May 29, 2024

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11 Best Day Trips from Edinburgh by Train + Tours

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Are you looking to add a few day trips from Edinburgh by train? We’ve got you covered. We explored more of Scotland by keeping the capital city as a base and then taking a mix of public transportation and guided tours – it was easy and fun and kept our overall trip under budget!

11 Best Day Trips from Edinburgh by Train + Tours

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Famous for its beautiful medieval architecture, winding cobblestone streets, whiskey walks, and hosting the best festivals in the world, Edinburgh is a fairytale come to life. The Scottish capital is brimming with beautiful scenery, but there’s much more to see beyond its borders.

Edinburgh’s most popular attractions lure in millions of tourists every year. But what happens once you’ve spent about three days in Edinburgh and seen all there is to this city? This insightful guide unpacks the best day trips from Edinburgh. 

Lochness on a day trip from Edinburgh

From charming coastal towns with sandy beaches to some of Scotland’s largest cities and breathtaking filming locations, these day trips from Edinburgh will leave you in awe.

Train stations to depart from Edinburgh, Scotland

Before we dive into the best day trips you can take from Edinburgh, let’s first get some logistics out of the way. Edinburgh boasts a sophisticated public transport system, and most locals will tell you that direct trains are one of the best ways to get around.

There are two main train stations in Edinburgh. You’ll find the Edinburgh Waverley Station on Princes Street in the city center. Haymarket Station, on the other hand, is located in the West End. These two railway stations are connected, and it takes about five minutes to travel by train between them.

You’ll also find smaller railway stations scattered across the city. The Edinburgh Gateway Station provides a smooth transition from tram to train services. Edinburgh Park Station on the city’s west side serves as both a tram stop and a railway station.

Now that you know where to start, let’s dive into some of the best day trips you can take from Edinburgh. So strap in and get ready for panoramic views, beautiful beaches, and picturesque fishing villages that will have you picking up your jaw from the ground.

1. Train trip to Stirling from Edinburgh — 56 minutes

Stirling is one of the country’s most historic cities in the heart of Scotland. Its streets are dotted with stunning landmarks, notable battlegrounds, beautiful castles, and plenty of distilleries and pubs to grab a pint. 

View of Stirling Castle on top of the rocky hill in central Scotland

Stirling city has a crucial role in Scottish history, as two momentous battles for Scotland’s independence happened here. History buffs will love strolling through the Old Town, marveling at monuments and main attractions like the Old Town Jail and Stirling Castle.

Things to do in Stirling:

Stirling Castle – Visit this 12th-century castle to explore its grand halls and lush gardens. It sits atop a craggy outcrop, giving you panoramic views of the city.

The National Wallace Monument – Standing at over 200 feet tall, this tower honors a Scottish hero, William Wallace, who defeated the English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. The monument also gives you great vistas of the whole city. 

Stirling Old Bridge – Walk across this bridge that replaced the timber one that stood nearby, where the Battle of Stirling Bridge took place for scenic city views. 

Old Town – Take a walking guided tour through Old Town and immerse yourself in Scotland’s history. You’ll hear tales about the different kings, queens, and heroic knights who contributed to shaping this country.

Train route: The best way to get to Stirling from Edinburgh is by taking the ScotRail from Edinburgh Waverley Station. The fastest train takes about 40 minutes to get to Stirling, and a one-way ticket will cost you between £4.60 and £5.55 ($6 – $7). 

Tours: Taking a guided tour like this one from Edinburgh to Stirling Castle is a great way to immerse yourself in the nation’s history while bypassing long queues. 

Top Tip: Consider getting a Stirling City Pass and get entry to Stirling Castle, The National Wallace Monument, and Stirling Old Town Jail, plus discounts to other top attractions.

2. Train trip to Glasgow from Edinburgh — 50 minutes

Located along the River Clyde, Glasgow is a quintessential European port city. Glasgow is famed for its Victorian and Art Nouveau architecture, thriving music scene, and lots of cultural attractions. 

Glasgow Cathedral aka High Kirk of Glasgow or St Kentigern or St Mungo

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and the county’s designated cultural hub, which means you’ll be inundated with lots of artsy things to do. These include strolling through museums and galleries. 

If you’re an art lover, you’ll have a fantastic time in Glasgow. The city is home to over 28 museums, like the popular Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Things to do in Glasgow:

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum – This early 20th-century museum showcases some of Europe’s best artifacts. You’ll spot pieces like Rembrandt’s “A Man in Armour” and Salvador Dali’s “Christ of St John of the Cross”.

