6 Great Day Trips From Edinburgh

There's so much to see and do in Scotland's capital, but if you’re looking to escape the city and get off the beaten track, then there are plenty of day trips from Edinburgh. From breathing in the fresh sea breeze in East Lothian to visiting the historic towns of the Scottish Borders, we’ve rounded up a few great day trips from Edinburgh that you can access easily by public transport.  

  1. North Berwick East Lothian

    Bass Rock

    Time from Edinburgh: 30-minute train, 50-minute drive

    For those seeking a chance to detox by the sea, get some fresh air and sample local foodie delights, North Berwick is the perfect day trip. 

    A 30-minute train journey from Edinburgh through Scottish farmland, once you arrive in North Berwick there’s so much to see and do. It’s a lovely contrast to a busy city break, so make the most of the seaside location and take a long stroll along its sandy beaches. If you’re looking for a more extended walk, visit the ruins of Tantallon Castle, perched dramatically on the surrounding clifftop. Admire the iconic Bass Rock, home to the world's largest colony of northern gannets, or catch a wildlife boat trip from the Scottish Seabird Centre to get a closer look. The town is also full of restaurants, seafood shacks and cafés to sample local produce – try Alandas for delicious ice cream, Steampunk for a warming coffee, Bostock Bakery for a crumbly pastry and, if you’re lucky, sample the morning’s fresh catch at The Lobster Shack in the harbour. 

  2. Melrose Scottish Borders

    Melrose Abbey

    © VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

    Time from Edinburgh: 50-minute train (to Tweedbank station), 1-hour drive

    The Scottish Borders is an area rich in history, culture and endlessly rolling landscapes. It’s easily accessible from both Edinburgh and England, so it makes a great stop off on the journey or as a day trip destination. 

    There are plenty of towns to explore in the Scottish Borders, each with their own unique traditions and character. Melrose is conveniently located on a train stop on the Borders Railway, which is a beautiful train journey through the Scottish countryside. Hop off at Tweedbank station and discover the bustling market town, from the romantic ruins of Melrose Abbey to the delicious pastries you need to treat yourself to from Twelve Triangles bakery and coffee shop. For those looking for an outdoor adventure away from the city, the Eildon Hills just outside of Melrose are a great spot for some hillwalking in the fresh air.  

  3. South Queensferry South Queensferry

    The Forth Rail Bridge, Forth Road Bridge and Queensferry Crossing

    Time from Edinburgh: 20-minute train (to Dalmeny, not Queensferry station!), 30-minute drive

    If you’re looking for a quick trip filled with iconic sites, sea views and picturesque surroundings, then South Queensferry is for you!  

    The town is made up of a colourful collection of painted houses on twisting cobbled streets, making it the perfect place for a peaceful wander. Pop into the independent shops and eateries to see what the locals have to offer, from artwork at the Harbour Lane Studio to a sweet treat from The Little Bakery. South Queensferry is most famous for its spectacular view of the Firth of Forth and the Forth Bridges, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Why not join a boat trip experience for a fun way to learn more about the Firth of Forth? It’ll give you epic views of the bridges and hidden gems, such as Inchcolm Abbey, which sits on an island in the middle of the Firth and was founded by King David I. 

  4. Linlithgow West Lothian

    Linlithgow Palace

    Time from Edinburgh: 20-minute train, 45-minute drive

    Linlithgow is an historic village, only 20 minutes on the train from Edinburgh city centre. It's ideal for those looking for a quick day trip to soak up Scotland’s royal history – the palace was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and James V.  

    Linlithgow Palace is a must-see for those making the trip to this West Lothian town. Built in 1424 by James I of Scotland, the palace was a royal residence until it was attacked by Oliver Cromwell in 1746. You can explore the Renaissance architecture, delve into its tumultuous history and enjoy the serene surroundings of Linlithgow Loch. The town itself also has lots to discover – make sure you plan a trip to Far From the Madding Crowd, a cosy and award-winning independent bookshop. For a flavour of the countryside, pick up locally grown produce and wholesome treats at Grow Wild. It's a farm shop with groceries from Bonnytoun Farm and is only a 15-minute walk from the end of the loch.

  5. Roslin Midlothian

    Rosslyn Chapel

    Time from Edinburgh: 45-minute bus journey on the 37 bus, 30-minute drive  

    If you’re interested in mystery, intrigue and legend, the Midlothian town of Roslin should definitely be on your list whilst in Edinburgh.  

    A quick trip from the city centre, it’s home to the famous Rosslyn Chapel, a familiar site to any fan of The Da Vinci Code. The chapel itself is full of intricate stonemasonry and late-gothic features. You could easily spend hours admiring the craftsmanship and learning more about the many stories and mysteries associated with the site. The chapel sits within the historic surroundings of Roslin Glen, which is full of walks and paths to immerse you in the woodland setting. The River North Esk runs through the valley, bordered by the largest surviving stretch of ancient woodland in Midlothian. See if you can find the picturesque ruins of Rosslyn Castle or be inspired by the wildlife and nature that has engaged the likes of Wordsworth and J.M.W. Turner. 

  6. Dunfermline Fife

    Dunfermline Abbey

    © Fife Council / Damian Shields

    Time from Edinburgh: 35-minute train , 40-minute drive

    If a captivating journey across the Forth Bridges and into the Kingdom of Fife appeals to you, then Dunfermline is a great starting point for an adventure into this region of Scotland. 

    Dunfermline was made Scotland’s newest city in 2022. It has an ancient past and was once the capital of the country; kings and queens, including Robert the Bruce, are buried in the abbey here. Dunfermline Abbey has roots back to the 11th century and you really get a sense of the significance of the place as you wander through the Romanesque architecture. The town is also the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie, and his influence on the city is easy to see, from the first Carnegie Library to Pittencrieff Park, which he donated to the people of Dunfermline.  If you’re travelling by bike or car, then take a trip along the coast to explore the East Neuk of Fife, an area packed full of hidden gems, quaint fishing villages and stunning sea views. On a sunny day you may even be able to see back to Edinburgh across the Forth! 

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