The Best 5 Day Trips From Edinburgh

Escape to the idyllic Lake District for the day, the perfect antidote to city life
Escape to the idyllic Lake District for the day, the perfect antidote to city life | © robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
Sitting in one of the most stunning areas of the country, surrounded by lochs, coastline and mountains, it’s no surprise that an abundance of magical day trips sit within driving distance of Edinburgh. When the city gets to be a bit too much, or the countryside air is simply calling your name, head to one of these destinations for the day and reset.

Stirling

This fairytale town – complete with a castle atop a hill – is the site of many notable moments in Scotland’s history. The country’s former capital city is surrounded by bucolic countryside, despite just being 37 miles (60km) from Edinburgh, and feels like a true escape that requires minimal effort to reach.

ToursBraveheart (Stirling Bridge) Tour
From $15 per person
55 minutes

History enthusiasts will love uncovering the story of the Battle of Stirling Bridge on this guided tour, where you will learn about this major Scottish victory during the Wars of Independence on the site where it happened. You’ll be captivated by the tales of those who fell and walk away with an understanding of why the bridge is so important to the country’s history. The tour – led by Steve and his loveable dog Mollie – takes just one hour, leaving you with ample time to explore the rest of Stirling.

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond is Britain’s largest lake, and its shores understandably play host to a number of visitors from nearby Glasgow and Edinburgh. It is big enough to hold them all and still have untouched and seemingly deserted pockets for you to discover, while its bonnie banks were immortalised in the well-known folk song for good reason. Bordered by craggy hills on both sides, this is rural rugged Scotland at its best.

ToursLoch Lomond Cruise
From $16 per person
1 hour

This one-hour circular tour of Loch Lomond takes you along part of the famous Loch’s shores. Cruising out to Inchmurrin Island where you can see the ancient ruins of Lennox Castle, where soon-to-be King of Scots Robert the Bruce sheltered as a fugitive in the 14th century. Drifting past some of the stately homes and castles that line the loch, this cruise offers an alternative view of this enormous landscape that you can’t see from land.

Dundee

This seaside town is putting itself on the map with cultural gems like the first V&A museum outside London. Sitting at the mouth of the River Tay, an increasing number of artistic types are choosing Dundee as their base, moving away from the bigger and more expensive cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Their presence also signifies a change of pace for this once post-industrial city, which is becoming a cultural hub to rival its more renowned neighbours.

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ToursSpeedboat Safari Adventure
From $30 per person
1 hour

Get a fresh perspective on Dundee with this thrilling trip on a high-powered speedboat. Taking you down the Tay River, be sure to keep an eye out for native wildlife, including bottlenose dolphins and grey seals. You’ll travel underneath the distinctive Tay Road Bridge and get the opportunity to view lighthouses, oil rigs and other spectacular feats of modern architecture from the water. You’ll also whizz past the newly built V&A Dundee, which has already solidified itself as a striking piece of architecture in the city. Your guide will help you spot the animals while talking you through the history of the riverfront buildings as you speed past.

St Andrews

There is much to draw you to St Andrews, from its medieval architecture, to its university that has educated notable figures and royals, to its golf course – the oldest in the world. Whatever your reason for visiting, the town won’t fail to dazzle you with its white-sand beaches and history-filled buildings.

ToursSt Andrews Town Walking Tour
From $13 per person
2 hours
5 (1)

Home to a mix of long-time locals, students from all over the world and, on occasion, royalty, St Andrews is a multi-faceted town best uncovered with the help of an experienced guide. On this leisurely two-hour walking tour, you will get a sense of the town traditions that have been in place for more than 800 years, as well as modern Scottish life. Your tour will be embellished with intricate details and histories of St Andrews’ most notable places including the castle, cathedral and university.

Lake District

Named for its myriad network of stunning lakes, this is one of the most enchanting areas of the country. Rolling green hills surround glassy bodies of water, and the air is crisp and fresh – the perfect antidote to city life. Whether you prefer to spend your day hiking or exploring the region on its eponymous waters, this setting provides the perfect rural day out.

ActivitiesKayaking Around Lake Ullswater
From $56 per person
3 hours

You don’t need to be a seasoned kayaker to explore the Lake District’s waters. Your guides will help the unfamiliar feel safe and comfortable before taking you paddling around the rippling waters of the second largest lake in the district. Talking through everything from the topography of the area to the history of the spaces you paddle past, the trip will be as informative as it will be enjoyable, leaving you full with knowledge about this beautiful corner of the country.