Planning a getaway to the great country of haggis and kilts? Edinburgh is obviously a go-to, but while you’re in the stunning capital city, why not take a day to explore some of Scotland’s other great landscapes? From hunting Nessie to checking out Glasgow’s nightlife, here are the 6 best Scottish day trips to take from Edinburgh!
This article was contributed by Hayley, one of our fabulous St Christopher's Innsiders. You can follow Hayley's travels via her blog Suitcase on My Sleeve or follow her on Instagram @suitcaseonmysleeve . Are you interested in travel writing, photography, video or music? Find out more about becoming an Innsider . We'd love to hear from you!
1. Inverness and Loch Ness
Inverness is well known as the gateway to the Scottish Highlands and features a mix of modern architecture and fascinating Jacobean history. It’s also the city closest to Loch Ness, most famously known as the home of the mysterious Loch Ness Monster! Here you can explore Inverness Castle and St Andrews cathedral or take in the natural beauty while strolling by River Ness.
In terms of Loch Ness Monster hunting, it’s a popular choice to take a river cruise and they can actually be quite affordable and engaging (plus your Insta photos will be on point).
If you have some more time, Culloden Battlefield is just outside the city and is well worth a visit. This site is the location of the final battle of the 1745 Jacobite rising where 1500 Jacobites lost their lives. There is a very informative museum on-site and a shop where you can take home their own distilled whiskey (it’s very tasty trust me).
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Ahh Glasgow… It’s a classic and easy pick for a day trip from Edinburgh, not just because it’s only an hour away by car, but also because it’s got a vibrant history, nightlife and music scene. But honestly it’s worth a trip to Glasgow just for the architecture alone.
The Kelvingrove Art Gallery , University of Glasgow and Glasgow Cathedral are must-visits for any history and art buffs. While the Glengoyne Distillery, the Clydeside Distillery and the Tennents Wellpark Brewery await fans of a cheeky pint. Finish the picturesque day of sightseeing at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens with roots that go back to 1841.
3. Cairngorms National Park
Nature lovers and thrill seekers MUST take a day trip to Cairngorms National Park nestled in the Scottish Highlands. Often lauded as one of Scotland’s best natural beauties, it’s a place to visit all year round. From walking trails, cycling trails, water sports, snow sports, golf courses, a bungee jump and even a range of medieval castles to discover, it’s definitely a place you can keep returning to year after year.
Head further North to the coastal and artsy city of Dundee – Scotland’s fourth largest city (and reportedly the sunniest). Aside from their picturesque waterfront, it’s known as a culture capital for the country and even has their own V&A museum (the first one outside of London)! Wine and dine by the seaside, get some sunshine in and tick some attractions off the list. The Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre and The McManus Art Gallery and Museum are popular hits with the locals. The city also houses the Old Steeple, which is Scotland’s oldest surviving medieval church tower having stood for over 500 years.
Don't fancy straying too far from the city centre? Check out these incredible to visit during your stay
5. St Andrews
The town of St Andrews in Fife is a small but lively place largely due to the renowned University of St Andrews and its history as a major golfing destination. The town is a popular place with travellers, with historic sites like St Andrews Cathedral and St Andrews Castle on many bucket lists. If the weather permits, St Andrew’s seaside is the ideal spot for a lunchtime fish and chips.
End this perfect day trip with a few holes at St Andrews Links, the largest public golf course in Europe and the oldest golf course in the world.
Aberdeen is a major port city in northeast Scotland with history bursting from the seams. Aberdeenshire is home to 263 castles and the area is sprawling with ancient sites, granite walls and even pagan standing stones. Aberdeen itself has two Old Towns fit with cobbled streets and a 15th century cathedral.
If you want to get some education in, Aberdeen has their own Gin Distillery and Gin School , so you can perfect the art of the martini. The famous Dunnottar Castle is only a short drive from the city, and provides some unforgettable views of the historic ruins along the cliffside.
Head to Aberdeen Beach and you might even spot some dolphins!
Hopefully you’re on your way to planning a great Scottish adventure that will make the likes of Robert Burns proud.
Once you’ve taken the time to explore more of Scotland, return to the great city of Edinburgh to (either our Old Town or Original locations) and have a drink. Belushi’s has a pint waiting for you! We’re sure you’ll need it to prepare for more days of sightseeing .