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The Most Scenic Train Rides From Edinburgh

The West Highland Line offers one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world

Road-tripping in Scotland has long been a favoured holiday option for both staycationers and visitors from around the world. And while the open road is exhilarating, drivers can be all too frequently distracted by the head-turning landscapes. The solution is simple – let the train take the strain.

Given it’s the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is very well connected when it comes to railways , opening up large swathes of wild and rugged countryside that would otherwise be inaccessible. Stepping onboard a train idling at Edinburgh Waverley station is the beginning of an adventure – one that can take mere minutes to spirit you away to the nearby coast, or hours penetrating through some of the most beguiling and remote landscapes in the world. Here are just some of the most epic railway journeys you can embark on from Edinburgh.

Catch the beauty of the Scottish countryside via a train

Find your muse on the Borders Railway

The recent rebirth of the Borders Railway has been something of a labour of love. Suffering the same fate as many of Britain’s rural railways in the 1960s, the original line between Edinburgh and Carlisle withered and died away after the infamous Beeching cuts. Within minutes of boarding at stately Waverley station, you’ll be awed as the train snakes its way through the glens and rolling verdant hillsides of the Borders, one of Scotland’s most overlooked regions. Perhaps unjustly bested by the dramatic landscapes of the Highlands, the subtle elegance of towns like Galashiels, its historic ruined abbeys and not to forget, of course, its own brand of beauty all played muse to Scotland’s greatest author, Sir Walter Scott .

An off-peak return ticket to the line’s terminus at Tweedbank costs £11.80. There are two services an hour mid-week. It is reduced to hourly services on Sundays.

The Borders Railway travels from Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank

Cross history on the Fife Circle Line

When it officially opened, the Forth Bridge was the pinnacle of Victorian engineering and considered one of the industrial wonders of the age. Now approaching 130 years old, the rail bridge is as much a marvel today as it was then. Spanning the Firth of Forth, it remains the keystone of Edinburgh’s rail network, with some 200 trains between the Scottish capital and the north trundling across the red colossus every day. The experience of crossing this iconic landmark – its rivet-studded girders flashing by carriage windows amid the thunderous clickety-clack of wheels on railway joints – should be on every Scottish bucket list.

An off-peak return ticket to North Queensferry costs £5.80 and gives you the chance to enjoy two journeys across the bridge as well as the best vantage point to admire the whole bridge from the shoreline. Numerous services travelling north or around Fife and stopping in North Queensferry leave Waverley station every 20 minutes or so.

The Forth Bridge opened in 1890

Hug the coast on the train to North Berwick

A former Victorian seaside resort may not be enough to entice you away from the sights of Edinburgh, but for city locals, a jaunt out to North Berwick on the train brings their childhood memories screeching back. The short hop to this postcard-worthy coastal town takes about 30 minutes, gliding past castle ruins, golf courses and farms along the way. As you get closer to the coast, the swaying fields of barley suddenly give rise to North Berwick Law, a tooth-shaped extinct volcano that looms over the town. This coastal hub is best known for its proximity to the Bass Rock, a beloved local landmark that is home to tens of thousands of gannets and guillemots.

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An off-peak return ticket to North Berwick will set you back £7.20. On weekdays and Sundays, there are hourly services out to the coast from Waverley, with half-hourly services at peak times mid-week and on Saturdays.

The coastal town of North Berwick is a short train ride away from Edinburgh

Whisky, glens and lochs on the Highland Main Line

The beauty of Scotland is that you are never far away from, well, natural beauty. While the Highlands may be a stretch for a day trip by rail, it is worth extending your trip by a few days so you can enjoy a quintessential Scottish experience. From Edinburgh, the train to Inverness takes three and a half hours and whisks you away north from urban sprawl in the capital through the dense forests of Perthshire, past mist-shrouded lochs and the snow-crested peaks of the Cairngorms. There are many stops on the way that would make an ideal extension to your trip, including the picturesque town of Pitlochry or the alpine-style resort of Aviemore. Keep your eyes peeled for the pagoda roofs of Dalwhinnie, Scotland’s highest whisky distillery.

There are six daily direct services to Inverness from Waverley. Off-peak return fares are priced at £55.20.

The Highland Main Line runs through the gorgeous Scottish Highlands

Capture movie magic on the West Highland Line

Perhaps due to its relative isolation, the west coast boasts some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery. Getting there, though, is half the fun, especially when you take the train. Setting out from Edinburgh, head across the densely populated Central Belt until you see the tower blocks that dominate Glasgow’s skyline. After a quick change at Queen Street station, you’ll be wending your way northwards on the West Highland Line, considered one of the most scenic railways in the world. If you choose to go all the way to Mallaig, you’ll cross the expansive, ethereal wilderness of Rannoch Moor, reaching Fort William in the shadow of Ben Nevis – the UK’s highest peak – before trundling around the Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous in the Harry Potter films.

There are just three trains a day from Glasgow to Mallaig. Return tickets from Edinburgh are priced at £93. With a journey time of over five hours, it is impractical as a day trip but is a delightful excuse to extend your Edinburgh trip.

The West Highland Line takes passengers on a journey to Scotland’s west coast

Helpful hints

Tickets can be bought at the station ticket office or from machines on the concourse at Edinburgh Waverley on the day of travel. However, booking at trainline.com can often make the fare cheaper. The National Rail Enquiries website has a handy itinerary planner, which you can also use to purchase your tickets.

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These 8 Scenic Train Rides Have The Most Stunning Views In Scotland

scenic rail journeys from edinburgh

  • Destinations
  • European Rail
  • Types of Travel
  • United Kingdom

I spend a lot of time traveling around Scotland and I never tire of the incredible views, but sometimes it’s how you travel that’s important. For many reasons, train travel is a great way to travel around this rugged and beautiful country. Apart from the environmental benefits of train travel versus other modes of travel like cars and air travel, traveling by train creates a more relaxing journey and a brilliant way to see some of the scenery as you make your way from A to B.

Quiet coastlines, dramatic mountains and castles, and still and calm lochs all glide past your window as you sit back and breathe in these stunning landscapes. I’ve taken most of these train rides myself, though The Royal Scotsman is still on my must-do list! Here are eight scenic train rides with the most stunning views in Scotland.

The Royal Scotsman

1. Royal Scotsman

Various routes across scotland, between 2 and 7 days.

I’m starting with a train journey that’s as much about the train itself as it is about the scenery and the journey. Royal Scotsman train tours are operated by Belmond, who operate luxury train vacations around the world. This is much more than just a train ride — it’s a luxury hotel on rails. If you want to get a taste of traditional Scotland while riding through some breathtaking Scottish scenery, this is a great way to do it.

The Royal Scotsman’s 10 carriages feature double en-suite rooms, a regal-looking dining car, an observation car, and two spa rooms. All train tours on The Royal Scotsman depart from Edinburgh Waverley station and travel to various locations including Ben Nevis, Loch Lomond, and The Isle of Bute. Enjoy Scottish cuisine and taste a few whiskies while the countryside rolls by. You can choose from two all the way up to seven-day train journeys on this incredible luxury train.

The West Highland Line over Loch Awe

2. The West Highland Line

Glasgow to mallaig.

I’m a lot more familiar with the east side of Scotland than I am with the west, but this train journey through the West Highlands shows that this side of the country has some truly stunning scenery and though very different to the east side, is equally beautiful. Often said to be one of the most visually incredible train journeys in the world, The West Highland Line begins at Glasgow and travels through Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park and on to Fort William.

It’s a beautiful ride, showing you parts of the landscape you can’t see in any other way. This unique perspective on the land and its features, like castles and coastlines, makes this a must for train lovers and anyone who loves a great view.

The Far North Line in the Highlands

3. The Far North Line

Inverness to dunrobin castle.

The Far North Line is Britain’s most rural railway, which won’t surprise anyone who knows the north of Scotland even a little. If you like your landscapes rugged, wild, and remote, this is the train ride for you. Beginning at Inverness, the journey takes you through peatland and Flow Country, which is a wetland blanket bog and an important environmental area. It’s incredible to see, but it’s not somewhere you’d go walking, so seeing it from the train is a real privilege. You can spot castles along the way and stop off for some whisky tasting at one of the distilleries in this area.

Strathcarron Station, a small stop on the Kyle of Lochalsh Line

4. The Kyle Line

Inverness to kyle of lochalsh.

If you like views of rugged and majestic mountains, this train ride is perfect. The Kyle Line offers views of The Torridon Peaks and other imposing mountains that create a backdrop to the quiet lochs and the sleepy villages that dot the landscape. It’s a largely untouched area, and though you’ll pass beautiful sandy beaches on this coastline, you won’t see many people out on them.

It often feels like you’ve entered another world, and if you opt to take one of the steam trains that use this line, organized by one of the heritage train companies, you’ll really feel like you’ve stepped back in time. At the end of the line you reach the village of Kyle of Lochalsh, the gateway to The Isle of Skye, which you can travel onto from here.

Strathspey Steam Railway

5. Strathspey Steam Railway

Aviemore to broomhill.

The Strathspey Steam Railway is a short train ride, but it’s more of an event in itself than simply a train journey. For a start, you have the steam element. Traveling on a steam train has a certain kind of nostalgia about it and it’s a special way to enjoy the views in this part of the country. Sometimes you’re allowed up to the footplate at stops, which the train makes so travelers can enjoy the views and take photos.

Many people hop off at stops to explore a little, but it’s so nice on the train many opt to view from the viewing areas and windows. You’ll pass by the Cairngorm Mountains and the River Spey, and “Osprey Village,” an RSPB nature reserve where you can do a little bird spotting. Depending on when you travel, Sunday lunch and afternoon tea are served onboard the train.

Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

6. ScotRail Commuter Line

Edinburgh to inverness.

Unlike the other train journeys on this list, this one is a commuter line, a train ride taken by ordinary people going about their daily lives rather than a train ride for leisure, but it’s still a strikingly beautiful journey. Beginning in Edinburgh, the line hugs the east coast, where you can sit back and enjoy the views of the sea and the small untouched beaches.

But before that, on leaving Edinburgh, passengers get to marvel at the beauty and the engineering of the red Forth Bridge, built in 1889. If you like bridges, this is a treat. From the pretty east coast stretch of the line, the train takes you through Perthshire and The Cairngorms National Park, with views of the parkland you can’t gain any other way. The line ends in Inverness, near Loch Ness, where you can explore the historic city and the loch.

Arthur's Seat, Scotland

7. The Borders Line

Edinburgh to tweedbank.

The highlands of Scotland are very impressive, there’s no doubt, but the borderlands also have their charms and don’t get as much love as they perhaps should. This train ride is a great way to explore this area of Scotland and a great introduction to the borderlands.

It’s a short train ride, but even before you’ve left Edinburgh you’ll get to view attractions like Arthur’s Seat, a grassy hill loved by hikers that covers an extinct volcano. From here you’ll travel through Midlothian and then the small villages, farmlands, lochs, and hills of the Borders. The line ends at Tweedbank. There’s a lot to explore in the village of Tweedbank, including Abbotsford House, the former home of Sir Walter Scott.

Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway, Scotland

8. The Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway

Bo’ness return journey.

This one is for railway lovers and is perfect for taking the grandkids to, but it’s equally fascinating for anyone with just a passing interest in the railways. The Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway journey is best taken as part of a wider railway-themed day out. The Museum of Scottish Railways is located at the beginning of this ride, and as you might expect for a rail enthusiasts attraction, you can take this journey by steam train.

The railway line goes through some beautiful scenery, but most people take this journey for the experience of the steam train. There are added attractions like a day with Thomas the Tank Engine for children, afternoon tea onboard, or a murder mystery train ride for adults.

Always book your tickets in advance. Train journeys in the UK are fun, but can be expensive if you buy your tickets on the day of travel. Always check your train is running and on time before you travel. If a train is canceled or late you can waste time waiting at the station.

Related Reading:

  • 6 Tips For Taking The Train From London To Amsterdam
  • Europe Is Getting Some Fantastic New Sleeper Trains, Plus 11 Others Not To Miss
  • 9 Essential Tips For Train Travel In Europe

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Travel writer, author, and playwright, Samantha loves historic buildings, quirky hotels, woodland walks and literary trails, specializing in food and drink, luxury travel, retreats, spas, and anything arts based. Samantha is based in Yorkshire, the UK, where she lives with her artist partner. Learn more on her website .

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5 Scenic Trains for Exploring Scotland's Dramatic Highlands, Sparkling Lochs, and Coastal Towns

Train on the Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh railway rounding the coast near Strome Ferry Lochcarron Wester Ross Scotland

The best train rides in Scotland will have you witnessing the drama of the Scottish Highlands, exploring charming castles, and chasing some of the world's best whisky. You’ll be treated to sweeping vistas of some of the most beautiful landscapes in the United Kingdom. Imagine chugging past glittering lochs, breathtaking glens, and vast moors, all while enjoying a meal in a stately dining car or relaxing in a plush cabin. 

Around the world, train journeys are experiencing a great revival , with travelers realizing they’re a scenic, eco-friendly, and affordable mode of transportation. In Scotland, riders can also snag a  discounted rail pass from  ScotRail , which can save a third off the price of an already inexpensive journey. 

And if you would rather have your train tour planned for you, there are a growing number of companies that will book and curate a rail-based adventure in Scotland for you or a group, like  Vacations by Rail .

The most difficult part of your Scottish train travels will be selecting which of these spectacular lines you want to take. Here are five of the best train rides in Scotland—plus, where to stay and what to do along the way.

Steam train 'The Jacobite' crossing the Glenfinnan viaduct in Scotland famous as the Hogwarts Express

The West Highland Line takes passengers from Glasgow to either Oban or Mallaig, both picturesque coastal towns in Scotland.

The West Highland Line

Arguably one of the most visually stunning  parts of Scotland , the Highlands are filled with dramatic peaks and valleys, craggy hilltops, and glassy lochs. The West Highland Line starts in Glasgow and runs more than 180 miles to either Oban or Mallaig, two tiny picturesque fishing ports that are resort towns in their own right, as well as departure points for travel onward to the surrounding Scottish Isles. 

Along the way, you’ll cruise by charming towns and villages until the line splits at Crianlarich: One branch of the route heads by Loch Awe to Oban, the other towards the coastline through Highland forest and onto Fort William to the train route's final stop: the petite bustling port town of Mallaig.

Many travelers consider the Fort William to Mallaig portion as the nicest section of The West Highland route. The hills of Fort William, a town in Lochaber, set the scene for many iconic films and shows like Starz’s  Outlander . On this leg of the route, travelers can spot the ruins of Old Inverlochy Castle on the right just before crossing the River Lochy, the Glenfinnan Viaduct as seen in the ‘Harry Potter’ movies. Halfway between Tyndrum and Bridge of Orchy stops, there is another famous looped viaduct known as the Horseshoe Curve. On the northbound routes, sit on the left-hand side of the train for the best views and on the right side on southbound trains.

For a taste of Highland hospitality, spend a night or two at the charming  Ballachulish Hotel in Glencoe along the way from Glasgow to Fort William. Pop into the Ben Nevis Distillery for a quick whisky tasting and tour. (Fort William station is only 10 minutes walk from the bottom of the tourist track up Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest peak).

Tickets for the West Highland Line start around $30.87 (£25.40) from Glasgow to Mallaig on  ScotRail for a single fare in a standard cabin but vary depending on how far they are booked in advance and length of the trip.  

A Scotrail Class158 diesel multiple unit passenger train on the Kyle of Lochalsh railway line at Attadale beside Loch...

The Kyle Line runs through mountain ranges and past tranquil lochs

Kyle Line from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh

The most distinctive mountain ranges in Scotland, the Torridon Peaks, loom north along the Kyle Line to Kyle of Lochalsh. Depart from Inverness to take on even more breathtaking scenery of the Highlands. Passengers glide past sleepy coastal villages and hulking mountains towering over tranquil lochs. The Kyle line draws a wide curve from Inverness along the coast south to the shores of Loch Alsh, with views of the Isle of Skye at the line's end. 

The Golden Rules of Affordable Travel

On the less than three-hour journey to Kyle of Lochalsh from Inverness, keep an eye out for the snow-capped Ben Nevis mountain, the country's tallest mountain that sits 4,411 feet above sea level, between Muir of Ord and Dingwall stops. Then glimpse the rolling Torridon Hills to the west before the Achnashellach Forest stop. Ride the line along Loch Carron to the Plockton stop, a charming town dotted with palm trees that was used for BBC series  Hamish Macbeth and  The Wicker Man .

At the end of the line at Kyle of Lochalsh, catch a quick cab ride to tour the spectacular 13th-century Eilean Donnan castle, one of Scotland’s most widely recognizable castles that sits on a small island where three sea lochs converge. 

If returning to Inverness, travelers can stay at the 19th century  Ness Walk , a five-star property on the banks of the River Ness or  Kingsmills Hotel , a four-star luxury spa hotel that mixes contemporary design with historic period features. Make sure to grab a wee dram at  The Malt Room , Inverness’ first whisky bar, followed by  Hootananny , a ceilidh cafe for live traditional Scottish folk music (even Mumford and Sons have played here). 

