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Want to escape the city while someone else does the driving? This guide to day trips from Edinburgh by bus takes you to the countryside, historical sites, the seaside and to lively cities.
Why travel by bus? Buses from Edinburgh tend to be more affordable than trains, Edinburgh Bus Station is very central so easily accessed, Scotland’s buses are often more reliable than the trains and bus travel can be more environmentally friendly than car travel.
Some of the Scotland bus companies offer day saver tickets, multi-trip offers and ‘kids go free’ packages. You can find out more about these companies and Edinburgh Bus Station in general here.
Journey tickets can be bought online, over the phone or at the station itself. Ideally longer and popular journeys should be reserved in advance to guarantee a seat and cheapest prices.
Below we outline day trips from Edinburgh, the highlights, how long the bus journey takes and approximately how much the trip costs.
Best Day Trips From Edinburgh By Bus
1. North Berwick (East)
Home to the five star Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick is a quaint coastal town in the district of East Lothian, less than ninety minutes from Edinburgh.
Things to do in North Berwick include seeing the world’s largest colony of northern gannets which breed here in the backdrop of the striking Firth of Forth.
Most locals head to North Berwick to spend a day at the beach.
Nearby historic hotspots include two castles, Tantallon and Dirleton which can be reached by train (20 minutes) from North Berwick.
North Berwick Highlights
- Sunbathe and check out the cute coloured beach huts
- Climb the North Berwick Law
- Boat tour to Bass Rock
- Enjoy a Steampunk Coffee in the trendy cafe
- Visit Tantallon Castle
If it’s a sunny day, there will always be crowds in North Berwick so arrive early and pack your day bag to avoid disappointment.
- Edinburgh to North Berwick By Bus: 1.5 hours
2. The Award-Winning Rosslyn Chapel (South)
The 15th-century Rosslyn Chapel is located in a small village called Roslin. Day-trippers can reach Roslin by bus in around an hour.
Although founded in 1446, the Chapel made people’s travel bucket lists when it was featured in the book and movie, The Davinci Code starring Tom Hanks.
You can experience what the Chapel looks like using this 360 virtual tour of the premises.
Highlights of Roslin
- Rosslyn Chapel
- Breakfast at Dolly’s Tea Room
- Visit Rosslyn Chapel, grab a coffee in the cafe
- Wander around Roslin Glen which takes around 2 hours
- See Rosslyn Castle during the glen walk
A trip to Roslin gives you the chance to see a historically important building in Scotland as well as an easy hike among nature. Winning combo.
Since it takes less than an hour, Roslin is one of the easiest half-day trips from Edinburgh.
- Edinburgh to Rosslyn Chapel By Bus: 1 hour
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3. Melrose (South)
Birthplace of the Rugby Sevens, the picturesque town of Melrose is located near the triple peaks of Eildon Hills.
The ruins of Melrose Abbey are of significant importance as it is said the heart of Robert the Bruce rests here.
In the year AD 79, Romans built a massive fort by the name of Trimontium, or Palace of Three Hills on the top of Eildon Hill North.
Attractions in Melrose
- Visit Melrose Abbey
- Hike Eildon Hill – I did this with a group, relatively easy day hike
- Check out the events at the Georgian townhouse Harmony House
If you are a hiker or into history, Melrose is one of the best day trips near Edinburgh for you.
- Edinburgh to Melrose By Bus: 2.35 hours
4. Glasgow (West)
Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, is a lively city with extensive shopping opportunities, lots of green space, even more pubs and an impressive street art trail.
Most of Glasgow’s museums and galleries are free. You can fill up your day visiting the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art (which is housed in the slaver and tobacco/sugar merchant William Cunninghame’s mansion), The Lighthouse (great views from the top floor), the Kelvingrove Museum (1 pm organ show) and Riverside Museum of Transport.
- Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis for views
- West Brewery for food and craft beer
- People’s Palace and Glasgow Green
- GOMA and Merchant City street art murals
- Lunch in Merchant City/Trongate
- Shopping on Style Mile
- Lighthouse Museum (exhibitions and views)
- A pub crawl around Ashton Lane in the West End
- Kelvingrove Museum and Park
- Finnieston for food and drinks
- Riverside Museum and Clydeside Distillery
While locals mostly take the train to get between Edinburgh and Glasgow, the bus is a cheaper alternative. As you can see from the above highlights, Glasgow really needs more than one day!
- Edinburgh to Glasgow By Bus: 1.35 hours
5. Stirling (Central)
Stirling is a small city in the Central Belt of Scotland.
It is most known for its historic landmarks, 12th-century Stirling Castle, Stirling Bridge and Wallace Monument.
