5 Great Half Day Summer Trips From Edinburgh
Edinburgh is packed with things to do and see and we can guarantee that you won’t be bored when visiting. However, sometimes it is nice to travel a bit outside the city centre and spend some time surrounded by greenery – especially if you have children or you’re staying in Edinburgh for longer.
We love exploring Edinburgh and beyond and have put together a wee list of some of our favourite places to visit that are close enough for a half day trip. Don’t worry if you don’t have a car as you can reach most of these spots with public transport as well.
This gorgeous little coastal town is a must-see with its sandy beaches, adorable streets and pastel coloured houses. There is plenty to do as well, from just relaxing on the beach to shopping, golf and boat trips or a visit to the Scottish Seabird Centre to name a few things. When you get hungry make sure you head to the Rocketeer restaurant at the North Berwick Harbour and get yourself some fresh, local fish & chips or lobster!
How to get there: just jump on one of the frequently departing trains at Waverley Station and enjoy a nice and smooth 30-minute journey that will take you right into North Berwick.
This absolutely beautiful garden in the Pentland Hills is a bit of a secret gem. Little Sparta is the garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay, a Scottish poet, writer, artist and gardener. The garden that contains over 270 artworks is open to the public in June, July, August and September on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday afternoons 2.30-5pm. Dogs aren’t allowed and appropriate footwear is recommended as there is a 700 metre track leading up to the garden from the car park. There is also a £10 admission fee, but trust us, this place is more than worth it!
How to get there: It is very difficult to get here on public transport, so you do need a car. See the driving instructions here. There is also minibus transport on four Fridays in August departing from the Scottish Poetry Library just off the Royal Mile in the Old Town.
Dalkeith Country Park
If you fancy a lovely, relaxing walk in the forest this is the place to go to. The 500-acre Dalkeith Country Park is a popular place for a family outing with walking and cycling routes, picnic areas, fishing and fascinating wildlife. Dogs are welcome too. From the 25th of July the newly renovated Fort Douglas playground will be opening up – a place you’ll struggle to drag your kids away from! The stable yards at the park have also been renovated and is now a great new retail, dining and wellness space called the Restoration Yard.
To enter the park you need a day visitor pass that will only set you back £1 and offer you unlimited 24-hour access. You can buy passes at the Town Gate Kiosk that is open from 9am-5pm seven days a week.
How to get there: The park can easily be reached by car, bus or train. More information here.
This fantastic sculpture park is set in the 100-acre estate that surrounds Bonnington House, a Jacobean manor house. Jupiter Artland has actually been inspired by Little Sparta we mentioned earlier. When visiting you’re given a map of the grounds and the location of the artworks and you’re then allowed to explore the park on your own. There are also horses, donkeys, sheep and a lama that the little ones will love to meet!
Entrance fees for adults are £8,50 and £4,50 for children aged 5-16. The park is open from 14th of May to 25th of September: open every day from 10am to 5pm in July and August and closed Monday-Wednesday in May, June and September. There is also a cafe where you can sample sandwiches, seasonal daily dishes, soup, homemade drinks, coffee, tea and freshly baked cakes.
How to get there: Bus number 27 and X27 will take you straight to the park in around 35 minutes. It is also easy to reach by car, see the instructions here.
For superb views of the iconic Forth bridges, South Queensferry on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth is where you need to go. The Forth bridge is a railway bridge that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and makes an excellent photo. South Queensferry is a picturesque little village by the sea with restaurants and cafes lining the main street. If you want to get up and close to the Forth Bridge there are boat tours available to the bridge as well as to the surrounding islands. Once you’re in the area we also recommend you visit the gorgeous stately homes Dalmeny House and Hopetoun House.
How to get there: You can easily get there by train from Waverley Station, by car in around 30 minutes or by bus 40/40A.
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