Kyle Line fares start around $18.48 (£15.20) from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh on  ScotRail for a single fare in a standard cabin but vary depending on how far they are booked in advance and length of the trip. 

Belmond Royal Scotsman

The Royal Scotsman is a luxurious journey that begins in Edinburgh and takes passengers up into the Scottish Highlands.

The Royal Scotsman, a Belmond Train

The only true luxury train on the list, the Royal Scotsman is a sleek nine coaches, clad in Burgundy and operated by Belmond. First launched in 1985, the all-inclusive train offers exquisite accommodations reminiscent of an Edwardian country house and fine-dining cuisine. Each of the train cars are refurbished 1960s Pullman coaches. 

Tours start at the Edinburgh Waverley station, where ticket holders follow a bagpiper dressed in traditional Scottish garb from the first class lounge to the platform. Once on board, passengers can settle into plush armchairs in the observation car lounge—complete with coffee tables and a bar that serves a wide assortment of Scottish whisky —while enjoying the gorgeous scenery of the Highlands. 

Meals are cooked on board and served in mahogany-walled dining cars that feature Scottish produce, meats, and seasonal fish alongside wines, liqueurs, and malt whiskies. Private wood-paneled cabins feature beds fitted with soft Scottish wools and tartans and also include an en suite shower, toilet, desk, table, wardrobe, toiletries, bathrobes, and slippers. The train also includes two spa cabins.

Itineraries range from two to seven days long and include sightseeing stopovers and overnight hotel stays. New routes are scheduled to start from April 2023 onwards, but bookings are selling out fast. Tickets start at $4,789 (£4,000) for single occupancy on Belmond’s  site or through  Vacations by Rail.  

Far North LineBR 'B1' 460 No. 61306 'Mayflower' crosses the Shin viaduct Invershin Highlands Scotland UK

The Far North Line connects Inverness with the northern reaches of the Highlands

The Far North Line

Take a four-hour journey on Britain’s most rural railway through hundreds of miles of peatland bogs, tiny hamlets, golf courses, quaint train stops, and salmon rivers. The single track Far North Line connects Inverness with destinations Thurso and Wick at the northern limits of the Highlands. It’s remote, rugged, and spectacularly wild.

The route is the same as the Kyle of Lochalsh line up until Dingwall, where the lines split. Passengers shimmy up the coast until the Tain stop, where the line then plunges into the lands of Sutherland and Caithness, across peat bogs and Flow Country, whilst crossing salmon fishing rivers. Flow Country is a vast wetland blanket bog and peat habitat, an important environmental landscape for preventing climate change and a proposed UNESCO  World Heritage site . 

Passengers can spot a few castles from the train route after departing Inverness: Just after the Tain stop is the glorious and exclusive Skibo Castle (formerly frequented by Andrew Carnegie) across the sea inlet Dornoch Firth, followed by the hilltop (and supposedly haunted) Carbisdale Castle after the Culrain stop. Then cruise past the thick and mysterious Balblair Wood, midway between the Rogart and Golspie stops on the shores of Loch Fleet. And if you fancy one more castle, the train will take you to the Dunrobin Castle station, where you can stop off and show your train ticket for discounted entry to the gigantic “home” (with more than 189 rooms, this castle is one of Britain's oldest continuously inhabited houses).

For a stay along the way, the  Glenmorangie House off the Tain stop is a boutique hotel set amongst breathtaking Highland scenery, near the  Glenmorangie Distillery . The award-winning  Mackays Hotel in Wick is just a three-minute walk from Wick stop, run by the same family for over 60 years. It’s welcoming, warm, and cozy.

Tickets for the Far North Line start around $14 (£17.02) from Inverness to Thurso and Wick on  ScotRail for a single fare in a standard cabin but vary depending on how far they are booked in advance and length of the trip. 

6th September 2015. Scottish Borders UK New Borders Railway. A train from Tweedbank enters Bowshank tunnel near Galashiels.

The Borders Railway Line whisks passengers from Edinburgh to Tweedbank

The Borders Railway

Explore the “land of Sir Walter Scott” on The Borders Railway line, through former mining towns, wide open farmland, and lush valleys.

Departing from Edinburgh , take in the breathtaking landscapes of the rocky slopes and cliffs of Salisbury Crags in Holyrood Park. You can’t miss Arthur’s Seat, a massive, grass-covered hill that is the remains of an ancient extinct volcano jutting out from the crags. Then pass through the Midlothian. Time it right and you can catch beautiful sunsets between the Gorebridge and Stow stops. Then onto the hills, lochs, farmlands, and cairns (manmade stone piles) of the Scottish Borders to Tweedbank. Tweedbank is also the stop of Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott, and the historic market town of Melrose that includes the famous abbey ruins—a quick taxi or bus ride from the station. 

Despite being the longest new domestic railway to be built in over 100 years, the line only takes an hour from Edinburgh to Tweedbank.

Start or end your journey in Edinburgh with a stay at the incredible new  Virgin Hotel Edinburgh , on colorful and curved Victoria Street in the Old Town, one of the most photographed locations in the city. If looking for something along the Borders Railway line, try the  Schloss Roxburghe at Kelso, off the Galashiels stop, the penultimate station on the route. This elegant hotel is part of a historic estate in the Scottish Borders, with a championship golf course, spas, heated swimming pool, and restaurant that offers “Scottish bistronomy.”

Fares for the Borders Railway start around $14.46 (£11.90) from Edinburgh to Tweedbank on  ScotRail for a single fare in a standard cabin but vary depending on how far they are booked in advance and length of the trip.

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15 Unforgettable Day Trips from Edinburgh by Train

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There are so many incredible day trips from Edinburgh by Train. In fact, one of the easiest ways to get around Scotland is by using the train that goes throughout the country, and it can get you to some pretty cool places!

Whether you’re looking for Edinburgh day trips by train to places in the great outdoors or you’d rather hit up a small coastal town, this list has got you covered.

While I was studying abroad in Dublin, I took a trip to Scotland, and trust me when I say I love the ease of traveling the UK by train. It’s just not like that here in the United States!

Each section includes precisely how to get there, the distance, and some fun things to do in the place. Read on to learn all about the best day trips from Edinburgh by train!

Table of Contents

At a Glance: Edinburgh Train Day Trips

Are you in a rush? Here are the best day trips from Edinburgh by train and how long it takes to get there. Where will you go?

Day Trips from Edinburgh by Train

St. andrews.

view of st andrews from above

🚆 Distance: 1 hour 45 minutes

🗺️ How to Get There: Take the Scotrail towards Dundee from Edinburgh Waverley Station and get off at Leuchars. Then, take the 94A towards St Andrews and get off at the St Andrews bus station from the station.

First up is one of the best Edinburgh day trips by train, St. Andrews! It only takes slightly less than two hours to get there from Edinburgh, and the drive is pretty scenic along the way, making it the perfect way to spend a day.

Plus, St Andrews is one of the best places to visit in Scotland .

As a coastal city in Scotland, St Andrews is a beautiful location known for its history and excellent golf courses. In fact, it’s even home to a museum dedicated to golfing called the British Golf Museum!

Many people know St Andrews because it’s also home to the University of St Andrews, one of Scotland’s universities dating back to the 1400s. The university itself features gorgeous architecture and outdoor spaces worth exploring.

Other fun things to check out while visiting St Andrews include the St Andrews Cathedral, St Andrews Castle, and even the St Andrews Aquarium.

If you want to make your trip an overnight trip, consider staying at Five Pilmour Place . With mid-range pricing and lots of amenities, this is one of the most popular places to stay in St Andrews!

Plus, the rooms are cozy, and it’s a short walk to the Old Course and St Andrews Castle.

🚂 Book your ticket to St Andrews here! 🚂

art museum in dundee

🗺️ How to Get There: Hop on the ScotRail towards Aberdeen from Edinburgh Waverley. Get off at Dundee!

Another of the best day trips by train from Edinburgh is Dundee, a harbor town on the eastern coast of Scotland with a population of over 150,000. It is home to prominent universities, world-class golf courses, and eclectic art galleries.

There are many things to do in Dundee, Scotland. It has an impressive selection of museums, art galleries, and cafes that are great for the whole family.

The town also offers plenty of shopping opportunities on the High Street with many independent shops to explore.

For a fun, educational (yet also free) time, head to the V&A Museum in Dundee . The entrance is free, and there are always fun art exhibits inside, like the one in the image above.

Often, there are also paid exhibits that circle around a specific topic. I was lucky enough to attend one about video games in 2019!

Other fun things to do in Dundee include visiting the McManus Art Gallery & Museum, Dundee Contemporary Arts, or Verdant Works.

An excellent place to stay in Dundee is the Hotel Indigo Dundee . Average nightly costs are under $100, and it’s in a reasonably central location! There are great amenities like parking, air conditioning, and an on-site restaurant.

🚂 Book your ticket to Dundee here! 🚂

blue lake by yellow flowers

🚆 Distance: 4 hours

🗺️ How to Get There: Take the ScotRail towards Dundee from Edinburgh Waverley and get off at Perth. Then, switch to the ScotRail towards Inverness and get off at Inverness. From there, you’ll have to rent a car, go on a tour, or use a local bus to get to Loch Ness.

One of the best day trips from Edinburgh by train is Loch Ness! Many people who visit Scotland want to see the famed Loch Ness Monster, which is said to be right at Loch Ness.

While there is no definitive proof that this creature exists, there are many claims of sightings and even photos of it.

Most people visit Urquhart Castle , right at Loch Ness, when visiting. It is said that the castle was the first place the monster was seen back in 565 AD.

Today, visitors can take a boat ride out on the loch or hike around the hillsides to try to catch a glimpse of it!

Many tour operators offer tours of the area and local shops where tourists can purchase souvenirs and gifts, so you can easily make your trip to Loch Ness longer if needed.

If you’re looking to stay in the area by Loch Ness, consider spending the night at The Lovat Loch Ness in Fort Augustus. This four-star hotel is usually around $100 per night, so it is super affordable for the value that you get.

The rooms are chic, and there’s free breakfast, plus two restaurants right on site.

🚂 Book your ticket to Loch Ness here! 🚂

old castle by the water

🚆 Distance: 30 minutes

🗺️ How to Get There: Head to Edinburgh Waverley station and hop on the Scotrail towards Dunblane. Get off on Falkirk Grahamston and enjoy your trip!

Falkirk is a town in Scotland with lots of things to do, plus it’s right on the water. There are many shops and restaurants and different pubs. The people are amicable and always helpful if you need directions or help finding anything.

This gorgeous Scottish town is also perfect for walking or hiking because there are beautiful parks with walking trails that go through them. It’s a great way to spend some time if you’re looking for a getaway from Edinburgh!

Some of the best attractions in Falkirk include the Falkirk Wheel, Callendar House, and the Kelpies. If you’re traveling with children, check out Wonder World Soft Play and Sky High Trampolining!

To spend a longer time in Falkirk, book a night at the Orchard Hotel . It’s only a short walk from the Falkirk Grahamston Station and is kid-friendly! Plus, there is complimentary breakfast and wifi.

🚂 Book your ticket to Falkirk here! 🚂

castle ruins in linlithgrow

🚆 Distance: 20 minutes

🗺️ How to Get There: Take the ScotRail from Edinburgh Waverley towards Glasgow Queen Street and get off at Linlithgow.

Linlithgow is one of the top day trips by train from Edinburgh! It might be a small town with a population of about 8,000, but it has many things to do for locals and tourists alike.

The most popular place to visit is the Linlithgow Palace , where Mary Queen of Scots lived before becoming Queen of England.

The palace is now a museum and visitor center that takes guests to explore the storied past of this country’s history! Any history fan will love it.

In addition to checking out the palace, other great things to do in Linlithgow include learning at the Linlithgow Museum, seeing the deer at Beecraigs Country Park, and biking along the Union Canal.

By far, the best place to stay in Linlithgow is the West Port Hotel ! With prices generally under $100 per night, this modern hotel has free breakfast and ample room sizes. Plus, there’s even a gastropub. What’s not to like?

🚂 Book your ticket to Linlithgrow here! 🚂

Newcastle Upon Tyne

bridge going over the water

🚆 Distance: 1.5 hours

🗺️ How to Get There: Hop on the train at Edinburgh Waverley and take the LNER towards London Kings Cross, but get off at Newcastle.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne is the largest city in North East England, located on the River Tyne. It’s one of the best day trips from Edinburgh by train! Newcastle hosts a myriad of things to do, from museums and concerts to shopping districts and sporting events.

The best way to see Newcastle is by foot, as it has many beautiful landmarks that are impossible to miss. One of these attractions is the Tyne Bridge, which was built in 1928 after World War I had ended.

This is one of the top landmarks in the city, and it’s impossible to miss because it stretches across the river.

While you should see the Tyne Bridge, there are also other great attractions, like the Living Museum of the North, the Angel of the North, and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.

Be sure to book a night’s stay at the Royal Station Hotel if you plan on spending more than a day in Newcastle! This hotel is inside a Victorian building but features modern hotel rooms. Plus, there’s an indoor pool, great dining at a restaurant, and even a spa.

🚂 Book your ticket to Newcastle here! 🚂

sea waves under a blue sky

🚆 Distance: 25 minutes

🗺️ How to Get There: Take the Transpennine Express towards Newcastle from Edinburgh Waverley and get off at Dunbar.

For one of the great train trips from Edinburgh, Scotland, head to Dunbar.

Dunbar is a small coastal village in the East Lothian region of Scotland. The town has many things to do for visitors and locals alike, such as hiking, exploring, and birdwatching.

There are also plenty of eating options available, making it the perfect place to visit for foodies.

When visiting Dunbar, consider stopping at some of the town’s best attractions, like John Muir’s Birthplace, The Fishermen’s Monument, and the Ruins of Tantallon Castle. For some great views, consider also stopping by John Muir Country Park.

To elongate your stay in Dunbar instead of heading back to Edinburgh, book a night’s stay at the Royal Mackintosh Hotel . This 3-star hotel has lavish rooms and even has a great restaurant that features wood pieces from an old historic ship.

🚂 Book your ticket to Dunbar here! 🚂

Loch Lomond

lake by the mountain

🚆 Distance: 3 hours

🗺️ How to Get There: Getting to Loch Lomond by train is no easy feat, but it is possible. Start by taking the ScotRail towards Dunblane from Edinburgh Waverley and get off at Larbert. Then, take the Scotrail towards Glasgow Queen Street and get off at Glasgow Queen Street. After, hop back on the ScotRail, but take the one towards Balloch and get off at Balloch. Finally, take the 305 bus towards Luss from Craiglomond Gardens and get off at the Visitor Center Car Park!

Loch Lomond is one of the nicest day trips from Edinburgh to the highlands!

Scotland’s Loch Lomond is a lake located in the Central Highlands of Scotland and is one of the largest freshwater lochs in Great Britain.

It is nestled between the towns of Balloch and Drymen and will genuinely take your breath away, especially if you’re looking for incredible natural landscapes in Scotland.

In addition to exploring Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, there are many other great things to do in the area. For instance, you can visit the SEA LIFE Loch Lomond Aquarium, take a ride on the Maid of the Loch, and more.

To fully enjoy the beauty of Loch Lomond, consider staying in the area right at the Loch Lomond Arms Hotel . This 4-star hotel is moderately priced and is inside an old eighteenth-century building.

It features tons of terrific amenities, including a bar, prime location, and even air conditioning.

🚂 Book your ticket to Balloch here! 🚂

footpath through the woods by trees

🗺️ How to Get There: Take the ScotRail towards Helensburgh Central from Edinburgh Waverley and get off at Livingston North.

One of the best train routes from Edinburgh is to Livingston. With stunning mountain views and historical places such as The Livingston Manor House and Middle Hill, you’ll find plenty to see in the area.

The Scottish city of Livingston is a great place to visit, with tons of fun things to do, like exploring the Livingston Skate Park, the Almond Valley Heritage Trust, and even the Five Sisters Zoo.

If you’re in the mood to explore some of Scotland’s stunning natural beauty, take a walk along part of the Water of Leith or partake in a guided kayaking trip along the River Almond.

As one of the best day trips by train from Edinburgh, there’s much to do here!

To make your trip to Livingston longer, consider booking a stay at the 3-star Mercure Livingston Hotel , right near some of the best places to visit in the area. Plus, there’s free wifi, an indoor pool, and air conditioning available to all guests.

🚂 Book your ticket to Livingston here! 🚂

historic abbey under a sunset

🚆 Distance: 2 hours

🗺️ How to Get There: To get to Arbroath from Edinburgh, take the ScotRail towards Aberdeen from Edinburgh Waverley and get off at Arbroath.

Arbroath is located close to Aberdeen at the mouth of the North Sea and offers a variety of things for travelers to do during their stay. It’s one of the best Edinburgh day trips by train and has a pretty scenic ride along the way!

