Looking for the best day trips from Glasgow by public transport? I can help! I’ve put together a list of my favourite day trips from the city which are accessible by public transport. 

All of these trips are reachable in three hours or less. 

Glasgow is a gateway to some of the most beautiful parts of Scotland’s west coast. The Isle of Arran is within easy reach if you’re looking for an island experience. Loch Lomond is under an hour away with its Viking villages and panoramic hillwalks. 

Glasgow is also well-placed to explore some of the central and eastern parts of Scotland, including the capital Edinburgh and the historic city of Stirling. 

These are all trips I’ve done without a car. In this guide, you won’t find train stations miles away from destinations or places only reachable by taxi, rideshare or over three hours to get to – some of my biggest pet peeves!

Instead, you’ll find realistic trips you can actually do in a day with practical information about public transport routes. They’re all under three hours from Glasgow so you can enjoy each place without rushing. 

Read on to find the best day trips from Glasgow by bus or train, tried and tested by me. 

Day trips from Glasgow at a glance 

Map of the best day trips from Glasgow, Scotland 

Trip map courtesy of Wanderlog, a road trip planner on iOS and Android

1. Edinburgh 

A girl in a red jacket walks down stone steps with a view of Edinburgh Castle perched on the crags above. The Vennel in Edinburgh.
The best view of Edinburgh Castle is from the Vennel

Highlights: Edinburgh Castle | Arthur’s Seat | Carlton Hill | Dean Village | Circus Lane 

If you haven’t put the capital on your Scotland itinerary already, Edinburgh is one of the easiest day trips from Glasgow by train. The journey takes just under an hour. 

Edinburgh is a compact hill city divided into a Medieval Old Town and a Georgian New Town. The best thing to do? Explore on foot! Most of the city centre is accessible to walk but there are buses and trams if you prefer not to. 

On this day trip to Edinburgh from Glasgow, you’ll arrive at Waverley Station. From there, walk up the hill into the Old Town, defined by its narrow cobblestone streets and Gothic spindly rooftops. 

You can walk the Royal Mile which joins Edinburgh Castle with the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Look out for St. Gile’s Cathedral, the colourful Victoria Street and Grassmarket. Head to the Vennel for the best views of the castle. 

On a good weather day, you might want to walk up Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano in Holyrood Park with panoramic views. In New Town, visit Carlton Hill to see the Dugald Stewart Monument and the unfinished National Monument of Scotland. 

My favourite two areas are Dean Village and Circus Lane. They look like they belong in the countryside rather than the capital. 

Top tip: If you’re in Edinburgh on a weekday, I recommend visiting Chez Jules. This French restaurant does a set three-course menu for £12.90. Their French onion soup is amazing. You don’t need to book but get there early as it fills up quickly!

Getting there: Take the train from Glasgow Queen Street to Edinburgh Waverley. The journey takes just under an hour. 

Editor’s tip: Book your trains through Trainline or directly through ScotRail. You can pay the driver when you board regional buses but it’s best to book tickets in advance with Scottish Citylink coaches.

2. Isle of Arran 

The ruins of an old fortress castle sits on a stretch of ground across a bay with a yellow gore bush in bloom in the foreground. Lochranza on the Isle of Arran is one of the best day trips from Glasgow by public transport.
Take a look at this gorgeous view of Lochranza Castle

Highlights: Castles | Arran Distillery | Coastal walks | Wildlife 

The Isle of Arran is located on the west coast of Scotland in the Firth of Clyde. The seventh-largest Scottish island is also one of the easiest to visit on a day trip – particularly if you’re not driving.

Arran is nicknamed ‘Scotland in Miniature’ as it has highlands and lowlands, castles, distilleries, waterfalls, standing stones and wildlife. 

The highest peak on the island is Goatfell (no goats were harmed…), a popular six-hour climb through pretty glens and up along dramatic granite ridges to the top. 

The walk to the summit is challenging but you’re rewarded with incredible panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and west of Scotland. 