West End – Stroll through the vibrant alleys of the West End. They’re dotted with quaint boutiques, restaurants, and cafes serving a laid-back Scottish experience.

Glasgow Science Centre – Resembling a partly emerged zeppelin, the science center offers hundreds of interactive exhibits, a theater, and a huge IMAX cinema.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens – Add some color to your itinerary by visiting the plant-filled glasshouses at the botanic gardens.

Train route: The most ideal way to get to Glasgow from Edinburgh is by taking the ScotRail from the Waverley Station to Glasgow Queen Street Station, a major transit hub in Glasgow Central. A one-way ticket will cost you about £5.90 ($7.50)  

Tours: You’ll find many guided tours in and around Glasgow. The best one to go for is the city sightseeing hop-on hop-off bus tour. This will take you through the city’s most famous attractions and local hotspots like George Square.

3. Train trip to St Andrews from Edinburgh — 1 hour and 30 minutes

Hugging the craggy shores of Scotland’s east coast, St Andrews is hailed as the home of golf. This sport has been played here since 1552, and that’s evident in its world-class golf courses. So bring your golf clubs if you have them, and prepare to be blown away.

Coastline in St. Andrews

St Andrews is a haven for golf enthusiasts and outdoor lovers. You can spend your day here strolling through the grounds of the St Andrews Cathedral, smelling roses at the botanic gardens, relaxing at one of its sandy beaches, or putting around a golf course.

Things to do in St Andrews:

Old Course – Enjoy a round of golf at the legendary Old Course, the oldest golf course in the world. The property boasts seven golf courses for you to enjoy.

St. Andrews Cathedral – Wander around this 12th-century medieval cathedral’s ruins, then go to the top of St. Rule’s Tower for epic city views.

West Sands Beach – Spreading over two miles with backdrops of sand dunes, this public beach is an amazing place to walk, run, and swim.

St Andrews Aquarium – Get a peek into the world of marine life at this aquarium. You’ll see black-tip reef sharks, penguins, seals, and hundreds of fish species.

Train route: To get to St Andrews from Edinburgh, you’ll catch the ScotRail train at the Waverley Station to Leuchars, the closest railway station to St Andrews. This station is about six miles from the town, so you can catch a cab or order an e-haul to St Andrews.

Tours: There are many tours to St Andrews from Edinburgh. These are great ways to take a day trip. Guided tours like the one to St Andrews and Fishing Villages of Fife offer exceptional opportunities to explore the medieval setting and charming coastal villages.

4. Train trip to North Berwick from Edinburgh — 35 minutes

Visiting North Berwick is a fantastic day tour, especially if you have little time. North Berwick is a seaside town with wonderful coastal scenery. You’ll find many great shops, cafes, bars, and world-renowned golf courses.

The beach in North Berwick, Scotland

Your time in North Berwick will be characterized by slow-paced living, sunbathing, and strolling along the town’s most famous avenue, High Street. It offers an eclectic mix of shops, boutiques, and restaurants.

Things to do in North Berwick:

Scottish Seabird Centre – This environmental hub is home to an abundance of seabirds and mammals. Keep your eyes peeled for guillemots, gulls, razorbills, and puffins.

Bass Rock – Take a boat trip to the protruding Bass Rock and get an up-close look at the millions of northern gannets that call this place home.

Tantallon Castle – If you’re up for something more serene, consider wandering around the lush grounds of Tantallon Castle and admiring its ruins.

National Museum Of Flight – If you’re into aviation, this museum is the perfect place. You’ll see one of Europe’s best aircraft collections here, including Scotland’s only Concorde.

Train routes: You have two ScotRail train routes to get to North Berwick from Edinburgh. The train from Waverley Station takes about 35 minutes to get to North Berwick, while the one from Haymarket Station will take about 50 minutes. You’ll pay between £2.70 ($3.40) and £4.05 ($5.12) for a one-way ticket to North Berwick. 

Tours: Take a full-day tour from Edinburgh to explore the sands and castles of East Lothian and experience an unforgettable trip to one of the country’s most beautiful coastlines.

5. Train trip to Linlithgow from Edinburgh — 21 minutes

Another great day trip from Edinburgh is visiting the enchanting town of Linlithgow. Famously known as the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. 

Linlithgow Palace in the town of Linlithgow, West Lothian, Scotland. UK

The town perfectly blends ancient and modern, offering fun activities like strolling through museums, aqueduct cruises from the Linlithgow Canal Centre, and recreational activities at Beecraigs Country Park.

