11 of the best places to visit near Edinburgh

Just 25 miles outside of busy central Edinburgh, North Berwick feels like another world.
Just 25 miles outside of busy central Edinburgh, North Berwick feels like another world.

Escape city life for the day and explore the outskirts of Edinburgh to discover some of Scotland's hidden gems.

Some of Scotland’s best towns, villages and country spots are all located within an hour or two of Edinburgh, writes Gillian McDonald.

Roslin

The village of Roslin is best known for its association with the Holy Grail, which was supposedly hidden in a secret vault inside Rosslyn Chapel.

The elaborately carved chapel is well worth a visit, as are the nearby ruins of Roslin Castle and the surrounding grounds.

READ MORE: The top 5 things to see in Edinburgh

South Queensferry

Located beneath the iconic Forth bridges, South Queensferry is a charming waterfront village.

Enjoy a pub lunch or coffee in the village before heading out for a cruise on the Maid of the Forth boat.

Alternatively, venture further out to explore the stately homes of Hopetoun House and Dundas Castle.

Linlithgow

Just 20 miles outside of Edinburgh sits Linlithgow, a historical royal burgh in West Lothian.

The main attraction here is Linlithgow Palace (the birthplace of James V and Mary Queen of Scots, and an important historical residence), and the picturesque Linlithgow Loch and Peel is perfect for a stroll.

Dalkeith Country Park

With lots to see and do for the whole family, Dalkeith Country Park is ideal for a day out not too far from Edinburgh.

There are lots of walking and cycling trails around the estate, as well as activities such as archery, fishing, zorbing and ranger-led wildlife spotting.

The park is also home to Restoration Yard, a shop and cafe specialising in local produce and luxury gifts.

Falkirk

The Union Canal runs all the way from Fountainbridge in Edinburgh to the Falkirk Wheel - a unique rotating boat lift which connects the Union to the Forth and Clyde Canal.

As well as a visitor centre, water play park, boat trips, canoeing and a children’s activity zone, you’ll also find the iconic Kelpies sculptures nearby – with a ‘Selfie Trail’ guiding visitors between the two attractions.

St Andrews

Head over to Fife and you’ll find an array of pretty fishing villages near the coast, as well as the historic town of St Andrews.

From playing a round of golf to visiting the ancient university and exploring the town's ruined cathedral, there’s plenty to see and do.

St Andrews is also home to lots of great restaurants, offering everything from fine dining to fish and chips.

There are also several luxury hotels, in case you fancy making a weekend of it.

Pentland Hills

The Pentland Hills (a regional park south-west of Edinburgh) are full of trails for walkers and cyclists.

There's a lot of stunning wilderness to explore here, with a variety of routes suitable for casual walkers as well as dedicated mountaineers.

As well as facilities for fishing, camping and orienteering, the park also has its own alpaca sanctuary.

READ MORE: All of the museums and galleries you can visit for free in Edinburgh

Peebles

On the banks of the River Tweed lies Peebles, a picturesque royal burgh in the heart of the Scottish Borders.

In the town itself, you’ll find plenty of cafes, restaurants and independent shops, as well as the Tweeddale Museum and Gallery and the John Buchan Story, all about the life of the famous Scottish author.

Nearby, there are rural woodland trails for walking and cycling, plus the beautiful Dawyck Botanic Garden and Neidpath Castle.

North Berwick

Just 25 miles from Edinburgh, the seaside town of North Berwick is perfect for a day out.

As well as beautiful sandy beaches and rolling countryside, there are also plenty of attractions in the area, including golf courses, Tantallon Castle and North Berwick Law.

The Scottish Seabird Centre is worth a visit to learn about the local wildlife, and boat trips out to the iconic Bass Rock are also available.

Vogrie Country Park

Near the village of Gorebridge is Vogrie Country Park, which encompasses 105 hectares of woods and parkland, as well as an impressive Victorian mansion.

There are over 11 miles worth of trails to explore by foot, bicycle or horse, and there’s also an adventure playpark, miniature railway, nine-hole golf course and cafe.

St Abbs

The small, picturesque fishing village of St Abbs is located on the Berwickshire coast, in an area well known for its rugged landscape and wildlife.

After learning about the people, history and culture of the area in the St Abbs Visitor Centre, take a walk along the coastline to spot some local marine wildlife.

Finish off your day with some well-earned fresh fish and chips by the water.