While the list of things to do in Glasgow is extensive, Scotland’s largest city is also an ideal base for taking some great day trips to explore the breathtaking countryside, bustling towns and peaceful villages of Scotland.
From the serene beauty of Loch Lomond to the crowded streets of Edinburgh – there are plenty of exciting places to visit near Glasgow.
With frequent trains leaving from two main train stations and a well-connected network of buses – planning the day trip couldn’t be any easier.
So, when you get knackered after visiting the fascinating museums, exploring all the colourful street arts on Glasgow Mural Trail and discovering the hidden gems, venture out of the city to see a different side of Scotland.
This article brings together some of the best day trips you can take alongside the information on how to get here. So, add a few of them to your Glasgow itinerary on your next visit.
Day trips less than one hour from Glasgow
1. Loch Lomond
You can’t visit Glasgow and not take a day trip to the stunningly gorgeous Loch Lomond. From scenic boat tours to numerous hiking trails – this area is a nature lovers’ paradise. With easy public transport options, you can easily escape the hubbub of Glasgow and spend a day in nature.
Meander along the pretty village streets and the pier. The streets are adorned with quaint cottages with small gardens, which look very photogenic. Also, this village is a popular site for water sports and adventure activities.
Next, take a relaxing boat cruise around the lake to appreciate the beauty of Loch Lomond and the surrounding landscapes. Also, peel your eyes for wildlife.
Boat trips pass small islands, castles and villages along the shoreline. Balloch, Balmaha and Luss are popular places to catch a boat tour.
For an awe-inspiring view over Loch Lomond, climb the Conic Hill from Balmaha. Expert hikers might be interested in trekking the mighty Ben Lomond, Scotland’s most southerly Munro.
How to Reach: Getting here using public transport is super easy and budget-friendly. Hop on ScotRail train service from Glasgow Queen Street to Balloch, which takes around 48 minutes. Otherwise, take a Scottish Citylink bus from Buchanan Bus Station.
No visit to Scotland is complete without seeing its capital city of Edinburgh. The Old and New Town of Edinburgh were added to the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1995. This city is unarguably one of the unmissable day trip choices from Glasgow.
Start your adventure with the iconic Edinburgh Castle. This 900-year-old castle sits atop an extinct volcanic rock and houses the oldest Crown Jewel in Britain.
Next, meander along the cobbled streets of Royal Mile to explore the historic buildings. Marvel at Scott Monument – a memorial dedicated to renowned Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. Climb Arthur’s Seat for the best views of the Edinburgh skyline.
For all Harry Potter fans, a visit to the colourful Victoria Street and Greyfriars Kirkyard is a must. A slight detour to Dean Village and Stockbridge will show you a unique side of the city. End your day with a beautiful sunset over Edinburgh from Calton Hill, before heading back to Glasgow.
How to Reach: Scottish Citylink and Megabus runs regular bus services from Buchanan Bus Station. At peak hours, the bus leaves every 15 minutes.
Also, you can catch trains from Glasgow Queen Street and Central stations, which take around 45 minutes.
Steeped in centuries of riveting history, Stirling is an excellent day trip option for all history lovers visiting Glasgow. It takes only 25 minutes to drive here. Also, you can easily reach Stirling by public transport.
One of the main attractions in Stirling is the mighty Stirling Castle. Perched over a volcanic rocky hill, Stirling Castle is one of the oldest castles in Scotland. It once served as the home for Scottish kings and queens.
Today, you can explore the Great Hall, the Royal Chapel and the Royal Palace. Also, you will get an amazing view of the surrounding landscapes from here.
Battle of Stirling Bridge and Battle of Bannockburn – two famous battles of Scottish history were fought near the close vicinity of this castle.
Meander around the Old Town Cemetery and The Church of the Holy Rude adjacent to the castle. Also, you can follow The Back Walk, a dedicated scenic pathway along the old town walls of Stirling.
Another must-see landmark in Stirling is the National Wallace Monument. The 220-foot tall tower is dedicated to William Wallace, a national hero of Scotland.
How to Reach: Trains from Glasgow Queens Street Station take about 30 minutes to get to Stirling. Alternatively, you can catch a bus from Buchanan Bus Station.