Things to do in Linlithgow:

Linlithgow Palace – See where Mary Queen of Scots was born by visiting the ruins of Linlithgow Palace. Although dilapidated, the property gives you a glimpse of how grandiose this palace used to be.

Linlithgow Loch – Find untampered serenity strolling around this scenic loch north of Linlithgow. It’s about a 2.25-mile long walk, taking a little over an hour to complete.

Burgh Halls – If you fancy a bit of luxury while exploring Linlithgow, head to the historic Burgh Halls and explore its local history exhibitions or attend an event.

Train route: This is quite an easy day trip. You’ll catch a ScotRail train from Edinburgh’s Waverley Station to Linlithgow Station. A one-way ticket costs about £9.60 ($12.15).

Tours: You’ll find plenty of fun tours to explore Linlithgow. One of the most popular ones is an “Outlander” Adventure tour from Edinburgh, which takes you to the show’s top filming locations in Scotland, like Linlithgow Palace, which served as Wentworth Prison.

6. Train trip to Loch Lomond from Edinburgh — 3 hours

Forming part of The Trossachs National Park, Loch Lomond is a freshwater lake known for its stunning scenery, with rugged hills and magical backdrops of snow-capped mountains. The lake is surrounded by lush highlands suitable for hiking, cycling, and wildlife spotting. 

Trossachs National Park, Loch Lomond

Things to do in Loch Lomond:

Conic Hill – Hike to Conic Hill to get sweeping views of the lake and its surrounding landscapes, dotted with oak trees and red deer.

Balmaha – Spend time strolling through this quaint seaside village. Shop the artsy boutiques, eat at the local cafes, or go on a picnic around the banks of the loch.

SEA LIFE Aquarium – Meet over 1,500 aquatic critters at this fascinating aquarium. You’ll enjoy an interactive rockpool experience and walk through a tropical ocean tunnel, where you’ll come face-to-fin with stingrays and Blacktip sharks. 

Train routes: Although it’s a long one, a tour from Edinburgh to Loch Lomond is one of the easiest day trips available. Catch a ScotRail or Caledonian Sleeper train from Waverley Station to Balloch Station at the southern end of the loch. ScotRail tickets cost about £23.90 ($30.25).

Tours: The Scottish Highlands are riddled with amazing sights, and there’s no better way to see them than via a guided tour. Take a day trip from Edinburgh to Loch Lomond, enjoy scenic boat cruises, and walk through Trossachs National Park while learning its history.

7. Train trip to Dundee from Edinburgh — 1 hour and 30 minutes

Tucked along the Firth of Tay estuary, Dundee is a vibrant coastal city with outstanding modern architecture, which earned it the title of UK’s first-ever UNESCO City of Design.

View over the City of Dundee in Scotland

You’ll find numerous museums and art galleries spread across the city, as well as a vast selection of pubs, restaurants, independent shops, and music events to enjoy. 

Things to do in Dundee:

V&A Dundee – Marvel at this inspiring design museum’s collection of contemporary design exhibitions. You’ll uncover over 500 years of Scottish art history here. 

Verdant Works – Stroll through interactive exhibits at this restored mill house turned museum. The property displays the story of local jute production in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Dundee Law – Climb to the highest point in the city for mesmerizing views. The hills sit in the city center, and “The Law”, a towering volcanic sill, is the center of attention.

Train routes: You can catch a train from Edinburgh Waverley to Dundee Railway Station with ScotRail. A one-way ticket to Dundee will cost you about £8.30 ($10.51). There are two train routes: one takes you through St Andrews, while the other takes you via Stirling. 

8. Train trip to Falkirk from Edinburgh — 30 minutes

Another easy day trip for you to consider is from Edinburgh to Falkirk, a lively Central Lowlands town with jaw-dropping architecture. The city is largely known for the Battle of Falkirk (1298), but there is tons more to discover here than just Scottish history.

The Kelpies at the Helix Park in Falkirk, Scotland

Besides striking infrastructure, you’ll also come across recreational parks, museums, and sculptures.

Things to do in Falkirk:

Falkirk Wheel – Marvel at this incredible feat of engineering. The wheel is the only rotating boat lift in the world, connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal.

The Kelpies – Feast your eyes on marvelous sculptures depicting mythical creatures. These 98-foot dual horse-head sculptures are rooted in Scottish folklore, which says kelpies are dangerous shape-shifting water creatures that often appear as horses. 

Callendar House and Park – This property boasts a stunning 14th-century French Chateau-style house with an expansive garden. You can enjoy contemporary visual art exhibitions at the Park Gallery or take a leisurely stroll through the complex.