This town offers many scenic spots, like the Arbroath Cliffs, which will truly take your breath away. The town has many attractions for visitors, like Arbroath Abbey, which was founded in 1160. Nearby is Alford Garden, with its ancient tree yews and labyrinths.

Other great attractions in the area include the Signal Tower Museum, the Arbroath to Auchmithie Coastal Path, and the West Links Park.

A great, affordable place to stay in town is the Townhouse Hotel . It’s less than $100 per night and has free wifi, air conditioning, and even a restaurant. Plus, it’s a quick walk to get to the North Sea, so it’s incredibly central.

🚂 Book your ticket to Arbroath here! 🚂

Cairngorms National Park

scottish highlands

🚆 Distance: 4-5 hours

🗺️ How to Get There: Take the ScotRail toward Aberdeen from Edinburgh Waverley and get off at Aberdeen. Then, take a bus to get to the part of the park that you’d most like to visit.

One of the best day trips from Edinburgh to the highlands is Cairngorms National Park. It’s a bit more challenging to get there, but it’s well worth it.

If you can swing it, it’s even better if, once you make it out there, you can rent a car so you can visit places like Craigievar Castle and Balmoral Castle in the area.

The Cairngorms National Park consists of the mountains of the Cairngorm Range. The Crown Estate owns much of this area and manages it for outdoor recreation, wildlife, and agriculture.

The park is perfect for hikers, nature lovers, and nature photographers who want to capture these moments in time before they change. Many people even say that it’s one of the best places for hiking in the whole of the United Kingdom!

To spend more time near the park, book a stay at the Cairngorm Hotel in Aviemore. This 3-star hotel is super nice inside and has great traditional Scottish decor. Plus, it’s top-rated, has an excellent restaurant, and is near public transportation.

🚂 Book your ticket to Aberdeen here! 🚂

people walking on the street in pitlochry

🗺️ How to Get There: Ride the ScotRail towards Inverness from Edinburgh Waverley and get off at Pitlochry.

One of the best places to visit by train near Edinburgh is the small town of Pitlochry. The town sits at the base of Mount Blair near Scotland’s largest lake, Loch Rannoch.

Pitlochry is often referred to as the “gateway to the Highlands.” The town has a population of just over 3,500.

Pitlochry is also home to the stately home of Blair Castle, where it is possible to take guided tours of the estate, which was once the residence of Queen Elizabeth II’s mother. With so many things to do, you will never be bored!

Other fun places to visit include the Blair Athol Distillery, Loch Faskally, and the Pitlochry Dam Visitor Center.

The Atholl Villa Guest House is the perfect place to stay if you want to extend your trip to Pitlochry. This 4-star hotel is a fantastic bed and breakfast with home-cooked breakfast in the morning and free wifi. Plus, prices are relatively affordable per night.

🚂 Book your ticket to Pitlochry here! 🚂

North Berwick

bench overlooking the water

🗺️ How to Get There: To get to North Berwick from Edinburgh, take the ScotRail towards North Berwick from Edinburgh Waverley and get off at North Berwick.

North Berwick is a town in Scotland that can be found on the country’s northeast coast. It’s a popular destination for tourists because it offers many different attractions within a small area.

Visitors will find plenty of opportunities to enjoy renowned golf courses, play a round of tennis, or take a stroll through the beaches and coastal forests that border this seaside town.

There are also a variety of surf spots along the coastline where visitors can go to get some great waves during all seasons.

If you’re looking for a sleepy town in the United Kingdom with plenty of history, North Berwick is the perfect destination. There are also family-friendly activities like bowling, indoor rock climbing, or visiting beautiful gardens.

Don’t forget to stop by the nearby castles too, Tantallon Castle and Dirleton Castle & Gardens!

For a great place to stay, consider booking a night at the No 12 Hotel & Bistro . This 3-star hotel is slightly more expensive than other recommendations on this list, but overall, North Berwick accommodations are a bit pricier.

The hotel is close to Dirleton Castle & Gardens, Tantallon Castle, and the Scottish Seabird Center.

🚂 Book your ticket to North Berwick here! 🚂

museum and university under a blue sky

🚆 Distance: 50 minutes

🗺️ How to Get There: Take the ScotRail towards Glasgow Queen Streed from Edinburgh Waverley and get off at Glasgow Queen Street! This is a quick, easy ride through Scotland.

If you’re looking for one of the more popular train trips from Edinburgh, Scotland, head to Glasgow! It’s the largest city in Scotland and is considered to be one of the most exciting and vibrant cities in the world.

The city is famous for its rich history, amazing shops and attractions, art and culture, as well as its popular music scene. Glasgow’s buzzing population of 1.3 million people means you’ll never run out of things to do!

Textile mills, shipbuilding, railroads, and coal miners mark Glasgow’s history. Glasgow is also home to many amazing museums like the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, and The People’s Palace.

Extend your stay in this lovely city by booking a night or two at the Radisson Blue Hotel ! This is the most popular place to stay in Glasgow by far.

It’s centrally located and has a restaurant, great breakfast, and even a pool. Plus, the rooms are a great size, considering the hotel is in a city.

🚂 Book your ticket to Glasgow here! 🚂

historic castle sitting up on a hill

🚆 Distance: 40 minutes

🗺️ How to Get There: If you want to head to Stirling, take the ScotRail towards Dunblane from Edinburgh Waverley and get off at the Stirling stop.

Last but not least is another of the great train routes from Edinburgh, Stirling! It is a historic and scenic city in Scotland. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or an adventure with friends, there are plenty of things to do in this Scottish city.

Some of the best attractions in Stirling include the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, the National Wallace Monument, and the Stirling Old Town Jail.

Of course, the star of the show is the Stirling Castle, which overlooks the town and is impossible to miss.

For an incredible experience, book a night at the Golden Lion Hotel while visiting Stirling.

The hotel has been welcoming guests for over 200 years and has tons of great amenities. There are also plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops right next to the hotel to enjoy during your stay.

🚂 Book your ticket to Stirling here! 🚂

Final Thoughts: Edinburgh Train Day Trips

This post was all about the best day trips from Edinburgh by train. What location would you love to take a day trip to?

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KP is the head blogger and founder behind Volumes & Voyages. After studying abroad in Dublin for a semester, KP got bitten by the travel bug. Now, she writes articles to help other travelers in between trips where she chases her wanderlust. KP has lived in many different places, including Boston MA, Denver CO, Las Vegas NV, southern VT, and Dublin IE.

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scenic rail journeys from edinburgh

Scotland’s Most Scenic Train Journeys

Scotland's most scenic train journies, the belmond royal scotsman.

THE BELMOND ROYAL SCOTSMAN​

The West Highland Line

Glenfinnan Viaduct

Photograph by @connormollison

Perth to Inverness

scenic rail journeys from edinburgh

Blair Castle By Brett Currie

The Far North Line

Dunrobin

Photograph by @gisforgeorgina

The Strathspey Steam Railway

scenic rail journeys from edinburgh

Photograph by @danklaiber

The Royal Deeside Railway

ROYAL-DEESIDE-RAILWAY-1-of-1

The Borders Railway

From Edinburgh to Tweedbank, this railway journey presents a true snapshot of Scottish highland beauty. Including stops at Gorebridge and Newtongrange, which is not only the largest Scottish mining town but is also home to the National Mining Museum. The journey then moves into the hills of the Scottish Borders, famously home to Sir Walter Scott, a man credited with ‘creating’ modern Scotland. You can even stop off to visit Abbotsford House, the country estate where he lived. The journey will take you through some beautiful Borders villages and you can stop off to hike along the beautiful Borders Loop for some fresh Highland air.

scenic rail journeys from edinburgh

The Kyle Line

Plockton

Photograph by Ali Horne

The Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway

Travelling from Bo’ness to Manuel, this heritage railway line is home to Scotland’s largest railway museum. The train travels along the beautiful coastline, allowing you an in-depth look at the beautiful towns and villages that make up this area of Scotland. You’ll especially want to look out for the vast swathes of woodland, as well as the fields of wild garlic. Travel via a vintage steam or diesel train and treat yourself to an afternoon tea, luncheon or a full three-course dinner while the countryside provides the most sumptuous of settings.

scenic rail journeys from edinburgh

The Forth Rail Bridge

Forth Rail Bridge

Photograph by John Murray

Stranraer Line

Glenfinnan Viaduct

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The Train Hacker

Saving You Money on Train Travel

Day Trips from Edinburgh by Train: 6 Amazing Places to Visit in Scotland

By Jools Stone

Organ at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Visitors to Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery Glasgow can hear daily free recitals from their magnificent organ – image: © Chris P King / The Train Hacker

There’s no shortage of things to do in Edinburgh, but you’ll find plenty of captivating places a short train ride away. There’s a fantastic day out from urban adventures, countryside and coastal escapes, family-friendly attractions, whisky distilleries, and historic Scotland.

Book your tickets directly with Scotrail , and you’ll pay no booking fees or credit/debit card charges!

Here’s our selection of the best places to visit on day trips from Edinburgh by train.

Less than an hour from Edinburgh, Glasgow offers a complete contrast and a refreshing edge. Friendly locals, a vibrant arts and music scene, and respect for its industrial heritage give Glasgow its unique vitality – making it more like a major international city than Edinburgh.

West End district

Glasgow’s West End district is the bohemian hub of the city and is popular with day-trippers, locals and students. Take your pick of things to see and do from galleries, museums, restaurants, bars, shopping and parks.

The charming cobbled and fairy-light-lit alleyway of Ashton Lane has the famous Ubiquitous Chip restaurant and indie picturehouse, the Grosvenor Cinema. While nearby Byers Road sustains the fiercely independent record and comic shops, many other cities have long abandoned.

Oran Mor, a former church and multi-arts venue with awe-inspiring frescos by writer and illustrator Alasdair Grey, is home to the lunchtime theatre sensation ‘A Play, a Pie and a Pint.’

Across the river, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum is the most impressive and most visited British museum outside London. The imposing Victorian cultural cathedral brings together an eclectic mix of exhibits. Alongside much else, look out for dinosaur skeletons, Salvador Dalí’s Christ of St John of the Cross and a Spitfire hanging from the rafters.

Ashton Lane in Glasgow's West End

Charming Ashton Lane in the West End is a great place to meet Glasgow’s friendly locals at a restaurant or bar – image: © Chris P King / The Train Hacker

The West End is around 2-2.5 miles from Glasgow Queen Street and Central stations. To get there by Subway (known locally as the ‘Clockwork Orange’), take the metro from Buchanan Street (next to Glasgow Queen Street) or Enoch Street (next to Glasgow Central) to either Hillhead, Kelvinbridge or Kelvinhall or take a bus.

Merchant City district

Merchant City is a cultural quarter using palatial spaces leftover from Glasgow’s rich merchant heritage. Warehouses that once stored tobacco and cotton are now home to studios, workshops, cafes, restaurants and bars. On the weekends, Merchant Square holds a craft fair which brings together some of the city’s finest artisans.

City Halls and the Old Fruitmarket are the entertainment venues of Merchant City. City Hall’s traditional shoebox-style auditorium produces fine acoustics for concerts. The Old Fruitmarket is a versatile space with gigs, theatre, club nights and comedy shows.

Glasgow Queen Street and Central stations are just a few minutes walk to the Merchant City district.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s distinct style of architecture and design lends the city a unique feel. His signature Art Nouveau buildings in Glasgow include the Daily Record Building, The Lighthouse and the Scotland Street School Museum.

His Willow Tea Rooms – where he had complete control over interior and exterior design – has re-opened as ‘Mackintosh at the Willow’ after a major renovation. Discover more about his work and places to visit .

Sadly, Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece, the Glasgow School of Art, was destroyed by fire in June 2018.

Glasgow is family-friendly and has many things to do regardless of your tastes. Visit People Make Glasgow and find out what’s going on around this lively city.

Edinburgh to Glasgow by train

Trains depart from Edinburgh to Glasgow Queen Street station every 15 minutes and take around 50 mins. More frequent services which take longer go between Edinburgh and Glasgow Central station.

Book Train Tickets from Edinburgh to Glasgow >>

Stirling Castle, Scotland

Stirling Castle is one of three big historical attractions in Stirling, along with the National Wallace Monument and the Battle of Bannockburn site – image: Stirling Castle – Scotland by mariocutroneo, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

Stirling offers ancient castles, historic battlefields and national heroes alongside a host of family-friendly attractions and the youthful energy of a student town.

Stirling’s often pegged as a mini-Edinburgh, and indeed, it has a fair amount in common with ‘Auld Reekie.’ There’s the hilltop castle, an old town with narrow atmospheric lanes, and even a Church of the Holy Rude – not to be confused with Edinburgh’s Holyrood. Of course, there’s more to Stirling than this easy comparison suggests.

For many, the prime reason to visit will be the town’s trio of heavyweight historical attractions: Stirling Castle, the National Wallace Monument and the Bannockburn Visitor Centre.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle , sitting on a 350-million-year-old crag and established around 1110, was once the residence of Stewart monarchs. Today, you can meet costumed characters, take in magnificent sculptures and beautiful gardens, and roam around the Regimental Museum, Great Kitchens and Tapestry Studio.

Battle of Bannockburn

Just outside Stirling lies the site of one of the most significant battles in Scottish history. The Wars of Scottish Independence, which erupted in the late 13th century, came to a decisive conclusion on the fields of Bannockburn in 1314.

Led by Robert the Bruce, the Battle of Bannockburn is celebrated in Scotland as a historic victory over the English – who outnumbered the Scots forces by at least two to one. Bannockburn was a significant battle that led the English Crown to recognise the Kingdom of Scotland’s independence.

The Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre uses immersive 3D technology to recreate the battle in detail. Regular buses (every 5-15 minutes) from Stirling Bus Station (next to the train station) take around 15-20 minutes to get there.

National Wallace Monument

You can visit the 67-metre-high National Wallace Monument to complete Stirling’s patriotic pilgrimage. Erected in 1869, it honours Scotland’s national hero, Sir William Wallace, the 14th-century knight who spearheaded Scottish independence at the Battle of Stirling Bridge.

The breathtaking panoramic views from the top stretch from Ben Lomond and the Trossachs to the west, the Forth Valley and city of Stirling, and the Ochil and Pentland Hills to the East. While climbing the 246-step spiral staircase, you’ll pass the Hall of Heroes, which shows generations of famous Scots whom Wallace inspired.

The National Wallace Monument is two miles from Stirling Bus Station, with regular buses taking 10-15 minutes.

More places to visit in Stirling

One mile from the National Wallace Monument, Stirling University is home to the Macroberts Art Centre. The centre hosts over 400 performances throughout the year, including dance, comedy, music, art exhibitions and film.

Closer to Stirling Station (less than a mile away) is the family-friendly building conservation centre, the Engine Shed, the ruined Cambuskenneth Abbey and Old Stirling Bridge.

Start planning your trip to historic Stirling and learn more about things to do at Stirling: Alive with Scotland .

Edinburgh to Stirling by train

Trains depart from Edinburgh Waverley to Stirling station every 30 mins and take around 50 mins.

Book Train Tickets from Edinburgh to Stirling >>

Rockpools along the coast from Seacliffe Beach, North Berwick, with Bass Rock out at sea – image: Bass Rock, North Berwick, Scotland, United Kingdom by Giuseppe Milo, used under CC BY 2.0 DEED

North Berwick

The seaside is closer to Edinburgh than you might think, and if you only visit one of East Lothian’s many coastal towns, make it North Berwick. Besides having a pair of scenic bays with sandy beaches, it’s a charming place with a row of pastel-coloured cottages and a small town filled with local craft shops, family-run fish and chippies, seafood restaurants and quaint tearooms.

A small but thriving arts community – partially populated by Edinburgh exiles – means the town retains its genuine character beyond the touristy vibe often found in seaside resorts. They even have their festival spin-off each August, Fringe by the Sea.

Scottish Seabird Centre

One of the town’s most popular attractions is undoubtedly the Scottish Seabird Centre . You can take a boat cruise across the Firth of Forth to the Isle of May, which has a significant puffin colony. There are also trips to other islands, including BBC Nature’s award-winning Bass Rock, home to one of the world’s largest gannet colonies.

North Berwick: Attractions out of town

Other attractions worth exploring just a little outside North Berwick include the National Museum of Flight, Tantallon Castle and Seacliffe Beach.

The National Museum of Flight at East Fortune Airfield showcases a fleet of aircraft from the First World War onwards. Exhibits include the oldest surviving Harrier jump jet and the only Concorde in Scotland you can board. The limited 121 bus service serves the museum, which takes 30 minutes. Alternatively, take a train to Drem and pick up the bus.

Tantallon Castle, built around 1358, was mooted as the possible inspiration for the legend of King Arthur’s Camelot. The semi-ruined castle captures the imagination with its dramatic setting on a rocky headland overlooking Bass Rock and the Firth of Forth. To reach the castle from North Berwick, take the limited 120 bus service, which takes 20 minutes.

