5 Free Day Trips In A Short Drive From Edinburgh

The Scottish capital city of Edinburgh offers travellers some of the best sights, sounds and tastes the country has to offer. The city is home to stunning architecture and innovative museums and galleries. Visitors are treated to savoury dishes at leading restaurants and pubs, from local specialities to tasty creations from around the world.

Not far from Edinburgh’s city centre are attractive village and historic sites. Within a short drive or train trip, visitors can be treated to beautiful countryside and unforgettable coastal views. Whether by car, rail or bus, day trips from Edinburgh offer visitors a free and entertaining way to explore and experience more of this thrilling part of Scotland.

Dunfermline

Once the ancient capital of Scotland, Dunfermline can be reached by the Forth Road Bridge from Edinburgh. Within the medieval town centre is Dunfermline Abbey, the resting place of the storied Robert the Bruce. The historic town in Fife is the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie, one of the history’s richest men and most renowned philanthropists. Carnegie donated Pittencreiff Park to the town’s residents and today it is one of Scotland’s most attractive parks. A museum, well-appointed paths and picnic areas, and gardens can be explored throughout this beautiful park. Each year in August the park hosts the Bruce Festival, featuring battle re-enactments, arts and crafts, and a food fayre.

Aberdour

Aberdour coast

The coastal town of Aberdour is a picturesque place for a day trip. The Fife Coastal Path brings visitors close to the popular Silver Sands beach and the town’s scenic harbour. Welcoming pubs and restaurants line the historic village’s streets, side-by-side with interesting shops and boutiques. The 12-century Aberdour Castle features beautiful gardens, while St. Fillan’s Church is one of Scotland’s best-preserved medieval parish churches. Black Sands beach provides visitors with a peaceful retreat with rock caves and curious sea life. The town is approximately a 20-minute drive north of Edinburgh and can also be reached by regular bus and train services.

Linlithgow

Linlithgow is the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots. The ruins of the Queen’s birthplace still stand at Linlithgow Palace, once a royal palace and today surrounded by a popular public park. The town is also home to the mediaeval St. Michaels Church, honouring the community’s patron saint. The town can be reached by car via the M9 motorway or by train from Waverley or Haymarket stations. For outdoor enthusiasts, Linlithgow is accessible by the Union Canal, a 30-kilometre trail from Edinburgh that is ideal for cyclists. Just 3 miles north-east of Linlithgow is the town of Blackness. Located on the banks of the Forth, the historic port is home to Blackness Castle.

St. Andrews

Cathedral Ruins, St.Andrews

St. Andrews is the home of golf. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club is one of the world’s oldest golf clubs and the Old Course is one of the most famous golf courses in the world. St. Andrews is also home to a stunning cathedral, one of the most important in medieval Scotland. Built between the 12th and 14th centuries, the cathedral’s striking ruins can be explored free of charge. Founded in 1410, St. Andrews University is the third oldest university in the English-speaking world and the oldest in Scotland. The prestigious university dominates much of the town and is home to stunning buildings, including the elegant St. Salvator’s Chapel. Perched along the seaside and overlooking the town is the 15th century St. Andrews Castle.

Dunbar

Red Rock Cliffs

The coastal community of Dunbar is the birthplace of conservationist John Muir. Muir was a key figure in establishing America’s National Parks system. A museum dedicated to Muir’s life and achievements can be visited free of charge. The town is also home to a kittiwake colony found on the cliffs overlooking the harbour. Rolling green countryside and beautiful coastal views are trademarks of the John Muir Way, a long-distance path running along the town that can be accessed from the harbour and other points in the town. Dunbar is also the venue of the annual Folk Music Festival, held each year in September. Located in East Lothian, Dunbar sits 30 miles south-east of Edinburgh.