4. Falkirk & Linlithgow
Falkirk makes a great day out from Glasgow by train. The Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies are two main tourist attractions in Falkirk.
The Falkirk Wheel is the world’s only rotating boat lift connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. You can enjoy boat rides and various water-based sports activities. If you want to stretch your legs, walk to the nearby Antonine Wall. Built by the Romans around AD142, the Antonine Wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The walk is clearly signposted.
The Kelpies are two gigantic horse-head metal sculptures. Created by reputed Scottish sculptor Andy Scott, this iconic structure is located in Helix Park. It’s a reminder of the horse-driven industrial heritage of this area.
Linlithgow is just a 9-minute train ride from Falkirk. The historic ruins of Linlithgow Palace attract tourists to this pretty town. It is the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, one of the most prominent figures in Scottish history. Also, it served as a royal residence in the 15th and 16th centuries.
How to Reach: Trains run regularly between Glasgow Queens Street and Falkirk High Station. It takes only 20 minutes. There are bus and train connections between Falkirk and Linlithgow.
Ayrshire is a popular destination for day-trippers from Glasgow. It is famous for its stunning coastline, numerous golf courses and its connection with Robert Burns, the national poet of Scotland.
You can visit the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in the village of Alloway. Inside the museum, you will find several artefacts, manuscripts and artworks. You can also see the small cottage where he was born and raised. Meander around the Alloway Auld Kirk and Brig O’ Doon, immortalised in the poet’s work.
Ayrshire is also home to the famous Culzean Castle, one of the most picturesque castles in Scotland. Designed by Robert Adam in the late 18th century, this castle sits inside a large country park.
Before heading back to Glasgow, ramble around Ayr town centre. This seaside town has a long sandy beach, which is perfect for sunbathing, swimming and building sandcastles.
How to Reach: Trains from Glasgow usually take about 50 minutes to get to Ayr. Also, there is a bus service operated by Stagecoach.
6. New Lanark
This day trip from Glasgow is perfect for all history and heritage enthusiasts. In 1786, David Dale built cotton mills and housing in New Lanark by the River Clyde. Later, under the pioneering Robert Owen, the mills flourished. He implemented many revolutionary ideas that were way ahead of his time. The mills operated until 1968.
Visitors can explore and learn about the history of these 200-year-old restored mills and houses. In 2001, UNESCO added this historic place to their list of World Heritage Sites. New Lanark is now one of the six UNESCO sites in Scotland.
While here, take a short woodland walk to see the magical Falls of Clyde, stunning cascading waterfalls. Also, watch out for the wildlife.
If you are a keen walker or mountain biker, follow the Clyde Walkway, which goes through this village.
How to Reach: From Glasgow Central Station, catch a train to Lanark, which takes about an hour. Once there, you can hop on a local bus or walk around 1.3 miles to get to the New Lanark Visitor Centre.
Day trips between one to two hours from Edinburgh
Nestled on the bank of Loch Fyne, Inveraray is one of the most charming small towns in Scotland. Also, it is one of our favourite day trip destinations from Glasgow.
One of the main tourist attractions in Inveraray is the magnificent Inveraray Castle. It is one of the most beautiful castles in Scotland and the ancestral home of the chief of Clan Campbell. The castle is usually open from April to October. Take a tour of this green castle to learn about its colourful past.
After visiting the castle, climb to the nearby Dun Na Cuaiche Viewpoint. This walking circuit is properly waymarked and takes about two hours to complete. From the top, admire the breathtaking panoramic view over Loch Fyne, the surrounding mountains, and the town.
Next, meander along the shore of Loch Fyne, the longest sea loch in Scotland. Look out for the beautiful Inveraray War Memorial. Sit on one of the benches near the loch and enjoy the tranquillity of nature.
Also, pop into the quaint white-washed independent shops, cafes and restaurants in the town centre.
How to Reach: Catch CityLink bus service 926 or 976 from Glasgow Buchanan Bus Station. It typically takes around 1 hour and 50 minutes to reach Inveraray. By car, it takes about an hour and a half from Glasgow.