Train routes: To get to Falkirk from Edinburgh, you’ll use the ScotRail train from Waverley Station to Falkirk’s High or Grahamston Station. The travel distance is relatively the same, with about a five-minute difference. One-way tickets cost about £11.10 ($14.05) to Grahamston.

Tours: Take a day trip to Falkirk to visit the world-renowned Kelpies and many other top attractions in the city, like the Falkirk Wheel and Callendar House.

9. Train trip to Dunfermline from Edinburgh — 40 minutes

Dunfermline is a former Royal Burgh that served as Scotland’s seat of power during the reign of King Malcolm III and Queen Margaret in the mid-11th century.

Dunfermline

This town is a treasure trove of history, as it’s the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie and the final resting place of Robert the Bruce, a Scottish king who led the fight for independence during the First War.

Things to do in Dunfermline:

Dunfermline Abbey and Palace – Dominating the skyline with its spires, this parish is a special place for many Scotts. It’s the burial place for many of the nation’s queens and kings, like Robert the Bruce. 

Pittencrieff Park – Locally known as “The Glen”, this 76-acre park is famed for its flower-dotted grounds, colorful playgrounds, and a large pride of peacocks.

Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries – Discover the city’s royal and industrial past at this museum and art gallery through special films, computer games, and exhibitions. And the best part is that entry to this museum is completely free! 

Train routes: From Edinburgh, you’ll catch a ScotRail train at Waverley Station, which crosses the Forth Bridge on the way to Dunfermline. You arrive at the city’s Queen Margaret Station. You can expect to pay around £7.50 ($9.49) for a one-way ticket. 

Tours: Take a day tour from Edinburgh and experience the wonders of Dunfermline Abbey. Along the way, you’ll cross the Forth Bridge and marvel at the architecture of Rosslyn Chapel.

10. Train trip to Loch Ness from Edinburgh — 3 hours and 30 minutes

Famous for being home to the mystic Loch Ness monster, this enormous freshwater lake sits deep in Scotland’s Highlands. The loch is about 23 miles, so it’s huge and full of fun outdoor activities. Outside of searching for the mythical creature, there is plenty to do in Loch Ness.

Loch Ness: Best day trips from Edinburgh by train or tours

Things to do in Loch Ness:

Boat Cruise on Loch Ness – Try your luck at spotting the cryptozoological Loch Ness monster by taking a thrilling cruise around the lake.

Urquhart Castle – Get a deeper understanding of Scottish history as you stroll around the ruins of Urquhart Castle. 

Loch Ness Centre – Learn more about the geology of the loch and the myth of the creature that lives within its waters.

Train routes: To get to Loch Ness, you’ll catch a ScotRail or LNER train from Edinburgh Waverley to Inverness Railway Station. From here, you’ll catch a bus to Loch Ness. One-way tickets cost around £19.20 ($24.30) to Inverness.

Tours: There are lots of day trips from Edinburgh to Loch Ness. This day tour takes you through the lush Scottish Highlands, where you can search for the famed Loch Ness monster. And because the train journey takes over 2 hours (one way), we recommend a day tour instead.

11. Train trip to South Queensferry from Edinburgh — 40 minutes

Set along the shores of the River Forth, South Queensferry is an idyllic Scottish town boasting colorful row houses, local restaurants, and views of the famous Forth Bridge. Spend your day here cruising the water, shopping, or spotting historical landmarks.

South Queensferry

Things to do in South Queensferry:

Boat Tour on the Firth of Forth – Enjoy a fun boat ride passing under the Forth Bridge and The Queensferry Crossing.

Forth Rail Bridge Walkway – Climb up the bridge’s walkway for incredible city views.

Train routes: To get to Queensferry, take the ScotRail train from Waverley Station in Edinburgh to Dalmeny Station on the city’s outskirts. From here, you can catch a cab to Queensferry.

Tours: Take the Three Bridges cruise from Edinburgh and enjoy fantastic views of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Forth Bridge, while spotting seals and puffins. 

Wrapping up the best day trips from Edinburgh by train

Edinburgh is one of Scotland’s most visited cities, and it’s not hard to see why. The city is riddled with intriguing architecture and world-class festivals. But there is more that lies beyond the Scottish capital. That is where these amazing day trips come in.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway on a beautiful beach or a deep dive into history at Scotland’s numerous castles, day trips are the way to go. 

So don’t limit yourself to only exploring one of the best places to visit in Europe; take some time to discover its magical surroundings.

Other UK travel guides:

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