7 Last Minute Break Ideas on the UNESCO Trail
Short on time, or planning a last minute break? It’s possible to enjoy the wonders of Scotland’s UNESCO Trail on a short break, but still travel sustainably.
You can visit several of Scotland’s fascinating UNESCO sites by taking sustainable modes of transport. So choose one of these epic journeys and experience the history and heritage of some of Scotland’s most intriguing places without increasing your carbon footprint.
Dundee and The Forth Bridge
Travel by train from Edinburgh to Dundee
Take the train and you can experience two fascinating UNESCO sites in one go! In just over an hour, you’ll travel over the impressive Forth Rail Bridge, and arrive in Dundee, a UNESCO City of Design.
The Forth Bridge is the world’s earliest great multi-span cantilever bridge and dates back to 1890. It was widely considered to be ahead of its time in terms of bridge design.
Over in Dundee, discover the city’s excellent taste for design at several amazing attractions, including the striking V&A Dundee, the fascinating McManus Art Gallery & Museum and the inspiring Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre. Book a night at one of the coolest hotels, Sleeperz, which has one of the city’s best views of the waterfront and River Tay.
Book your train from Edinburgh to Dundee.
Heart of Neolithic Orkney
Travel by ferry from Scrabster (near Thurso) to Stromness
Hop aboard and enjoy the 90-minute ferry crossing with NorthLink Ferries. The company uses locally produced renewable energy to power their ferries, including MV Hamnavoe, which serves this route. Sail past the Old Man of Hoy and arrive in Stromness, which is ideally located for exploring Orkney’s Neolithic history.
The Heart of Neolithic Orkney includes four ancient sites: Skara Brae, Maeshowe, Stones of Stenness and Ring of Brodgar. Discover remnants of ancient civilisations on Orkney, with preserved settlements, cairns and standing stones which tell the story of days gone by.
Book your ferry from Scrabster to Stromness.
The Antonine Wall
Travel by electric vehicle
Some of the ruins of this ancient Roman fortification lie on the outskirts of Glasgow. Why not visit this incredible part of history in your electric vehicle? There are lots of charging points available along the central belt.
The Romans began their conquest of Scotland around AD 70. In AD 142, Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Pius ordered the construction of the Antonine Wall as the northern-most frontier of the empire. You can discover sections of the wall at several places with easy walking routes suitable for all.
Find out more on driving in Scotland.
Or discover more ideas for another trip in an electric vehicle with our 5 day electric car itinerary.
Old and New Towns of Edinburgh and the City of Literature
Travel on foot
With one dormant volcano, seven hills, clusters of cobbled streets and tantalising vistas waiting around every bend, Edinburgh is a fabulous city for walking. You can explore it all on foot, with just a trusty pair of comfy shoes!
To the south, wander the Old Town’s ancient, winding streets and imagine life in the city in the 16th and 17th centuries. Make your way northwards to the New Town and see handsome Georgian tenements and wider streets fill the frame. Find out more about Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage Site of the contrasting Old and New Towns.
Edinburgh is also the world’s first City of Literature. The city is the birthplace of the Harry Potter novels by JK Rowling, and is home to world-famous writers, poets and playwrights, including Arthur Conan Doyle and Walter Scott. Visit incredible attractions such as the Writers' Museum and the Scottish Storytelling Centre, both on the Royal Mile.
Find out more on exploring Edinburgh.
Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere
Travel by bike
A great way to see the south west corner of Scotland is to cycle through the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere. Backed by UNESCO, it promotes sustainability within this incredible environment. With miles of quiet roads, rolling hills and world-class mountain biking trails, the choices for exploring on two wheels are endless in this patch of Scotland.
Geologically significant and brimming with scenic beauty, this unique destination is also home to the Galloway Forest Park. Whether it’s walking, cycling, fishing, driving through the woods or relaxing in tearooms, there’s something here to suit every adventurer. Stick around at night to admire some of the darkest skies in Europe in the Galloway Dark Sky Park.
Find more on cycling in the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere.
St Kilda, Outer Hebrides
Travel by boat
Although it’s not possible for everyone to visit St Kilda – it’s a protected and vulnerable site – there are lots of boat tours around the Outer Hebrides that you can still enjoy.
It’s one of the best ways to discover these islands off the west coast. Take a scheduled or charter boat trip to understand the isolation of the archipelago, and sail out around the Shiant, Flannan and Monach Isles.
Look out for a sea tour with dolphin and whale spotting, or go birdwatching around the island shores.
St Kilda itself is one of the premier birdwatching sites in the world, home to one of the oldest and largest colonies of fulmars, guillemots and puffins.
Take a boat tour in the Outer Hebrides.
Travel by bus and subway
There are lots of ways to get to Glasgow, but travelling by bus is one of the cheapest and most sustainable ways, and it means you don’t have to worry about driving and parking! Glasgow has an excellent subway system so you can explore the city at ease.
There’s so much to discover in Glasgow, with city tours covering a wide range of subjects from street art to food and drink. Look out for the architecture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the trendy bars and restaurants of the West End, and of course, Glasgow’s legendary music scene.
Find out more on getting around Glasgow.
The full UNESCO Trail
Are you lucky enough to have more than just a few days to discover Scotland’s UNESCO Trail? Follow the trail at your own pace and experience all 13 of the designated sites around the country. From global geoparks to creative cities, world heritage sites to biospheres, the trail has so much to offer.