Edinburgh is a beautiful city and there is a lot to here, but it’s also a good base for exploring more of our great country.
Less than hour from Edinburgh, North Berwick is one of my favourite places to spend a day. It’s a quaint seaside town, which makes it a lovely escape from the city. The coastal drive out to North Berwick is beautiful and you can stop at Tantallon Castle on route. Tantallon Castle is a semi- ruined fortress, which is stunning to explore, but also allows you to take in incredible views over the Firth of Forth.
Once in North Berwick, you can climb the North Berwick Law, or engage in some healthy competition by taking part in mini golf.
When it’s time to grab some food, you can have an al fresco dining experience during summer at The Lobster Shack or The Rocketeer. Or, for the colder months The Ship Inn, which offers a range of fantastic food in a cosy, pub setting is the perfect place for dinner.
No matter what time of year it is, ice cream is always a winner, so head to Alanda’s Gelateria for dessert.
I’ve only spent a small amount of time here, but it’s enough to know that it’s definitely worth a day trip. About an hour away from Edinburgh, at the Scottish Borders, you will find Peebles. It was initially a market town, so it has a small and welcoming feel.
Nowadays, it’s frequented by people visiting Peebles Hydro to relax, as well as people looking to explore the town. With beautiful scenery and ancient buildings, it’s a pretty location.
Peebles is perfect for taking a walk along the River Tweed on an Autumn afternoon and then warming up with a delicious hot chocolate from Cocoa Black.
Loch Lomond (Balmaha)
My favourite day out in Scotland so far, was a visit to Loch Lomond. Working in the tourism industry, I know that Loch Ness is everyone’s ‘must-see’ loch in Scotland, but Loch Lomond is around half the distance from Edinburgh that Loch Ness is. Loch Lomond is also just as beautiful, if not more so.
Balmaha is a fantastic place to see the loch because you can view it from Conic Hill. Conic Hill is suitable for all ages and abilities – there were toddlers climbing it when we were there.
The views over Loch Lomond are definitely worth the climb and once you’ve made it back down you can enjoy lunch at The Oak Tree Inn. There is an outdoor seating area, which is fantastic for summer and a pub lounge to warm up in during winter. The salmon salad served here was extremely memorable for me!
Another of Scotland’s seaside towns, but one that’s probably more famous than North Berwick, is St Andrew’s – ‘The Home of Golf’. From Edinburgh, you can arrive in St Andrew’s in less than 2 hours and conquer ‘The Himalayas’, which are open from April to September. However, this town has more to offer than just golf.
St Andrew’s University is the oldest university in Scotland, which makes it a great visit for all history buffs. There are also the ruins of the Cathedral, which was once Scotland’s largest church and is now free to explore.
If you are looking for a different experience in St Andrew’s, you can visit Eden Mill Distillery and embark on a Scottish gin tour and tasting. Finally, take the long way back to Edinburgh via Anstruther where you can indulge in some of Scotland’s most famous fish & chips.
Falkirk lies between Edinburgh and Glasgow and it takes less than hour to get to, by car, from Edinburgh. The Union Canal connects Edinburgh and Falkirk and people have been flocking to the town for years to visit the Falkirk Wheel. There is a visitor centre at this attraction where boat trips of the rotating boat lift depart frequently. You can also hire your own boat and steer your way from Edinburgh to Falkirk!
More recently, there has been another reason for people to make a day trip to Falkirk and that’s to see the Kelpies.
The Kelpies are horse sculptures, which are 30-metres high and extremely striking. Falkirk has always been an industrial town and the Kelpies commemorate the strength and power of horses throughout Scotland’s history.
I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, so as soon as I moved to Edinburgh I wanted to take a trip to Alnwick Castle. Luckily, I was given the chance with Rabbie’s who specialise in Small Group Tours and it was brilliant.
In less than 2 hours, you can be standing in front of the castle used for Hogwarts in the first 2 Harry Potter films and there is even a film tour at the castle, so you can learn more about what was shot where.
However, if you’re not a Harry Potter fan Alnwick Castle is still a great place to visit. The castle itself is beautiful and the gardens are stunning, so there is something for everyone here.