With frequent train services from Glasgow Queen Street Station, a day trip to Dundee is super easy. Home to the V&A, Dundee is famous for its ‘jute, jam and journalism’ and industrial past. Opened in 2018, the visually striking building of V&A Dundee displays art and designs from Scotland. Also, it is the first V&A museum to exist outside of London.
Right next to the museum, stands the RSS Discovery – the historical ship that took Captain Scott to Antarctica. Inside, you will find extensive galleries, video and film shows, and artefacts used by the crew in their voyages. Also, take a leisurely stroll along the gorgeous waterfront of Dundee.
Next, walk towards the city centre. Watch out for the Desperate Dan Statue on the High Street. Visit the McManus, Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum to see a superb collection of fine arts. The stunning Gothic-Revival architecture of the exterior is very photogenic as well.
Climb the Dundee Law for a stunning view over the city skyline and the River Tay.
If you are not too short on time, we recommend a visit to the nearby Broughty Ferry and Glamis Castle.
How to Reach: It takes around one and a half hours from Glasgow by train.
9. Isle of Arran
The Isle of Arran is an incredibly beautiful island in the Firth of Clyde. Known as “Scotland in Miniature”, this island is an epic day trip choice from Glasgow. It showcases all the best things of Scotland in a nutshell – dramatic mountain peaks, castles, scenic coastlines, waterfalls, distilleries and quaint little villages.
It might be a small island, but there is so much to keep you busy. Brodick is the main town of Arran. You will find many shops and restaurants there. History lovers will like a tour of Brodick Castle. It was once home to the powerful Dukes of Hamilton.
There are many hiking trails around the island suitable for all levels. Experienced hikers can climb Goat Fell, the highest mountain on the Isle of Arran. For beginners, we recommend a walk to Machrie Moor stone circles, Glen Sannox and King’s Cave circuit.
One of our favourite places on this island is Lochranza. Located in the northern part of Arran, Lochranza has a ruined castle, a distillery, red deer and stunning views over to the Firth of Clyde.
How to reach: Board a train from Glasgow Central Station to Ardrossan Harbour, which takes about 45 minutes. From Ardrossan, hop on a CalMac ferry to Brodick in Arran. The crossing takes around 25 minutes.
10. St Abbs, Scottish Border
You can add this picturesque fishing village to your road trip itinerary down the North Sea coast of Scotland. While getting to St Abbs using public transport is quite time-consuming, it is a perfect place for a wee day trip from Glasgow by car.
St Abbs was featured in Avengers: Endgame movie and a Harry Styles music video. It is famous for its rugged coastline, abundance of wildlife, eye-catching views and various nature trails.
From the village, follow the waymarked path to see the seabird colony and a scenic lighthouse on St Abbs Head National Nature Reserve. The circular circuit takes around two hours to complete.
You can also take a wildlife boat tour departing from the village harbour.
Before leaving St Abbs, don’t forget to sample some delicious freshly caught seafood at Ebbcarrs Cafe, near the harbour.
How to Reach: From Glasgow, it typically takes about an hour and forty minutes to get to St Abbs by car.
11. Isle of Bute
Regarded as one of the most accessible Scottish islands, the Isle of Bute is a great choice for spending a day out from Glasgow.
Rothesay is the largest town on the island and a charming Victorian seaside resort. The main ferry terminal on the island is also located here. Take a ramble around the marina and admire the waterfront.
One of the main tourist attractions of the town is the Rothesay Castle. It dates back to the early 13th century. Built by the influential Stewart family, this ruined castle was once a royal residence.
Next, take a local bus to visit the magnificent Mount Stuart, a neo-gothic mansion. This 19th-century country house was designed by Scottish architect Sir Robert Rowand Anderson. Also, it is the ancestral home of the Marquesses of Bute. Take a tour of the house to explore the grand interior of Mount Stuart. Later, take a walk around the extensive gardens.
Before catching a return ferry, climb the Canada Hill viewpoint at Rothesay for a spectacular view of the town and the bay.
How to Reach: From Glasgow, catch a train to Wemyss Bay. Next, hop on a ferry to Rothesay, which takes only 35 minutes.
