Attractions Nearby Edinburgh, Day Trips and Excursions
(Edinburgh, Scotland, UK)
If you are based in Edinburgh for more than a few days, you may like to consider a day trip or two, visiting some of the nearby attractions. Glasgow is likely to be your number one excursion and is located roughly 51 miles / 82 km to the west, where it comes with numerous theatres and museums, as well as some striking architecture - old and new, such as the Clyde Auditorium, the city's cathedral and Charles Rennie Mackintosh's famous School of Art.
Excursions to both East Lothian and Midlothian may also appeal, with attractions including country parks, castles and stately homes, while to the west of Edinburgh, the Firth of Forth comes with many attractions, including the fortified islands of Inchcolm, Inchkeith and Inchmickery, the latter of which now serves as an important RSPB nature reserve. Roughly an hour to the north-west is the city of Stirling, which straddles the Forth River and is often referred to as being the 'Gateway to the Scottish Highlands'.
is Scotland's largest city and is well-known for its excellent entertainment, shopping, nightlife and general culture. Situated around one hour's drive from central Edinburgh, many tourists come here to sightsee.
- Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum - a wonderful Victorian museum housing a world-class permanent collection of fine art, including paintings by Rembrandt and Van Gogh, and art work by the famous Scottish artist, Charles Rennie Mackintosh
- Burrell Collection - one of Scotland's finest private collections on display in a stunning, purpose-built museum
- Botanic Gardens - these beautiful landscaped gardens are dominated by the huge dome of the Victorian Kibble Palace
- Glasgow Cathedral - founded almost 1,500 years ago, this stunning cathedral features impressive architecture and many historic attractions
- School of Art - an architectural Mackintosh masterpiece and a true icon of modern 20th-century design
- Science Centre - with cutting-edge architecture, fun interactive exhibits and stunning panoramic views of the cityscape
- Holmwood House - Glaswegian Alexander Thomson's finest and most elaborate villa
- Glasgow Lighthouse - Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow Herald Building, which is now Scotland's centre for architecture and design, featuring a permanent exhibition about the life and work of Mackintosh himself
- People's Palace - one of the city's most popular exhibitions, covering all aspects of local life
The flat landscape of East Lothian is bordered by the Firth of Forth and the Lammermuir Hills. East Lothian is within easy reach of Edinburgh, with visitors often heading here to check out the sandy beaches of Gullane and Yellowcraig.
- Belhaven Brewery - founded in 1719 by local monks, this distillery has guided tours which should be booked in advance
- Dirleton Castle and Gardens - dating back to the 13th century, this fortress features an old bowling green, an arts and crafts centre and a restored Victorian garden
- Gosford House - the central core of this grand three-storey building was designed in the 18th century and the vast marble hall is very luxurious
- Inveresk Lodge - a National Trust property with stunning gardens, sloping down to the River Esk's peaceful riverside walks
- John Muir House - this important and historic house has recently been renovated
- Myreton Motor Museum - a privately owned collection of lovingly restored vehicles, including bicycles and general motoring memorabilia
- National Museum of Flight - a popular destination for families, with attractions including an 1896 glider
- North Berwick Museum - an informative and interesting museum, situated on the Old School Road, near the tourist information office
- Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum - full of interesting reminders of the historic local industry
- Scottish Sea Bird Centre - situated on the Harbour of North Berwick, with video cameras showing nesting birds more than one mile away
- Tantallon Castle - a 14th-century castle located on the cliff edge nearby North Berwick
The spectacular Pentland Hills cover more than 20,000 acres / 8,100 hectares and lie to the south of Edinburgh, on the A702. The Pentland Hills Regional Park is one of the principal attractions in this area and features a golf course, the longest dry ski slope in Europe and a vast country park.
- Crichton Castle - near Pathhead, this historic castle was built in 1591 for the Earl of Bothwell and has many impressive original features
- Dalkieth Country Park - in the centre of Midlothian, surrounding the 18th-century Dalkieth House
- Scottish Mining Museum - a purpose-built three-storey visitor centre, featuring interactive exhibitions and a hands-on operations centre
West of Edinburgh
To the west of Edinburgh, many old slag heaps provide a reminder of the area's coal mining and heavy industrial past. Close to the airport, the village of Ratho is home to many noteworthy attractions. Other areas of interest to the west include Tamfourhill, Linlithglow, the Firth of Forth and South Queensferry.