For a more laidback Glasgow to Arran day trip, you can visit Brodick Castle or take a bus along the north coast to Lochranza.

The pretty village surrounds a bay which has the ruins of a 16th-century castle at the centre. It’s free to go in. A short walk inland is Arran Distillery with a cafe and gift shop. 

On my visit, I had lunch at the Sandwich Station in Lochranza, a sweet little kiosk with delicious sandwiches. 

Afterwards, I walked along the headland on the Fairy Dell trail which takes about an hour to complete. Local legend claims it’s the gateway to fairyland. I didn’t see any fairies but I did see seals and red deer!

Top tip: There are three bus routes on Arran: 322 (across the String to Blackwaterfoot), 323 (south via Whiting Bay to Blackwaterfoot) and 324 (north via Lochranza to Blackwaterfoot). They aren’t that regular but they do line up with the ferry times. 

Getting there: Take the train from Glasgow Central to Ardrossan Harbour then catch the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Brodick. They both line up so you can’t miss them. It takes just over two hours. 

3. Balloch 

A large white, black and red steamer boat with a yellow chimney is moored on the shores of a loch. There's a beach in the foreground and a view of hills in the background.
Maid of the Loch, the last paddle steamer built in the UK

Highlights: Loch Lomond | Balloch Castle | Balloch County Park | Secret walled garden 

Balloch is a town at the base of Loch Lomond. It’s one of the most accessible Loch Lomond day trips from Glasgow if you’re not driving as there’s a train station with a direct line to the city. 

Balloch is a handy jumping-off point to explore the loch and the surrounding Trossachs National Park. There are buses to nearby Luss and Balmaha and cruises on the loch. 

Don’t miss out on seeing the town though. There is a pier where you’ll find Maid of the Loch, the last paddle steamer built in the UK. 

You can see owls and eagles at the nearby Bird of Prey Centre and do an aerial course with ziplines in the trees at TreeZone Loch Lomond. 

Make sure you visit Balloch Castle & County Park on the other side of the River Leven. You can stroll along the banks of the loch or wander through woodland. 

The castle was closed when I was there except for the public toilets. See if you can find the secret walled garden a short stroll away!

Top tip: I had some delicious fish ‘n’ chips from Blue Lagoon. Balloch House is a nice pub for drinks. 

Getting there: Take the train from Glasgow Queen Street to Balloch. It takes about 50 minutes to get there. 

4. Balmaha

A girl in a red coat sits on a bench on top of a hill looking out across a loch dotted with islands. Hills surround the background.  Inchcailloch on Loch Lomond.
View from the top of Tom na Nigheanan on Inchcailloch

Highlights: Conic Hill | Inchcailloch 

Balmaha is a tiny village on the eastern shores of Loch Lomond. It sits at the base of Conic Hill, one of the most famous hikes in the area. 

You get an incredible panorama of the loch and its islands from the top and it’s about 2-3 hours to complete. It’s one of the best day trips from Glasgow for that reason. 

You can also visit Inchcailloch from Balmaha. It’s a tiny islet covered in trees you can get around in a few hours. 

There are a couple of well-marked trails to follow, including one up Tom na Nigheanan, the islet’s highest point. It has gorgeous views of Loch Lomond and Conic Hill.  

Look out for the ruins of an old church and burial ground. Legend has it a nunnery was established here in honour of an Irish missionary, St. Kentigerna who settled on the island in the 8th century. 

There is a small campsite at Port Bawn which is open from 1st March to 30th September. It has picnic tables and compost toilets. 

Top tip: To get to Inchcailloch from Balmaha, there is a tiny ferry which runs every half hour from Balmaha Boatyard to the North Pier from May to September. I did see it running in April but the timings were less frequent. I visited via the water taxi from Luss. 

Getting there: Take the train from Glasgow Queen Street to Balloch. Then catch the 309 McColl’s bus from Alexandria to Balmaha. It takes about an hour and 37 minutes. 