A bit further along the coast, you’ll arrive at a hidden gem, the beautiful Seacliff Beach. Golden dunes, rock pools teeming with marine life and Britain’s tiniest harbour make it a perfect excursion with the family. Seacliff Beach is accessed by paying a small charge (as it’s private), but don’t let the locals know we told you about it!

Edinburgh to North Berwick by train

Trains from Edinburgh to North Berwick take 33 minutes and depart every hour.

Book Train Tickets from Edinburgh to North Berwick >>

Golf’s iconic Swilcan Bridge at the Old Course, St Andrews, with The Royal and Ancient Golf Club in left background – image: Noah_Jurik

With its stunning Fife coastal location and wealth of prime golfing and royal connections, it’s easy to see why St Andrews continues to draw in tourists. A journey that crosses the iconic Forth Bridge makes an ideal day trip from Edinburgh by train.

‘The Home of Golf’

St Andrews is internationally acclaimed as the ‘home of golf’ with its legendary Old Course considered the oldest in the world. Adjacent to the first tee sits the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, the oldest golf club in the world.

For golf fans, St Andrews is a mecca not to be missed. Today, St Andrews Links offers seven golf courses, including the famous Old Course, all available to play. Rather than traipse around the sights of Edinburgh, why not play a round of golf at St Andrew’s Links ? Sounds very appealing.

Just yards from the Old Course, the R&A World of Golf traces the game’s history from Medieval times to the present day.

Historical St Andrews

St Andrews University is the world’s third oldest English-speaking university, so naturally permeates the town’s flavour. Visitor favourites include the sacred heart of the university’ Sallies Quad’ and the historic St Salvator’s Chapel.

Because St Andrew’s ancient heritage stretches back over a thousand years, some of the town’s most celebrated sights are little more than photogenic ruins. The 11th-century cathedral was once Scotland’s biggest, and today, the best surviving portion is the skeletal frame of St Rule’s Tower.

Thought to be the original location of the relics of St Andrew, only the foundations of the Chapel of St Mary on the Rock survive today. Another ruin is Blackfriars Chapel, the 16th-century monastery of Dominican monks, which is spectacularly illuminated at night.

West Sands Beach

You may recognise the uninterrupted two-mile golden stretch of West Sands Beach from the sporting biopic film Chariots of Fire. West Sands Beach is a lovely place for a walk and a paddle, and if you’re feeling brave enough, a swim!

Discover more about places to see and things to do at St Andrew’s .

Edinburgh to St Andrew’s by train via Leuchars

St Andrews is reached from Edinburgh Waverley station by train to Leuchars and a connecting bus. On average, the total daytime journey takes 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Book Train Tickets from Edinburgh to St Andrew’s>>

Pitlochry is a scenic day trip by train from Edinburgh and appealing to whisky-lovers who can visit the Blair Athol Distillery – image: Visit Scotland

The Victorian railway boom made Pitlochry an attractive hillside town enveloped by glens and glorious woodlands which blaze with colour come the autumn. With two distinguished whisky distilleries to visit and a renowned shop, Pitlochry makes a perfect day out for whisky lovers.

The trip to Pitlochry is the most scenic rail journey of our days out from Edinburgh, which is just as well as it takes nearly two hours. On the way, you’ll cross the Forth Bridge before sweeping along the coast and onto the last stretch and the beautiful scenery from Perth onwards.

Pitlochry’s whisky heritage

Blair Athol Distillery is one-mile from Pitlochry station; founded in 1798, it’s one of Scotland’s oldest working distilleries. The moorland site was chosen because of the constant supply of pure water from the ancient Allt Dour. Their celebrated malt is aged in bourbon barrels used in the famous Bell’s brand blend.

Edradour Distillery is a traditional farmhouse distillery and one of the last to produce single malt whisky by hand. Before the advent of micro-breweries, it was one of the smaller-scale suppliers of ‘the water of life’. Getting to Edradour Distillery takes 10 minutes by taxi, around one hour walk or 40-50 minutes by bus and foot.

Finally, Robertson’s shop in town has an excellent selection of Scotch with whisky and gin-tasting sessions.

Pitlochry resort town attractions

There’s plenty more to do in Pitlochry with its attractive Victorian villas, smart foodie hotels and spas, upmarket outfitters and more high street names than your average Scottish country town.

Just don’t have too many ‘wee swallies’ (alcoholic drinks) before you brave a trip over the wobbly Tummel Suspension Bridge! The lattice and rope bridge is often used by walkers hiking the 79-mile Rob Roy Way.

How many towns can boast of having their very own hydroelectric dam? Well, prepare to be suitably awed by the Pitlochry Dam, with a visitor centre which tells the story of how the water of the River Tummel has been harnessed to power the region. The dam has a ‘fish ladder’ which allows salmon to spawn upstream, and you can watch this fascinating natural spectacle from April to late October.

Though the cosy place is, there’s nothing remotely provincial about Pitlochry’s Festival Theatre, which has a reputation for producing a high volume of bold work, giving art lovers another reason to roam here.

Edinburgh to Pitlochry by train

The quickest Edinburgh Waverley to Pitlochry train takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes, with morning departures every hour.

Book Train Tickets from Edinburgh to Pitlochry >>

Standing 30 metres tall, the Kelpies in Falkirk have quickly become an iconic feature on Scotland’s tourist trail – image: Kelpies by Steven Straiton, used under CC BY 2.0 DEED / Edited from original

A few years ago, Falkirk, an industrial belt town – between Edinburgh and Glasgow – might seem an unlikely contender for your day trip itinerary. But in 2014, the Kelpies arrived and put Falkirk firmly on the map.

The Kelpies and Helix Park

The Kelpies are a pair of enormous, beautifully crafted 30-metre-high horse sculptures at Helix Park. Fashioned from glittering steel and reflecting the waters underneath, it pays tribute to the horses which drove Scotland’s industrial past. Designed by Andy Scott, the Kelpies are begging to be Instagrammed, and they’ve swiftly become a tourist icon of not just Falkirk but Scotland as a whole.

Helix Park offers around 500km of connected cycle paths and surrounding parkland.

Take the train to Falkirk Grahamston or Falkirk High to get to the Kelpies and Helix Park. From Falkirk Grahamston station, buses leave every 10 minutes from nearby Weir Street and take 30 minutes to get there. From Falkirk High Station, buses nearby take around 45 minutes.

The Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel is an engineering marvel and a modern testament to Scotland’s industrial prowess. Standing 35 meters high, the world’s only rotating boat lift connects the Union Canal with the Forth & Clyde Canal. Its design is inspired by the ‘shape of a Celtic double-headed spear, a whale’s ribcage or a Clyde-built ship propeller’, depending on how you see it! The Falkirk Wheel’s ingenuity is such that it only takes the equivalent energy of eight boiling kettles to power a single turn.

To get to the Falkirk Wheel , take the train to either Falkirk High or Falkirk Grahamston. From Falkirk High Station, the number 3 bus from nearby Drossie Road departs every 20 minutes and takes 20 minutes to get there. From Falkirk Grahamston station, buses nearby leave every 5-10 minutes and take around 25 minutes to get there (bus number 3 from St Andrews Church requires the least amount of walking).

Historical Falkirk

At various locations around Falkirk, you can see remnants of the Antonine Wall, the second (and less preserved) of Roman’s great walls in Northern Britain. Snaking its way 37 miles from the River Clyde to the River Forth, the Antonine Wall included a turf wall and a deep ditch.

Callendar House, a stunning French chateau-style mansion with extensive grounds, is another historical landmark worth a visit. Dating from the 14th century, Callendar House has hosted the likes of Bonnie Prince Charlie, Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Victoria and countless other historical figures. One of its permanent displays is the Antonine Wall, with remnants of it within its grounds.

Visit Falkirk has the lowdown on attractions and things to do in Falkirk.

Edinburgh to Falkirk by train

Trains from Edinburgh Waverley to Falkirk High depart every 15 minutes and take 25-30 minutes. The quickest trains from Edinburgh Waverley to Falkirk Grahamston depart every 30 minutes and take around 35 minutes.

Book Edinburgh to Falkirk Train Tickets >>

Edinburgh Days Trips by Train: Travel Extras, Tips and Hacks

Accommodation: hotels and the caledonian sleeper.

Why limit yourself to a day trip from Edinburgh by train? For the ultimate rail travel experience, arrive in Edinburgh (or Glasgow) in style on the Caledonian Sleeper service from London .

For the ultimate luxury railway experience, stay in one of Edinburgh’s luxury railway hotels at either The Balmoral Hotel or at the opposite end of Princes Street, the Waldorf Astoria – Caledonian . Or, take your pick from budget to top-end hotels in Edinburgh .

Save money on train tickets

To save money on your journey, remember to pack your trusty Railcard to get 1/3 OFF adult and 60% OFF child fares. Book your train tickets with Scotrail , and you won’t pay any booking or card fees.

Tours: Edinburgh and Scotland

While in Edinburgh, why not take a tour from an expert travel guide to help you get more out of your trip? They’re also a great idea if you’re pushed for time and want to see as much as possible while there.

And if you want to visit the places mentioned here and a whole lot more (the Scottish Highlands and whisky trails spring to mind!), Edinburgh is the perfect place to explore more of Scotland.

We recommend Get Your Guide for the best tours in Edinburgh and Scotland.

The Jacobite steam train crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct is one of the highlights of the journey from Fort William to Mallaig

Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express

Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express is a once-in-a-lifetime spectacular journey through the Scottish Highlands. Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or not, you’ll love travelling one of the world’s most scenic train journeys by steam train. Find out how to ride the Harry Potter train in Scotland , which includes multi-day tours from Edinburgh which include the trip .

We hope you enjoyed our round-up of the best day trips from Edinburgh by train!

Written by Jools Stone and Chris P King – last updated November 2023.

  • Stirling Castle – Scotland by mariocutroneo , used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED
  • Bass Rock, North Berwick, Scotland, United Kingdom by Giuseppe Milo , used under CC BY 2.0 DEED
  • St Andrews, Scotland by Noah_Jurik , used under Pixababy
  • Blair Athol Distillery Pitlochry by Visit Scotland
  • Kelpies by Steven Straiton , used under CC BY 2.0 DEED / Edited from original

About Jools Stone

Jools Stone is a freelance travel writer, copywriter and blogger based in Brighton. Follow his rail travel adventures on Twitter .

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10 Fun Day Trips from Edinburgh by Train

Waverley Train Station with People Edinburgh Transport

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Scotland’s history is not confined to the capital city, so why not devote a day or two to getting out and visiting some of the best day trips from Edinburgh by train?

Across the country, you’ll discover new sights and hear the different accents spoken across Scotland!

You can book tickets via the ScotRail website or app or at a machine at the train station.

You may also like our guide to bus day trips and guided coach excursions .

Planning a trip to Caledonia? Join my Scotland Facebook group and ask fellow visitors for advice.

Day Trips by Train from Edinburgh

  • Journey time: 20 minutes
  • Departure Frequency: every 20 mins during the day

Dunbar, or Sunny Dunny as it is known to locals, is a cute town on the East Lothian coast.

It has three harbours where boats bob about, a stunning sandy beach at Belhaven with a view of Bass Rock and a historic High Street packed with independent shops and cafes such as Graze and Dunbar Community Bakery.

There are two fish and chip shops and a hip artisan pizza place for dinner too.

Dunbar is where a famous US conservationist was born, and you can learn more about him at the John Muir Birthplace.

Outdoors fans will want to visit Foxlake for a Segway tour or get out on a SUP or surfboard.

You can read more about things to do in Dunbar here .

Dunbar Train Station is a 5-minute walk from the High Street.

Blue skies over Belhaven Beach and the Bridge to Nowhere in Dunbar

North Berwick

  • Journey time: 30 minutes
  • Departure Frequency: hourly

There are a number of impressive seaside coastal towns in East Lothian, but none better than North Berwick.

Covered with pastel homes, scenic bays and miles and miles of pristine beaches, the town has preserved its rich heritage despite the high tourist inflow.

The Scottish Seabird Centre is the starting point in North Berwick for cruises along the Firth of Forth into the Isle of May.

scenic rail journeys from edinburgh

The almost ruined 1358-built Tantallon Castle, of King Arthur’s fame, occupies a vantage setting overlooking Bass Rock and the Firth of Forth.

The secluded Seacliff Beach is just a short distance away and is home to the smallest harbour in Britain. Full of rock pools and a variety of marine life, the beach is a fun place for the entire family.

Also, make sure to check out this Beers, Whiskies and Gin tour in East Lothian when you visit!

→ Read next | Beautiful Beaches Near Edinburgh

  • Journey time: 50 minutes
  • Departure Frequency: every 30 minutes

If you are looking to experience the rich history of Scotland, then head to Stirling for an easy trip from Scotland’s capital.

Located in the central part of the country, this historical city serves as the gateway to the Highlands and has several key attractions which are worth a visit.

It’s worth purchasing a Stirling City Pass to gain access to most of the iconic spots without having to queue up.

The striking Stirling Castle should be the best place to start with.

Once you have finished with this medieval citadel encircled by breathtaking scenery, another must-see is the Wallace Monument , built to honour the legendary hero William Wallace. 

To learn more about the history of Scotland, you can enjoy a 3D show at the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Center before returning to Edinburgh.

Stirling Castle blue skies train trips from edinburgh

  • Departure Frequency: every 15 minutes

Scotland’s largest city is less than an hour away by train.

This vibrant and friendly city attracts visitors with its arts, music, fashion, and food scene.

The Merchant City is a cultural hub and is just a few minutes walk from both the Glasgow Central and Queen Street stations.

Merchant Square is home to a number of bars and restaurants and is housed in the historic and impressive Merchant’s Marketplace.

You can hop aboard the underground to the West End, where you’ll find Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the University of Glasgow, and many bars and restaurants.

scenic rail journeys from edinburgh

Loch Lomond

  • Journey time: 2 hours

Most visitors assume that seeing this largest body of water in the UK involves hectic scheduling, but the truth is you can get there quickly by train in two hours (with one stopover at Glasgow Queen Street station).

A short stroll from the Balloch railway station is the cruise point, which takes visitors on trips covering the key areas of the loch.

Great views of the loch can be had from the cafe inside the Balloch Castle Country Park .

While you are there, admire the beauty of Balloch Castle as well.

Dine at The Balloch House, The Pier Kitchen or Tullie Inn.

You can also get to Loch Lomond by car or bus tour; here’s our guide explaining how.

Boat-Tour-Loch-Lomond-in-Balloch

  • Journey time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Departure Frequency: eight departures per day

Glens, glorious woodlands and two prominent whisky distilleries make a day trip to Pitlochry a perfect outing for the entire family.

This truly scenic journey out of Edinburgh Waverley station takes the traveller past the iconic Forth Bridge and then sweeps across the coast.

For whisky aficionados, Edradour Distillery is a must-see.

This unique distillery is renowned as the smallest traditional distillery in Scotland.

Robertson’s of Pitlochry should also be on your list.

This shop stocks rare and unique whiskies and small-batch gins from across the UK.

Pitlochry has plenty of other attractions like upmarket spas, food outlets and the wobbly Tummel Suspension Bridge , the popular rope and lattice landmark on the walk along the famous Rob Roy Way .

Pitlochry Dam Visitors Centre Scotland

South Queensferry (Dalmeny)

South Queensferry is a harbour town on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

This day trip is popular because you can literally dine underneath the UNESCO Forth Bridge and sail between the Forth Road Bridge and Queensferry Crossing!

Visitors tend to walk along the waterfront, hop aboard a cruise to Incholm Island, eat tray bakes at one of the cafes on the cobbled high street or dine at the upmarket Orocco Pier or Scotts.

There’s a fish and chip shop, so if you’re on a budget, you won’t look out of place eating a chippy on a bench looking out to the River Forth.

If you fancy a drink, check out the handful of ‘old man’ pubs or the Hawe’s Inn or Railbridge Bistro, both of which have outdoor seating for warm days.

You can’t beat South Queensferry on a sunny day!

The Forth Road Bridge is open to pedestrians, which means you can walk to the next town, North Queensferry and hop on the train back to Edinburgh from there.

The station at South Queensferry is called Dalemy, and it is about a 10-minute walk to the main street.

The lighting isn’t great, so we don’t advise walking alone at night.

Read next: Things to do in South Queensferry and where to stay .

Colourful building South Queensferry

Aberdour and Fife Coast Trail

  • Journey time: 35 minutes

As the gateway to the stunning Fife Coastal Trail , the picturesque town of Aberdour aptly displays what sea life is all about.

Explore the 14th-century Aberdour Castle and Gardens and the neighbouring St. Fillan’s church, which dates back to the 12th century.

A short walk from Aberdour Station will bring you to the harbour.

From here, there’s a path over Hawkcraig Cliffs, which leads to Starley Burn that will bring you through some forest patches and waterfalls.

You can then walk back or continue on to Burntisland to catch your return train to Edinburgh.

There are plenty of lunch choices in Aberdour, such as Cafe @ No 16, Sands (on the beach) or Aberdour Bistro or take out from The Post and Pantry.

