The centuries-old charms of Edinburgh don’t fade. It’s impossible to fight off the Scottish capital’s infectious energy from the moment you set foot on its cobbled streets. Every winding street, quaint nook and medieval cranny offers a new adventure for the intrepid explorer. Whether you’re scaling an ancient extinct volcano or dipping your toe into the country’s history at the impressive castle, the beauty of Edinburgh won’t cease to amaze you.

But if you’re eager to explore more of this stunning country, leave the city behind and head off on a day trip from Edinburgh. From coastal retreats to tales of medieval escapades, Scotland offers thrilling and intriguing experiences to those who go looking for them.

A beautiful sunrise over mountains in Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands.

Edinburgh to the Highlands

Nothing can prepare you for the raw beauty of the epic Highland region. This wild and remote part of Scotland is every outdoor lover’s dream, a natural playground begging to be explored.

Journey to Glen Coe and roam heather-strewn mountains, stroll through the brooding glen and kayak across the vast Loch Leven. Then, after a long day spent on the wind-swept terrain, make for a cozy Highland pub like the award-winning Clachaig Inn and, if you’re staying over, enjoy a local pint as you thaw in front of a crackling fire.

Getting there: To take a day trip from Edinburgh to the Highlands, you’ll zip across Scotland’s motorway network, first on the M8, onto the M9 and then across a series of smaller A roads. The journey is around three hours, so it’s best to set off early in the morning, or consider an overnight stay.

Edinburgh to Glasgow

Blending cutting-edge ambition with a deep heritage, Glasgow is Edinburgh’s sprawling, slightly less restrained sister. The two cities enjoy a friendly, long-standing rivalry. Ask the locals and they’ll joke that you’ll have more fun at a Glasgow funeral than an Edinburgh wedding.

Art is easily explored via its many free galleries including Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the city’s Gallery of Modern Art. As the day disappears and night draws in, Glasgow truly comes to life.

An overnight stay means you’ll be able to unwind in a whisky bar in the lively West End, bounce along to live music at the legendary Barrowlands, or take in a captivating performance at the 150-year-old Theatre Royal. This animated city delivers on every front.

Getting there: Day trips from Edinburgh to Glasgow are easily made by car. The M8 links the two cities and it should take you only 1 hour and 15 minutes to get there.

="A view across the famous water of Loch Ness with a glimpse of Urquhart Castle in the background.

Edinburgh to Loch Ness

Will the world’s most mysterious loch reveal its secrets to you? Stretching for 23 miles, Loch Ness’ deep, dark waters are said to hide the famous monster of long-told legend. Cruise across the famous waters by boat, soak up the majestic landscape views and see if you can spot the fabled Nessie herself.

Learn more about the Loch Ness story at the two exhibition centres in Drumnadrochit, before walking among the ruins of the former royal fortress, Urquhart Castle.

Getting there: If you’re thinking of taking a trip from Edinburgh to Loch Ness, the journey will take around 3 hours and 45 minutes by car – so it’s worth considering an overnight stay. Follow the M90 and A9 north to Inverness, then head along the A82 to Drumnadrochit.

An exterior view of the striking Rosslyn Chapel on a grey stormy day.

Edinburgh to Rosslyn Chapel

Despite residing in Roslin since the 15th century, the stunning Rosslyn Chapel was truly catapulted into stardom following the movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown’s best-selling novel. The breathtaking ornate stone carvings decorating its interior sealed the chapel’s status as a symbol of the Knights Templar.

Rumors echo the stunning mason’s art, with everything from the Holy Grail to the body of Christ said to be hidden in vaults beneath the chapel. Explore the intriguing site for yourself and uncover Rosslyn Chapel’s many legends.

Getting there: Rosslyn Chapel is a really easy day trip from Edinburgh to make, being just a 30-minute drive south of the city. Take the A7 and A701 to Chapel Loan in Roslin.

A photo taken of the illuminated Equine statues as evening arrives.

Edinburgh to The Kelpies

The stunning pair of equine sculptures nestled on the east entrance to the Forth & Clyde Canal are worth traveling an hour out of the city for. Crafted from 300 metric tons of stainless steel, The Kelpies pay homage to the working horses of industrial Scotland.

Stand beneath the two 30-metre tall horse heads and marvel at their beauty, before heading inside to get up close to the complex engineering of the sculptures.

Getting there: Head out of the city and travel along the M9 towards Falkirk. Leave the motorway at Junction 5, then follow the A9 to The Helix Project, home to the impressive twin sculptures.

Two colorful kayaks sat on the golden shores on North Berwick.

Edinburgh to North Berwick

Seagulls swooping over the horizon, waves gently crashing against golden sands, rainbow-hued shops lining the high street – welcome to beautiful North Berwick. This quaint seaside town nudging the Scottish coast is the perfect place to breathe in fresh salt-scented air and enjoy a dose of the great outdoors.

Walk along the glorious coastline and enjoy superb views of the water and beyond. Make your way to the pretty harbor and submit to the tantalizing smell of fresh fish and chips wafting from The Rocketeer Restaurant.

Getting there: It takes less than an hour to reach the coastal destination from Edinburgh. Drive east along the A1, then take the A198 exit towards North Berwick.

The impressive main entrance of Stirling Castle with the Union Jack flying above on a sunny day.

Edinburgh to Stirling

Perched proudly at the summit of a lush green hillside, Stirling’s Old Town is Scotland’s answer to the fairy tale city – the perfect day tour from Edinburgh. Wander the winding cobbled streets and uncover a treasure trove of historic buildings.

The jewel in this tiny city’s architectural crown is undoubtedly Stirling Castle – make your way up to the ramparts of this magnificent fortress and soak up commanding views of central Scotland. Wander the spot where the Wars of Independence were fought and learn about the castle’s past at the Royal Palace.

Getting there: Stirling is only 35 miles away from the Scottish capital, making it a great day trip from Edinburgh by car. Once you’re out of the city, take the M9 north to Stirling and exit at junction 9.

A walkway view of the gorgeous Jedburgh Abbey ruins.

Edinburgh to Jedburgh

Venture to the Scottish Borders and explore the historic royal burgh – or town – of Jedburgh. Narrow alleys, Georgian buildings and heather-scented honey are all part of the fabric of life in this adorable Scottish spot.

Once you’ve explored the cute local stores, make for its jaw-dropping Augustinian abbey. Jedburgh’s proximity to England means the 12th-century beauty has been raided and ravaged by a number of invading armies in its time, but remarkably much of it remains intact. On your way out of Jedburgh, stop at The Caddy Mann to savor fresh coffee and succulent Berwickshire sea scallops.

Getting there: This is undoubtedly one of the best day trips from Edinburgh to make. Drive south out of the capital and head down the A68 straight to Jedburgh.

Do you have a favorite day trip from Edinburgh? Share your recommendations with us on Twitter.

Hertz encourages you to be responsible. Don’t Drink and Drive. To read about all of Hertz’s Safety Tips, click here. To check out Hertz Rental Terms, click here.


About the author