Balance your busy days at the Edinburgh Festival
with a bit of down time in the surrounding area
It’s the height of summer in Edinburgh, and it feels like there’s a party around every corner.
Visitors and vehicles fill the The Royal Mile – tour busses crawl up the cobblestones and crowds follow their guides down shadowed alleyways. This is a city whose forgotten stories are awakened by the summer months of the Festivals.
If you’re planning a trip to Edinburgh this August — or you’re a local like me — you might want to broaden your horizons, especially if this is your first time in Scotland.
After a few days being dazzled by the sights and sounds of the capital, why not jump on the train or the bus and see another side to this magical area? Below I’ve suggested three day-trip destinations, all which can be easily reached by public transport from Edinburgh city centre. Sláinte!
Train from Edinburgh Waverley: £6.90 return
A popular weekend destination for city escapees, North Berwick is a colourful and culinary seaside town.
After a quick train journey from Edinburgh through the lush pastures of East Lothian, you can easily spend the day here gorging on home-baking and seafood, peeking into local shops or heading out onto the high seas.
You’ll find the Scottish Seabird Centre on the harbour headland, with new live cameras, interactive exhibitions to occupy the kids, and a variety of cruises out to Bass Rock. And if you don’t have sea legs, enjoy some of the local produce instead! Eateries like the Herringbone, Osteria and the Lobster Shack get a good name – or if you’re more of a cake fan don’t miss Bostock Bakery on the high street.
101 bus from Edinburgh Bus Station to Flotterstone, £2.50 return
Billed as Edinburgh’s mini mountain range, the Pentlands are a collection of rolling hills just a half-hour from the city centre.
The backdrop to the city’s skyline, the Pentlands make an excellent day trip for those nature fanatics who find themselves tempted into town by the festivals’ many distractions. Take the short bus out to Flotterstone, a hamlet at the foot of the hills, and start your walk from the Ranger Centre, where a map points out the different routes. You can either take the low, tarmac road around pretty Glencorse Reservoir — where you’ll spot the local fishermen, and perhaps a bird or two — or instead head left up the slopes of Carnethy Hill (573m) before tackling the Pentland’s highest peak Scald Law (579m).
And once you’ve arrived back down to earth, grab a cold pint and some pub grub at the Flotterstone Inn. Sorted!
Read Patricia’s blog on hiking in the Pentlands here!
Train from Edinburgh Waverley to Dalmeny: from £4.60 return
Another favourite seaside escape for Edinburgh locals, the bright town of South Queensferry perches right on the River Forth underneath the sprawling structures of the three Forth Bridges.
It’s just a short walk downhill from Dalmeny train station and you’ll find yourself right by the water, watching boats buzz back and forward like bees from their harbour hive.
You can either enjoy the holiday buzz of the town by wandering the high street, ogling the pastel colours of the buildings and grabbing an ice cream in one of the cafés (or a fancy meal in Orocco Pier) or alternatively get a different view of Scotland’s capital by heading to sea.
There are regular sailings from the pier over to Inchcolm, often called the ‘Iona of the East’ thanks to its remarkably well-preserved abbey, which is maintained by Historic Scotland.
Take a picnic, enjoy the island’s beaches and imagine the past stories of Inchcolm, just a small slice of Scotland’s enduring mystery.
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