→ Read Next | Walks in Edinburgh

Sandy beach at Aberdour Fife

  • Journey time: 1 hour 20 minutes (train and bus)
  • Departure Frequency: every thirty minutes

Internationally renowned as the ‘home of golf’ and royalty, St Andrews enjoys a spectacular location on the picturesque Fife coastline and is accessed by another iconic landmark, the Forth Bridge.

St Andrews is home to one of the oldest golf clubs in the world – the Royal and Ancient Golf Club .

Golfers in St Andrews can tee off in any of the seven splendid courses.

  • Castle Course
  • Jubilee Course
  • Eden Course
  • Strathtyrum Course
  • Balgove Course

History buffs, too, need not worry as St Andrews’ thousands of years of heritage showcases gems like the St Salvator’s Chapel, Scotland’s oldest university, the University of St Andrews, and St Andrews Cathedral.

The nearby West Sands Beach is a great place to paddle and play along the beautiful two-mile stretch of golden sand.

East Sands Beach is also a beautiful location and is a great spot for watersports, including sailing and surfing.

St Andrews Cathedral Fife

  • Journey time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Departure Frequency: half-hourly

Dundee is Scotland’s fourth-largest city and a UNESCO City of Design.

Previously home to some of Scotland’s shipping industry, you’ll now discover Dundee’s arts and hospitality scene.

The recently opened V&A Design Museum sits on the banks of the River Tay.

This stunning building is home to even more incredible artwork and design pieces.

You can experience the RSS Discovery next door at Discovery Point .

This impressive ship was the one sailed to Antarctica by Captain Scott and his heroic crew.

Head to the top of Dundee Law. At 174 meters, you will experience breathtaking views of Dundee, Fife the Tay and the Tay Bridges.

The McManus is Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum. Housed in a Gothic Victorian building, the gallery is home to a collection across eight open gallery spaces.

Dundee McManus Gallery Day Trips from Edinburgh by Train

Train travel is a great way to get around Scotland because:

  • The countryside can be reached in under 30 minutes
  • You don’t have to drive
  • You can have a drink
  • There’s space for prams and bikes
  • Assistance for wheelchair users (advanced booking)
  • You have all day to return on a cheap off-peak ticket

Edinburgh transport. Train. Bridge. Night

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Ronan has lived in Edinburgh his whole life. He loves to spend time in Edinburgh’s unique neighbourhoods sampling the excellent food and drink scene, interesting culture and weather (hah!)

6 thoughts on “ 10 Fun Day Trips from Edinburgh by Train ”

How do we book these tickets? I am specifically looking at the Loch Lomond trip but wasn’t sure where to book?

Hi Brittney. You book via the ScotRail website or app or at a machine at the train station. Hope you have a lovely trip!

Excellent information!!!! We are headed to Edinburgh in November! Do you have any tips for going to multiple locations by train in a day? We definitely want to see Stirling Castle…is that an all day event?

Hey Amy! Thanks for your kind words and question. Edinburgh to Stirling is less than an hour so depending how much time you spend in Stirling you could do another train trip. Consider Stirling to Falkirk for the Kelpies maybe? There’s a bit of a walk from the station to the Kelpies but totally doable, we’ve done it ourselves.

We are going to Edinburgh with our daughter. She wants to go to Loch Ness and maybe Isle of Skye. We are wondering if we need to rent a car or can it all be done by train? Thanks for this interesting article!

Hi Elizabeth. You could either rent a car or take a tour if you prefer not to do the driving. Enjoy!

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adeo Travel: tailor-made tours of England, Scotland and Wales

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Explore Scotland by Rail

Scotland Rail Tour – Experience some of Britain’s most spectacular and scenic rail journeys as you explore Scotland and the Scottish Highlands by train.  Your epic Scottish rail trip will take you from the vibrant cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow to Scotland’s scenic West Coast, through the dramatic Scottish Highlands and over the sea to the remote Isle of Skye. A hand-picked selection of small-group day tours will allow you to discover the remote landscapes and sites of the Highlands and Skye which cannot be reached by rail alone.

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Arriving in to Edinburgh Airport (or Glasgow Airport), board the train to the thriving city of Glasgow. Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city and home to modern Scottish culture. Explore the Victorian monuments of George Square, the bustling Sauchiehall Street and the imposing Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis. In the leafy West End you can visit the Kelvingrove Park and Museum set around the university quarter or head to the Merchant City to enjoy a host of modern Scottish bars and restaurants.

Overnight: Glasgow

Journey details: 1 hour 10 minutes from Glasgow Airport / 1 hour 20 minutes from Edinburgh Airport (approx.)*

Today embark on one of Scotland's famous rail journeys as you travel the West Highland Railway to Fort William. On route you will pass scenic coastline, the tranquil shores of Loch Lomond and through the heart of the desolate expanse of the Rannoch Moor. Arriving in Fort William you can spend the afternoon walking the harbour overlooking Loch Linhe, visit the Ben Nevis Distillery or the West Highland Museum for a candid history of the region. Alternatively, the brave might choose to take a hike in the foothills of the towering mountain of Ben Nevis – Britain’s highest peak.

Overnight: Fort William

Meals: Breakfast included

Journey details: 3 hours 50 minutes (approx.)*

Departing Fort William, continue your rail journey North on the second leg of the stunning West Highland line. Your journey will take you over the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct (which features in the "Harry Potter" movies) offering panoramic vistas over the Glenfinnan Monument and Loch Shiel beyond. Arriving in Mallaig, board the ferry to the beautiful Isle of Skye. Here you’ll enjoy a private transfer from Armadale port to the island’s main town of Portree where you can spend the balance of the day wandering this charming port town of pastel fishing cottages overlooking the tiny harbour with the Cuillin mountains in the distance.

Overnight: Portree, Isle of Skye

Journey details: 1 hour 20 minutes to Mallaig (approx.)*

Meet a local guide and join a small-group tour for a journey dedicated to exploring the very best of Skye. Your journey will take you to the farthest reaches of the small island on a journey of discovery of its dramatic natural landscapes; spot sea and bird-life in the chilly Atlantic waters from Neist Point, pass through the enchanting Fairy Glen and tour the Trotternish Peninsula which is home to a host of unique geological features such as The Old Man of Storr and Kilt Rock. There’ll be ample photo-stops and the opportunity to take in some of Skye’s cultural highlights including Dunvegan Castle and Talisker Distillery.

Today, you’ll enjoy a private transfer from Portree over Skye Bridge to the Kyle of Lochalsh on the Scottish mainland. Here you can board the train and pick up yet another of Scotland’s magnificent rail journeys as you travel the North Highland Line. Your journey takes you over the barren wilderness of the Northern Highlands with views of the Torridon peaks before descending to Inverness, capital of the Highlands. Straddling the banks of the River Ness, explore this picturesque Highland town from the cobbled Mercat Cross and St Andrews Cathedral to the hill-top castle and museum.

Overnight: Inverness

Journey details: 2 hours 40 minutes (approx.)*

Meet a local guide and join a small-group tour dedicated to exploring the Highlands and the scenic area surrounding Scotland’s most famous loch, Loch Ness. Your journey will take you along the dramatic shores of the loch with an opportunity for a boat rip on the chilly waters and a stop at the iconic Urquhart Castle perched on the loch-side. There’ll be stops at various points of interest including the Highland towns of Drumnadrochit and Fort Augustus and the picturesque Falls of Foyers.

This morning your rail ride takes you east through another of Scotland's scenic routes as you traverse the Grampian Highlands and Speyside region of Scotland to arrive in Aberdeen, the "Granite City". Spend the afternoon exploring this affluent maritime city from the 13th century cobbled square of Castlegate, to the Georgian spires and turrets of Union Street and the granite Marchar Cathedral. Don't miss a visit to the harbour and traditional fish market or a stroll along the promenade with its sweeping sandy bay and views over the wild North Sea.

Overnight: Aberdeen

Journey details: 2 hours and 15 minutes (approx.)*

Today meet a local guide and join a small-group tour taking you in to Scotland’s Eastern Highlands. Your journey will take you south to the dramatic ruins of Dunottar Castle perched overlooking the North Sea before heading inland deep into the Cairngorms National Park. Following a lunch stop in the Highland town of Braemar you’ll return east to Aberdeen through the scenic Royal Deeside region taking in various point of natural beauty such as the dramatic Muir of Dinnet and the Falls of Feugh. On selected days an alternative tour to Speyside Whisky region is available.

Board the train for a journey south which takes you along the rugged east coast of Scotland with views of the North Sea before turning inland and passing through the Perthshire countryside to historic Stirling. Explore the cobbled old town and historic jail before climbing to the stunning Stirling Castle which, once the royal seat of Scotland, rivals that of Edinburgh for its historic significance and beauty. Time-permitting you may choose to head to the nearby Wallace Monument for spectacular views across to the castle and over Bannockburn Battlefield.

Overnight: Stirling

Journey details: 3 hours (approx.)*

This morning, make a final rail journey south to nearby Edinburgh the capital city of Scotland. Explore this magnificent city from the winding streets of the cobbled Old Town to the wide avenues of the opulent Georgian New Town. Stroll past the Gothic Burns Monument and through Princes Street Gardens before climbing the Royal Mile to the city's centrepiece at the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, home to the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny and St Margaret's Chapel.

Overnight: Edinburgh

Journey details: 45 minutes (approx.)*

Today explore Edinburgh in more depth; perhaps enjoy a spot shopping along Princes Street, visit Scotland’s national museums and galleries or discover royal Edinburgh with visits to the Palace of Holyrood House, the Queens Edinburgh residence, or the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith Docks, the official royal yacht for over forty years. You may choose to visit the seat of Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, climb Arthur’s Seat for amazing cityscape vistas or simply soak up the Edinburgh’s excellent pub scene.

Today enjoy breakfast at your hotel and any final sightseeing or souvenir shopping in Edinburgh before either taking a flight from Edinburgh Airport or boarding the train for an onward rail journey within Britain. Let us know if you need additional rail travel to London and accommodation in the English capital.

Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow, Scotland

Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow, Scotland

scenic rail journeys from edinburgh

Fort William, Scottish Highlands

Glenfinnan Viaduct, Highlands, Scotland

Glenfinnan Viaduct, Highlands, Scotland

scenic rail journeys from edinburgh

Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland

scenic rail journeys from edinburgh

Inverness, Highlands, Scotland

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland

scenic rail journeys from edinburgh

Aberdeen, Scotland

scenic rail journeys from edinburgh

Stirling Castle, Stirling, Scotland

Panoramic view of Edinburgh castle from Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Panoramic view of Edinburgh castle from Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Edinburgh, Scotland, big cover

Edinburgh, Scotland, big cover

*Journey times and distances are estimates and are based on the direct route between the start location and end location for each day of the itinerary, where applicable. They do not include detours or stops for sightseeing.

Map - Explore Scotland by Rail 2024 + day tours

What's included

  • 11 nights accommodation (suggested accommodations listed below).
  • Full cooked Scottish breakfast each morning.
  • BritRail Spirit of Scotland (8 in 15 day) Rail Passes – Passes offer 8 separate days of travel on the Scottish Rail Network within a 15 day period. Travel is fully flexible and completely unlimited on each day of use and will cover all outlined rail journeys. Rail pass also covers your ferry crossing to the Isle of Skye.
  • Private transfers to / from Portree on the Isle of Skye.
  • Best of Skye day tour from Portree on the Isle of Skye.
  • Loch Ness day tour from Inverness.
  • Royal Deeside day tour from Aberdeen.
  • Stirling Castle
  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Adeo travel documents pack and suggested rail schedule information for each of your point-to-point journeys including journey durations and departure stations and travel departure times etc.
  • Toll-free calls (from USA and Canada) to your Britain vacation specialist whilst planning your trip.
  • Expert assistance during the planning of your trip and local out-of-hours number for use during travel.

Our Selected Lodging

  • Hotel Indigo Glasgow (or similar), Glasgow x 1 night
  • The Garrison Hotel (or similar), Fort William x 1 night
  • The Marmalade Hotel (or similar), Portree x 2 nights
  • Inverness Palace (or similar), Inverness x 2 nights
  • Norton House Hotel (or similar), Aberdeen x 2 nights
  • Stirling Highland Hotel (or similar), Stirling x 1 night
  • Bonham Hotel (or similar), Edinburgh x 2 nights

Wherever possible we select characterful accommodation representative of the destination where you're staying. We regularly personally visit and quality-check hotels across the country. The hotels listed are a representative selection of just some of the properties we work with, ask your consultant for their personal favourites and recommendations. Read more about the accommodation we offer by  clicking here .

Optional extras

  • Add a city sightseeing open top bus tour in Inverness or Edinburgh.

Customize this tour!

  • Add an extra night in Glasgow and enjoy a small group day tour to the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.
  • Travel on the Glasgow Subway rail networks – these are separate to the national rail network and your Britail Passes will not be valid.
  • Taxis / transfers from train stations to your hotels (except on Skye) – taxis are readily available at all major train stations in the UK and hotel receptions / concierges will be happy to call local taxi firms for collection on days of departure.
  • Trip Insurance – we ask that our guests purchase suitable cover in case planned travel is affected or disrupted due to unforeseen circumstances. More information on the benefits of trip insurance can be found here .
  • Flights – adeo Travel do not book air travel but are happy to offer advice on where to seek competitive airfare.
  • Meals and/or sightseeing other than that outlined above.

Departure Dates 2024/2025

This self-guided tour is customizable and can be taken at any time throughout the year and starting and ending on any day of the week - simply let us know your preferred dates of travel!

Pricing 2024/2025

Twin/Double - from GBP £2,345 per person. Single supplements apply for single occupancy rooms, please ask for a quotation for details.

Pricing Notes

  • Above pricing is an estimated "from" price based on shoulder-season travel (April/October). As this tour can be taken at any time pricing will vary dependent on departure day, date of travel, selected accommodations etc.
  • Above pricing is based on suggested accommodations listed however please note that we can tailor your specific quote to accommodate your budget and preferences.
  • Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room with one adult BritRail pass per person as specified. (Please enquire for single supplement)
  • Prices are for land only travel and do not include flights.
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The Aberdonian Steam Train

Steam train from Edinburgh to Aberdeen in summer 2020

A nostalgic day trip from Edinburgh to Aberdeen with world famous steam locomotive Tornado. Let 'The Aberdonian' whisk you away as we take in some of the best that Scotland has to offer, both on train and off. Crossing the Forth Bridge, the train runs along the coast for much of its route making it an unrivalled way to experience Scotland as you weave through lush countryside and appreciate the stunning cliff top vistas. In Aberdeen there is a chance to explore this historic city, or take one of our off train excursions that include a castle or distillery visit. On board the heritage train you can sit back in comfortable seats and large windows through which to admire the scenery. Our friendly team will look after you, and if you choose to dine with us you will be treated to fine Scottish fare. Come and travel with us as Tornado runs regularly over this historic route. Prices start from £99.00 Further details at a1steam.com/aberdonian or call 01325 488215 four our booking office.

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  • Partially suitable for visitors with limited mobility
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  • Catering Available
  • Evening Meal Available
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15 easy day trips from edinburgh by train or bus.

Are you planning a car-free holiday in Scotland? From picturesque fishing villages to historic castles, there’s no shortage of places to visit from Edinburgh by public transport.

Here are my favourite day trips from Edinburgh by train or bus. These fabulous destinations are easy to reach without a car and within a two-hour journey of the Scottish capital.

exterior view of edinburgh castle

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IN THIS ARTICLE

Best Day Trips from Edinburgh by Train or Bus

If you are someone who likes to picture where you are going, here is my map of these awesome day trips from Edinburgh by public transport. For an interactive map, click here or on the image itself.

map showing the best day trips from edinburgh  scotland by bus coach or train

North Berwick

To visit one of the 12 wildlife wonders of the world

The charming seaside town of North Berwick is one of the easiest day trips from Edinburgh by train. Not only does it have an eclectic range of shops & cafes, spectacular coastal scenery and a wide, sandy beach, it is also home to the Scottish Seaboard Centre .

On a clear day, you can see the Fife fishing villages of Anstruther and St. Monans across the Firth of Forth, and the evocative ruins of Tantallon Castle lie less than four miles to the east.

However, North Berwick’s greatest attractions lie 2 km off-shore. Described by Sir David Attenborough as one of the 12 wildlife wonders of the world, Bass Rock is home to Europe’s largest colony of northern gannets , numbering over 150,000 in the breeding season (March to October).

I love that they are loyal to the one patch of rock, returning there year after year to mate and raise their young.

BIRDS COVERING A SMALL ISLAND IN THE SEA WITH A LIGHTHOUSE

From a distance, Bass Rock resembles a glistening iceberg. It’s not until you get closer that you realise the white sheen is due to bird droppings carpeting the volcanic rock underneath.

This uninhabited island also features ancient chapel ruins, a castle-turned-prison and a lighthouse designed by David Stephenson, cousin of Robert Louis Stephenson.

