Squeezing around the city’s busy tourist hotspots may not be top of your priority list when you make your trip to Edinburgh.
We understand, and we want you to know that there are plenty of places to visit far away from the crowds. From the stunning Linlithgow Palace to the west to the tranquil beaches and fishing villages to the east, we have an itinerary that will help you unwind and take in some breath-taking scenery during your visit to Edinburgh.
The magnificent ruins of Linlithgow Palace are well worth a visit. The birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, this was a place for the Royals to break their journey between Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle.
While there you will gain insights into the domestic life of Scottish royalty, admire some elegant architecture, take in some fantastic views across to the Forth Bridges and explore the peaceful grounds and loch.
Only 20 minutes on the train (or a 40 minute drive) from Edinburgh, this Palace is certainly worth a visit, and definitely more tranquil (and just as fascinating) as Edinburgh Castle.
Located in Falkirk, a 45-minute drive from Edinburgh, Helix Park is famous for its giant steel horse heads (The Kelpies) standing at almost 100 feet tall. These impressive structures sit by the Forth and Clyde canal and form part of the Big Lottery funded Helix Park, a huge greenspace with over 27km of path networks.
The space is shared by cyclists, runners and dog walkers, but with wide and flat paths, there is room for everyone. After exploring The Kelpies and the surrounding park, you can reward yourself with a coffee and cake at the Kelpies Visitor Centre.
East Lothian Beaches
You may have walked along Portobello Beach during a previous visit to Edinburgh but did you know that East Lothian has some truly breath taking beaches that are well worth visiting. Half an hour’s drive east of Edinburgh is the village of Aberlady. Alternatively, the number 124 East Coast bus from Princes Street will take you here in less than an hour. Here you will find Aberlady Local Nature Reserve, a haven for a wide range of birds. From salt marshes to sand dunes, this reserve is a wonderfully tranquil escape from the city. Please note, dogs cannot be walked in this reserve due to the potential of nesting or roosting birds.
A little further east sits the pretty town of Gullane (also on the number 124 bus route), best known for its golf courses -Ronnie Corbett reputedly played golf here regularly. Gullane also boasts a magnificent sandy beach with glorious views across the Firth of Forth. This vast beach offers peaceful walks even on busy days.
Slightly further east from Gullane lies the picturesque fishing village of North Berwick. The number 124 bus terminates here, alternatively a direct train from Edinburgh takes around half an hour. This small town is popular with locals during the summer and boasts a lovely beach with views out to the imposing Bass Rock (home to the world’s largest Northern Gannet population). The Scottish Seabird Centre offers boat trips around the nearby islands (including Bass Rock) to get a closer look at some of the wildlife. https://www.seabird.org/index.php
Overlooking North Berwick is Berwick Law, similar to Arthur’s Seat in that it is formed from volcanic rock. A walk to the top of this hill offers some spectacular views across the village and beyond, back across to Edinburgh and out across the Forth over to Fife.
Sitting a short distance south of Edinburgh is the historic Rosslyn Chapel, just outside the village of Rosslyn, easily accessed by the number 37 Lothian Bus from Princes Street. Founded in 1446, this place of worship has been a popular place to visit for generations. The chapel was placed firmly on the map after it was included in Dan Brown’s novel (and subsequent film), The Da Vinci Code.
The architecture and carvings have inspired generations of buildings over the past few hundred years. In 1592 the altars were destroyed as part of the Reformation, and it ceased to be used as a house of prayer. Rosslyn Castle was sacked by Oliver Cromwell in 1650 but the Chapel was spared and used for stabling his army’s horses. In the 1730s the Chapel was glazed and the roof repaired. Due to the wild landscape and overgrown ruin of the Chapel, poets and writers (including Robert Burns) were drawn to visit and write about the Chapel. In 1842 Queen Victoria visited the Chapel, stating it should be preserved for the country. The Chapel was restored and Sunday services started again in 1862. More restoration work was undertaken in the 1950s and in 1995 the Rosslyn Chapel Trust was formed to take care of the Chapel on an ongoing basis.
It is worth taking the trip out to this historic, well-loved Chapel with such a storied past.
Dr Neil’s Garden
Off the beaten track, and behind the famous Arthur’s Seat, sits the ancient suburb of Duddingston. Sitting on the banks of Duddingston Loch it is an oasis of calm not far from the city centre.
Dr Neil’s Garden (also known as The Secret Garden), is a peaceful spot to explore after the hustle and bustle of the city. A lot of work has gone into the making of this garden. This little known gem is open to everyone seven days a week. A visit to this garden followed by a walk around the Loch allow you to see a much quieter, natural side to Edinburgh.