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Edinburgh Travel Guide

The 10 Best Day Trips From Edinburgh

These awe-inspiring destinations are only a train or bus ride away from Edinburgh.

One of the joys of Edinburgh and its compact size is the ease with which one can nip out of the city. Scotland’s various natural assets – bracing coastlines, rolling hills, beautiful forests – as well as charming towns and cities, are all easily accessible. While a trip to the highlands is more of a multiple-day affair, there are many beautiful places to discover in closer proximity.

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WHERE: City Bus 19 or 26 from Princes Street

It may be a stretch to call this a day trip – Portobello is, in fact, a neighborhood of the city – but Edinburgh’s seaside is a favorite day trip of locals looking for some quick sea air. Located a mere 30-minute bus ride from the city center, Portobello feels more like a small town than a city suburb. The beach promenade, which for years had a somewhat undesirable reputation, went through a real resurgence during the pandemic when Edinburgh’s city dwellers suddenly remembered that they had an actual beach on their doorstep. This close-knit community harbors many independent businesses along its high street, too – visit The Portobello Bookshop for beautiful books, Root Down for picnic snacks, and Smith & Gertrude for a glass of natural wine.

INSIDER TIPIf you want to feel like a local, brave a morning dip in the North Sea followed by a heavenly hot chocolate from The Little Green Van food truck – it parks along the promenade on the weekends and is the center of the beach community.



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North Berwick

WHERE: Regular Trains from Edinburgh Waverley

Another seaside jaunt, this one being an actual town. A quick train that runs regularly from Edinburgh Waverly will deliver you to quaint North Berwick, which looks like something from a children’s book. A higgledy-piggledy kind of high street is overflowing with little shops and cafes. The star of the show here, though, is the beachfront and harbor, which is very aesthetically pleasing. May I suggest picking up some fish and chips and enjoying that most British of traditions – fish and chips on a (probably rainy and cold) beach? If you are a golf player, then this is one of the famous Scottish spots to play a round and enjoy beautiful views out to sea.

INSIDER TIPIf you would like to make a night of it I suggest a stay at Marine & Lawn North Berwick, an elegant old resort hotel and spa which makes the whole trip feel very much like you have been prescribed some sea air in 1910. Which is to say – classic and restorative.


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WHERE: Bus X62 from the Bus Station

Nestled in the Scottish Borders, 1.5 hours south of Edinburgh by bus, Peebles is a really lovely place to combine the charms of a small-town high street with the rolling hills of the surrounding countryside. Start your day with a coffee (or matcha! I can’t tell you what a thrill it is that matcha has made it to small-town Scotland) from The Milkman, and then saunter out on any number of nearby hikes. May I recommend Venlaw Hill? Or for something more gentle, a circuit of the River Tweed (the “three bridges”) will take you an hour and offer both you the company of some beautiful trees and an actual castle. Don’t leave without a trawl around Peebles’ charity shops – there are always bargains to be found — and a drink in the cozy pub The Bridge. If you would like to stay the night, then nearby Peebles Hydro Hotel is perched on a hill with an exterior that looks vaguely like it is waiting for Wes Anderson to show up.

INSIDER TIPCome in the fall and view stunning woodland leaves to rival Vermont’s famous autumn views.



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WHERE: Bus X62 from the Bus Station

One town further down on the same bus to Peebles, this one is a recommendation specifically for bike lovers. Innerleithen and the nearby Glentress Valley have become famous for mountain biking, attracting an international crowd who come for the beautiful (and very hilly) forest trails that surround this unassuming town. This notoriety has regenerated the high street so that you can refuel with a flat white and vegetarian brunch from No.1 Café and then shop for Scandinavian-inspired homewares at Haus.

INSIDER TIPUnless you are a pro who travels with your wheels, you can hire a bike from Innerleithen Bike Shop or Tweed Valley Bikes.


