Day Trips From Edinburgh: Top Places To Visit, Vehicle Checklist, And Tips

Day Trips From Edinburgh: Top Places To Visit, Vehicle Checklist, And Tips

Edinburgh’s exciting energy makes Scotland’s lively capital special. But even city residents sometimes need a break from the fun hustle and bustle.  

Luckily, Edinburgh’s great location puts stunning nature, charming historical towns, mighty medieval castles, and famous whisky distilleries a short drive away. Taking day trips from Edinburgh promises fresh sights and experiences beyond city neighborhoods and nightlife.

From the Trossachs National Park’s rugged beauty to the legendary Dunnottar Castle on the cliffs, Scotland’s top attractions are right on Edinburgh’s doorstep. Lesser known gems like the 17th-century town of Culross down picturesque backroads are also quite intriguing.  

So whether you want to see past royal strongholds, learn whisky secrets, or find Highland glens and lochs – day trips from Edinburgh are the perfect starting point for remarkable adventures!

Pack your camera to capture inspiring views. Bring good walking shoes and driving music too. Then hop into your trusty car – maybe a sporty hatchback for country roads or a big SUV to carry back tasty treats. Let’s explore the best day trips from Edinburgh and find you some reliable wheels you can rely on!

Captivating Day Trips From Edinburgh that you Should not Miss

1. Crieff and Strathearn Valley 

Under an hour’s drive from Edinburgh, the charming market town of Crieff serves as the gateway to the Strathearn Valley and Highlands Perthshire – an area brimming with rugged natural beauty and Scots culture. Medieval Fowlis Castle provides a glimpse into the past before a visit to Caithness Glass to see skilled artisans crafting glassware. Don’t miss the Famous Grouse Experience to uncover whisky-making secrets and taste the final product. With winding roads and striking scenery, day trips from Edinburgh to Strathearn Valley are best explored from the comfort of an SUV like the 2023 Kia Soul LX, which has ample cargo space for purchases.  

2. St Andrews 

As the homeland of golf, St Andrews needs no introduction for fans of the sport. Walk in the footsteps of greats on the hallowed fairways of the Old Course before grabbing lunch on the pier and strolling the medieval lanes and ruins of the historic university town. At just an hour’s drive, St Andrews makes for some easy day trips from Edinburgh suitable for the whole family. The six seats and high safety rating of the 2024 Hyundai Venue ensure a comfortable and secure journey.

3. Stirling

Dominated by the mighty Stirling Castle looming atop a craggy hillside and the scene of many a power struggle in Scottish history, Stirling has no shortage of intrigue and drama. Learn of feats and betrayals gone by in the castle before wandering the quaint old town below and shopping for local wares. With under an hour’s drive separating Stirling and Edinburgh, you can comfortably fit in history-steeped day trips from Edinburgh without rushing. The excellent fuel efficiency of the 2023 Nissan Kicks means you needn’t worry about the cost either.

4. Falkland

Undoubtedly one of Scotland’s most picturesque historic towns, Falkland in Fife dazzles visitors with its fountain-adorned central square, blooming floral displays in summer, and the majestic Falkland Palace – a favored country retreat of the Stuart monarchs. With ample open green space and family-friendly attractions like the Mills Observatory stargazing sessions, Falkland makes an easygoing day trip under an hour from Edinburgh suitable for youngsters and parents alike. With five seats, space for all is no trouble in the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.

5. North Berwick

For lovers of wide sandy beaches, seaside amusements, and fresh seafood, the charming coastal town of North Berwick ticks all the boxes. Build sandcastles with the wee ones before climbing Berwick Law for panoramic views over land and sea. The Scottish Seabird Centre also provides an up-close encounter with puffins, gannets, and more. At just half an hour from Edinburgh, North Berwick is tailor-made for carefree day trips from Edinburgh that are best-enjoyed roof down in a peppy 2024 Chevrolet Trax on sunny days.  

6. Kelso

Situated where the Tweed flows gently through fertile countryside, the Scottish Borders town of Kelso brings together an appealing blend of immaculately-kept Georgian town squares, independent boutiques stocking local handicrafts, the impressive 12th-century Kelso Abbey ruins, and the grand Floors Castle. Foodies will delight in the fine dining options showing off the best regional produce. A 70-minute drive from Edinburgh through the handsome countryside, Kelso offers the perfect excuse to take the 2024 Chevrolet Trax out for a spin.

