10 ways to escape Edinburgh in two hours or less
The Edinburgh festival is nearing its end. You’re probably tired and weary after a month of crowds, queues and congestion. So if you’re looking for a quick getaway this Bank Holiday weekend or any time, here are ten places to try, all within an easy drive of the Scottish capital.
[The ‘Jock’s Road path leads from Glendoll to Braemar – picture: Stuart Anthony / Flickr / CC]
Only 72 miles from Edinburgh you’ll find the beautiful town of Kirriemuir in Angus, which offers adventures for anyone looking for a spot of history and camping. J.M. Barrie, who created Peter Pan, is the town’s most famous son, and his birthplace is now a museum, with a garden featuring a statue of the boy who never grows old. There’s another statue of Peter Pan playing his flute in the town centre. Only seven miles away from the town lies Loch of Lintrathen which gives you possibilities for camping and sightseeing in a beautiful environment, or head a bit further north to discover the scenic Glen Clova and Glendoll.
Not more than 40 miles away you’ll find the city of Stirling, with activities and attractions for the whole family. You can enjoy a walk around and the extraordinary Stirling Castle which includes the Royal Palace and the Great Hall – and great views of the Wallace Monument. A short drive out of town lies Blair Drummond Safari & Adventures , the only place in Scotland where you will be able to watch giraffes and elephants. Drive through the roads between the wild animals and experience the closest thing to a Scottish safari.
Eyemouth and St. Abbs
[Eyemouth harbour – picture: Picture: Jonathan Combe / Flickr / CC]
Fifty miles south of Edinburgh on the A1 you’ll reach the harbour town of Eyemouth, where you can sample the seafood and even dive in the sea (though probably not in that order). Or how about racing across the waves in a tiny boat with water hitting you in the face? Rib Trips offer exhilarating trips between the harbours of Eyemouth and St. Abbs, or as a day of fun on the water. St. Abbs is also worth exploring, with its small cafés and art galleries.
Of course, let’s not forget Glasgow. Scotland’s largest city is the perfect place to spend the day no matter what you’re in the mood for. If you have kids in tow, take them to the Science Centre where they have they chance to run around, explore on their own or be amazed by the planetarium. Take a stroll through the cosmopolitan West End, stop in at the magnificent Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and wind your way through Finnieston (now bustling with trendy bars and restaurants) to the Clyde to see the city’s ever-changing urban landscape at sunset, before heading out to experience Glasgow’s legendary nightlife, whether it’s a relaxed meal, a lively gig or late night club.
Just a short drive or train ride along the scenic coastline from Edinburgh lies East Lothian which guarantees a day packed with fun and traditional Scottish discoveries. Learn the history about the planes from the first and second world war at the National Museum of Flight (home to Scotland’s only Concorde, Golf-Bravo Oscar Alpha Alpha), or maybe take control in a flight simulator and see if you have what it takes. While you’re in East Lothian, visit the Glenkinchie Distillery, which offers the chance to explore the history of the Edinburgh Malt. If you’re looking for a relaxed seaside day trip, North Berwick, with its two beaches, historic harbour, quality pubs and excellent ice cream, is ideal.
A 90 minute drive north of Edinburgh, you’ll find the sleepy town of Pitlochry, a good place to visit if you’re up for a spot of hiking. The area is known for its scenery, including the beautiful Ben Vrackie, the walk through Faskally Wood, or hike your way through the Queens View overlooking Loch Tummel.
Just over 25 miles away from the crowds of people pushing their way through the streets of Edinburgh, you’ll find Falkirk. The newest attraction nearby are the Kelpies, two beautiful 300-tonne steel structures shaped like horse heads. Other places to visit include the amazing Falkirk Wheel, the world’s only rotating boat lift, Callendar House and Park, the Antonine Wall and the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway. Check out our guide to the Falkirk area for more ideas.
[Picture: Bob the Lomond / Flickr / CC]
Once in a while you need to get away from everything, and Loch Lomond is surprisingly within reach of Edinburgh – although at a two-hour drive, you’ll need to set off early. Once you’re there you can go hiking in the surrounding hills (including Ben Lomond, the most southerly of the Munros), play a round of golf or take a boat trip on the water.
St Andrews, less than 50 miles away from Edinburgh, might be known as the home of golf and the place Prince William studied, but it’s more than just a playground for budding Rory McIlroys or royals. Sitting at the eastern point of Fife, it boasts one of the best beaches in the region in West Sands, as well as the historic ruined cathedral and castle, an aquarium, cinema and plenty of restaurants. Take a leisurely drive along the East Neuk to get there, and you can stop at the picturesque fishing villages along the way.
Finally, another good day trip from Edinburgh is Linlithgow, the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. The main landmark is the great Linlithgow Palace, spectacular both inside and out. You can also take a trip down the Linlithgow Canal to Avon Aqueduct while enjoying lunch on the boat, or visit Ellies Cellar to taste some of the wide selection of Scottish craft beers, wines and whisky. All of this within 19 miles of the capital.
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