I visited on a boat trip operated by the Scottish Seaboard Centre, which included Craigleith , home to migrating cormorants, kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and the cutest of the bunch, puffins. A few basking seals also put in an appearance.

Getting from Edinburgh to North Berwick by train

Take a direct train from Edinburgh Waverley station. The average journey time is 33 minutes and there are around 16 trains per day. The Scottish Seaboard Centre is a 15-minute walk from North Berwick’s train station.

Rosslyn Chapel

To explore a medieval masterpiece

Located just seven miles from Edinburgh, Rosslyn Chapel is famous for its sublime stone carvings, their mysterious symbolism and associated legends. In recent years, this 15th-century Gothic chapel has soared in popularity, thanks to its appearance in Dan Brown’s bestseller The Da Vinci Code .

Founded in 1446 by Sir William St. Clair, construction was halted after he died in 1449. Consequently, the chapel that we see today is far more modest in scale than originally intended.

Rosslyn Chapel is a thing of wonder, inside and out. Its exterior is adorned with pinnacles, gargoyles that act as water spouts and flying buttresses.

exterior of gothic chapel

Inside, the chapel bursts with intricate stone carvings, including those of foliage and rich figurative sculptures. It is renowned for its multiple carvings of the Green Man , vines sprouting from the figure’s mouth, representing growth and fertility.

Many secrets lurk behind Rosslyn Chapel’s skilfully engraved stone and none are more compelling than that associated with the Apprentice Pillar .

This extraordinary knotted pillar is said to have been carved by an apprentice in the absence of the master stonemason, eclipsing his adjacent pillar. In a fit of wild jealousy, the master stonemason killed the apprentice and, according to legend, he then carved a tiny head of a man with a slashed forehead, said to be the ill-fated apprentice.

I recommend that you book tickets for Rosslyn Chapel in advance. Within your 90-minute time slot, you can view the chapel inside and out, visit the information centre and shop and use the café.

Information talks are offered by the Chapel’s Guides during each timeslot. These usually begin around 30 minutes after the start of the time slot and last for around 10-15 minutes.

When you have finished visiting Rosslyn Chapel, take a walk in Roslin Glen, just below the chapel. Choose one of the walking trails along the river and by the ruined castle. When it’s time for a pit stop, there’s an excellent pub and tea shop in the village. 

Getting from Edinburgh to Rosslyn Chapel by bus

Catch the frequent 37 bus from Princes Street (direction Penicuik/ Deanburn) and alight at the Rosslyn Hotel. The journey takes between 40 and 60 minutes. More information here .

If you want to get the most out of your day trip and see the beautiful Scottish Borders, why not take a day trip with Rabbies? I have used this small company and their itineraries and guides are excellent.

>>> CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION & TO BOOK

For historic buildings and a sensational beach

Famous for its golf courses and the university where William met Kate, St. Andrews is another easy day trip from Edinburgh by train. Even if you are not a keen golfer, the main town of the ancient Kingdom of Fife is well worth visiting.

Maintaining its medieval layout – it has a hefty number of listed buildings – St. Andrews is compact and easy to walk around.

After exploring St. Andrews harbour and East Sands beach, make your way to the ruin of the once-mighty St. Andrews Cathedral. Consecrated in 1318, this shell was once the largest cathedral in Scotland, until it fell foul of the Reformation and supporters of John Knox.

purple and red flowers with ruined castle and sea

Although there’s not much left to see of the 13th-century St Andrews Castle, it occupies a dramatic position, with a drop to the sea on two sides and a moat on the inland side. Also a victim of the Reformation, it was formerly the palace of the bishops and archbishops of St. Andrews.

Finish your time in St Andrews with a stroll along its magnificent West Sands beach. Famous for featuring in the opening scenes of the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire , this wide sandy beach, backed with dunes, extends for almost two miles.

path bordered by fence through sand dunes

Getting from Edinburgh to St. Andrews by train and bus

The fastest way to travel between Edinburgh and St. Andrews is to catch a train to Leuchars and then a bus to complete your journey. This journey should take you under 90 minutes including transfer time.

Alternatively, St. Andrews is a two-hour bus journey from Edinburgh. Catch the faster X59 or X59A Stagecoach service from Edinburgh bus station.

For a photogenic fishing village and coastal walks

Why not combine St. Andrews and Crail into one day trip from Edinburgh?

Crail is exceptionally photogenic, its cobbled streets winding their way down to the stone-built harbour, scattered lobster creels telling us that this is very much a working fishing village. If you time it right, you can tuck into the day’s catch from the wooden shack at the edge of the harbour.

boats in small stone harbour

Fishermen’s cottages are dwarfed by the grander merchants’ houses beyond the harbour and there’s even a 12th-century church where John Knox preached.

Do you fancy stretching your legs? Crail is also part of one of the most popular sections of the Fife Coastal Path, a 117-mile hiking trail that stretches from the Firth of Forth in the south to the Firth of Tay in the north.

Getting from Edinburgh to Crail by train and bus

Make your way from Edinburgh to St Andrews as before. From there, catch one of the hourly buses for the 30-minute journey to Crail.

South Queensferry

For a trio of iconic bridges

Just ten miles west of Edinburgh is the small town of South Queensferry.

It takes its name from Margaret, the wife of King Malcolm Calmore, who would use the ferry here to travel between the royal palaces in Edinburgh and Dunfermline. Most of the buildings lining its attractive cobbled high street date from the 17 th and 18 th centuries.

Today, South Queensferry is best known for its trio of iconic bridges across the Firth of Forth: the Forth Bridge , Forth Road Bridge and the Queensferry Crossing .

Built in the 1800s to transport rail passengers across the Forth Estuary, the mighty cantilevered Forth Rail Bridge is one of Scotland’s most famous landmarks and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The newest bridge of the bunch, the Queensferry Crossing, is the world’s longest cable-stayed bridge.

red iron cantilever bridge across wide river

Getting from Edinburgh to South Queensferry by train

Take one of the frequent trains from Edinburgh Waverley to Dalmeny (15 minutes) from where it is a one-mile walk into town.

If you want to visit St. Andrews, the Forth Bridges and Anstruther (another charming Fife village) in one day, check out this day tour to St Andrews & the Fishing Villages of Fife with the excellent Rabbies.

For a scenic train journey and whisky galore

From The Jacobite Steam train between Fort William and Mallaig to the mighty West Highland Line plied by the Caledonian Sleeper , Scotland is not short of iconic railway journeys. For one of the most scenic railway journeys from Edinburgh, and an opportunity to cross the iconic Forth Bridge, take the train north to Pitlochry.

Home to two excellent distilleries , this hillside town is a whisky lover’s dream. The best known is the Edradour Distillery,  the smallest traditional distillery in Scotland. A lovely one-hour walk from Pitlochry through oak forests along the banks of the Black Spout burn will take you to Edradour Distillery. Alternatively, it’s a 10-minute taxi ride.

Set in open moorland south of the town centre is Blair Athol Distillery , one of Scotland’s oldest working distilleries.  Founded in 1798, its location at the foot of the Grampian mountains was chosen for its constant supply of pure water from the ancient Allt Dour.

If they are not enough, Robertson’s of Pitlochry  has an excellent selection of rare and unique whiskies from across the globe as well as other spirits. It also hosts regular tastings and events.

Pitlochry also has a hydroelectric dam . A short walk upstream will bring you to Pitlochry Power Station and Dam and its visitor centre. One of the more unusual features of this dam is the salmon ladder, which allows the fish to make their way upstream past the dam.  

Getting from Edinburgh to Pitlochry by train

The fastest journey time from Edinburgh to Pitlochry is 1 hour 45 minutes. Check train times as there are only around eight services a day and some journey times are significantly longer.

Dunfermline & Culross

For history buffs (and Outlander fans)

Head to the historic Kingdom of Fife for two destinations for the price of one.

Start in Dunfermline, the former de facto capital of Scotland, established by Malcolm III in the 11 th Century. Visit the magnificent Dunfermline Abbey , the final resting place of Robert the Bruce who helped to rebuild the abbey in the wake of the War of Independence.

From Dunfermline, catch a bus to Culross, considered Scotland’s most complete example of a burgh of the 17th and 18th centuries. This picturesque village is home to historic buildings, including white-harled houses with red-tiled roofs and an ochre-coloured palace with a reconstructed period garden.

Culross found fame as one of the Outlander filming locations , doubling as the fictional village of Cranesmuir.

ochre and cream buildings around town square

Getting from Edinburgh to Culross by train and bus

There is no direct public transport service to Culross. Catch a train to Dunfermline and then change to the local bus service to complete your journey (8, 8a, 8b).

Kelpies of Falkirk

To view iconic equine sculptures

Now for something completely different.

On the face of it, Falkirk might seem an unlikely contender for a day trip from Edinburgh. But the arrival of the Kelpies in 2014 has put this industrial town firmly on the map.

This pair of head-turning 100-foot-tall horse sculptures, crafted from glistening steel, is a tribute to the horses that played a pivotal role in Scotland’s industrial past. They are quite a sight if you are driving along the adjacent motorway!

metal sculpture of horse

Created by the artist Andy Scott, the Kelpies attract tourists from across the globe. Take a Kelpie Tour to get inside a Kelpie and learn about its history and the vision behind the creation of these sculptures.

The Kelpies are housed in The Helix, a parkland with around 500km of cycle paths, walking, watersports and a visitor centre. 

Getting from Edinburgh to The Kelpies of Falkirk by train and bus

To get to the Kelpies and Helix Park take the train to Falkirk Grahamston (located 2 miles away). The journey time is just over 40 minutes. Buses toward The Kelpies leave every 10 minutes from nearby Weir Street and take 30 minutes to get there.

To feast on fresh smokies

Much like haggis or cullen skink, Arbroath Smokies are a quintessential Scottish culinary experience. This delicacy of line-caught haddock smoked over oak chips has been produced by family-run smokehouses around the harbour since the late 1800s.

As they have PGI status, Arbroath Smokies  can only be produced within a five-mile radius of the town centre. Although you can eat these elsewhere in Scotland, you can’t beat the sweet flavour of warm, fresh smokies straight from the smokehouse.

weathered exterior of stone building with metal sign with fish

But there’s more to Arbroath than smokies. It has an attractive working harbour and is home to the pink sandstone ruins of Arbroath Abbey , best known for the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320.

By the harbour, there’s the Signal House Museum which offers an insight into local history and tells the story of the Bell Rock Lighthouse , Britain’s oldest surviving offshore lighthouse. Designed by the famous engineer, Robert Stevenson, the lighthouse sits on a reef eleven miles offshore.

Getting from Edinburgh to Arbroath by train

The average train journey from Edinburgh to Arbroath is just over two hours, although fast trains can make it in under 90 minutes.

To visit Scotland’s second city

If you’d like to sneak a peek at Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow is a super easy day trip from Edinburgh.

Less touristy than its rival to the east, Glasgow is known for its friendly residents with unfathomable accents, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, thriving cultural scene, awesome street art and excellent vintage stores.

There’s enough to keep you busy in Glasgow for a week or more, and what you choose to do will depend on your tastes and interests. 

When I visited, I made a beeline for The Lighthouse , Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture, housed in the former offices of the Glasgow Herald newspaper. This building was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and offers an insight into his architectural heritage.

ornate spiral staircase

Visit The People’s Palace in historic Glasgow Green, the oldest public space in Glasgow, for a fascinating journey through the city’s social history from 1750 to the present day.

If vintage shopping is more your thing, head to Mr Ben Retro Clothing in Glasgow’s Merchant City. This has gained a reputation as one of Scotland’s most well-stocked vintage stores.

Getting from Edinburgh to Glasgow by train

Trains depart from Edinburgh to Glasgow Queen Street station every 15 minutes and take around 50 minutes. More frequent services which take longer go between Edinburgh and Glasgow Central station.

Loch Lomond

For loch and mountain views

Why finish your day trip at Glasgow? From Queen Street station, it’s a short train journey to Balloch, one of the major gateways to the bonnie shores of Loch Lomond.

Covering over 700 miles of scenic territory, Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park comprises soaring mountains, forests, lochs and villages. The star of the show is Loch Lomond, the largest inland body of water by surface area in the UK.

lake with mountain at loch lomond one of the best day trips from edinburgh by train

From Balloch, the best thing to do is to cruise on Loch Lomond and explore Balloch Castle Country Park, with its shoreside and forest walks.

Getting from Edinburgh to Loch Lomond by train

Make your way from Edinburgh to Glasgow as before and then catch a train from Glasgow Queen Street Station. The journey time is around 50 minutes.

If you are short on time, why not combine Loch Lomond with the Kelpies and Stirling Castle by booking this day tour with Rabbies ?

A day trip for culture vultures

Although I stayed across the River Tay from Dundee on my last visit to Scotland, this city is an easy day trip by train from Edinburgh.

Traditionally Dundee has been famous for its three j’s . Jute (the city was Britain’s main processor); journalism (home of D.C. Thomson ); and jam (marmalade was made here for the first time in the late 1700s).

Whilst these have all but disappeared, you won’t have to look hard to fund statues and murals celebrating Beano and Dandy icons, including Desperate Dan, Dennis the Menace and Minnie the Minx.

Today, the city is starting to shake off its drab reputation and is reinventing itself as one of Scotland’s most important cultural hubs. The star of its renaissance is the V&A Dundee , whose design collection is housed in a striking curvy building jutting towards the River Tay.

exterior of modern v and a museum in dundee next to an old ship

Adjacent to the V&A is the RSS Discovery which carried Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton on their first journey to the Antarctic. She is the centrepiece of Discovery Point , which tells the story of her Antarctic expedition with Captain Scott and her voyages and uses thereafter. 

Hike up to Dundee Law for a panoramic view of the city, the river and beyond. At 571 feet, this plug of an extinct volcano is the city’s highest point. The spectacular bridges across the River Tay – the Tay Road Bridge and Tay Rail Bridge – also offer a sweeping view of the city.

Finally, Dundee is also reputed to be Scotland’s sunniest city!

sunset over the river tay

Getting from Edinburgh to Dundee by train

The frequent direct train service between Edinburgh Waverley and Dundee takes an average of 1 hour 21 minutes.

For a potent dose of Scottish history

For an ancient hilltop castle, a national hero and a historic battlefield, take a day trip from Edinburgh to Stirling.

Dominating the city’s skyline, Stirling Castle was one of Scotland’s largest and most important castles, home to Scottish royalty between the 15 th and 17 th centuries. It was here that the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots took place (and where she almost burnt to death in her bed).

old castle perched on rocky crag

Nearby is the lofty  National Wallace Monument , a Victorian monolith constructed to commemorate William Wallace. Famously portrayed by Mel Gibson in the 1995 film  Braveheart , Wallace was a Scottish hero who fought alongside Robert the Bruce.

It was in Stirling in 1297 that William Wallace led the Scots to victory over the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Seventeen years later, Robert the Bruce’s army crushed the English again at the Battle of Bannockburn . Learn more about this great victory at the  Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre and 3D Experience .

Getting from Edinburgh to Stirling by train

The frequent direct train service between Edinburgh Waverley and Stirling takes 40 minutes.

Berwick-upon-Tweed

To walk along England’s greatest ramparts

Just four kilometres from the Scottish border is the historic town of Berwick-upon-Tweed . Due to its location, it was at the centre of a tug-of-war between Scotland and England for 300 years before the future King Richard III finally claimed it for England in 1482.

From the town’s train station, it’s a short distance to its Elizabethan ramparts , built between 1558 and 1570 to keep the invading Scots at bay. Start your day in Berwick with a walk along these grey limestone ramparts, the most intact defensive walls in the UK at just over a mile in length.

old buildings along the ramparts of berwick upon tweed

Take a riverside stroll to one of Britain’s most iconic bridges: the Royal Border Bridge . Designed by Robert Stephenson, this Victorian viaduct was the last link in the railway line linking London to Edinburgh.

LS Lowry immortalised Berwick-upon-Tweed town on canvas over a 40-year period. If you are up for a longer walk, an easy six-mile waymarked Lowry Trail with 18 information boards providing information on the Lowry painting associated with that location.

Another rewarding walk is to Berwick’s lighthouse at the end of a pier jutting out into the mouth of the River Tweed. You’ll be rewarded with sweeping views along the coast and, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot seals  or even a school of  dolphins .

Getting from Edinburgh to Berwick-upon-Tweed by train

The frequent direct train service between Edinburgh Waverley and Berwick-upon-Tweed takes an average of 47 minutes.

Newcastle upon Tyne

To visit one of England’s most vibrant cities

Newcastle upon Tyne, the vibrant jewel of northeast England, is another easy train journey from Edinburgh.

Get to know the city by taking a self-guided walking tour of Newcastle . This starts at the train station and finishes at the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. If you hoof it, you can complete its 4km length in one hour. However, I recommend a more leisurely pace, taking time to see Newcastle’s landmarks along the way.

