Day Trips from Edinburgh by Train

16th August 2022

With its medieval old town, storied history and world-class festivals, it’s easy to spend a week exploring enigmatic Edinburgh. But beyond the Scottish capital’s ancient winding alleys and striking castle walls, there are brilliant day trips worth experiencing – and all easy to get to by train for less with a Railcard.  


It’s also the greenest way to travel. To show you just how sustainable it is, we’ve worked out the CO2 savings you’ll make for each trip when you travel by train. Enjoy! 


Linlithgow: walk among royalty  

Linlithgow’s main attraction is the red-stone ruins of its royal palace. Birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and the Stuarts’ legacy, the 15th-century palace was originally a pleasure palace for travelling royals. Despite its ruined state, Linlithgow is still majestic. 


The castle overlooks the scenic waters of Linlithgow Loch, where boat trips amble from nearby Union Canal during the summer. Linlithgow town is small and pretty, with pubs, cafes, and restaurants galore. And on the 4th Saturday of every month, it has a popular farmers market. 


Journey time: 20 minutes on average 

Station: Linlithgow 

CO2 emissions: Train 1.4 KG CO2 e | Car 4.55 KG CO2 e 


Hike in the Pentland Hills 

Like to hike? Head for the Pentland Hills, a wild expanse of nature on Edinburgh’s doorstep. 


One of the most active day trips from Edinburgh by train, this gentle range of hills stretches 20 miles with criss-cross hiking trails for all abilities. Try North Esk Reservoir, Turnhouse Hill, West Kip and Scald Law for a well-liked trek. Visit during late spring or early summer for the best hiking conditions. 


For exquisite views of Edinburgh’s skyline, make the steady hike up Allermuir Hill towards the northern end of the park. Near here, you’ll also find the Midlothian Snowsports Centre, the second longest dry ski slope in Europe. 


Journey time: 30 minutes on average 

Station: Curriehill 

CO2 emissions: Train 0.55 KG CO2 e | Car 1.84 KG CO2 e 


North Berwick: seaside by the city 

A beautiful beach backed by charming redbrick houses, North Berwick is one of Scotland’s loveliest seaside towns. Its two beaches, Milsey and West Bay, are ideal for escaping the city, especially come summer. 


The Scottish Seabird Centre is also in North Berwick. This award-winning charity dedicates itself to preserving Scotland’s sea life. It runs seasonal wildlife boat trips out to the gannet colonies of Bass Rock, the Isles of May and the Three Islands Seabird Safari. 


The wildlife and birds join you on a stroll along the coastal path between North Berwick and Edinburgh, too. Or you could hit the green at one of the three golf courses nearby. 


Journey time: 35 minutes on average 

Station: North Berwick 

CO2 emissions: Train 2 KG CO2 e | Car 6.7 KG CO2 e 


Stirling: a castle on the hill 

Few Scottish towns match Stirling for sheer beauty. The hill-town’s iconic castle is the centrepiece, with sweeping views of the rolling Ochil Hills. Visit the castle for a treat of costumed characters bringing its history to life. 


But Stirling isn’t all about the past. Its large student population inspires a busy nightlife and packed cultural calendar. The Stirling Highland Games in August and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s festival (at Stirling Distillery) in October draw the crowds. 


While you’re in town, Deanston Whisky Distillery, the National Wallace Monument, and the Old Town Jail are definitely worth visiting. 


Journey time: 45 minutes on average 

Station: Stirling 

CO2 emissions: Train 2.6 KG CO2 e | Car 8.8 KG CO2 e 


Glasgow: the dear green place  

Though only an hour by train, Glasgow feels a world away from the medieval wynds of Edinburgh. A lively city with a proud industrial past, epic nightlife and excellent museums, Glasgow is jam-packed with brilliant attractions. 


Kick off your trip with a visit to the weird and wonderful Kelvingrove Gallery and Museum, an eclectic mix of natural history, art and artefacts. Next, hit the shops in Princes Square with some of the city’s finest fashion. For more shopping, head over to St Enoch Centre and Buchanan Galleries. 


Finish your trip on Ashton Lane, where bars and restaurants line the cobbled streets, before catching the train back to Edinburgh. 


Journey time: 1 hour 10 minutes on average 

Station: Glasgow Central 

CO2 emissions: Train 3 KG CO2 e | Car 10.05 KG CO2 e 


Explore the Scottish Borders by train 

Take a trip to the rolling hills, valleys and tiny villages of the Scottish Borders. The whole trip takes less than an hour, trundling over and through 140 bridges and tunnels towards Tweedbank. 


Along the way, hop off in the picturesque town of Galashiels and visit the Old Gala House Museum and Gallery. The National Mining Museum at Newtongrange and Rosslyn Chapel near Eskbank are also superb. At Tweedbank, the final stop, make the 45-minute stroll to the ruins of Melrose Abbey. One of the four Borders Abbeys, Melrose is the final resting place of the legendary king, Robert the Bruce. 


For added charm, travel in August when a vintage steam train makes special trips along the route. Check before booking.  


Journey time: 1 hour 10 minutes on average 

Station: Tweedbank 

CO2 emissions: Train 2.09 KG CO2 e | Car 7 KG CO2 e 


Dundee: the regenerated city 

The spectacular waterfront V&A Dundee art gallery is worth the train journey from Edinburgh alone. Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the towering structure houses a brilliant collection of Scottish design from Mackintosh to the modern day. Alongside permanent Scottish design exhibitions, there’s an ever-changing line-up of art, photography and international design.  


After your design fix, wander along the city’s waterfront, part of a £1 billion regeneration project almost 20 years in the making, then trek 1.5 miles up Dundee Law. The steep hill gives stunning panoramic views over the city and the steely grey of the River Tay. 


You could round off your trip in a bar or restaurant in the city centre. The pubs around Union Street and Whitehall Crescent are both a five-minute walk from the train station. 


Journey time: 1 hour 30 minutes on average 

Station: Dundee 

CO2 emissions: Train 4.5 KG CO2 e | Car 15 KG CO2 e 


When you travel with a Railcard you could save 1/3 on your fare for just £30 a year – 

a cost that can be made back in savings in a couple of journeys.