With Glasgow’s renowned nightlife and music scene, its ever-growing culinary reputation, expansive parks and revered museums, you can have a ball without ever venturing outside the city limits. But thanks to its geographical position, Glasgow is the perfect base from which to enjoy Scotland’s raw nature and dramatic scenery.

To the north, south, east or west, here are eight of the best day-trip destinations from Glasgow.

See renowned Loch Lomond and the charming village of Luss

One of the country’s most treasured spots, Loch Lomond and its surrounds offer beauty by the beach, on the water, and way up high. Whether you choose to go for a stroll on the shore at charming Luss village, paddle a kayak to one of the loch’s many islands from lush Balmaha, or conquer your first Munro in 974m (3195ft)  Ben Lomond, this national park offers postcard-perfect sights from almost every angle.

How to get to there from Glasgow 

It's best to take the car; it’s a 35-minute drive from Glasgow. Public transport is available, with a train station at Balloch on the loch’s southern edge.

Mother carrying baby on her shoulders glances at misty Loch Lomond in the Trossachs National Park, Scotland, UK
Standing by Loch Lomond in Scotland's Trossachs National Park © Carlos G. Lopez / Getty Images
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Get a dose of Scottish history at Stirling Castle

Often overlooked for its more widely-known neighbor in Scotland’s capital, Stirling Castle is just as grand, if not more so, than its Edinburgh counterpart. Perched atop a volcanic rock, the castle is as dramatic as it is historic. Overlooking the famous battlegrounds of Bannockburn and Stirling Bridge, Stirling Castle has played vital roles in the stories of William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Robert the Bruce.

How to get to there from Glasgow

Stirling is just a 31-minute train ride from Queen Street station, or a 40-minute drive from Glasgow city center.

Enjoy the best of Scotland's raw nature in the Perthshire Highlands

There are few better places to witness Scotland’s spectacular countryside than in Pitlochry and the surrounding Perthshire Highlands. Queen’s View offers the perfect platform from which to make the most of the area’s raw nature, with the Schiehallion mountain a beautiful backdrop to the awesome sight of Loch Tummel below. The similarly stunning Faskally Wood breeds an atmosphere of adventure, while Blair Athol and Edradour distilleries — the latter of which is the smallest in Scotland — is where visitors warm up with a wee dram of Scotland’s national drink.

How to get to there from Glasgow

Pitlochry and the surrounding countryside is best explored by car, with the town a 1 hour 40 minute drive from Glasgow.

Taste spectacular seafood in Oban

The gateway to the idyllic Hebridean Islands, this quaint harbor town offers picturesque views across the bay to Kerrera and Mull from the excellent vantage point at McCaig’s Tower, the intriguing and unmissable structure modeled on Rome’s Colosseum. For fans of lobster, mussels, and scallops, the call of award-winning seafood would be worth the trip alone. On your drive from Glasgow, consider stops by Castle Stalker (as featured in the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail) and the similarly impressive Kilchurn Castle on the often unheralded Loch Awe.

How to get to there from Glasgow

While there are trains from Glasgow to Oban, taking a car is quicker (2.5 hours) and allows you to visit many of fantastic sights on the way.

A hiker stands on a mountain summit looking out over a valley
Hikers will want to explore the peaks of the Isle of Arran © Sam Spicer / Getty Images

Spend a day on the scenic Isle of Arran

Lovingly described as "Scotland in miniature", for years Arran has proved a west coast sanctuary for Glaswegians keen to escape the city. For the adventurous, a climb up Goat Fell (the origin of the name still remains unclear) is a must, while a more relaxing outing may have you wind down at the excellent whisky distillery. A trip to King’s Cave (of Robert the Bruce fame) and Brodick Castle will give a great insight into the island’s vast history.

How to get to there from Glasgow

Take the train from Glasgow Central station to Ardrossan Harbour (approx 45 minutes), from where ferries to Brodick (55 minutes) run at least five times daily.

Tour the sights of Edinburgh, Glasgow's fierce rival

Although Glaswegians steadfastly refute suggestions Edinburgh is the better city, they won’t begrudge visitors taking a trip to the capital to admire its awe-inspiring sights. The contrasts between these two neighbors are stark in terms of looks, feel and the locals. A day in Edinburgh would be best enjoyed exploring the castle, trekking up to Arthur’s Seat, and ambling down the Royal Mile in the Old Town. You’ll love it: just don’t harp on about it too much when you return to Glasgow.

How to get to there from Glasgow

Trains runs as often as every 15 minutes from Queen Street Station to Edinburgh Waverley and Haymarket, taking between 45 minutes and 1 hour 15 minutes.

A solo figure walking away from the camera is dwarfed by the giant stone archway over the path. A castle is framed by the arch
Visit Cluzean Castle, an impressive stately home on the Ayrshire coast © Flavio Vallenari / Getty Images

Learn about Scotland's great poet, Robert Burns, on the Ayrshire coast

The birthplace of Auld Lang Syne, the Scots song sung around the world every New Year’s Eve, Ayrshire is the home of its creator and Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. Immerse yourself in the words and stories of the bard at the Burns Birthplace Museum and Burns Cottage. Drive a little further down the coast and stop by regal Culzean Castle and take in nearby views of iconic island Ailsa Craig.

How to get to there from Glasgow

The Burns Museum can be reached by car in 45 minutes from Glasgow. Public transport options are available, involving taking the train and a local bus.

Cycle around the island of Great Cumbrae

Just a 10-minute ferry ride from Largs, the population of this small west coast island balloons when summer arrives, as families descend upon Great Cumbrae to experience its old-world holiday feel. A leisurely 10-mile trip on two wheels around the "island of 1000 bicycles" is almost mandatory, as is a stroll along the promenade with a classic Scottish fish supper. Great Cumbrae is also the home of Britain’s smallest cathedral.

How to get to there from Glasgow

Largs, where the ferry departs from the mainland, is easily accessible by train (1 hour) from Glasgow Central station. Ferries run approximately every half-hour, more frequently in summertime. 

You might also like:
The 15 best things to do in Glasgow for fun (no kilt required)  
27 things you should know before visiting Edinburgh: Why does it smell? Can I use English money? And more  
The best things to do in Scotland from festivals to puffins and peaks  

This article was first published November 2019 and updated February 2022

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