Although Newcastle has a wonderful Georgian city centre , its waterfront draws the crowds, particularly its four iconic bridges : High Level Bridge, Swing Bridge, Tyne Bridge and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. The riverfront is also home to two of the city’s cultural giants: The Glasshouse International Centre for Music and the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

curved arch of newcastles milennium bridge and buildings along the riverfront

Getting from Edinburgh to Newcastle upon Tyne by train

The frequent direct train service between Edinburgh Waverley and Newcastle upon Tyne takes an average of 1 hour 36 minutes.

Tips for Planning Your Car-Free Day Trip from Edinburgh

I hope this has given you the inspiration and information to take fabulous day trips by public transport from Edinburgh. But before I wind up this article, here are some practical tips to help you plan the perfect day out.

1. Beware of inclement weather

It’s not unusual for it to rain in Scotland. I’m not saying bad weather should stop you from exploring; you just need to be prepared. It goes without saying you should pack raingear and appropriate footwear to deal with any downpours.

Try to plan activities according to the weather forecast. Whilst places like Glasgow and Stirling have rainy day activities, sailing on Loch Lomond won’t be much fun if it’s pelting down.

2. Check train and bus timetables

Most of the services between Edinburgh and these destinations are frequent. However, there are a handful that are not so frequent. It pays to check train and bus times in advance, particularly if you want to visit more than one place in one day.

3. Central Edinburgh has two train stations

You’ll most likely use Waverley Station from where most trains arrive and depart. Haymarket Station handles commuter train traffic.

4. Edinburgh also has several bus stations

Although Edinburgh has several bus stations, services from most bus companies start and finish their journeys at the Edinburgh Bus Station (also known as St. Andrews Bus Station) on Elder Street.

5. Choose your accommodation wisely

If you plan to take a few day trips by bus or train from Edinburgh, I recommend choosing accommodation within walking distance of the train or bus. I stayed at the Hub by Premier Inn , a mid-range hotel on Rose Street, a ten-minute walk from Waverley Station.

6. Leave enough time to explore Auld Reekie

Last but not least, leave enough time to make the most of Edinburgh itself. It’s a charming city with lots to see and do.

Solo Travel in Scotland

Scotland is one of the best solo travel destinations in the world , especially if you are a first-time single traveller.

From its lush rolling hills and mirror-like lakes to its blindingly white beaches, Scotland is home to some of the most striking and  diverse landscapes  to be found anywhere. It’s a walker’s and photographer’s paradise.

Scotland is relatively  safe , the  locals are very friendly and speak English . There is a  wide variety of accommodation , from a thriving hostel scene and cosy bed & breakfasts to boutique and castle hotels.

It’s easy to get around . Whilst driving is the easiest way to explore Scotland, this is not for the faint-hearted. Some roads in the Highlands and Islands are single lanes punctuated with passing places that you can pull into if necessary.

However, each time I have visited Scotland I have used public transport and day tours. Scotland’s major towns and cities are linked by train and bus (Scottish Citylink runs long-distance express coach services).

Thank you for reading my guide to day trips from Edinburgh by public transport

I hope that the sun shines and you have a wonderful time. If you have found it helpful, take a look at some of my Scotland articles:

  • Best Things to Do in Fort William & Beyond: 3-Day Itinerary (Without a Car)
  • The Best Things to Do in Inverness, Scotland & Beyond
  • 14 Amazing Things to Do in Oban, Scotland in Two Days
  • 7 Best Things to Do in Inveraray, Scotland
  • 8 Best Things to Do in Tobermory, Mull
  • The Best Day Trip from Fort William to Glencoe (Even Without a Car!)

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at [email protected] or follow her on social media.

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From the ancient, bustling streets of Edinburgh to the dramatic, natural scenery on the Isle of Skye or breathtaking Highlands, we offer the widest choice of independent rail tours Scotland has to offer.

With Scottish Rail Tours, seeing the charms of Scotland has never been so quick, easy and above all – unforgettable.

Rugged mountain landscapes, dark and mysterious lochs and historic castles are just a few of the delights waiting for you as you explore Scotland in comfort. Browse through our exciting Scotland rail trips to find your perfect itinerary.

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Rail breaks to Edinburgh

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Imagine watching stunning scenery sweep by your window as you’re whisked from central London to historic, charming central Edinburgh. With its preserved Old Town and impressive castle, Edinburgh offers the perfect escape and travelling by train is the ideal way to get here. It’s convenient, relaxing and fast.

Once you step foot in the Scottish capital, the team at Scottish Rail Tours will have everything in place to show you the wonders of Scotland at the pace that suits you best.

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See more of Scotland on one of our longer tours. Expertly planned and based in the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness, explore the Scottish Highlands in all their glory.

Hop aboard a luxury mini-coach and let a local guide show you to the stunning Isle of Skye, mysterious Loch Ness, or join the famous North Coast 500 route to experience the Far North.

Travel to Fort William to board the Jacobite Steam Train and experience one of Scotland’s finest rail journeys along the scenic West Highland Line. Cross the Glenfinnan Viaduct, just like the Hogwarts Express.

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Why Choose Scottish Rail Tours?

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Take the hassle out of organising your adventure with our semi-independent tours. Perfectly curated to pack the most into your visit, our tours allow you to enjoy authentic, local experiences independently and give you access to structured tours for reaching remote villages and nature in the Scottish Highlands. 

We’ve made all the arrangements for you from start to finish, so you only have to arrive. You’ll also get inside tips and advice for making sure you have an unrivalled experience.

All that’s left for you and your travelling companions to do is experience the mystical land we call home.

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48 Hour Cancellation

Escape the city for the day and follow in the footsteps of the world’s most famous wizard, Harry Potter. Scotland has played a huge part in the story of Harry Potter, from the scenic filming locations and inspiring architecture to the coffee shop where J.K. Rowling is said to have written the first novel. Riding the Jacobite Steam Train is a bucket-list experience for any traveller, but even more so for Harry Potter fans who know that they are in fact boarding the Hogwarts’ Express! Our passionate Guides will immerse you in all the magic of Harry Potter, plus the real-life beauty and history of Scotland.

Jacobite Steam Train (Hogwarts Express)

Glenfinnan viaduct, forth bridges.

Jacobite Steam Train

Tour Highlights

image of Highlight Jacobite Steam Train

The Jacobite Steam Train shot to worldwide fame as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films. The route between Fort William and Mallaig on the West Highland Line has been voted the most scenic rail journey in the world.

image of Highlight Jacobite Steam Train crossing Glenfinnan Viaduct Scotland tours

The Glenfinnan Viaduct is known to many as the ‘Harry Potter Bridge’ after featuring in two of the famous films. The iconic bridge has twenty-one arches which curve around the dramatic Highland landscape, with views over the stunning Loch Shiel.

image of Highlight Glen Coe

This jaw-dropping landscape is the most atmospheric and evocative place in Scotland. Glen Coe translates as the ‘weeping glen’, and the name reflects the sad history of the area, as well as the many waterfalls which cascade from misty peaks.

image of Highlight Forth Bridges Scotland tours

The Firth of Forth has a trio of iconic bridges. The 1890 Forth Bridge is a masterpiece in engineering, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Forth Road Bridge opened in 1964, followed by the striking Queensferry Crossing in 2017.

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Return Coach from Edinburgh

Passionate Local Guide

2-Hour Ride on the Jacobite Steam Train

Foreign Language Audio Guides Available

Scottish Highlands & Jacobite Steam Train map of route

Tripadvisor Rating

From over 670+ customer reviews

Duke 18/05/2024

Great day into the Scottish highlands with Louise as our guide. She is as excited to be on the tour as her passengers. She made a long day of driving fun, humorous, and informative. Book early and enjoy the scenery and hogwarts magic

Nicole 17/05/2024

Dusty is great! He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor. I loved learning about some of this history while en route. The stops were timed well. There was lots of opportunities for Harry Potter fans to get some good pictures.

Karen 20/05/2024

Cara was an outstanding guide! Such a value add to an incredible day! We saw so much more than we were expecting - the history was fascinating and the tour was beautiful!

Read more reviews

Ride the Jacobite Steam Train with @highextours

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🎥 footage by @katexploring on her 1-Day Scottish Highlands & The Jacobite Steam Train tour from Edinburgh in October 2023.

📷 by our lovely passenger @justmaggiethistime riding the Jacobite Steam Train on tour - thanks for sharing this beautiful view with us!⁠

Iconic Loch Shiel 😍⁠ ⁠@shiv_rr captured this breathtaking shot on tour.

"Having a great time on the #JacobiteSteamTrain with @highextours ! 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🚂"⁠ ⁠

📸 by @matt_on_the_fly on our 1-day Jacobite Steam Train & The Scottish Highlands tour

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Frequently Asked Questions

Your Jacobite Steam Train tour departs from Edinburgh city centre. For departure details and pick-up location, visit our Departure Info page.

Your Jacobite Steam Train tour from Edinburgh spans approximately 13 hours*. It's one of our most-popular day trips, featuring a magical one-way journey aboard the Jacobite Steam Train, picturesque coach rides through the captivating Highland scenery, and plenty of opportunities for memorable photo stops and breaks in the Highlands.

*Length of tour may vary depending on traffic and weather conditions.

Yes, the Jacobite Steam Train ticket is included in the tour price.

All essential information about the Jacobite Steam Train on our tours can be found here .

Coach seating operates on a first-come, first-served basis, but allocated seats are provided for the Jacobite Steam Train ride. If you and your travel companion(s) have booked separately, simply reach out to us at least 24 hours before departure to ensure you're seated together.

For most of the journey, you'll be travelling on a midi-coach, except for the 2-hour Jacobite Steam Train trip in the afternoon. Your Highland Explorer guide will accompany you to Mallaig station for smooth boarding onto the train. Upon arrival in Fort William, your guide will greet you, and the tour group will return to Edinburgh by coach.

While our coaches don't offer onboard toilets, rest assured that our itineraries include regular comfort stops, allowing frequent access to restroom facilities.

Our guides are unable to assist with wheelchairs or provide physical assistance during boarding or disembarking from the coach. Passengers should be capable of boarding and disembarking independently using the access stairs or with the help of a traveling companion. Foldable wheelchairs can be stored in our onboard luggage storage during travel.

Please note that some stops on our tours may involve rough terrain or only be accessible by steps.

It's important to be aware that your accommodation may have limited accessibility for wheelchair users. More info can be found on our Accessibility page.

Yes! Our routes include stops where you can grab a snack or recharge with a drink. Occasionally, we pause at shops offering local souvenirs as well. For precise details about timing and stops, don't hesitate to inquire with your guide.

Although our tours follow a structured plan with key stops, part of the excitement comes from unexpected surprises! We refrain from providing additional details beyond what's outlined here, as factors like weather, traffic, and the preferences of our driver guides may lead to slight deviations. Trust that your journey through Scotland will be unlike any other!

If you need to cancel your tour, you will need to inform us in writing by sending an email to [email protected]. You can find our cancellation and refunds policy in section 3 in our Terms and Conditions .

Feel free to visit our general Frequently Asked Questions page for answers to common queries, or reach out to us directly via our Contact Us page.

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Scottish Highlands & Jacobite Steam Train Itinerary & Map

Scottish Highlands & Jacobite Steam Train route map

Scottish Highlands & Jacobite Steam Train tour

Learn all about Edinburgh’s connections to Harry Potter as we depart the city and journey north towards the Highlands, past the magnificent Forth Bridge, the Kingdom of Fife and Perth. Feast your eyes upon the Glenfinnan Viaduct on the stunning drive up the West Coast. The next time you see it it will be when you’re travelling across its iconic arches on the Jacobite Steam Train from Mallaig! After your experience on one of the world’s most beautiful railway lines, we’ll take you straight to Scotland’s most dramatic landscape, Glen Coe, which was used as the backdrop for some much-loved scenes in Harry Potter. We continue through the vast wilderness of Rannoch Moor, entertaining you with tales from Scotland’s past, before arriving back into Edinburgh in the late evening.

1 Day Tour Itinerary & Map

Map of tour route

Day Highlights

Jacobite Steam Train

Departure Point

60 High Street, EH1 1TB, Edinburgh

We depart from our blue corner shop at 60 High Street, centrally located on the Royal Mile in the Old Town of Edinburgh. A useful landmark to find us is the Radisson Blu Hotel, situated just one street above.

Not sure how to get here? Find more info on our Departure Info page.

Departure & Return Time

Check-In Closes: 7:00 AM

Departs: 7:15 AM

Returns: 8:30 PM

Please Note

We are unable to hold the bus or refund for any late arrivals. Return times are approximate and subject to road conditions and weather. Please ensure you allocate sufficient time for any onward travel plans, allowing at least 3 hours after the scheduled return time for connections or activities.

Tours Dates & Prices

Choose a departure date, number of people and accommodation option.

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All experiences are included in this tour, so there's nothing more to add here.

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UK Travel Planning

14 Best Day Trips from Edinburgh by Train (+ tips to make the most of your journey)

By: Author Tracy Collins

Posted on Last updated: February 5, 2024

Discover the best day trips from Edinburgh by train with logistics, practical tips and information to help plan your excursion.

If you are based in Edinburgh for a few days or more you may be considering adding a day trip or two to your itinerary. In this article, we cover the best day trips from Edinburgh by train ( click here for the best day tours from Edinburgh ).

We have included details of various train routes from Edinburgh with possible stops along the way (you may wish to spend the day in one of these destinations) plus details of the duration, ticket costs and what to see along the route plus tips to make the most of the trip once you arrive at your chosen destination.

Travel Scotland by train with our 14 day best of Scotland by rail itinerary. Includes logistics, what to see and do plus practical tips to make the most of your Scottish rail adventure.

Edinburgh to Aberdeen via Dundee (North East Scotland)

Edinburgh to inverness (north east coast scotland) via aberdeen or perth, pitlochry & aviemore.

  • Edinburgh to Glasgow via Falkirk (West Lowlands)

Edinburgh to Stirling via Linlithgow & Falkirk (Central Scotland)

Edinburgh to leuchars (for st andrews golf course) (north east scotland), edinburgh to dundee via aberdour (north east scotland), edinburgh to tweedbank (borders railway) (scottish borders), uk travel planning podcast.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Like the idea of a day trip from Edinburgh but are considering booking a private driver tour guide to take all the stress out of your day and provide memories that will last a lifetime? We recommend Edinburgh Black Cab Tours for the best private driver-guided day (& multi-day) trips from Edinburgh – destinations include – Glencoe – The Isle of Skye – Glenfinnan – Old Man of Storr – Culloden – Quiraing – Fairy Pools – Fairy Glen – Kilt Rock – Talisker Distillery – Pitlochry – The Kelpies – Doune Castle – Stirling Castle – Wallace Monument – Loch Lomond – Glen Etive – Loch Ness – Urquhart Castle – Fort Augustus – Click here for more information about their multiple award-winning private tours.

Best Day Trips from Edinburgh by Train

🕙 2 hours 30 mins to 3 hours in each direction depending on the selected service (some trains stop at every station).

🚂 Multiple daily trains.

➡️ Direct service, no changes.

💷 Approx. cheapest ticket (28/11/22) £60 return booked on the day. Advance tickets from £13 for a single journey. Click for prices on the trainline.com

Map showing  train route from Edinburgh to Aberdeen.

What to see along the route

  • Try to sit on the right side of the train as the train heads north for the best sea views en-route.  If you have booked seats and the train has spare seats move to a better seat.  Alternatively request a seat on the right-hand side when you reserve your seats.
  • The best sea views are between Edinburgh and Dundee .
  • Forth Rail Bridge over the Firth of Forth at South Queensferry is the famous World Heritage-listed cantilever bridge completed in December 1889.  Train passes over the bridge around 12 mins into the journey.
  • Tay Bridge on the approach to Dundee Station gives fantastic views of the Firth of Tay.  The famous bridge opened in 1887.
  • Between Stonehaven and Montrose the railway passes over beautiful clifftops with further views of the North Sea.

Many of the best day trips from Edinburgh by train cross the Forth Rail Bridge.

Things to do and see in the port city of Aberdeen

View of the city of Aberdeen.

The granite city’s top attractions include:

  • Maritime Museum
  • Footdee fishing village
  • Scottish whisky tours
  • Castle tours
  • Aberdeen is located around 1 h 15 mins from the Royal residency of Balmoral.

🕙 The Aberdeen route takes the longest at around 5 hrs each way or via Perth around 3 hours 30 mins – 4 hrs.

🚂 Choice of train routes to take, either via Aberdeen on the coastal route or through the central areas via Perth, Pitlochry and Aviemore.

➡️ Each route has multiple daily train options with changes or more direct services depending on your chosen route. 

✅ Why not make a circular trip and go one way and return the other?

💷 Approx. cheapest ticket found (28/11/22) £18 for each single journey. Return tickets are available but buying single journey tickets can be a cheaper option.  For forward planning the available “Advance ticket” option is often a good buy.  

Map showing train route from Edinburgh to Inverness.

