Glasgow is one of the most populated cities in the United Kingdom and most populated in Scotland. The city is also a top tourist attraction that brings people from all over the world to visit iconic places such as Glasgow Cathedral, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, George Square and the Merchant District, the Necropolis, The University of Glasgow, and the award-winning Riverside Museum among many others. There are also many places near Glasgow that are perfect for day trips away from the city.
People looking for long sandy beaches and rural villages in the scenic countryside will enjoy spending the day in South Ayrshire where there are many outdoor recreational opportunities. Visitors can reach South Ayrshire by train, car, boat, or plane. The area is known for the vast array of restaurants, bistros, bars, cafes, and farm-to-fork food served at most of them.
More than 1.4 million people visit South Ayrshire annually, making it a hot spot for tourism. Some of the best attraction in South Ayrshire include Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Culzean Castle and Country Park, Ayr Racecourse, Gaiety Theater, and the Rozelle House and Maclaurin Galleries.
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One of the best beaches in Scotland is found in Burntisland, a coastal resort town, perfect for family getaways and outdoor exploration among modern amenities. Visitors can enjoy a leisure center, crazy golf course, seaside park, rock pools, and high street where they can dine at top restaurants, pubs, and find bakeries, butcher shops, and the post office. People who are looking to explore the ancient history of Scotland can spend time at Rossend Castle which was built in the 12th century as well as the Mary Somerville House from the 16th century.
Many events draw visitors from all over the United Kingdom including the Civic Week Parade, highland games, the annual fair, and the crowning of the Summer Queen on the Links. There are also exhibitions held at the local Heritage Trust and guided walking tours of the town.
People who want to spend a day on a Scottish island can take a short ferry trip over to Bute via the Firth of Clyde from Wemyss Bay. Most visitors to the island spend the day at Rothesay where Victorian and art deco architecture combine. Rothesay Castle, Mount Stuart Home, Dunagoil Vitrified Fort, Print Point, and St. Blane’s Chapel are popular attractions on the island that is otherwise covered in rolling hills, moorlands covered in heather, and sandy beaches. Swimming, cycling, fishing, and kayaking are popular activities for visitors spending the day on Bute island.
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Robert Adam’s designed the cliff-top architectural wonder that is Culzean Castle and Country Park. The grounds include 40 buildings amongst the hilltop castle. There are woods, beaches, ponds, and parks, around the castle grounds that can be explored by visitors. There are also military swords and flintlock pistols on display in the castle. Outside children can enjoy the Adventure Cove and Wild Woodland. The estate is opulent and was built to impress with formal gardens, swan ponds, and glasshouses with fruit trees. Several events happen at Culzean Castle throughout the year including Halloween and Christmas events, nature activity days, Mini Rangers survival challenges, and more.
The sunniest city in Scotland is Dundee, a place that is a UNESCO City of Design and full of history, science, and educational opportunities, as well as a vibrant arts community. Visitors to Dundee can explore the Broughty Castle Museum, McManus Art Gallery & Museum, HM Frigate Unicorn, RRS Discovery, the Dundee Contemporary Arts Museum, and much more.
Visitors who love to go shopping will see pop-u markets at the City Center, WASPS Open Days in Meadow Hill, and other places where local artisans will sell their wares. The walkable city is also known for its eclectic shopping with name brands intermingled with boutiques and locally owned businesses. The Overgate Shopping Center is one of the best shopping centers in Scotland.
Edinburgh is just one hour from Glasgow and the capital of Scotland. The old medieval town is mixed with Georgian New Town style and elegant gardens between neoclassical buildings. Edinburgh Castle looms over the entire city and stores famous Scotland crowned jewels and Stone of Destiny. The University of Edinburgh is also one of the best-ranked universities in the United Kingdom. Visitors can spend an entire day at each of these extraordinary attractions. The Castle is especially famous for tourists during holiday seasons, and annual festivals or public performances. A large gift shop and two different cafes are also available the castle for visitors to enjoy.
Other great attractions in Edinburgh include Palace of Holyroodhouse and Holyrood Abbey, The Royal Mile, Arthur’s Seat, Salisbury Crags, National Museum of Scotland, The Royal Botanic Garden, The National Galleries of Scotland, and St, Giles Cathedral.
