The great thing about Scotland (other than beautiful castles, lochs, cities, and scenery of course) is that, since it’s a small country, you can pretty much do a weekend trip to almost anywhere in the country. However, if you have to pick, here are the best weekend trips from Edinburgh that you can easily get to via train or car.
A weekend in Glasgow
Hop over to Scotland’s largest city,Glasgow
, by taking the train from Edinburgh Waverly Station. Depending which train you catch, the route is either 50 minutes or under an hour and a half.
Once in Glasgow, enjoy shopping on the bustling Buchanan Street with all of the UK’s top clothing brands as well as shopping centers like the Buchanan Galleries and Princes Square. Glasgow is known to be the best shopping in the UK, outside of London.
Be sure to also explore Glasgow’s delicious culinary scene with fantastic vegan restaurants like Stereo
, which is located on a cozy cobbled alley, or more classic options like Sloan’s
and its heated outdoor terrace and superb macaroni & cheese.
Beyond just food and shopping, take in some of Glasgow’s art scene at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), visit the beautiful Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, and wander around the beautiful Pollok Park and spot highland cows and tiny gnome buildings.
Weekend Hiking in the Cairngorms
Hop on and 2 and a half hour train from Edinburgh to Aviemore and venture up north to the Cairngorms National Park
. This is the perfect weekend away from Edinburgh for those looking for natural scenery, a breath of fresh air, and some outdoor activities.
There’s a lot of hiking routes and plenty of chances to see some of Scotland’s wildlife as well as castles and the famous Macallan Distillery.
Experience Isle of Arran
Head to the coast for an extraordinary weekend of “Scotland in miniature” on Isle of Arran. You’ll first have to hop on a train to Glasgow and then transfer to a train heading to Ardrossan Harbour where you’ll be able to catch the ferry to Arran. There’s also a car ferry for those driving.
What to do on Isle of Arran? Soak up the beauty of life on a Scottish isle for one. Hike to the top of Arran’s highest mountain Goatfell, cycle around the island, and visit the beautiful 19th century Brodick Castle or 16th
century Lochranza Castle.
You can also take a morning or afternoon to sail over to the Holy Isle, which was once the home of 6th
century monk named St. Molaise and is now owned by the Samyé Ling Buddhist Community.
Explore Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
A great driving route that is also accessible by train or bus, a trip to Loch Lomond is a great weekend getaway from Edinburgh. This beautifully scenic area is full of massive lochs, picturesque towns like Luss, and cascading green hills dotted with sheep.
There are many traditional songs written about this area and it’s clear why it’s so special in Scottish history.
You can visit the Balloch Castle and Country Park and explore its unique gardens, wander along loch paths, and for some added adventure try a zipline and ropes course at TreeZone
A Weekend away in Inverness
Another great weekend trip from Edinburgh is Inverness. Famous for many reasons from Loch Ness and the Loch Ness monster to its importance in Scottish history and its place as the capital of the Highlands.
Taking the train from Edinburgh Waverly Station will take a little over 3 hours but you’ll pass a lot of scenery and Scotrail provides free Wi-Fi on trains. Once you make it to Inverness, explore around the city centre, visit the castle, walk along the river, and soak up the beauty of this small city.
Then, you can hop over to Loch Ness and visit the fascinating and historical Culloden Battlefield
, where Jacobites had their last battle in rebellion against Britain’s Hanoverian Government and resulted in a change in highland life forever.
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Christa Adams is a writer, photographer, and sustainable traveler based in Barcelona. She's been traveling solo since 2014 has a passion for the outdoors, coffee culture, and exploring quaint European towns. Follow her adventures at www.thespiritedexplorer.com