Scotland is a magnificent country that offers year-round fun. Whether you’re staying in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Inverness, or Edinburgh, you’ll find a range of day trips that you can easily reach in your hire car. From historic castles to fun-filled theme parks, Scotland is a country that caters to all types. Add in sublime hiking areas, unbeatable golf courses, and breathtaking national parks, and you’ll be all set for the trip of a lifetime. Create more flexibility for your day trip in Scotland with a car hire from SIXT, and travel at your own pace throughout.
1. Loch Ness
- Distance from Inverness: 9 miles
- Great for: Kayaking
Known for the famous mythical creature Nessie, Loch Ness is a must-visit for any day-tripper in Scotland. One area to visit is Dores, a quaint village on the shore of the loch. The village boasts its own beach, which offers an opportunity to paddleboard, kayak, and swim. Within the village you’ll find a range of tasty eateries too, so you can take a break from your water activities.
To drive to Dores take the B862 from Inverness, which only takes about 20min. Other great locations on the loch are also only a short drive away if you take the B852 along the shoreline from Dores.
SIXT’s top tip: If you want to see the entire loch, you can drive around it in about 2h 30min. This is a stunning mini road trip that rewards you with beautiful scenery.
2. St Andrews
- Distance from Dundee: 14 miles
- Great for: Golf
Fancy practicing your golf swing? There is no better place to do so than at St Andrews Golf Course. One of the most iconic courses on the world circuit, it has played host to prestigious tournaments and leading golf stars. With seven courses to satisfy your golfing needs, you’ll be able to follow in the footsteps of golfing legends. Boasting stunning scenery throughout, you’ll find it hard to tear yourself away from the green come the end of the day.
From Dundee, you need to take the A91 to St Andrews. This takes just under 30min, so you’ll be teeing off in no time.
SIXT’s top tip: Before you visit make sure you book your slot, as it can get busy during peak season.
3. Isle of Skye
- Distance from Inverness: 105 miles
- Great for: Island adventure
One of our longer day trips, depending on where you are travelling from, is the Isle of Skye. From Inverness, the journey time is around 2h 30min, so it is best to set off early. The isle offers breathtaking scenery, quaint villages, pristine beaches, and much more. With a range of activities for children too, such as visiting the Giant Angus Macaskill Museum, the Isle of Skye makes for the perfect family getaway.
From Inverness, take the A835 before joining the A832 towards Achnasheen, where you’ll change to the A890 to Auchtertyre. From here, the A87 takes you to the Isle of Skye.
SIXT’s top tip: During the journey, you’ll be spoilt with beautiful backdrops. Stop along the way at Loch Dughaill where you can stretch your legs and get some fresh air.
4. M&D’s Scotland theme park
- Distance from Glasgow: 13 miles
- Great for: Thrill seekers
Get your heart racing and head to one of Scotland’s most popular theme parks. M&D’s Scotland theme park is close to both Edinburgh and Glasgow, so it is ideal for if you’re having a city break. With a range of rides for all ages, this is great family day out that is sure to put a smile on everyone’s face. Kids can enjoy soft play areas, gaming zones, and a crazy golf section, so you’ll find it easy to keep younger ones entertained too.
From Glasgow, take the M74 all the way to the theme park. This takes in the region of 25min, so it is a wonderful day trip if you are short on time.
SIXT’s top tip: There are lots of food and drink areas for you to enjoy within the theme park, but you can also take a picnic should you want to keep costs down.
5. Five Sisters Zoo
- Distance from Edinburgh: 22 miles
- Great for: Animal lovers
If you want to enjoy a day trip in Scotland with animals, then look no further than Five Sisters Zoo. Close to both Edinburgh and Glasgow, it is the perfect day trip from one of these cities. With a selection of great animals, such as lions and bears, your kids (and you) will love finding out more about the species. You can also take part in activities, such as being a zookeeper for the day, which gives a great insight into the upkeep of the animals.