12. Largs and Great Cumbrae
Leave behind the hustle and bustle of Glasgow to enjoy a relaxing day trip in nature. Largs is a beautiful seaside town on the west coast of Scotland. Start your adventure with a walk along the lovely promenade. Lined with several restaurants, ice-cream shops and amusement centres, it is a vibrant place.
To learn the Viking heritage of Largs, visit Viking!, an interactive experience. Also, you can participate in the Largs Viking Festival held every year in early September.
Located on the outskirts of Largs, Kelburn Castle is one of the most unusual castles in Scotland. The exterior of this 13th-century castle is painted in bright and bold designs by Brazilian graffiti artists.
The Isle of Cumbrae is just a short ferry ride from Largs. Millport is the main town of the island and boasts stunning coastal views. Watch out for the Crocodile Rock, a beloved Cumbrae landmark. This island has a range of walking, cycling and kayaking opportunities.
How to Reach: Trains from Glasgow Central Station take about an hour to reach Largs. From Largs, the ferry crossing to Cumbrae takes only ten minutes.
13. Falkland & Culross
For all Outlander fans visiting Glasgow, this day trip is a must. You will get to explore two famous Outlander filming locations in Scotland.
Culross is one of the prettiest historic villages in Scotland. Take a wander along the winding cobbled streets of this beautifully preserved village. Take a tour of the Culross Palace to learn its fascinating history. You will get a breathtaking view of the village and the Forth of Firth from the top of the Culross Palace garden.
Nestled at the foothill of the Lomond Hills in Fife, the pretty village of Falkland has appeared many times in the Outlander TV series. Falkland was shown as the city of Inverness, where Claire and Frank went for their second honeymoon.
One of the main tourist attractions of this village is the historic Falkland Palace & Garden. It served as the royal residence of several Scottish Kings and queens. Also, this royal dwelling was a firm favourite with the Mary, Queen of Scots. Also, you will find the world’s oldest surviving real tennis court inside the palace.
How to Reach: Although there is public transport available for both the places, they are quite time-consuming. So, a car is preferable for this particular day trip. From Glasgow, it takes only an hour to drive to Falkland.
Day trips over Two hours from Edinburgh
14. Glen Coe and Fort William
A road trip to Fort William via Glen Coe takes around two and a half hours from Glasgow. So, it’s a tempting day trip option to explore one of the most beautiful corners of Scotland.
Glen Coe is world-famous for its dramatic scenery, wild and rugged landscape, diverse wildlife and tragic past. There are many hiking trails around. You can stop at various viewpoints to take in the breathtaking vistas. Also, this area appeared in several blockbuster movies, like Harry Potter, Braveheart and Skyfall.
Known as the outdoor capital of Scotland, Fort William is the home of the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis. There are a variety of things to do in Fort William.
Also, Fort William sits on the famous West Highland Line. It is renowned for being one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. The train line starts from Glasgow Queen Street station and continues to Mallaig through the Harry Potter famed Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Instead of a day trip, we recommend spending the night in Fort William and extending your trip to the magical Isle of Skye via a ferry from Mallaig, about 40 miles from Fort William.
15. Loch Ness
Home of the notorious Loch Ness monster, Loch Ness is undoubtedly one of the most famous tourist attractions in Scotland.
If you are short on time, a day trip to Loch Ness from Glasgow may not be the craziest idea. Although, we would recommend using a car instead of public transport to maximise your time here.
Located on the bank of Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle is one of the most-visited castles in Scotland. Take a tour of the castle to discover the fascinating past of this historic fortress. Also, admire a stunning view over Loch Ness from here.
Take a boat tour to enjoy the natural beauty of the lake and the surrounding landscapes. Who knows, you might even spot Nessie. That would surely make a very memorable day trip.
Before driving back to Glasgow, stroll around the tiny village of Fort Augustus.
If you have more time, spend the night in Inverness, known as the capital of the Highlands.
Map of the Day Trips from Glasgow
Here is a map of all the amazing places mentioned in this article. Click on the link to save the Google Map on your phone, which you can use later. It also works when you are offline.