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5. Luss 

A girl in a red coat stands on a grassy hill and looks down on a loch dotted with islands. There are hills in the far distance. An alternative to Conic Hill, Beinn Dubh in Luss is one of the best day trips from Glasgow by public transport.
The view from Beinn Dubh

Highlights: Loch Lomond cruises | Beinn Dubh | Pretty stone cottages 

Luss is one of the prettiest villages on Loch Lomond and a designated Conservation Village. 

Located on the western shores just north of Balloch, it’s known for its stone cottages built in the 19th century to house workers from the nearby slate quarry and cotton mill. You can find them on Pier Road leading down to Luss Pier. 

Luss’ history goes back to the early medieval period. The church graveyard has stones dating back to the 7th and 8th centuries and an 11th-century Viking Hogback burial stone. 

Next to the pier is a pebble beach, a nice spot for a picnic or watersports like kayaking or paddle boarding. Head to the pier if you want to cruise on Loch Lomond or get a water taxi to Balmaha and Inchcailloch. 

The best hike in the area is Beinn Dubh, a hill with epic views to rival Conic Hill. The three-hour walk has spectacular views of Loch Lomond and you don’t have to go too high to enjoy the panorama. 

I climbed Beinn Dubh as Conic Hill was closed when I was there. I picked up a cake from the village shop below and climbed the summit for a spectacular picnic. I had the place pretty much to myself too. 

Top tip: Cruise Loch Lomond offers cruises and water taxis from Luss Pier which you’ll need to book in advance in summer. I used them to get to Inchcailloch. It’s more expensive than the ferry from Balmaha though. 

Getting there: Catch the Scottish Citylink bus from Glasgow Buchanan Bus Station to Luss. It’s the most direct route and takes about an hour. The bus number is likely to change so check in advance. 

You could also take the train from Glasgow Queen Street to Balloch then catch the 305 McColl’s bus to Luss. It takes around an hour and 40 minutes. 

6. Pollok Country Park 

A shaggy orange Highland cow with long horns stands and looks at the camera from the mud. Highland cows graze behind her.
Saying hello to the Highland cows at Pollok Park

Highlights: Highland cows | Pollok House | The Burrel Collection | Nature walks 

Pollok Country Park is technically in Glasgow but it’s a short train ride from the city centre and feels like an escape to the countryside. 

It’s so easy to do if you’re looking for a laidback Glasgow day trip with minimal transport. The 46-hectare country park has plenty of fields, woodlands and riverside walks. 

The park is home to Pollok House, a National Trust-owned property built in 1752. It’s closed for refurbishments for the next two years but the garden and tea room are open. 

The Burrell Collection is also in the park. The world-famous museum has artworks by Cezanne and Degas, medieval artefacts, over 200 tapestries and a collection of Chinese art.

My favourite part of the park is the field full of highland cattle. These adorable shaggy orange cows are iconic to Scotland and you can view them safely from behind a fence. 

Top tip: The country park is huge. I recommend focusing on Pollok House, the Burrell Collection and the highland cows rather than trying to see it all. 

Getting there: Catch the train from Glasow Central to Pollockshaws West Rail Station. The journey takes just 11 minutes – one of the easiest day trips near Glasgow!

7. Stirling 

Highlights: Stirling Castle | Wallace Monument | Historic Old City 

If you’re looking for more day train trips from Glasgow, Stirling is a small city with 900 years of history. Nicknamed ‘Little Edinburgh, its most famous landmark is the medieval castle sprawled across a volcanic crag high above the city. 

Stirling Castle was built between 1490 and 1600 but there have been castle fortifications since medieval times. 

It was the childhood home of Mary Queen of Scots and you can see her living quarters alongside other fascinating features like the Great Hall, royal palace and kitchens on a tour. 

On the other side of the city in the Abbey Craig is the Wallace Monument, a 67m tower built to commemorate Sir William Wallace. The Scottish knight defeated the English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. 

Walk up the 246-step spiral staircase to the Crown and be greeted by epic views across the Forth Valley. 

Top tip: Stirling’s historic old city centre is hilly and has cobblestone streets so wear comfortable shoes for walking. 

