a guided tour and learn all about the modern-day alchemy of turning water, barley and yeast into the water of life. Admire the scenic shores of Loch Lomond as you enjoy a tasty pub lunch before visiting a second distillery to get a final dram of single malt before heading back to Edinburgh. Meeting point: Rabbie’s Tours, 6 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh.
In the folds of the Grampian Mountains, the charming town of Blair Atholl is quaint Scottish life at its best. Discover the gateway to the highlands, and the romance of Scotland’s rugged landscape on this full-day trip leaving from the Royal Mile. Stopping at the Falls of Dochart and Loch Lubnaig, you’ll get a taste of quintessential highland scenery. At the town of Blair Atholl, enjoy some free time to acquaint yourself with its striking castle. Moving on to the beautiful town of Callander, you’ll discover the point where the highlands and lowlands meet, a land of towering mountains and sprawling lochs. Meeting point: Timberbush Tours, 555 Castle Hill, Edinburgh.
Pair Scotland’s biggest, liveliest city with the raw natural beauty of the Trossachs on one trip visiting Glasgow and Loch Lomond. Departing from Charlotte Square, your first port of call will be the bustling city of Glasgow. After a panoramic tour to get your bearings, enjoy some free time in this quirky city. It’s a surprisingly short drive from the lively streets of Glasgow to the serene, untamed beauty of the Trossachs National Park. Stop on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, and enjoy a gentle stroll amidst spectacular mountains, fresh air and the crystal clear lake waters. On the way back to Edinburgh, you’ll stop at the Kelpies, two towering sculptures in the shape of horses. Meeting point: Tour Skye, 93 George Street, Edinburgh.