Sure, Edinburgh is pretty… But no trip to Scotland would be complete without at least a little venture out into the countryside. After all, the country is known for its lush green fields, rolling hills, and rugged mountains. Here are five day trips from Edinburgh you must take!
Island in the Firth of Forth
Lying beside the coast, the village of Cramond is the perfect escape from busy city life. The quaint village has just one pub and one café, making it a lovely adventure away from Edinburgh proper. Just over a mile from the shoreline lies Cramond Island, a tidal island which is approachable via foot for a couple of hours each day.
There, you can enjoy a picnic, explore the 19 acres of woodland and see the remains of a number of WWII military defenses. The view from the top of the island across the surrounding bay is pretty spectacular too!
Directions: 41 Bus; 50 minutes from the center of Edinburgh.
2 Cramond Rd S, Edinburgh EH4 6AD
“You can’t visit Scotland and not see a castle.” And Lauriston Castle, barely twenty-five minutes by bus from the city center is the perfect place to see. The gardens are free to visit and a trip here can easily be combined with a visit to the nearby Cramond Island. After all, they lie along the same bus route!
There’s a Japanese Garden, an Italian Garden, a number of ornamental ponds and a greenhouse. The 1920s castle itself is available to visit once per day on a paid guided tour. With aging furniture and lavish decorations, stepping into this castle is a step back in time… Right back into the year of 1926.
Directions: 41 Bus; 25 minutes from the center of Edinburgh.
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland
Presiding over the city of Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat is the result of volcanic activity from thousands of years ago. Arthur’s Seat is actually the name of the uppermost hill of a group of hills and valleys which make up Holyrood Park. While climbing the hill, you can see the lavish Holyrood Palace, one of the Queen’s many Scottish residences, in all its glory.
And at 823 feet above sea level, the view from the top is absolutely incredible. From here, you can see the sea on one side, and the vast city of Edinburgh sprawled out on the other side. It’s even possible to spot Edinburgh castle from certain points of the hillside!
Directions: No vehicular transport is required. You can walk to the base of Arthur’s Seat within ten minutes of leaving the Royal Mile.
Craigmillar Castle Rd, Edinburgh EH16 4SY
Often referred to as Edinburgh’s ‘other‘ castle, the well-preserved ruins of this medieval Castle once welcomed Mary Queen of Scots, as well as many other famous historical figures. There has been a castle on the site since as early as the 14th-Century.
Situated around 3 miles from the outskirts of the city, Craigmillar Castle was once described as being a ‘league’ away from Edinburgh (a league being the distance one could walk in the space of an hour). The castle is one of the best-preserved examples of a medieval castle in Scotland. A keep is surrounded by 15th Century defensive walls and extensive restoration works by the Victorians mean that many of the ceilings are now intact.
Although I visited in the afternoon of half-term week, I didn’t find the castle to be too busy, or too full of tourists. Instead, I wandered the empty corridors and explored the maze of rooms in relative silence. Well, that was until I accidentally snapped my mini tripod in the dungeon (oops)!
Directions: 33 Bus; 40 minutes from the center of Edinburgh.
Dean Path, Edinburgh EH8 8BH
Of all the day trips from Edinburgh included here in this guide, a visit to Dean Village is probably the easiest to reach. Just a short ten-minute walk from the end of Princes Street (the main shopping high street the city has to offer), you’ll find a little stone gatehouse. To the left of this, a sign saying ‘to Dean Village’.
Follow the path down, and you’ll reach a small area with a rich history. Dean Village is picturesque and pretty as a postcard. You could easily spend a couple of hours here, wandering along the river and snapping pictures of all the pretty houses.
Directions: Located just a ten-minute walk from the center of the city, no public transport is required.
Buses cost £1.50 per single journey and £4 for unlimited trips in a day.