7.Elie and Earlsferry
Elie and Earlsferry is a family-friendly coastal town with sandy beaches and watersports for every person in the family to enjoy in East Neuk of Fife. There is also an 18-hole golf course that requires players to use a periscope at one of the holes, as well as many hiking trails, and swimming at the Elie Ruby Bay and Elie Harbor. There are many restaurants, cafes, and shops located around the harbor and village, including Ardross Farm Shop, Carol’s Shop, The Kingcraig View Restaurant, Elie Deli, The Mirador Café, and others. The most notable landmark in the area is Lady’s Tower which was constructed in 1760 by commission of Lady Janet Anstruther to be used as a changing room and bathing tower.
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Falkirk is found halfway between Edinburgh and Glasgow and features many attractions including the Falkirk Wheel, the only rotating boat lift in the world, and The Kelpies in The Helix Park which is the largest equine sculpture park in the world. The town center of Falkirk also features world-class shopping facilities, restaurants, and boutiques as well as historic sites and trails that you can follow to learn more about the most important spots in the city. Visitors can start their day at the Helix Visitor Centre to learn more about what Falkirk has to offer including where they can find the Outlander filming locations, where to rent bicycles, or how to explore the Bo’ness Heritage Trail.
9.Glencoe and Loch Leven
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Glencoe and Loch Leven have all the things visitors imagine when they think about Scotland from highlands, lochs, kilts, whiskey, haggis, to castles, ruins, and outdoor adventures. Much of the landscape around Glencoe and Loch Leven is unchanged and undisturbed for centuries. The land is also the place of many historic moments such as the 1692 Glencoe Massacre, Burial Isles of Eilean Munde, and has served as the filming location for two Highlander movies, Braveheart, Rob Roy, Harry Potter, Monty Python, and several others. Golfing, local walking tours, and personal guided tours of Glencoe are also available. The area is also popular for winter sports recreation such as skiing, snowboarding, and more.
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10.House of Bruar
The House of Bruar is Scotland’s premier country-style clothing specialty retailer. Their high-performance outdoor wear is perfect for the Scottish weather and including elegant sweaters and blouses, jackets, luxury textiles, and more for both men and women. The retail shop sells garments made under their own House of Bruar label as well as carries other major designer labels such as Jack Wolfskin and Barbour.
Not only can visitors shop all day at The House of Bruar, but there is also a House of Bruar Restaurant and House of Bruar Gallery. The gallery features Scottish animal and landscape paintings, and the restaurant serves traditional Scottish foods. There is also an award-winning butcher onsite and The Delicatessen.
Perthshire, Scotland, PH18 5TW
Inveraray overlooks Loch Fyne in Argyll. The traditional Scottish country town was first established in 1745 and boasted being a great picture of Scottish Georgian Architecture. Most visitors want to see the neoclassical church, New Town, Inveraray Castle, and the Inveraray Jail and Courthouse. The castle is one of the top tourist attractions in West Scotland and also included Georgian gardens that can be toured. A tearoom, gift shop, and gallery are located within Inveraray Castle.
Other attractions that are worth a visit in Inveraray include Strachur Smiddy Museum and Craft Shop, Crarae Garden, The Chocolate Box of Inveraray, and the Wollen Mill. There are also many renowned places for fishing and other outdoor recreation.
The grand Victorian cobblestone streets of Kilmarnock are one of the best places for a day of shopping and dining in Scotland. Several parks in Kilmarnock can be enjoyed including Kay Park where the largest Robert Burns statue in Scotland is located and the 200 acres Dean Castle and Country Park.
Families taking a day trip to Kilmarnock will love the castle park where they can find barnyard animals, explore the 14th-century castle, or hike through the woodlands, lagoons, and ponds. The Dick Institute is a unique attraction for learning the history of Scotland and is the largest museum in Ayrshire and features an expansive contemporary art collection. Live music and events are often held at Palace Theatre which draws crowds from across the United Kingdom.
13.Loch Lomond & The Trossachs
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The Trossachs is part of The Great Trossachs Forest and Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, both of which are designated National Scenic Areas. Visitors to The Trossachs can enjoy hiking, walking, and boating in Loch Lomond. The Inchmahome Priory is also found in The Trossachs and can be reached by boat on Lake of Menteith. The 13th-century monastery remains mostly intact and can be seen by visitors to the island on the lake today. The Great Trossachs Forest National Nature Reserve also features hikes for more experienced mountain trekkers with steep, rocky paths that offer stunning views of Scotland from the top.
