These best road trips near Edinburgh are catered to those craving for adventures away from the Scottish capital. Edinburgh might have the side-splitting theatre events of The Fringe and the UNESCO-listed Old Town, but there are some seriously enticing Scottish wonders all around the capital. Arguably, the best way to see them is with your own wheels.

    Whiz out to the northwest and you'll soon hop from Lowland to Highland. That means a chance to explore the lush fells of The Trossachs or to get lost between the brooding mountains of Glencoe. Meanwhile, there are salt-sprayed beach towns to the east, along with enchanting villages where time seems to have stood still for centuries.

    1

    Glencoe

    See one of Scotland's most photographed glens

    Glencoe is a picturesque village that's around 3 hours' drive from Edinburgh. The trip, which heads northwest through the heart of the country, showcases bucolic Scottish Lowlands and the great castle at Stirling, so there's plenty to look at out the window. You'll know you've arrived when you see the jagged shark-fin summit of Buachaille Etive Mòr peaking on the horizon.

    That's actually just one of the many craggy mountains that enfold this famous Scottish valley. Others include the sinewy Three Sisters and Sgorr na Ciche, all of which you can hike. Boots aside, check out the local Glencoe Folk Museum and be sure to hit the Glencoe Visitor Centre for regional heritage and some stirring Scottish ghost tales.

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    2

    Cairngorms National Park

    Massive mountains and Scottish skiing

    The Cairngorms National Park is a rugged mass of mighty mountains, many of them over 3,000 ft tall. A quintessential corner of the Highlands region, it does require about 2.5 hours on the A9 road heading north. Don't worry as pitstops in Perth and Angus offer plenty along the way.

    When you do arrive, it's really all about the wild backcountry. You can stock up on walking boots in Aviemore before hitting trails to Lairig Ghru or attempting the summits around Ben Macdui. Alternatively, pack the thermals for a winter ski at the Glenshee Resort.

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    3

    Stirling

    A historic city with a legendary citadel

    Stirling is famed around the UK for its soaring, muscular castle. A mere 55 minutes' drive down the edge of the Forth River from the Scottish capital, it's also a favourite day trip from Edinburgh.

    You'll probably see the legendary citadel before you see the town itself. It's perched on a platform of jagged stone above an Old Town area that's got some serious enchantments. Delve in there to get lost in cobbled alleyways and be tempted by fire-warmed pubs. Extra diversions by road could take you to the striking Wallace Monument that looms high on the nearby hills, or even the battlefield of Bannockburn – where the Scots ravaged the English back in 1314.

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    Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

    Scotland's natural side awaits

    Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park offers a real taste of the wild Lowlands and Highlands. It's often considered to mark the divide between those 2 areas of Scotland, accessible within a 2-hour drive from Edinburgh if you take the route through Glasgow. 

    The reserve is simply stunning. It encompasses lush meadows where mooing highland cows pose for photos. There are 3000-ft-high Munro mountains to climb. And there's Loch Lomond itself, speckled with islands and ringed by walking paths. Don't miss the crumbling shell of Kilchurn Castle on the western edge of The Trossachs – it's incredibly photogenic. 

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    Linlithgow Palace

    Tread in the footsteps of Scottish monarchs

    Linlithgow Palace is one of the most fascinating historic attractions in the Edinburgh region. It's perched on the edge of little Linlithgow Loch, about 18 miles directly west of the capital. The drive takes just shy of 40 minutes in total but does offer a chance to take in the fresh country air of rustic West Lothian.

    What you get to see is one of the great residences of the Scottish kings and queens. Linlithgow Palace hit a heyday in the 15th and 16th centuries – it was the actual birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots in 1542. Today, you'll be able to tour the fortifications and citadel, including the old wine cellars, the Great Hall and the regal Royal Tower.

    Lokalizacja: Kirkgate, Linlithgow EH49 7AL, UK

    Otwarte: Tuesday–Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm (closed on Sundays and Mondays)

    Telefon: +44 (0)1506 842896

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    6

    St Andrews

    Golf shots and university halls

    St Andrews is a household name in the golfing world. Clutching the windblown coast of eastern Scotland around 1.5 hours' drive from the city, it boasts arguably the most famous course in the whole of the UK. It's called, simply, the Old Course, and regularly hosts major global tournaments.

    There's also an acclaimed university here, the third most venerable in the UK, no less. That means oodles of cultural pursuits on top of the holes in one. To dive right in, check out the ruins of haunting St Andrews Castle and the local heritage collection at the St Andrews Museum.

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    7

    Galloway Forest Park

    Stargazing under forest canopies

    The Galloway Forest Park is hailed as the largest tract of untouched woodland in the UK. You'll find its 299 square miles spreading through the heart of Dumfries and Galloway, around 87 miles southwest of Edinburgh. The fastest route in is via Glasgow, but there's a far more scenic option that whisks you through South Lanarkshire and doesn't take much longer.

    The park itself is a patchwork of deep-blue lakes and high fells. It's often called the "Highlands of the Lowlands" for its big ridges, but there are still some family hiking paths to get stuck into. If you can, be sure to spend a night nearby – this is an official Dark Sky Park, and the stargazing is second to none.

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    8

    East Lothian

    Rolling countryside and stark castles by the sea

    East Lothian is an easy day-trip drive from downtown Edinburgh. It's the council area that starts right on the edge of the city and stretches along the shoreline to where the Firth of Forth meets the North Sea. Getting there takes just 20 minutes or so from the Old Town district in the capital.

    What awaits is a land of rolling farm fields and hay-scented country roads, occasionally interrupted by a rocky fell or a twisted oak tree. The coast is where the real treat lies in East Lothian, though. Head to villages like Dunbar or North Berwick to dine on lovely seafood. Or, make for half-ruined Tantallon Castle to unravel tales of old-school Scottish nobles from centuries ago.

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    9

    Peebles

    A chocolate-box town in Scotland

    Peebles straddles the gurgling River Tweed little more than 45 minutes' drive south of Edinburgh. It's a short road trip to get there down the A703, but it does mean swapping the bustling city for the calm of the backcountry Lowlands.

    Life is slow and relaxed in this historic village. Considered by many to be one of the most attractive spots in the country, Peebles is a jumble of Neo-Gothic churches and hardy stone cottages set under hills dashed with pine forests. Hearty gastropubs are on offer next to boutique tearooms, but there's also trekking and an annual jazz fest in spring.

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    10

    Fife

    For fun on the coast

    Fife is a historic county that spreads north along the coast of the Firth of Forth. You can actually see the region from some parts of Edinburgh, so a 20-minute drive over the Queensferry Crossing is enough to kick-start this particular road trip. However, some will choose to begin at the Kincardine Bridge deeper inland, for a fuller enjoyment of the Fife shoreline.

    Whichever you choose, you can look forward to a journey through aged towns like the Royal Burgh of Culross, where yellow-tinged palaces date back to the times of the Bruces in the 1500s. Seafarers should also be sure to pencil in a stop at the Scottish Fisheries Museum and the series of salty hamlets in East Neuk, which have some of the country's top seafood restaurants.

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    Joseph Francis | Autor

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