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hotel and day trip suggestions from Edinburgh

My husband and I will be staying in Edinburgh for three days. We would like to spend two days touring around Edinburgh. There are so many wonderful options for day trips; but, we only have one day. We would love some recommendations for a day trip from Edinburgh. We are not interested in Harry Potter or whisky tours. My husband is a winemaker. Some of our considerations are:
St. Andrews and Fife?
Glasgow?
Highlands and Glencoe?

Loch Lemond, Kelpies and Stirling Castle?

We would love some hotel recommendations? We thought it would be convenient to stay near Victoria St. or the Royal Mile area. Suggestions would be so helpful.

Posted by
1694 posts

We did a day trip with The Hairy Coo. We saw the Kelpies (driving by), the Wallace Monument, the outside of Stirling Castle (driving by), Aberfoyle, Lake Monteith, Loch Katrine, a beautiful viewpoint in the Trossachs, Doune Castle (Monty Python, Game of Thrones), and hairy coos (we got to stop and visit with them). It was wonderful. That tour is no longer available. (It's from their early, "free tour" days.) However, they have one that seems to fit the last itinerary on your list of ideas: https://www.thehairycoo.com/1-day-stirling-castle-kelpies-and-loch-lomond-tour/

Posted by
15662 posts

I suggest you look at tours offered by Rabbies to see if anything calls out to you.

They are highly regarded on this forum and I can personally attest to their excellence.

Posted by
2063 posts

Glasgow is another big city. Although very different in feel and culture to Edinburgh, it isn’t allowing you to see much of the Scottish countryside, and I would discount on those grounds. It is easy to do from Edinburgh on the train.

Are you looking for a day trip by coach or are you thinking if hiring a car?

If looking for a coach trip, Rabbies, Timberbush and Hairy Coo are all well regarded on this forum.

Read the itinerary carefully and understand the difference between ‘passing’, (usually at a distance on the by pass) seeing (seen through the window when passing - as long as you are on the right side of the coach...), stopping (usually a short stop for toilets and a photograph) and visiting when you actually spend a reasonable amount of time somewhere - long enough for the photo, toilets, coffee or lunch and possibly a short visit to the attraction...

Sorry if that sounds a bit dismissive - it isn’t meant to be, but can mean the difference between a good coach trip and a disappointing one. Also check out the size of the coach. If it is a big one, it will take so much longer for everyone to get through the toilets. Smaller coaches are preferable.

Glencoe and the Highlands is going to mean a long time spent admiring Scotland through a window. I would discount this one and look for somewhere which doesn’t involve as much driving.

St Andrews is a delightful sea side town with a ruined castle and cathedral as well as the golf courses and university. It makes a nice day out with a drive through the fishing villages along the Fife coast, or a trip to Falkirk Palace, a popular place with film makers.

The Falkirk Wheel (particularly if it also included a boat trip), and the Kelpies are popular. I know Loch Lomond is popular with visitors although I’ve always found it busy . Also when driving along the A82, views of the loch are restricted by trees. Stirling Castle is great, and I know many people say it is better than Edinburgh Castle. Do one, but don’t waste time doing both.

If you are planning on hiring a car for the day, then have a look at the different suggestions for car tours on the Undiscovered Scotland website. Several can be combined - eg Sterling, Dunfermline with Falkland and St Andrews. Also the Border Abbeys with Selkirk and Langholm.

Posted by
358 posts

The tours available are fine but most make for a very long day

I would suggest Stirling Castle or take the bus down to Roslin Chapel

Posted by
15 posts

We are recently returned from Edinburgh and can highly recommend the day trip with Rabbie’s to the Kelpies, Loch Lomond and Stirling Castle. We had ample time at all the stops and a lovely lunch in Aberfoyle at the Forth Inn. We did not feel the day was overly long and were back in Edinburgh by 6:00 pm or so. As we stayed at The Scotsman, it was a quick walk from the bus station back to the hotel.

I came to this site searching exact question for end of July. Have you gone yet and if so any suggestions? We’re in Edinburgh for 4 full days. Wondering if we shoud do 2 trips!
Also Any chance you experienced either the Scotsman hotel or 10 hill place? We’re a family of 4 deciding between the two of them.
THANKS!

Posted by
136 posts

Thank you.

We are not traveling until September. I hope you have a great trip.

Posted by
1832 posts

Some of the options you are considering are easy train or bus rides from Edinburgh, so no need to do a tour unless you want to cover some sights that are less accessible by public transit. For example, it's easy to get to Stirling by train in about an hour or to St Andrews by bus in about 2 hours. For me, 2 hours each way is the limit for a day trip, so if you want to go farther or see more, maybe a tour is a better option. I know there are day trips like this one: https://www.rabbies.com/en/scotland-tours/from-edinburgh/day-tours/loch-ness-glencoe-highlands-day-tour, and that might suit you if you don't mind spending a good amount of time in a van.

As for Edinburgh hotels, I stayed at the Ibis Styles St Andrew Square (https://all.accor.com/hotel/9058/index.en.shtml). It's an easy walk to all the sights of Edinburgh in both the New Town and the Old Town, and there are a number of excellent restaurants right in St Andrew Square.. I liked being a bit away from the hustle and bustle of the Royal Mile. And it's very close to the train and bus stations, and there is a tram and a bus right from St Andrew Square to the airport.

Posted by
2033 posts

We went to Stirling on our own by train one day and it was very easy. We also did a tour with the Wee Red Bus. Maybe 10 others at most, our first tour in 40 years so not something we undertake lightly. It was quite nice and there were several itineraries to choose from. We weren’t interested in whisky either and it wasn’t overwhelmingly long or tedious. Safe travels.

Posted by
1666 posts

I agree with Lane about the Ibis St. Andrews Square in Edinburgh. We were there for 4 nights 2 weeks ago and really enjoyed our stay there. Very convenient; a nice breakfast buffet, and helpful staff.