7. Culross 

Like stepping into a time warp, the little village of Culross, with its whitewashed 16th and 17th-century cottages and medieval church on the shores of the Firth of Forth, seems almost frozen in the past. Wander cobbled lanes to uncover the small but perfectly preserved National Trust village before enjoying an ale at the atmospheric Red Lion Inn frequented by Outlander’s Jamie Fraser. At under an hour from Edinburgh, tiny Culross packs a disproportionately large historical punch, which is ideal for shorter day trips from Edinburgh.

Vehicle Checklist For Day Trips From Edinburgh

To make the most of day trips from Edinburgh by car, having a reliable set of wheels is key. When test-driving vehicles or choosing one to purchase, keep these few models in mind:

1. 2024 Chevrolet Trax 

This nimble compact SUV is made for zipping along country lanes with the top down on sunny days out. Beyond the fun convertible roof option and sporty handling, the Trax offers excellent fuel economy of up to 34 mpg on the highway, helping lower the cost of longer roundtrips. With a suite of high-tech safety features and a 5-star crash test rating, drivers can rest assured family and friends ride securely to destinations near and far while on day trips from Edinburgh.  

2. 2023 Kia Soul LX 

The boxy exterior of the Kia Soul LX hides a deceptively roomy cabin, with rear seats folding fully flat to allow loading of larger purchases and gear from rural adventures. Combined with the basic trim LX’s attractive pricing, the value is exceptional. Fuel figures come in at 33 mpg on the highway to limit filling up costs, while standard additions like lane departure and forward collision warnings boost safety credentials during lengthy stints behind the wheel.

3. 2023 Nissan Kicks S

Topping mileage estimates at 36 mpg highway, the Kicks stretches trips between fill-ups even on longer rural routes crisscrossing the Scottish countryside. Attractive 17-inch alloy wheels and a chrome grille hint at the Kick’s sportier intentions, allowing for spirited driving when the road opens up through the rolling Southern Uplands. With ample head and legroom front and rear plus standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto handling calls and music on the go, the Kicks effortlessly ticks practicality and style boxes.  

4. 2024 Hyundai Venue

Sized just right for nipping around tighter village lanes and into compact parking spots, the subcompact Venue still comfortably carries four adults over shorter distances from Edinburgh in safety thanks to a 5-star crash rating. Combined city and highway estimates come in at 33 mpg to limit fuel costs. At the same time, standard infotainment like an 8-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto keeps passengers connected and engaged on quick day trip getaways.

5. 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Sporting an athletic profile with LED accents, the Outlander brings styling reflective of its adventurous intents alongside an all-wheel drive grip for rougher terrain. The 2.0 liter 4-cylinder manages adequate pep while returning 31 mpg highway to balance performance and efficiency over changing landscape. Expect a smooth ride from the suspension tuning and supportive seating for five, ensuring family and friends stay comfortable no matter how long your day trips from Edinburgh last.

Top 5 Tips for Stress-free Day Trips From Edinburgh 

1. Get an early start to beat day-tripper crowds at top attractions.

2. Pack layers to be prepared for Scotland’s changeable weather.

3. Bring snacks and water to keep the whole family fuelled when away from cafes.  

4. Have a backup plan, like a second destination, in mind in case of parking/entry issues. 

5. Keep kids engaged with activity packs like coloring books.

Pack your favorite road trip snacks and tunes, and make sure to integrate our handy vehicle recommendations from CarGurus in your day trips from Edinburgh and hit the road to create memories you will remember all your life. 


With spellbinding history, heart-stirring landscapes, and famous attractions peppered all around the city, there’s a lot to explore on your day trips from Edinburgh. Simply select your day trip from Edinburgh – from quaint coastal villages to mighty castles. With so many incredible options on Edinburgh’s doorstep, choosing where to go is the most fun part! To enjoy such travel content more, don’t forget to visit HeyBucketList – the most popular hub for travelers like yourself. 


What day trips can you do from Edinburgh?

Some of the most popular day trips from Edinburgh include the Fife coastal towns, Stirling and Stirling Castle, St Andrews and east coast beaches, the Scottish Borders region, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, and Glasgow. Destinations within an hour or two from Edinburgh are best for day trips.

Is it possible to embark on a day excursion from Edinburgh to the Highlands?

It’s very difficult to visit the northern Scottish Highlands on a day trip from Edinburgh as the driving distance is over 3 hours each way. The Highlands are too remote to enjoy without an overnight stay. Some accessible Highland areas you can visit on a long day trip include Pitlochry and parts of Perthshire.

Can you do a day trip to Glasgow from Edinburgh?

Yes, Glasgow makes an easy and popular day trip by train from Edinburgh. Frequent direct trains are covering the roughly 1-hour journey between Scotland’s two biggest cities, allowing a full day to explore Glasgow before returning to Edinburgh.

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Written by Joshua White

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