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WHERE: Regular Trains from Edinburgh Waverley

The main reason to hop on the train to the small coastal city of Dundee is to visit the Scottish outpost of the V & A museum. You may recognize its striking architecture and waterfront vista as one of the opulent locations from Succession (it is the setting for that infamous “rap” scene in season 2). As Scotland’s design museum, there is always a diverse range of inspiration to be found in exhibitions that showcase a broad range of creativity – from fashion to illustration to furniture and beyond. From there, enjoy a stroll along the waterfront at Riverside Walk, possibly stopping off at Dundee Botanical Gardens or Riverside Nature Park.

INSIDER TIPIf you are traveling with kids, V&A Dundee regularly hosts free drop-in art workshops for families.


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WHERE: Train from Edinburgh Waverley

Dunkeld is a little further afield than the other destinations on this trip – involving a two-hour train journey followed by a (lovely) 15-minute walk – but this picturesque Perthshire town is worth it. Calm and beautiful, bordered by ancient forests, this is a peaceful place to spend a day. Head out on any number of nature walks that surround the town, or spend your time pottering around the many independent shops that fill the high street. Not to be missed is a stop at the gorgeous Aran Bakery (run by Great British Bake-Off alumni Flora Sheddon). Choose something delicious from their delightful selection and enjoy it on the pretty banks of the River Tay.


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Dawyck Botanical Garden

WHERE: Bus X62 from the Bus Station, change at Peebles to the 91 bus to Biggar.

This one would very much benefit from hiring a car – although it is possible to reach by public transport (bus to bus to walk takes about two hours although you could stop for coffee in Peebles on the way to kill two birds!), it is decidedly easier by car. Covering 65 acres, this tranquil wonderland of heritage trees is worth the trek. Nestled in the hills of the Scottish Borders, Dawyck is a sanctuary of endangered plants. A stroll along the burn through peaceful woodland is a true balm for the weary soul. They also have a simple, homey café and small shop.

INSIDER TIPCome in February for blankets of snowdrops, May for vibrant Azaleas, or October for the glorious turning of the leaves.


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Jupiter Artland

WHERE: Bus X27 From Princes St

An easy bus ride from the center of Edinburgh, Jupiter Artland is an award-winning contemporary sculpture garden. With over 100 acres of woodland, meadows, and indoor galleries to explore, this is a haven for art and nature lovers alike. The diverse and verdant landscape has inspired site-specific pieces from artists such as Tracy Emin, Phylidda Barlow, and Andy Goldsworthy. Jupiter hosts a vibrant stream of exhibitions, talks, and events for you to dip your toe into.

INSIDER TIPWith creative food options ranging from an innovative bistro to a down-to-earth fast food caravan, you can come simply to enjoy a beautiful walk and some excellent lunch.


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WHERE: Train from Edinburgh Waverley

For a different East Coast seaside town option (with fewer tourists than North Berwick) you can take a short train ride from Waverley Station to Dunbar. Start your morning with tea and cakes at Wishing Tree by the Sea, followed by a walk along the beautiful coastal path – and possibly a dip in the ocean at the glorious Belhaven Bay beach. Refuel with artisan pizza at Hector’s, perhaps followed by a tour of Belhaven Brewery; Scotland’s oldest working brewery.




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WHERE: Regular Trains from Edinburgh Waverley

The joy of Scotland’s diminutive size is that you can travel from its capital city to another great city in only 45 minutes. Despite their proximity, Edinburgh and Glasgow have very different energies – with Glasgow feeling like the feistier, livelier younger sister. The train from Waverley Station will deposit you in the city center – but there is no special reason to linger here. I would choose from a visit to the upmarket West End or down to the artsy Southside, depending on your proclivities. Highlights of the West End include Byres Road, the botanical gardens, and The Crab Shakk for seafood, whilst those traveling South should be sure to visit Flowers Vermillion for gifts and Sunnyacre for an excellent lunch.

INSIDER TIPGet a taxi to Pollok Country Park where you can enjoy fields of that very Scottish icon, the highland cow, followed by some culture at The Burrell Collection