10 Fun Day Trips from Edinburgh by Train

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You’ll find an abundance of activities to do in Edinburgh, but if you have a little time to spare, Scotland’s towns and cities are easily accessible by train trip. Scotland’s history is not confined to the capital city. Across the country, you’ll discover new sights and experience new adventures. You’ll also hear the different accents spoken across Scotland! So why not devote a day or two of your trip to getting out of the capital city and visit some of the best day trips from Edinburgh by train.

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

Day Trips by Train from Edinburgh

Dunbar

  • 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 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 been able to preserve 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.

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

Stirling

  • 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

Glasgow

  • Journey time: 50 minutes
  • 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 and music scene.

The West End district is the heart of the city with its cobbled streets and alleyways of Ashton Lane and the adjacent Byers Road area.

On the other side of the river is the most impressive Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

The Merchant City is the cultural hub of Glasgow 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.

Loch Lomond

  • Journey time: 2 hours
  • Departure Frequency: every 30 minutes

Most visitors assume that going to see this largest water body 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 to 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

Pitlochry

  • 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.

→ Read Next | Family Activities in Edinburgh

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)

  • Journey time: 20 minutes
  • Departure Frequency: every 30 minutes

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 which both 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 doing the walk alone at night.

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

Aberdour and Fife Coast Trail

  • Journey time: 35 minutes
  • Departure Frequency: every 30 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 dating 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’s plenty of choice for lunch in Aberdour such as McTaggart’s, Sands (on the beach) or The Woodside pub.

→ Read Next | Walks in Edinburgh

Sandy beach at Aberdour Fife

St Andrews

  • 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.

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

Dundee

  • 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 Muesum sits on the banks of the River Tay.

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

Next door, you can experience the RSS Discovery 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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4 thoughts on “10 Fun Day Trips from Edinburgh by Train

    • Everything Edinburgh says:

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

  1. Amy says:

    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?

    • Everything Edinburgh says:

      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.

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