Located on the banks of the River Clyde, Glasgow is a storied city with a fascinating history as a shipbuilding hub. It’s home to outstanding museums and cultural museums that make it worthy of an extended stay while serving as a base for discovering some of Scotland’s most enchanting destinations.
In this guide, we’ll share five of the top places to visit as a day trip from Glasgow, whether you’re into nature, history or whiskey tasting. After a long day of sightseeing, hiking and scenic drives, you can return to discover the legendary dining and entertainment scene in Scotland’s cultural heartland. When it comes to Glasgow accommodation, you’ll find inspiration via online rental platforms such as rentola.co.uk, which offer everything from city centre apartments to townhouses in the West End. There are family-friendly stays and cosy properties that are ideal for couples or solo travellers looking to discover everything the Scottish Lowlands have to offer.
Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
At just 45 minutes’ drive from Glasgow, this spectacular national park centres around the largest freshwater lake in Scotland. Due to its rugged scenery, it is sometimes referred to as the “Highlands in miniature”, with rocky peaks, moody glens and wooded forests to discover. You can venture off on one of the hiking or cycling trails that wind their way through Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park or explore the sparkling waters of Loch Lomond by boat. At its southern end is the SEA LIFE Loch Lomond Aquarium where you can get up close to giant turtles, sharks and rays. Golfers can hit the loch-side greens of the Carrick Golf Course while history buffs shouldn’t miss the crumbling ruins of Buchanan Castle.
Surrounded by the Highlands of Perthshire, this attractive town lies just 1.5 hours’ drive from Glasgow and has been luring tourists since the mid-19th century. It’s home to one of Scotland’s oldest working distilleries, famed for producing the Blair Athol Single Malt Whisky and open to the public on guided tours. One of Pitlochry’s charms is its proximity to nature and the breathtaking scenery of Cairngorms National Park, which encompasses a magnificent area of upland plateau. Don’t miss a visit to Queen’s View (named after Queen Victoria who visited the area in 1866), which overlooks the picturesque waters of Loch Tummel. If you’re feeling energetic, you can hike to the snow-speckled summit of Ben Vrackie or follow one of the signposted trails that wind through Faskally Wood on the banks of Loch Dunmore.
Once serving as the capital of Scotland, Stirling sprawls around a medieval castle that rises atop a volcanic crag. It’s one of the country’s most important architectural landmarks and just 45 minutes’ drive from Glasgow. After touring its Great Hall, Tapestry Studio and Regimental Museum, you can learn about Scotland’s legendary hero at the National Wallace Monument, which overlooks a 13th-century battle site. The people and events that have shaped the city are celebrated at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery while the Old Town Jail offers an insight into crime and punishment in times gone by. For a taste of Africa in the heart of Scotland, head to the Blair Drummond Safari Park to get up close to lions, rhinos and antelopes.
Isle of Arran
Located just off the west coast of Scotland, the Isle of Arran can be reached via a short ferry ride from the harbour at Ardrossan (which is around 45 minutes’ drive from Glasgow). It encompasses pristine beaches watched over by dramatic mountain peaks, plus its fair share of castle ruins and golf courses. Stroll through the formal gardens of Brodick Castle, which dates back to 1510, before soaking up the sweeping views from the 874-metre summit of Goat Fell. Guided tours and whisky tastings are on offer at the historic Isle of Arran Distillery while standing stones dating back thousands of years will inspire history buffs at the Machrie Moor Stone Circles. If you’re a keen hiker, you can explore the island along the 107-kilometre-long Arran Coastal Way or admire the dramatic coastal landscape of King’s Cave.
In an hour by train from Glasgow, you can explore the hilly capital of Scotland, which centres around a medieval Old Town and an 11th-century castle that’s home to the Scottish crown jewels. Get up close to paintings and sculptures by some of the country’s leading masters at the Scottish National Gallery and stroll through the Royal Botanic Garden before admiring the elegant Georgian buildings of the New Town. Spectacular views across Edinburgh are on offer from Arthur’s Seat while summertime relaxation awaits at Portobello Beach, one of the city’s top family-friendly destinations. If possible, coincide your visit with the annual Edinburgh Festival, which ignites the city with comedy, music, theatre and dance each August.