Getting there: Take the train from Glasgow Queen Street to Stirling. It takes about half an hour.

Editor’s tip: If you want to make the most of your time, this small group tour takes you to Stirling Castle and includes a cruise on Loch Lomond. It departs from Glasgow.

8. Falkirk 

Highlights: The Kelpies | Falkirk Wheel 

Falkirk is located between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Its biggest claim to fame is the Kelpies, two 30-metre high steel horse head statues in Helix Park. 

They tower over a canal extension which links the Forth & Clyde Canal to the North Sea and are inspired by the horses that pulled barges along Scotland’s waterways. 

The country park is free to visit. There are walking and cycling routes along the canal plus a visitor centre with a cafe and exhibition. 

You might also want to check out Falkirk Wheel. Built in 2002, the world’s only rotating boat lift is an architectural marvel. 

It connects the Forth & Clyde Canal with the Union Canal 35 metres above it, replacing a flight of heavy locks that used to take a day to get through. 

You can see it in action on a boat tour. Other outdoor activities include kayaking, walking and hiring bikes. 

Top tip: Unlike some of the other easier day trips from Glasgow by public transport on this list, the Falkirk Wheel and Kelpies are a bit more challenging to do both in a single day but it’s possible. 

They are about an hour away from each other by bus. The F14A is a direct bus but it’s not that frequent. Use Traveline Scotland to find the best route. 

Getting there: To get to the Kelpies, take the train from Glasgow Queens Street to Larbet and then the 2A Midland Bluebird bus to Grangemouth. 

For the Falkirk Wheel, take the X37 Midland Bluebird bus from Glasgow Buchanan Bus Station to Camelon and walk about 12 minutes to the wheel. Both journeys should take about an hour and 15-30 minutes. 

9. Inveraray

A large ornate catle sits in a green garden. There are two turretted towers on either side of it and a crenelated tower in the centre. Inveraray Castle.
The view of Inveraray Castle and gardens from the gate

Highlights: Inveraray Castle | Inveraray Jail | Estate walks up Dùn na Cuaiche

Inveraray is a quiet and pretty town on the shores of Loch Fyne in Argyll & Bute and one of the most popular day trips from Glasgow by bus. 

A short walk from the town and hidden among the trees is Inveraray Castle, the ancestral home of the Campbell family. The Duke and Duchess of Argyll & Bute still live there today. 

There’s been a castle on Loch Fyne since the 1400s but the castle you can see today was built in the 1700s and refurbished in 1877 after a fire to include a third floor and conical tower roofs. 

Unlike Scotland’s fortress-style castles, Inverarary Castle is more decorative with its mix of Gothic, baroque and Palladian-inspired architecture. You might also recognise it from Downton Abbey. 

The castle and garden are open to the public from Thursday to Monday and you can buy tickets online or at the door. There’s a tearoom onsite which is open at the same time. 

The rest of Inveraray Castle’s 60,000-acre estate is free to explore and it has some beautiful walking trails, including the 6-mile loop across Frew’s Bridge. 

Dùn na Cuaiche is another walk which starts from the castle and leads you up the summit of a hill for beautiful views of the town and loch disappearing into the distance below. 

Inveraray Jail is the biggest attraction in town. The old 19th-century prison has a courtroom which plays extracts from cases 150 years ago. There’s an old prison and a new prison where you can see the cramped cells inmates lived in. 

The museum starts with a macabre Torture, Death and Damnation exhibition which has all the instruments of torture they used to inflict punishment on criminals. 

Top tip: If you would rather not spend the money and go inside Inveraray Castle, you can still get a nice enough view of the castle and gardens from the outside. I just peeked through the fence!

Getting there: The easiest and most direct route is the Scottish Citylink bus from Buchanan Bus Station to Inveraray. It should take about an hour and 46 minutes. Book in advance. 

10. Oban, Glencoe, Highland Lochs & Castles Tour

The craggy mountain of Buachaille Etive Mor with a snow-capped mountain at the back and waterfall running down the side. A small white farmhouse sits in the foreground in Glen Coe.
Check out the farmhouse with the pretty impressive back garden!