Visitors to Loch Lomond, the most significant inland water stretch in Britain, where there are scenic villages that can be explored, including Luss Village. Loch Lomond National Nature Reserve also offers boating opportunities, hiking, and walking trails for various fitness and experience levels.
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority, Carrochan, Carrochan Road, Balloch, G83 8EG, Phone: 0-13-89-72-26-00
Nearly everyone in the world has heard of Loch Ness, but the picturesque loch near Inverness is home to much more than the infamous Nessie, a large creature of lore that has been reported in the Loch since the 1930s. Loch Ness is the most voluminous lake in the United Kingdom and offers boat tours and cruises so visitors can try to spot Nessie themselves.
Other attractions around Loch Ness that are worth a stop during your day trip from Glasgow include Fort Augustus, Boleskine Graveyard, the Loch Ness 360 Trail that takes hikers around the expansive loch, and Drumnadrochit. Visitors to Loch Ness can also drive the eighty miles around the loch.
People who are looking for a dog-friendly place to visit from Glasgow can head over to North Berwick, a town known for its pet-friendly atmosphere. Some of the best places to visit in North Berwick include the National Museum of Flight, The Scottish Seabird Center, and The School of Floristry. The beaches in North Berwick are also made handicap accessible for people in wheelchairs through the Beach Wheelchairs that can be found in North Berwick Harbor. Visitors who love history and Scottish culture can visit Tantallon castle, Preston Mill, Dirleton Castle, and the Coastal Communities Museum.
Oban is found on the west coast of Scotland just under three hours from Glasgow and is known for its dramatic coastline and rolling countryside hills. Oban is also surrounded by islands including Kerrera Island where there is ruins of a castle left for visitors to explore. The town is a great place to visit because while compact and walkable on foot, there are many attractions and sites to see including castles, beaches, gardens, forests, art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, museum, a chocolate shop and distillery, and plenty of pubs.
The castles visitors can see in and around Oban include Kilchurn Castle, McCaig’s Tower, Gylen Castle, Dunollie Castle, Castle Stalker, and Dunstaffnage Castle.
Perth is a historic river city as well as the newest city in Scotland. The modern city is known for its live music scene, award-winning restaurants, significant events and festivals, and dozens of local boutiques and independent retailers. Perth is also surrounded by mountains and hills on the River Tay making the city the ideal destination for venturing into the outdoors and going hiking, boating, mountain biking, or walking. One of the best times to visit Perth is during the world-famous annual Winter Festival. The town also holds a unique, magical event where the Christmas lights are all switched on at once.
Some of the best places to visit in Perth include the Black Watch Museum, Loch Leven Castle, The Perth Racecourse, The Crannog Centre, Stanley Mills, Scone Palace, or the Pitlochry Festival Theatre.
Roslin Chapel is one of the most remarkable buildings in the United Kingdom and is found in Roslin, Midlothian, Scotland. The chapel was built in 1446 and is ticketed for visitors. Most people spend between one and two hours at the historic attraction, which also includes a visitor’s center. No photography is allowed inside Rosslyn Chapel however visitors can feel free to take pictures outside of the chapel and the exterior of the chapel. Tours of the chapel are offered daily, and there are often special events and activities happening on the chapel grounds. This attraction is popular for tourists due to Rosslyn Chapel being featured in a popular novel called The Da Vinci Code and the film that followed.
Chapel Loan Road, Roslin, Midlothian, EH25 9PU, Phone: 0-13-14-40-21-59
19.Scottish Owl Centre
People who love raptors can see the most extensive collection of owls in the entire world at the Scottish Owl Centre in West Lothian. Visitors to the Owl Centre can meet more than one hundred owls and even hold one for a photo opportunity. The Centre is organized by region that each owl species comes from including The Boreal Forest, North Pole, Best of British, Rainforest Realm, and Lofty’s Lodge. There are all-weather flying displays with different owls each day and hands-on educational features at the Centre as well. A large outdoor adventure playground is the perfect place to let the kids run around and have a picnic, and there’s a gift shop available with owl souvenirs, toys, and stuffed animals, along with other gift items.
Polkemmet Country Park, Whitburn, West Lothian, EH47 0AD
St. Andrews Scotland is known for fantastic golf courses and St. Andrew’s University, but the history of the historic town goes back to Medieval times and boasts many family-friendly attractions that will transport visitors back in time. There are also many beaches, trails, and public parks to be enjoyed. Visitors interested in history should stop by the 12th century St. Andrew’s Cathedral or the St. Andrew’s Spy Mission Treasure Trail which is an excellent way for kids to learn about the town’s history.
