You don’t have to travel far to experience the best of Scotland. Head just a few hours outside of Edinburgh, and you’ll find yourself amidst mountains and forests, national parks, and placid seaside towns.
Whether you’re looking for a quiet escape from the city, an adventurous and active weekend, or an indulgent weekend away, you’ll love these weekend getaway destinations – all of which are an easy commute from Edinburgh.
Isle of Mull
Mull’s landscape is rugged and varied – the west side of the island is dominated by steep cliffs and rocky shore, while the east is softer with lush greenery. Its coastline is stunning – it boasts countless beaches and bays, which are characterized by white sand and crystal clear turquoise and emerald-toned seas. The waters surrounding the Isle of Mull are a prime place to spot a variety of wildlife – especially between the months of April and October, when minke whales, basking sharks, and bottlenose dolphins are most commonly seen. Fresh, locally-sourced food abounds on Mull, and freshly caught seafood is one of the island’s many specialities. Be sure to reserve a table at Cafe Fish for phenomenal seafood dishes.
This charming seaside village is located less than an hour outside of Edinburgh, on the south shore of the Firth of Forth. Its main street is filled with independent boutiques and cafes – my favourite of which is Steampunk for a fantastic cup of artisan roast coffee. Berwick Law – a prominent 613 foot hill composed of volcanic rock – offers a beautiful, sweeping view of the Firth of Forth and the North Sea from its peak. For dinner, head to The Lobster Shack – one of the best seafood restaurants in town. They serve delicious daily specials, including seafood chowder, mussels, and freshly grilled North Berwick local lobster.
Isle of Arran
Situated on the west coast, Arran is known as ‘Scotland in miniature,’ as the line between the Highlands and Lowlands divides the island into two distinct regions, with landscapes that mirror mainland Scotland. Renowned for its malt whisky, traditionally made cheddar cheese, and handmade ice cream, Arran is a great spot for foodies. Whisky distillery tours are offered daily, and cheese can be sampled from the Arran Cheese Shop. The island is also a playground for adrenaline junkies, with a variety of adventure activities available, from mountain biking to gorge-scrambling, kayaking and guided wildlife walks.
There’s more to St. Andrews than golf and the university where Prince William studied; this beautiful town boasts the ruins of a cathedral and castle, and a two-mile-long sandy beach. The striking main town centre is peppered with Medieval architecture, cobbled streets, and winding alleys. If you are a golf aficionado, you’ll love St. Andrews – it’s home to one of the most renowned golf courses in the world, which dates back to the 15th century. You’ll also find an array of cozy pubs, charming cafes, and fantastic restaurants; head to Gorgeous Cafe for scones the size of your face, freshly baked with delicious flavour combinations like raspberry, lemon, and white chocolate. Tailend is another must-visit restaurant in St. Andrews – their award-winning fish & chips are a local delicacy!
Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
The Trossachs National Park is one of the most scenic spots in the country, and it’s the perfect place to get away from it all. Sprawling over 1,865 square kilometres, its natural setting is stunning, defined by forests and foliage, verdant hills, and towering mountains. Water activities are popular in the summer – everything from paddleboarding to windsurfing to kayaking. There are walks for every skill level, from relaxed, leisurely trails to challenging mountain hikes. Ben Lomond is the highest munro (mountain over 3,000 ft) in the park, and the summit offers beautiful panoramic views of Loch Lomond and the surrounding park.
What’s your favourite weekend getaway in Scotland?