Highlights: Glen Coe | Kilchurn Castle | Oban | Castle Stalker | Rannoch Moor 

Okay, this is a small group day tour. I’ve included it as it takes you to some major places on the west coast of Scotland on a one-day trip from Glasgow. They would otherwise be tricky to reach without a car. 

You get a glimpse of Scotland’s most scenic driving routes without driving. The full-day tour departs from Glasgow and stops at Loch Lomond for a coffee break. We stopped at Tarbet but it’s sometimes Luss. 

The next stop is the Rest and Be Thankful Viewpoint named by English soldiers in 1753 after they completed the military road through Glen Croe. 

As you go up into the Scottish Highlands, you pass the Arrochar Alps and see Inveraray Castle. Next, you head to Loch Awe and Kilchurn Castle. 

You stop for lunch and have the most amazing seafood in Oban (there are other options if you can’t eat seafood) before pausing at Castle Stalker. 

At last, you make your way to Glencoe, see the famous white house at the base of Buachaille Etive Mor and drive through Harry Potter and James Bond filming locations. 

The final stop is Rannoch Moor before you return to Glasgow. This is one of my favourite one-day tours from Glasgow. It ticked off so many great highlights for me which I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. 

It’s a great option if you’re short on time or just want a day to see some of the best of the west of Scotland. 

Top tip: This tour gets busy during the summer so make sure you book in advance to avoid disappointment. 

As for where to eat in Oban, the Seafood Hut is a casual shack on the pier that serves up platters of fresh seafood. The crab sandwiches are phenomenal. Bring cash. 

Getting there: The Rabbie’s tour departs from Glasgow Buchanan Bus Station. Book in advance.

11. Outlander Day Tour 

A tall hunting lodge castle with an ornate stone arch entrance sits at the end of a track surrounded by grass and trees. Midhope Castle in Scotland.
Midhope Castle, AKA Lallybroch in Outlander

Highlights: Outlander filming locations | Culross | Midhope Castle | Blackness Castle | Falkland

If you’re a fan of Outlander, this tour is for you. If you love castles, history, pretty towns and Monty Python, this one is also for you!

It’s another one of Rabbie’s small group tours of Scotland from Glasgow and it covers more of the centre and east of Scotland. You can see how the pastoral east coast differs from the rugged west. 

The tour starts with a drive past Stirling Castle until you reach Doune Castle (Castle Leoch in Outlander). You get to wander around the 14th-century castle before driving north to the pretty town of Falkland for lunch.  

You next go to my personal favourite, Midhope Castle (Lallybroch in Outlander). It has a scenic exterior but the inside is derelict. You will need to pay a small fee to get close to it.

Afterwards, you do a self-guided tour around Blackness Castle (Fort William in Outlander). The last stop is Culross with its cobblestone streets and striking bright yellow Culross Palace

Top tip: Midhope Castle costs £7 to get a closer look at. You can pay by cash or card at the small kiosk. All other castle entrance fees are included in your ticket. 

Getting there: The Rabbie’s tour departs from Glasgow Buchanan Bus Station. Book in advance

Final thoughts on the best day trips from Glasgow by public transport 

A shallow loch with the tide far out. Across it is an island with a fortress castle in the distance surrounded by mountains. Castle Stalker in Scotland.
Castle Stalker, a filming location for Monty Python and the Holy Grail

There are so many easy day trips from Glasow you can do without a car. I hope this guide has inspired you and given you the confidence to explore the areas around Glasgow by public transport. 

Whether you’re looking for castles, epic scenery, hikes, wildlife or city sightseeing, these day trips from Glasgow by public transport have got it all. 

My go-to travel planner is Traveline Scotland as its routes are more accurate than Google Maps. The latter is still useful for working out where you are and where the bus stop is. 

Depending on where you want to go, sometimes tours are the most convenient as your transport is handled and you can enjoy the ride. 

So, which day trip will you be doing? 

Looking for more car-free Scotland travel guides? Check out these posts!

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