- Blackness Castle - built in the 1440s, this spectacular castle offers views across the Forth
- Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway - featuring steam trains running an 11-km / 7-mile round trip to the Birkhill Claymines
- Cairnpapple Hill - near Torphichen, this is a burial site dating from 3,000 BC, with some of Scotland's most important prehistoric remains
- Dalmeny House - a Gothic revival mansion designed in 1814 and home of the Earls of Rosebery
- Edinburgh Canal Centre - in the village of Ratho, this centre reflects on the construction of the canal in the 19th century
- Falkirk Wheel - a massive new landmark in this area, which lifts boats from the Forth and Clyde Canal and places them in the Union Canal
- Hopetoun House - designed in 1699 for Charles Hope, the first Earl of Hopetoun, this house is surrounded by parkland and overlooks the Firth of Forth
- House of the Binns - dating from the 17th century, this is the ancient seat of the Dalyells
- Inchcolm Abbey - founded in 1123, this abbey comprises a number of monastic buildings and is located on Inchcolm Island
- Linlithgow Palace - overlooking the Loch and the Peel, a grassy area next to the Loch
- Linithgow Canal Centre - including a museum, tearoom and scenic towpath
- South Queensferry Museum - providing an insight into the history of the bridges and the village
- Torphichen Preceptory - a 13th-century tower built by the Knights Hospitaller of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem
Fife is situated to the north of Edinburgh and from any high point in the city you will see Fife on the far shore of the Firth of Forth. With many picturesque views and popular tourist draws, Fife has much to offer day trippers.
- Abbot House Heritage Centre - an interesting 15th-century building which is full of Dunfermline history
- Craigtoun Country Park - a large scenic park in Mount Melville, near St. Andrews
- Deep Sea World - on the coast at North Queensferry, this huge aquarium features a tunnel walkway, with sharks and rays
- Dunfermline Abbey - one of the finest Norman naves in the whole of Scotland, founded in 1070 by Queen Margaret
- Falkland Palace - in the Royal borough of Falkland, this grand palace was once the home of Mary, Queen of Scots, and in the grounds is one of the few remaining 'real' tennis courts, dating from 1539
- Hill of Tarvit Mansionhouse - near Cupar, a grand house with an impressive collection of French furniture
- St. Fillan's Cave - in Cove Wynd, this cave was once used as a chapel by a 7th-century missionary
- Scottish Fisheries Museum - overlooking the harbour, this museum tells the story of the development of the fishing industry in Fife
The Borders is one of the most scenic areas of Scotland, with pastoral landscapes, a stunning coastline, picturesque towns and numerous historic abbeys, being located just under an hour's drive to the south-east of Edinburgh.
- Abbotsford - home of Sir Walter Scott, with views of nearby Tweed
- Daywyck Botanic Garden - an outpost of Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden, with impressive landscaped grounds and beautiful plants
- Floors Castle - overlooking the River Tweed, Floors Castle is Scotland's largest inhabited castle and was designed in 1721, being later remodelled in the 19th century
- Mellerstain House - near Gordon, construction began on this impressive house in 1725 and attractions today include a lake and folly
- Melrose Abbey - founded in 1136 by Cistercian monks, this abbey is reputed to be the resting place of Robert the Bruce's heart
- Neidpath Castle - with a number of scenic walks and attractions nearby, including the River Tweed
- Traquair House - a handsome house which is over 1,000 years old and famous for being the most historic inhabited house in the whole country
- Tweedale Museum and Gallery - on the High Street, with impressive plaster copies of the Parthenon Frieze and grand works of art
For many hundreds of years, Stirling has been one of Scotland's key strongholds and is situated just above the River Forth. Home to two of the most important battles against the English, Stirling is steeped in history and has numerous interesting attractions for visitors from Edinburgh.
- Argyll's Lodging - a stunning 17th-century grand townhouse
- Bannockburn Heritage Centre - situated on the famous Bannockburn battle site. This heritage centre has many interesting exhibits and artefacts
- Church of the Holy Rude - an important church which has one of the few surviving medieval timber roofs in Scotland
- Mar's Wark - the impressive stone remains of a grand Renaissance-style house that was built by the Earl of Mar
- National Wallace Monument - built in 1860, commemorating the hero of the Battle of Stirling Bridge
- Stirling Castle - dating from the 15th century, this castle combines a strong fortress with a royal palace