From Edinburgh, it is easy to get to the zoo. Take the A71, which takes just under 1 hour, until you reach your destination.
SIXT’s top tip: If your little ones need to burn off some energy whilst at the zoo, you can take them to the Leaping Lemurs Soft Play area, where they can have loads of fun.
6. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
- Distance from Glasgow: 28 miles
- Great for: Hiking
Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for the day, with a trip to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Here you can enjoy a range of hiking routes suitable for all fitness levels. Offering beautiful scenery along the way, several lochs, and luscious landscapes, any visitor will find it the perfect escape.
The best bit is that you can reach this peaceful setting in under 1 hour from Glasgow. Just follow the M8 and A82 northbound from the city.
SIXT’s top tip: Whilst there are restaurants and shops close to the park, the area is rural in general. So, make sure you have provisions to keep you well-fuelled for your trip.
7. Balmoral Castle
- Distance from Aberdeen: 49 miles
- Great for: Historic castle
A holiday to Scotland isn’t complete without a day trip to one of its many castles. One of the most notable is Balmoral Castle in the Cairngorms National Park. A castle owned by the Queen, it’s the perfect place to pretend to be royalty for the day. Whilst visiting you can enjoy a guided tour of the grounds of this 19th-century building.
You can get to the castle from Aberdeen with ease. Take the A944 and B9119 until the road turns into the B9125. Then take the A980 towards Mid Beltie. Here you need to take the B998 turn off until you reach the A93, which completes your journey.
SIXT’s top tip: Along the way you can stop at some iconic landmarks, like Abergeldie Castle and Dess Waterfall, so ensure you have time to stop off during your journey.
8. Glenshee Ski Centre
- Distance from Dundee: 41 miles
- Great for: Winter fun
Scotland is also a beautiful place for winter sports, with the Glenshee Ski Centre being one of the most notable resorts. Boasting 22 lifts and 36 slopes, skiers of all levels will be able to enjoy an active day out. During your adrenaline-fuelled day, you can stop at the Cairnwell Café, located at the top of the ski area, where you can sip on a cup of tea, or something stronger.
To get to the ski centre from Dundee, take the A923 and B954 to Alyth. Here continue northwest until you reach the A93, which takes you the rest of the way.
SIXT’s top tip: Whilst it’s great for winter sports, during the summer you can also make the most out of the summer chairlift for walks and stunning panoramic views.
9. Coldingham Bay
- Distance from Edinburgh: 47 miles
- Great for: Beach lovers
Whether you are looking to enjoy a dip in the invigorating Scottish waters, go surfing, or just take a stroll along the coast, there are some amazing beaches in Scotland. One such beach is Coldingham Bay, which is only a short trip from Edinburgh. A wonderful place for kids too, they can enjoy hunting for hermit crabs and other ocean wildlife in the many pristine rock pools. With a range of food and drink options close by, Coldingham is a stunning location.
To get to the beach, follow the A1 along the coast to Old Cambus. From here you will need to join the A1107 to Coldingham.
SIXT’s top tip: Eyemouth Fairy Trail is only a 10min drive down the coast from the beach, which offers a beautiful hiking trail if you want to mix it up a bit.
- Distance from Dundee: 23 miles
- Great for: Historic city fans
Known for being the gateway to the highlands, the city of Perth is also a fun option for anyone who wants to explore a historic city. With a range of great activities on offer, such as visiting Huntingtower Castle, The Black Watch Castle, and Museum, or Perth Museum and Art Gallery, you will find it easy to fill your itinerary for the day.
The journey from Dundee to Perth is an easy one. Take the A90 to your destination in approximately 35min.
SIXT’s top tip: If you want to explore the city of Perth for longer, you can choose from a range of accommodation options to make it a longer trip. The Royal George Hotel has stunning river views and has been operating since the 18th century, so is a great option for history lovers.