Other great attractions in St. Andrews include the aquarium, St. Andrew’s Museum, any of the world-famous golf courses, take a ghost or food tour, and St. Andrew’s Castle.
Visitor’s wishing to explore ancient battlefields, castles, and learn about Scotland’s most iconic national heroes should visit Stirling, the setting for some of the country’s greatest events. Stirling Castle and the Chapel Royal are one of the main attractions in Stirling along with Argyll’s Lodging, and the 12th century Church of the Holy Rude which is one of the oldest buildings in Stirling. The National William Wallace Monument, a legend made famous globally by the movie Braveheart, is in Stirling as well as Old Town Jail which is only open for a short time during the summer months, and Blair Drummond Safari Park are great attractions to visit with the entire family.
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The Scottish Highlands are one of the most beautiful places in the world, with many villages, and cities you can travel to and find landscapes that have been mostly untouched by modern industrialization. Several cities make up the Highland region including Edinburgh, one of the most visited places in Scotland, home to Edinburg Castle. The Outer Hebrides, not far from Portree is home to the best beaches in Scotland, and the area is great for fishing and spotting eagles, seals, and deer. Visitors are also likely to come across Scottish Whiskey distilleries during their travels, amazing restaurants, and quaint bed and breakfasts. There is also a lot of outdoor recreation in the Highlands, and the famous Scottish golf courses are also a treat to play.
The Lammermuirs is a region of high moorland between East Lothian and Scotland, just outside of Edinburg. The outdoor space is walkable with trails that lead visitors to White Castle, Yester Estate which is through the Pressmennan Woods, as well as river trails. There are several reservoirs that visitors can use for fishing, and the area is popular for geocaching and hill-bagging. The Southern Upland Way crosses through the top of the Lammermuirs. This path was the first coast to coast walking path in Scotland. Herring Road also goes across the Lammermuirs for visitors that wish to drive, rather than walk, through the moorlands.
The Great Trossachs Forest is a regeneration of native woodland project in Loch Lomond within the Trossachs National Park. The area covers 4,400 hectares and woodland that has been naturally regenerated or newly planted. There are several habitats represented in the forest as well, including wetlands, grasslands, scrub, and moorland which creates high biodiversity. Visitors to The Trossachs can walk the Great Trossachs Path, go cycling, or do nature photography or bird watching. Primary schools in the area and beyond also venture to the forest for environmental curriculum and field trips. Downloadable suggested educational programming for use in the forest is available online.
24 Best Glasgow Weekend and Day Trips
- South Ayrshire, Photo: inkwelldodo/stock.adobe.com
- Burntisland, Photo: Armin Lehnhoff/stock.adobe.com
- Bute, Photo: Carole/stock.adobe.com
- Culzean Castle, Photo: Hugh Shaw/stock.adobe.com
- Dundee, Photo: calumsmith0308/stock.adobe.com
- Edinburgh, Photo: Arcady/stock.adobe.com
- Elie and Earlsferry, Photo: pitsch22/stock.adobe.com
- Falkirk, Photo: druffelpit/stock.adobe.com
- Glencoe and Loch Leven, Photo: Richie Chan/stock.adobe.com
- House of Bruar, Photo: Nobilior/stock.adobe.com
- Inveraray, Photo: iagodina/stock.adobe.com
- Kilmarnock, Photo: calumsmith0308/stock.adobe.com
- Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, Photo: Colin & Linda McKie/stock.adobe.com
- Loch Ness, Photo: fotografci/stock.adobe.com
- North Berwick, Photo: JulietPhotography/stock.adobe.com
- Oban, Photo: totajla/stock.adobe.com
- Perth, Photo: chbaum/stock.adobe.com
- Rosslyn Chapel, Photo: chromoprisme/stock.adobe.com
- Scottish Owl Centre, Photo: tom/stock.adobe.com
- St Andrews, Photo: JulietPhotography/stock.adobe.com
- Stirling, Photo: Beautifulblossom/stock.adobe.com
- The Highlands, Photo: Paolo Gallo/stock.adobe.com
- The Lammermuir’s, Photo: photomic/stock.adobe.com
- The Trossachs, Photo: janstria/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Arcady/stock.adobe.com