Weekend Trips and Getaways From Edinburgh

Oban is a postcard of rural Scotland
Oban is a postcard of rural Scotland | © robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
With easy access to the Scottish Highlands as well as the rural areas of North England, Edinburgh is ideally placed for a wide array of weekends away. Whether you’re keen to rediscover the great outdoors, or just looking to trade city life for the countryside for a few days, there’s a wealth of beautiful locations surrounding the Scottish capital. We round up our picks of the best below.

Scottish Highlands – Fort William/Ben Nevis

Located on the shores of Loch Linnhe and at the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest peak, Fort William could easily be regarded as the outdoor capital of the UK. You can go hiking, take in the tranquillity of the lochs and even head out on an Outlander pilgrimage if you’re a fan of the hit TV show. After a day’s hiking, put your feet up at Linnhe View – a modern apartment in the centre of Fort William with glorious views over Loch Linnhe towards the Ardgour hills. There’s Wi-Fi and a smart TV, too – so you can even catch your favourite episode of Outlander on Amazon Prime.

ActivitiesGroup Hike of Ben Nevis From Fort William
From $94 per person
6 to 8 hours
4.625 (8)

Hike Britain’s tallest mountain with an experienced guide and a small group of merry climbers. Your guide will not only help you get safely up and back down the mountain, but will also keep you informed along the way, with detailed insights into the flora and fauna you might walk past, as well as the history and importance of the area. Make sure to stop for some breathers along the way to take in the spectacular scenery, looking over the rolling Scottish hills and glistening lochs below. Then, toast to your successful day with a pint or hot chocolate when you make it back to Fort William.

Scottish Highlands – Gairloch

Located on the edges of the saline Loch Gair, this mountainous region is home to the villages of Achtercairn, Strath and Charlestown. On a summer’s day, you’ll be pinching yourself as you stand before white-sand beaches, or witness pods of common dolphins and whales swimming offshore. Even if the sun isn’t shining, you’ll still feel a million miles away from the modern world. Sleeping up to six people, this nicely furnished house in Strath comes with a large garden, a barbecue, Wi-Fi, a smart TV and uninterrupted views across the Loch to the Isle of Skye and the Torridon Mountains.

ToursHalf-Day Sea Kayaking Tour of Gairloch
From $62 per person
2 hours 30 minutes

Make the most of the abundant wildlife in the area and get another perspective on the craggy coastline of this sea loch, with this half-day sea kayaking tour. Glide through the inky waters and take in the breathtaking scenery around you. Your guides know the area like the back of their hands, and will take you to locations known for wildlife such as seals, otters and seabirds. Adaptable to your needs and wants, the adventure level of the tour can be changed based on your experience and skills on the water.

Oban

Oban is the main access point to the Hebridean Islands, although many visitors don’t make it that far due to the pretty seaside town’s sheer magnetism. With colourful houses lining the seafront, and more fresh fish than you can shake a rod at, Oban is a postcard of rural Scotland. Head here outside of summertime to beat the crowds and stroll the cobbled streets unperturbed. A stay in this contemporary two-bedroom flat puts you in the heart of the town centre – and if you’re fan of a wee dram, the famous Oban Distillery is right around the corner.

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ToursOban Walking Tour
From $98 per person
1 hour 30 minutes

Led by local guides, this walking tour will give you plenty of perspective of both the history and modern-day existence of Oban. You’ll discover the town’s Mesolithic origins, and hear stories of giants, maidens, clan chieftains and RAF officers from World War II. Some of the town’s most notable buildings include St John’s Cathedral, the War and Peace Museum and the Oban Distillery – all are included in the tour’s itinerary, and your guide will be happy to share tips on visiting the sites in your own time.

Thurso

The northernmost town on the British mainland, Thurso is a rural beachside village that seems like the edge of the Earth. Its remoteness gives it a mythological feel, with its rugged coastline and heather-covered hills. The strong winds and enormously powerful ocean make for great surfing, one of the town’s most popular activities. Set right in the centre of town, this cosy loft apartment includes sea views, two double bedrooms, a fully fitted kitchen and plenty of space to relax after a day out.

ClassPrivate Surfing Lesson for Two
From $129 per person
2 hours

Being a town known for its surf breaks, Thurso is a magnet for surfers and would-be wave riders. This surfing lesson offers two people the chance to learn under constant guidance from instructors Iona and Finn. Tailored to any level of experience, this lesson is ideal for both those who’ve never picked up a surfboard before, and more experienced surfers who’d like some guidance surfing in new waters. You’ll be kitted out with a thick wetsuit to help protect you from the frigid waters, allowing you to focus more on catching waves than catching a cold.

Lake District

Home to sparkling lakes and sparse, haunting moors punctuated by flourishing wildflowers, the Lake District is a uniquely beautiful area of the UK. You can live fast or slow here, either scaling peaks, kayaking on the lakes, reading books in cottage nooks or sipping pints of ale in the many pubs. Whatever you choose to do, you won’t be in any hurry to return to Edinburgh, which is just two and a half hours away by car. Make the most of your weekend with a stay at this beautifully furnished three-bedroom lodge, set in a peaceful location just a short drive from Lake Ullswater. There’s outdoor decking for sunny afternoons and a log burner for chillier nights in with friends or your loved one.

ActivitiesKayaking Adventure Around Lake Ullswater
From $56 per person
3 hours

Take to the water and spend three hours exploring the second-largest lake in the district. From your kayak, you’ll have the chance to see the famously pretty lakes from a different perspective. Your knowledgeable guides will fill you in on topographical and historical information about the area, while making sure you’re comfortable and safe the whole time – even if you’ve never been kayaking before. The tour moves at a leisurely pace, allowing you to explore the places that interest you.