Weekend Trips and Getaways From Edinburgh

Oban is a postcard of rural Scotland
Oban is a postcard of rural Scotland | © robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
Molly Codyre

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.

1. Group Walk up Ben Nevis from Fort William

Tours, Activities

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.

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.

2. Oban Walking Tour

Tours, Activities

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.

3. Private Surfing Lesson for Two

Class, Activities

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.

4. Kayaking Adventure Around Lake Ullswater

Activities, Tours

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.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

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All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

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