Edinburgh, Scotland’s premier city is pretty much on everyone’s bucket list. Meaning it’s jam packed with tourists in the summer. So why not escape the city for a day? Thanks to Edinburgh’s excellent public transport network, it is super easy to explore some of the stunning attractions outside of the city. Below I’ve compiled my top 5 Edinburgh day trips for you to enjoy.
Melrose Abbey and Village, Scottish Borders
The hulking, rose-tinted remains of Melrose Abbey dominate the landscape around the small village of Melrose. Despite being attacked repeatedly for centuries, the Abbey is still in remarkable condition. Founded in 1136, it is still in use today and plays host to traditional Scottish weddings. A “vampire monk” reputedly stalks the graveyard at night so perhaps tread carefully after sun down!
Melrose village has built up a reputation for wholesome, organically sourced foods – making it a perfect spot for lunch. If the weather is good turn lunch into a picnic! Pick up a hot, plump sausage roll from Millers butcher and finish it off with a little sweet treat and coffee from Dalgetty’s bakery. For more see my Melrose blog post here.
Melrose Abbey – £.5.50 adult entry. Open 7 days. Half hourly train service from Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank Station. Transfer to bus 61/X62/72 or walk 30 minutes to Melrose Abbey from train station.
Gullane Beach, East Lothian
The sun is shining and the weather is sweet…. is this really Scotland? Surprisingly the coastline east of Edinburgh is blessed with expansive and picturesque golden sand beaches. When the sun does shine, Gullane Beach is one of my go to spots. It’s a beautiful bay with shallow calm waters and tall sand dunes – perfect for taking shelter from the wind! In August and September the water is just about tolerable for a swim, however only the bravest jump in at any other time of the year! For a not-so-healthy dinner, call into Gullane Super Fry next to the bus stop for a traditional Scottish fish and chip dinner on the way home.
Gullane Beach – Free all year round. East Coast buses 124/X5/X124 every 30 minutes from Princes Street.
Linlthgow, West Lothian
Linlithgow Palace was one the residence of former Scottish Royalty up until the 16th century. The remains of the Palace still stand today overlooking Linlithgow Loch and a small town with plenty of craft shops, restaurants and bars.
The town is a short journey by train from Edinburgh and offers everything one would hope for on a Scottish holiday – beautiful scenery, a historic palace and great food. An ideal itinerary would be to explore the castle and walk along the shore the loch before stopping along the main street for lunch. The classy looking Granary Cafe offers all sorts of food and coffee, including vegan options.
Linlithgow Palace – Adult £6 / Child £3.60. Open 7 days. Frequent train service from Edinburgh Waverely.
Craigmiller Castle, south Edinburgh
If time isn’t on your side, Craigmillar Castle is located just 30 minutes from Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile. Often overlooked in favour of the mighty Edinburgh Castle, Craigmillar was built in the 14th century and for a period of time was home to Mary Queen of the Scots. Offering stunning panoramic views, winding stairs and narrow passageways, it makes for a great couple of hours of exploring for both kids and adults. The old walled gardens surrounding the castle are good for chilling out and wild deer can be seen in neighbouring fields.
Craigmillar Castle – £6 adult entry. Open 7 days in high season. Lothian Buses 8/33/49/51 from Edinburgh city centre.
Inchcolm Island and the Firth of Forth, West Lothian
Forth Tours offer a trip along the Firth of Forth to the picturesque holy island of Inchcolm. Departing from South Queensferry harbour, the boat passes under the extraordinary road and rail bridges of the Firth of the Forth and offers the chance to spot puffins, seals and dolphins along the way to the island.
Inchcolm island is famous for it’s well preserved 12th century abbey and sweeping views across the sea to Edinburgh. It’s squawking seagull population.is at its height in early summer, so don’t go near their nests unless you want to be attacked!
Inchcolm Island and Firth of Forth Tour: £14 Adult / £7 Child. Daily from April to October. Access to Inchcolm island £6 Adult / £3 child.