Please sign in to post.

Day trips from Edinburgh

My husband and I will be in Edinburgh for 5 days mid September. We are planning to use 2 of the days to see Edinburgh and the other 3 for day trips. We have narrowed it down to the following and would appreciate any input or new suggestions that we might have overlooked. 1)Highland Games in Pitlochry -worth spending a day to see the games and town? 2)Saint Andrews 3)Loch Ness, Glencoe & Highlands 4)Alnwick Castle, Berwick & Melrose
5)Stirling Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

Posted by
993 posts

The Falkirk Wheel. I've said this before but when you cross over the Forth car bridge take special notice of the Forth railroad Bridge. It has been said that the road bridge was only built to give people a good view of the railroad bridge.

Posted by
1831 posts

You can go to Glasgow, the other city. The train leaves from Waverly Station and takes an hour to get to Queen Street Station in Glasgow. Queen Street Station enpties onto Sauchiehall Street which is a pedestrian mall street going for blocks. There is quite a bit to see in that area such as George Square. I could recommend a good old bar and restaurant if you are interested. Also, the Glasgow School of Art is nearby.

Posted by
9110 posts

Pitlochry is worth a day even without the games. Saint Andrews has nothing much to offer except the name and school. Highlands is a pretty big area, you've picked the most touristy part. One castle in addition to Edinburgh is probably enough for such a short time.

Posted by
312 posts

Hi Stephanie, For day trips from Edinburgh I've done both just go via public transportation and also some day trips with tour operators: the Rabbies day trip to St Andrews (very pleasant) and the Heart of Scotland tour down to see Hadrian's Wall (a lot longer trip so more time on the bus than out of it, but I didn't know how to do it by public transport on the short time I had available to me that trip). For Falkirk Wheel, which I also enjoyed, I purchased my ticket in person from a rail agent. I wasn't sure what she meant that I could do either Falkirk Grahamston (FKG) or Falkirk High (FKK). It made more sense when I heard the announcement when the train stopped in Linlithgow, "Change here for Falkirk High." Getting off a train that was already going where I wanted didn't make sense, so if you're in Edinburgh, FKG seems the more logical route. Getting off in Falkirk Grahamston, the train leaves you on the correct side to head uphill into town. Go up Glebe St alongside the ASDA and across the street to the bus stop by the clock. You will know it's the correct bus because it's green and has lots of yellow text about the Wheel. The route number is No. 3. Coming back, the bus lets you off on the shopping store side and you just walk back down to the train station, going up and across the walkway to the other side to board and go back to Edinburgh. The off-peak return train ticket cost £9.00 and the return bus ticket was £3.80. The first building you enter is actually a tourist information stop for the local area. Exit that building and go into the next for the Wheel's reception area. After the boat ride, you can walk to see the Antonine Wall area. con't

Posted by
312 posts

con't Do you like aviation? I visited the National Museum of Flight in '09, http://www.nms.ac.uk/our_museums/museum_of_flight.aspx I was going to take the X6 bus from Edinburgh to Haddington, where I would get the 121 bus that stops at the Museum of Flight in East Fortune, but I missed it and asked the driver of the X5 bus for advice (the X5 would go to North Berwick and I knew the 121 ran between North Berwick and Haddington). I was not always sure of what he said but it would definitely get me to the museum to take that route, so I took the X5 to North Berwick and then waited for the 121. I purchased a multi-zone, 3-5 zone, day ticket for the ride out and back, £8.50 that year; you pay the driver. A friend who thinks I'm nuts for not renting cars thinks I don't experience serendipity by using public transport, but the change in route was serendipitous :-) The ride was oftentimes scenic going to North Berwick, sometimes was right against the sea shore. It took about an hour to get to North Berwick and then I waited until 10:30 for a 121 that would stop at the museum. I walked around town, found the Tourist Information office and town library. The 121 was a few minutes late but finally came and dropped me off right inside the museum's grounds. The museum has a Concorde to tour (you can sit in a sample seat - very hard!), walk in and out of various aircraft, I really enjoyed an interactive display with the airfield's history, kids can get a lot of hands on fun in another hanger. I've you've personal interest in aviation, I recommend this for a day trip.

Posted by
484 posts

By "day trips" I am assuming that you are based in Edinburgh and will sleep in Edinburgh the entire time. Here's my 2 cents. Think about how much driving versus walking around you will be doing. For Alnwick, Berwick, and Melrose - you can take a Rabbie's one day tour round-trip from Edinburgh. We did and enjoyed it. However, I believe Rabbie's switched the small town of Dunbar for Berwick-upon-Tweed. (pronounced Bear-ick upon teed) Sometimes, Highlands Games get rained-out. So, have a back-up plan to prevent disappointment. Stirling and Loch Lommond is a good choice. Again, Rabbie's can help you. Loch Ness is pushing it for a day trip. Loch Ness is near Inverness. Glencoe is pushing it for a day trip as well. I believe it is north of Oban. The Visit Scotland website has a regional map that can be helpful.

Posted by
392 posts

Pitlochry is a nic day trip, but besure to look up the train times since they are not super frequent. There are two distilleries with a nice hike in between.

