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Best Day Trips from Edinburgh

Monday 06 May 2024

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We all need a bit of a break from the city sometimes, even from those as beautiful as Edinburgh. Surrounding the Scottish capital there are quaint villages to explore, gorgeous countryside vistas to marvel at and a trove of history and heritage to learn about. So, whether it’s the sea breeze or some spectacular Renaissance architecture that’s drawing you away from ‘Auld Reekie’, join us at CrossCountry as we explore the best day trips from Edinburgh. 


Linlithgow can be found tucked between Edinburgh and Falkirk. Now a site of romantic ruin, Linlithgow Palace was once home to the Stewarts and birthplace to Mary Queen of Scots. The vast halls would once have been alive with magnificent banquets and balls, and the grounds to jousting and weekend hunts. The name Linlithgow originally referred to the small loch the palace stands on and comes from the Old Welsh lynn llaith cau meaning "lake in the moist hollow". It’s a lovely place to bring the family for a picnic to admire the scenery and wildlife.
As well as a wealth of history and architecture to bask in, Linlithgow regularly holds events perfect for family days out. There are guided walking tours, nature and heritage trails, and even a jousting show!

From Edinburgh Waverley station, Linlithgow Palace can be reached in about twenty minutes by train. 

South Queensferry

South Queensferry is a little town north-west of Edinburgh. It’s brightly painted terraces, cobbled streets, and rows of flower baskets make for quite the contrast set against the towering Forth Railway Bridge. 

South Queensferry was once a bustling ferry point to Fife across the water and still carries boats to the islands of Forth today. In fact, a boat tour to these islands is a fantastic day trip. The craggy islands are mostly uninhabited and reclaimed by all manner of wildlife. The isle of Inchmickery is home to ghostly, abandoned wartime ruins, Inchkeith has a grizzly history as an early syphilis quarantine zone and Inchgarvie was a fortress through Cromwell, Napoleon and up to the Second World War. On the outskirts of South Queensferry, visitors may enjoy two stately homes - Dalmeny House and Hopetoun House. Both boast stunning architecture and plenty of family-friendly activities and events.

 For visitors preferring a relaxed wander with an ice cream, staying in South Queensferry will make for a delightful day too. For a bite to eat, pay a visit to Craigies Farm Shop, where there is a delicious selection of Scottish cheese, farmhouse bread and home-grown produce. Depending on the time of year, Craigie’s also have a pumpkin patch throughout October and strawberry picking in Summer, proving that you can have a grand day out at any time of year.

You can reach South Queensferry by train or bus from Edinburgh. The journey will usually take between 35 and 45 minutes.

Dunfermline Abbey

Scotland is full of majestic ruins and visiting just one would hardly be enough. Dunfermline Abbey is just under forty minutes by train from Edinburgh Waverley, beckoning history enthusiasts with its Romanesque architecture, ancient refectory, shrines, tombs, and Tudor portraits.

Dunfermline has been standing since the eleventh century and since then has served several purposes: a priory then an abbey, a reformed church, and a palace. Its halls once echoed with the patter of tiny royal feet, including King James I in 1394 and King Charles I over two hundred years later. However, in the early 1600s, the site lost its prestige and fell into disrepair. Today, what remains is a reminder of its former grandeur, offering visitors a glimpse into its storied past.

Alt: A stone bridge surrounded by foliage and mossy stone, Dunfermline Abbey in the background.

Hogwarts Express

More than just a mode of transport, the Jacobite Steam Train exudes a nostalgia and charm that has made it one of the most famous trains in Britain. There are several one-day tours available from Edinburgh in which passengers will get the chance to see Scotland’s natural beauty in Glen Coe and some iconic UK landmarks, like Glenfinnan Viaduct and Forth Bridge. 

Tickets for this unforgettable journey are available from April through October, the best time to see the full spectrum of Scotland’s seasons unfold. 

Portobello Beach

Portobello Beach is located just a few miles out of the city centre, a perfect summer day trip! The area boasts a kayaking and sailing club, a Victorian swimming pool and Turkish baths. This dog-friendly beach is the perfect destination for melty ice cream and sandy sandwiches. 

The area is also host to several nice places to eat, from greasy spoon cafes to seaside brunch spots. Along the promenade, you’ll find Oscars, an artisan gelato shack with over thirty delicious and unique flavours. Grab a little pot of classic vanilla or treat yourself to a magnificently lavish sundae drizzled in strawberry sauce and sprinkles.

Portobello has been deemed an accessible beach by past visitors. The promenade has a wide and smooth surface and there are various access points to the beach. Although, it’s advisable to use an all-terrain wheelchair here for better mobility across the sand. Visitors requiring an all-terrain power wheelchair can arrange for one in advance through Portobello Beach Wheelchairs.

How to get to Edinburgh by train

There are plenty of ways to reach the Scottish capital with CrossCountry. Our services extend from various locations across the west and northwest of the UK, including hubs like Bristol Temple Meads, Cardiff Central, and Manchester Piccadilly. Additionally, we cater to travellers from key easterly locations such as from Newcastle station, Peterborough station, and Cambridge station.

Edinburgh is perfect to visit for a weekend getaway, giving you the chance to explore the city and enjoy its surroundings. If you're up for another excursion from Edinburgh, why not embark on a journey to one of Scotland’s other great cities, such as Glasgow or Dundee?

If you’re planning a one day trip from Edinburgh, don’t forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or the CrossCountry app. If you need more information, you can contact us here.

Written by Julia

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