Stirling Castle takes around 2-4 hours to explore. While it is easier to get to Stirling’s attractions by car, there is public transport to Stirling Bridge and Wallace Monument.
- 12th-century Stirling Castle on Castle Hill
- 360 views from Wallace Monument
While most locals would take the train to Stirling from Edinburgh, the bus is an alternative option.
- Edinburgh to Stirling By Bus: 1.5-2.5 hours
6. Kinross (East)
Lying 13 miles south of Perth, the quaint town of Kinross is barely an hour’s bus ride from Edinburgh.
With Lochmond Hills looming from above and the waters of Loch Leven washing its shores, Kinross is a beautiful place to spend the day.
The fate of two notable personalities, Macbeth and Mary Queen of Scots, is said linked with Kinross.
- Rent a bike or walk around Loch Leven
- Afternoon tea at Loch Leven Larder
A perfect day trip during spring, summer or autumn.
- Edinburgh to Kinross By Bus: 1 hour
7. Dunfermline, Fife (East)
Visit the Ancient Capital of Fife, Dunfermline, by taking a bus ride over the Forth Road Bridge.
As you cross, look right for the UNESCO World Heritage Site and Scottish icon, the Forth Bridge, and left for the Queensferry Crossing.
In Dunfermline, visit the Heritage Quarter to explore Dunfermline Abbey and the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie.
Enjoy walking around Pittencrieff Park and keep your eyes peeled for the elusive town peacocks.
Outlander fans might want to hop on a local bus to Culross to see the famous filming locations at Culross Palace and Mercat Cross.
- The final resting place of Robert the Bruce – Dunfermline Abbey and Church
- Pittencrieff Park aka The Glen
- Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Museum for West Fife history and culture
- Andrew Carnegie’s Museum – where the famous Scot was born
- Live music and drinks at Dunfermline Fife Station Creative
Dunfermline is just one stop in the Kingdom of Fife worth visiting. If you have more time, consider the beach towns of Aberdour and Burntisland, which can be reached by bus or train.
- Edinburgh to Dunfermline By Bus: 1 hour
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8. St Andrews (East)
Did you know Prince Will and Kate met while studying at the University of St Andrews?
St Andrews is also famous among golfers as it is home to the oldest golf course in Scotland.
Cute streets, a huge beach with watersports, Botanics and the best ice cream in Fife, do you need any other reason to visit?
St Andrews Highlights
- St Andrews Cathedral by the sea
- Kayaking, with wet suits
- Beautiful Botanical Gardens
- Jannettas Gelato, always lines for miles!
St Andrews is a popular day trip, expect lots of crowds for organised tours during the summer months.
- Edinburgh to St Andrews By Bus: 2 hours
9. Dundee (East)
Located in North East Scotland, the industrial town of Dundee is a two-hour ride out of Edinburgh.
Standing on the bank of Firth of Tay, visitors will see the RRS Discovery, V&A Design Museum and the Verdant Jute Mill.
Dundee is home to many of Scotland’s art students so there are lots of galleries for you to explore. There’s even a speakeasy bar if you can find it.
- V&A Dundee
- RSS Discovery
- McManus Art Gallery
- Open/Close art trail
Dundee is one of Scotland’s lesser-known cities so you can experience what the east coast city life has to offer without elbowing through crowds.
- Edinburgh to Dundee By Bus: 2.5-3 hours
10. Pitlochry (North)
The small town of Pitlochry lies nestled in the River Tummel valley along the major route connecting the Lowlands with the Highlands.
A pleasant bus journey from Edinburgh brings visitors to this Victorian-era town, which has managed to retain its character until today.
- Pitlochry Dam and Visitors Centre
- Pitlochry Festival Theatre
- Pitlochry nature walks
- Hettie’s Tearoom for a hot drink and cakes
Pitlochry is one of the best places to visit in autumn. While the train is faster, the bus is much more affordable which is ideal if you are on a budget.
- Edinburgh to Pitlochry By Bus: 2.5-3 hours
Highlands Bus Tours
Did you know that you can visit the Scottish Highlands from Edinburgh?
1-4 day tours leave Scotland’s capital and take you through the stunning Glen Coe scenery, around Outlander locations, next to the Harry Potter train viaduct and to the country’s battlefields.
While there are many things to do in Edinburgh, whether you are a local or visitor, it is well worth getting out of the city to explore the towns and cities less than three hours away from the capital.
With these Edinburgh day trips by bus, you can save money with multi-journey tickets and booking in advance. If saving money is your thing, check out our free things to do in Edinburgh guide.
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