Posted by
31435 posts

Stephanie, As someone else mentioned, it's possible to take day trips with local tour operators, which allows the opportunity to visit several interesting sites in the same day (ie: Loch Ness, some of the historic battlefields, etc.). I'd have to check my notes for the names of the firms. Another site that's worth a visit is the Royal Yacht Brittania (IMO). It's a short distance outside Edinburgh in the port area of Leith, which is only a short Bus ride from the city centre. Entry to the Yacht is through a large shopping mall. If you're a fan of Dan Brown novels, you could also visit Rosslyn Chapel, another easy trip from Edinburgh. There's a lot to see in Edinburgh, so you might find that it's better to allocate three days to Edinburgh and two days for day trips. Happy travels!

Posted by
6 posts

Great suggestions everyone, thanks! I am trying to look up the train schedule for Pitlochry. Is it the BritRail that I should be looking at? Also, does anyone know how long we should give ourselves to hike and visit the two whiskey distillery's in Pitlochry? I am wondering if we will have time to do this on the same day if we visit the Highland Games.

Posted by
9110 posts

Blair Atholl is just on the east/downstream side of town. Edradour is about fifteen minutes further. The walk isn't that good. When you've seen one, you've seen them all.

Posted by
392 posts

It was my first time in Scotland, and I liked the walk. The woods are pretty, and I think woods are different everywhere, anyway. And there is a waterfall. In short: that's just your opinion, Ed. Stephanie, the walk is closer to a half an hour. If you don't feel you have time, go straight to Edradour. It's the smallest distillery in Scotland. They make only single malts, whereas Blair Athol makes the main whiskey in the Bell's blend, I thought it was an interesting juxtaposition to see both, but that will depend on your interest in the stuff. There is also a more direct walk just to Edradour without all that boring woods stuff! ;)

Posted by
9110 posts

Stephanie was asking about time constraints. I provided factual information based on experience, nothing more. If you stay on the north side of the burn and take the narrower path through the woods it is just short of a mile.

Posted by
392 posts

Ed, I like the walk, but I understand that it should be jettisoned for time constraints in Stephanie's case. I just don't think it should be dismissed as not worthwhile if there is time. Stephanie is not the only person who might be reading this thread looking for information. Some people may prioritize getting to see a bit of nature in Scotland, as I did. My last reply did also acknowledge that in her case, it could be skipped.

Posted by
9110 posts

Okay, for the lurkers, Pitlochry walks: The best one is six or seven miles round trip and passes the solitary standing stone at Moulin enroute to the Ben Vrackie summit and has some good moor stretches. The last bit is fairly steep, but you're above most of the vegetation. In three miles, there's about a half mile of ascent. Two other good ones are across the dam / salmon ladder complex and go either up or down stream. Upstream hugs the lake and there's no way across until you hit the A9 bridge to come back down the other side of Loch Tummel. It's about five miles around and it's essentially flat. The dam is a turning point on a military low level training route so every once in a while a jet comes blasting along at a couple hundred feet. Downstream, there's another crossing within a mile which is another A9 bridge. The walk is fairly undistinguised unless it's salmon season and you stop to watch the fishermen. The return is essentially through the lower side of town toward the train station. Scattered around town are placards listing maybe five or six more circular walks that you could combine into a longer one depending on the time available. None have the variety of the thre described above. I've done them all. Other stuff: McKays is the best pub and has good food. The Old Mill Inn is pretty good, the Moulin Inn a distant third, but has somehow won awards. The Indian joint is over-priced and the food not so wonderful.

Posted by
392 posts

Thats is good info! You clearly spent a lot more time there than I got to.

Posted by
2900 posts

Ed, is Blair Castle near the area you have described? I have not been there myself (please don't throw rocks everyone) so I cannot express an opinion; but have put it on my agenda for a future trip. Ed, do you think this is a worthwhile stop for Stephanie? I have been lurking and enjoying this thread very much. :) Thanks, Ed, for all the good information. It's good to get the scoop from someone who's actually had boots on the ground practically everywhere!

Posted by
9110 posts

Blair's about ten miles north, maybe less. I've never stopped since it ain't my idea of a castle - - more of a manor house with turrets.

Posted by
5668 posts

Blair Castle can be a fun place to visit. It is easy to get to as it is an easy walk from the train station.

Posted by
70 posts

We were just there. I was a little disappointed in Pitlochry but really enjoyed Stirlingit was a bit of a "mini-Edinburgh" but not that crowded. The views from the castle were magnificent. I also enjoyed the Church of the Holy Rudevery modest but worth the time. We took the morning train and brought a picnic lunch.

Posted by
212 posts

Gotta get a word in for St. Andrew's, which got pretty short shrift. If you have even the slightest interest in golf as a big part of Scotland's past and present you won't skip this Mecca. Besides the chance to take in the 18th fairway and its famous footbridge, there is the chance to see how the course hugs the water, to see how its traps are so incredibly deep (so unlike American sand traps), to see how the most famous of all courses, the one that started it all, is so wild and untamed along the water, and just to soak in the atmosphere around the rail at the end of the course, where the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse sits. There's a museum of golf, too. Try to have a meal in the glass-walled seafood restaurant next to the museum, on the water. There's a lovely walk along the water from there past the castle ruins and the University to the Cathedral ruins.