What to see along the routes

Route via Aberdeen to Inverness

  • A beautiful and scenic route section that cuts through the Aberdeenshire countryside towards the county of Moray in Scotland’s North East.
  • From the mainline train station in Keith (approx. 65 mins from Aberdeen) an option is to break up the journey in ‘whisky country’ and catch the steam or diesel train service ( see timetables ) from Keith Town station to Dufftown.
  • Keith Town station is about 20 mins walk from the mainline station in Keith.
  • The line takes you over the Glenfiddich viaduct and to the Glenfiddich distillery. Not to mention stunning scenery along the way.
  • Take a whisky tour around the Worlds Malt Whisky Capital.  Including the Glenfiddich distillery and visitor centre close to Dufftown station.

Aerial view of Dufftown in Scotland.

Route via Perth, Pitlochry, Blair Atholl & Aviemore

  • In Perth visit the Black Watch Castle and Museum, Kinnoull Hill and nearby the Scone Palace.
  • Approx.1 h 45 mins from Edinburgh. Historic town on the River Tummel.
  • Visit the dam and fish ladder, nearby Blair Athol Distillery, Edradour Distillery, falls of Bruar and Blair Castle and Gardens and the Queen’s view and visitor centre.
  • Located in the Cairngorms national park. Famous for beautiful lochs and walks and also for skiing and winter sports.
  • Cairngorm Brewery
  • Strathspey Railway (steam trains from Perth to Broomhill, 92 miles and takes around 1 h 45 mins) if you want a leisurely excursion, try an afternoon tea too.

View of sign for town of Pitlochry in Scotland.

Things to do and see in Inverness

View of the city of Inverness.

  • Inverness is the largest city in the Scottish Highlands and is where the River Ness joins the Moray Firth.
  • See the 19 th Century cathedral, indoor Victorian market, Inverness Castle, Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, botanic gardens, and the famous Leakeys bookshop. Take a 2-hour walk circuit walk along the River Ness and Ness islands.
  • Loch Ness and Castle Urquhart
  • Culloden battlefield.
  • Clava Carins – Bronze Age Cairn.
  • Fort George- Artillery fortification.
  • Further away – the Kyle train line to the Kyle of Lochalsh and the island of Skye. 

Read – Inverness Travel Guide | Best Day trips from Inverness

Graphic of updated UK Train Guide

Edinburgh to Glasgow via Falkirk (West Lowlands )

🕙 Takes between 50 mins and 1 h 30 mins in each direction depending on the selected service and route, some trains stop at more stations than others – Multiple daily trains. Direct service, no changes.

💷 Approx. cheapest ticket (at date) £17 in each direction or return booked on the day £28. Advance or Anytime tickets available.

➡️ Two principal stations in Glasgow are Queen Street and Central. Both stations are in the centre of Glasgow.

Map showing train route from Edinburgh to Glasgow.

  • Between the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, the train line travels along the central belt of Scotland.
  • The Kelpies , the 30-metre-high equine sculptures in Helix Park. They are visible from the train on the right-hand side from Edinburgh.  Located a short taxi ride away from the train station at Falkirk.
  • Also close by is the Falkirk Wheel, the rotating boat lift in Tamfourhill connecting the Forth and Clyde canals with the Union Canal.

The Kelpies.

Things to do and see in Glasgow

Street art in Glasgow.

Glasgow is famous for its Victorian and art-nouveau architecture and is a cultural hub for Scottish opera, ballet and national theatre. 

Things to do and see in Glasgow include

  • Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
  • Riverside Transport Museum
  • City centre mural trail
  • The Charles Rennie Mackintosh House
  • Glasgow Cathedral with Necropolis cemetery next door
  • The Botanic Gardens
  • City centre shops around Buchanan Street
  • Pollok Park on the outskirts of the city is a good place to see herds of highland cattle.

Read – Glasgow Travel Guide

🕙 Takes around 1 hr in each direction depending on the selected service – Multiple daily trains. Direct service is available, no need to change unless preferred.

💷 Approx. cheapest ticket (at date) £18 return. No Advance ticket savings were noted. 

Map showing train route from Edinburgh to Stirling.

  • In Linlithgow – (20 mins from Edinburgh) Historic West Lothian town, the palace remains of the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and James V.
  • In Falkirk (Grahamston) – As above for the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel.

The Falkirk Wheel.

Things to do and see in Stirling

A Scottish cow looking over a wall with a castle in the background.

Stirling train station is located in the city centre. Stirling is quite hilly to walk around so be prepared!

Things to do and see in Stirling include:

  • Medieval Stirling Castle
  • The National Wallace Monument (that commemorates the 13 Century hero William Wallace) – from the top you can see the site of the 1297 Battle of Stirling Bridge
  • Battle of Bannockburn Experience
  • Deanston Distillery
  • The Old Town Jail
  • Close to the Battle of Bannockburn visitor centre.
  • 1 hour from Loch Lomond

🚂 Leuchars is on the same train line as Edinburgh Waverley to Dundee and Aberdeen.

⛳️ Closest train station to the famous St Andrews golf course, the home of golf.

🕙 Takes 55 minutes to 1 h 15 mins in each direction depending on the selected service – Multiple daily trains. Direct service, no changes.

💷 Approx. cheapest ticket (at date) £20 return booked on the day. Cheapest single ticket approx. £9.

Map showing train route from Edinburgh to Leuchars.

Forth Rail Bridge over the Firth of Forth at South Queensferry is the famous UNESCO World Heritage-listed cantilever bridge completed in December 1889. 

The train passes over around 12 mins into the journey.

What to do and see in Leuchars (St Andrews)

View over St Andrews.

  • In Leuchars  –  St Andrews Castle, St Andrews Aquarium and West Sands beach.
  • In St Andrews  – Approx. 15 mins by bus from Leuchars train station to travel the 5 miles to the iconic golf club and its famous golf courses. 
  • Read our St Andrews Travel Guide

🚂 On the same train line as the Edinburgh Waverley to Aberdeen service.

🕙 Takes 1 h 10 mins to 1 h 30 mins in each direction depending on selected service – Multiple daily trains. Direct service, no changes.

💷 Approx. cheapest ticket (at date) £31 return booked on the day. Cheapest single ticket approx. £11.

Map showing train route from Edinburgh to Dundee.

  • As per Aberdeen details above for best seat views.
  • Forth Rail Bridge over the Firth of Forth at South Queensferry is the famous World Heritage listed cantilever bridge completed in December 1889.  Train passes over around 12mins into the journey.
  • Aberdour – Consider breaking the journey with a stop at Aberdour, 33 mins from Edinburgh for a walk around the Fife Coastal trail and see the Hawcraig Cliffs and woodlands to Starley Burn and take in the stunning waterfalls.

Forth Rail bridge.

Things to do and see in Dundee

City of Dundee.

Dundee is a coastal city located on the Firth of Tay estuary.

Things to see in Dundee include

  • The two nautical museums of Captain Scotts Antarctic ship RRS Discovery and the 19th-century warship HM Frigate Unicorn
  • The V&A Dundee. 

📍 Tweedbank is a village located southeast of Galashiels on the Scottish Borders.

🕙 Takes around 1 hr in each direction depending on the selected service – Multiple daily trains. Direct service, no changes.

Map showing train route from Edinburgh to Tweedbank.

Enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Midlothian countryside en route.

What to do and see in and around Tweedbank

Melrose Abbey.

  • Abbotsford House – 2km outside Tweedbank was once the home of Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. An impressive mansion house with lovely gardens.
  • Melrose Abbey – 15mins bus ride to the historic part ruins St Mary’s Abbey famous for its architecture and the interred heart of Robert the Bruce.
  • Other must – sees – Leaderfoot Viaduct and Dryburgh Abbey.

More resources to help plan your visit to Scotland

  • Guide to Scottish regions
  • 19 Beautiful Places to visit in Scotland
  • 7 Popular Scottish drinks to sample when you visit
  • Guide to the Caledonian Sleeper
  • Best day trips from Glasgow by train
  • Things to do in Edinburgh

scenic rail journeys from edinburgh

3 (More) Best Scenic UK Train Journeys Every Traveler Should Take

O ne of the most relaxing and stress-free ways to travel is by rail. Consider that the journey on a train can be as special as the destination, especially when traveling through the United Kingdom. Skip the stress of airports, TSA, and delays. Undoubtedly, sitting comfortably in a cushy chair is a simpler way to travel, forcing you to slow down. 

Imagine sipping your favorite hot tea gazing at the UK’s diverse and extraordinary topography. See the low-lying flat countryside that butts up to rolling hills and rugged, harsh, remote mountains. Travel from Britain to Scotland and witness the beautiful windswept seagrass, pastures, hills, castles, and quaint towns that glide by just outside your window. 

Travel by train across the rural countryside of Ireland from busy, modern, and trendy Dublin to the quaint Gaelic historic town of Galway. Escape the congestion of London for a simpler, slower pace of life in Edinburgh, Scotland. Explore this noble land while giving a nod to a truly romantic homage by rail travel. 

Our favorite scenic train routes offer beautiful unspoiled views along the way. Hop aboard these “no-stress-express” trains and see the UK all from the comfort of your seat.

1. London, Britain

The British Pullman train is by far the most luxurious and iconic train ride in Britain. Catch the Pullman and enjoy day trips from Victoria Station in London. This luxury rail line operates year-round in a variety of destinations. The Pullman is a restored 1920s-era train that has carried royalty and has been on the silver screen. Expect luxury, glamor, and adventure. Each rail car has an iconic history with a name to match. Feel like royalty as you start and end your day in style. 

Schedule a themed train ride — such as a murder mystery, special afternoon tea, or a festive Christmas-themed journey — while enjoying a fabulous meal. Enjoy a round-trip scenic ride through the Kentish countryside. Take the historic route to Chatsworth House and Highclere Castle of Downton Abbey fame, or select a day trip to the seaside town of Hastings. Enjoy a wonderful experience, all with a glass of champagne and a superb meal served by your steward while you depart from the congestion of downtown London and pass by rolling hills, towns, and villages. It’s a true smorgasbord of views!

2. Edinburgh, Scotland

Forget about flying from London to Scotland. Hop aboard a train and enjoy the picturesque views on the 4- to 5-hour rail ride to the most prestigious city in Scotland — Edinburgh. For train enthusiasts, there is nothing quite like a train ride between London and Edinburgh. Two trains operate daily and each offers a slightly different experience. 

The Avanti West Coast train is a bit slower at 5.5 hours vs. the faster LNER train , which shaves off an hour and can reach speeds of up to 125 miles per hour. Both trains leave Kings Cross station in London and arrive at Waverly , the central station in Edinburgh. The views from the large train windows are memorable. While your train races through the countryside, you pass the boroughs of London, witnessing historic castles, cathedrals, grassy hills, and loads of golf courses. 

You won’t forget the views as you enter Scotland with its green rolling hills speckled with grazing sheep! Scotland’s own author, Robert Louis Stevenson, once said, “The most beautiful adventures are not those we go to seek.”

3. Dublin, Galway Ireland

Travelers who are interested in discovering the scenic landscape of Ireland might find that a shorter trip on a train crossing the country from coast to coast is the best option. The journey on the Galway-Dublin train , about 3 hours, is one of the most picturesque routes in the country. 

The countryside of Ireland is so different as you cross from coast to coast. Ireland is called the “Emerald Isle” for a reason. The landscape is vast, green, crisp, and clean. To say the hills are rolling and bucolic doesn’t give justice to the true beauty of this place. Enjoy this cross-county train and see the topography of rolling hills with many gradations of green. Farms are separated by volcanic rock walls and sheep wander while they freely graze. Galway is a festive and lively waterfront village with the Cliffs of Moher nearby. Hop on this train, grab a Guiness, and see the best of Ireland — the countryside, cities, towns, and oceans. Dublin offers a vibrant city, culture, history, and great pubs. Whichever city you start or finish in, this train ride is worth it!

One of the most relaxing forms of travel is viewing the world through a carriage window. The UK has hundreds of beautiful railway lines offering a chance to see unspoiled, rugged, and scenic beauty. Whether you travel by train to skip the hustle and bustle of busy airports, or ease your travel stress by not driving in a foreign country, train travel in these beautiful UK cities can be the highlight of your journey. All aboard!

This article originally appeared on TravelAwaits

ISABEL INFANTES / AFP via Getty Images

Western Scenic Wonders

Taste of the highlands, clans, castles & isles, scotland’s classic splendours, grand western scenic wonders - northbound, grand western scenic wonders - westbound, informations.

IMAGES

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  2. Britain by train

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  3. Edinburgh, Skye and Jacobite Steam Train Experience

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  4. Explore Scotland by Rail

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  5. The Most Beautiful Train Journeys to Take in Scotland

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  6. Britain by train

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COMMENTS

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    Journey details: 1 hour 10 minutes from Glasgow Airport / 1 hour 20 minutes from Edinburgh Airport (approx.)*. Day 2 The West Highland Way and Fort William. Today embark on one of Scotland's famous rail journeys as you travel the West Highland Railway to Fort William. On route you will pass scenic coastline, the tranquil shores of Loch Lomond ...

  14. Edinburgh, the Highlands and Islands

    Experience the wonders of Scotland's lochs, glens, castles, and more on a rail adventure across Edinburgh and The Highlands. Save £50pp on selected British Isles 2024 last-minute holidays, when you book by 31st July 2024. View terms and conditions. No Single Supplement subject to availability on selected departures.

  15. The Aberdonian Steam Train, Edinburgh

    Steam train from Edinburgh to Aberdeen in summer 2020. A nostalgic day trip from Edinburgh to Aberdeen with world famous steam locomotive Tornado. Let 'The Aberdonian' whisk you away as we take in some of the best that Scotland has to offer, both on train and off. Crossing the Forth Bridge, the train runs along the coast for much of its route ...

  16. 15 Easy Day Trips from Edinburgh by Train or Bus

    Getting from Edinburgh to North Berwick by train. Take a direct train from Edinburgh Waverley station. The average journey time is 33 minutes and there are around 16 trains per day. The Scottish Seaboard Centre is a 15-minute walk from North Berwick's train station.

  17. Borders Railway Line

    The route. The Borders Railway begins at a station named after a novel by Sir Walter Scott, and ends just a stone's throw from where he wrote it. From Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank this new stretch of track opens up the Scottish Borders for the first time since 1969. The train heads south from Edinburgh, passing through old mining villages ...

  18. Home

    Rail Holidays Scotland. See more of Scotland on one of our longer tours. Expertly planned and based in the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness, explore the Scottish Highlands in all their glory. Hop aboard a luxury mini-coach and let a local guide show you to the stunning Isle of Skye, mysterious Loch Ness, or join the famous North Coast ...

  19. Harry Potter Train Tour from Edinburgh

    Your Jacobite Steam Train tour from Edinburgh spans approximately 13 hours*. It's one of our most-popular day trips, featuring a magical one-way journey aboard the Jacobite Steam Train, picturesque coach rides through the captivating Highland scenery, and plenty of opportunities for memorable photo stops and breaks in the Highlands.

  20. Day Trips From Edinburgh: Here are 11 of the best places to go by train

    2. Loch Lomond (Journey duration: 2 hours with a change at Glasgow Queen Street) People often assume you need a car to visit Loch Lomond - the largest body of fresh water in Great Britain - but ...

  21. 14 Best Day Trips from Edinburgh by Train (+ travel tips)

    From the mainline train station in Keith (approx. 65 mins from Aberdeen) an option is to break up the journey in 'whisky country' and catch the steam or diesel train service (see timetables) from Keith Town station to Dufftown. The famous scenic heritage railway - Keith & Dufftown Railway known as the Whisky Line, the line runs for 11 miles.

  22. This scenic train journey from Edinburgh to Inverness can't ...

    A single-connection train via Stirling will only add 30 minutes or so to your journey. 🚉 Edinburgh train station name: Edinburgh (Waverley) 🚉 Inverness train station name: Inverness. 🚆 First Train: 07:37 a.m. 🚆 Last Train: 07:39 p.m. 🚅 Number of trains per day: 11. 🕝 Journey time: From 3h 18m. 💲 Ticket Cost: From $16.85.

  23. 3 (More) Best Scenic UK Train Journeys Every Traveler Should Take

    Hop aboard a train and enjoy the picturesque views on the 4- to 5-hour rail ride to the most prestigious city in Scotland — Edinburgh. For train enthusiasts, there is nothing quite like a train ...

  24. Luxury trains journeys and itineraries departing from Edinburgh

    6 Days / 5 Nights. From. Edinburgh. To. Edinburgh. Embark on a five-night journey exploring the wild and rugged west coast of Scotland, including Oban and the Isles of Mull and Bute. Luxury accommodation, including all meals and beverages. An exclusive visit to the historic Oban distillery. A guided tour of Duart Castle.

  25. Cheap train tickets Edinburgh to Durham

    Buy cheap train tickets from Edinburgh to Durham. Book direct with LNER in advance for the best discount deals, plus check train times. ... Upcoming direct journeys for Edinburgh to Durham. First train 05:48 Last train 21:00. View more journeys. ... London, and Scotland along the scenic east coast. Durham station is a principal stop on the east ...