Looking for the best Scotland weekend breaks? This guide details affordable trips – cities to seasides and outdoor activities to relaxing spas. We’ll look at destinations that can be reached by plane, train, ferry, bus or car so you can get the best out of your Scotland staycation.
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Best Weekend Getaways in Scotland for Staycations
Table of Contents
- Best Weekend Getaways in Scotland for Staycations
- Scotland City Breaks
- Edinburgh City Breaks
- Glasgow City Breaks
- Dundee City Breaks
- Central and Rural Scotland Trips
- The Kingdom of Fife and St Andrews Weekend Breaks
- East and West Lothian City Breaks
- Stirling (City) and Stirlingshire Weekend Breaks
- Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire
- Inverness City Breaks and The Black Isle
- Inverness City and North Coast 500
- Scotland Islands Weekend Trips
- Isle of Bute
- Isle of Arran
- Oban + 3 Isles Tour
- Portavadie, Loch Fyne
- But I want to go to Skye!
Scotland City Breaks
Edinburgh City Breaks
Castles up top, dungeons down below! Scotland’s capital is an obvious choice for history and culture fans, families, friends and couples.
How to Spend A Weekend in Edinburgh
Start your weekend in the Old Town, visiting Edinburgh Castle, St Giles Cathedral and the Royal Mile museums (Old Tolbooth House or Children’s Museum).
Grab a drink and food at one of the oldest pubs in Edinburgh, The World’s End, before walking down the Mile to Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament.
If you enjoy a relatively easy hike, head up Arthur’s Seat for views over to the Kingdom of Fife.
End the day on a Grassmarket pub crawl, remembering to swing by Greyfriars Bobby for a nose rub on the way.
On your second day, head to Stockbridge for brunch then walk to Deans Village to take photos of the 19th-century buildings.
From here, join the Waters of Leith walkway to the Port of Leith.
Dine, have a few drinks and if you can stick around until evening, catch live music at The Carriers Quarters.
Or end the day up Calton Hill for a glorious sunset.
It does happen sometimes in Scotland!
Getting to Edinburgh
Edinburgh Airport connects to the city via tram and bus.
There are two main train stations (Waverley and Haymarket) and a bus station located in the city centre.
On-street parking and car parks are available but at a premium.
Uber operates in Edinburgh but locals use other taxi services just as much.
Where to Stay in Edinburgh
Motel One: Reliable modern chain, excellent location.
- Things to do in Edinburgh
- Where to stay in Edinburgh
- Pubs in Edinburgh
- Day Trips from Edinburgh
- Outlander tours from Edinburgh
- Best Fine Dining in Edinburgh Under £30
- The Definitive Edinburgh Festival Fringe Guide
- Plan a Scotland road trip
Glasgow City Breaks
If you are a fan of live music, art, shopping and a bit of banter then Scotland’s biggest city is a perfect UK city break for you.
How to Spend A Weekend in Glasgow
Start your day in town at the Lighthouse Museum taking in the views from the top.
Next, head to the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) under the fairy lights of Royal Exchange Square.
Check out the Duke of Wellington with the cone on his head.
If you are here to shop, spend a few hours on Argyle Street, Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street.
Shopping not your bag?
Walkthrough George Street to the Merchant City, keeping an eye out for Glasgow’s street art murals plastered on gable ends.
This area is also where you will find building which was built with the profits from the transatlantic slave trade.
Grab food or a drink in the Merchant City then head to Glasgow’s Cathedral and Provand’s Lordship, the city’s oldest house.
Work off lunch taking the easy stroll to the Necropolis for stunning views of the Cathedral and cityscape.
Next, head to where tourists would never dare to go in the past; Glasgow’s East End.
Now a decent balance of gentrification and true Glasgow, visitors should walk through the Barras, past the Barrowlands gig venue to the People’s Palace (museum) at Glasgow Green.
End the day at one of the breweries in the East End, West or Drygate.
Not ready for the night to be over?
Check out Glasgow’s gig scene (SWG3, King Tuts, Barrowlands), a club night, cocktails or comedy. Lots of choice in the city of culture.
Day two starts in the West End of Glasgow.
Get your Harry Potter fix at the University of Glasgow quadrangle then walk through Kelvingrove Park to the Kelvingrove Museum.
For lunch either turn right to Partick for Asian food or left for hip bars and brunches in Finnieston.
Make your way back to Byres Road for a mooch about the vintage shops before dining on Ashton Lane, the cobbled street with the fairy lights.
Getting to Glasgow
Glasgow International Airport is the closest airport to the city and is connected by bus.
The second airport, Prestwick, is actually in South Ayrshire but is connected by train to the city centre.
Glasgow Bus Station is very central and on-street parking and car parks are available but at a premium.
Uber operates in Glasgow and is used by locals.
Where to Stay in Glasgow
CitizenM: High tech, central and affordable.
» Read next | 24 hour Glasgow itinerary
Dundee City Breaks
Scotland’s art city, Dundee has enjoyed a huge boom in tourism over the past couple of years thanks to its museums, art trail and young student population.
How to Spend A Weekend in Dundee
Start your day at the mecca for art fans, Dundee V&A.
Scotland’s first design museum, the brainchild of Kengo Kuma, sits on the River Tay looking inward to the city and outwards over to The Kingdom of Fife.
Entry is free with additional entry charge for exhibitions.
There’s a nice viewpoint looking out to the Tay Bridge and a cool entrance to take arty shadow snaps.
Next, nip next door to the RRS Discovery, the last traditional wooden three-masted ship to be built in the United Kingdom.
From here grab food or a drink at the Bird & Bear then enjoy a wee crawl around Dundee’s old man pubs and gentrified bars.
Can you find the speakeasy?
Dundee is really decent for shopping.
Head to the Wellgate Centre for well-known brands.
Looking for something independent?
Perth Road is a great option for vintage shops at student prices.
Start the second day by following the Open/Close art trail to the McManus, Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum.
Explore the eight galleries in this Gothic Revival-style building.
If you’ve still got room for one more art gallery, Dundee Contemporary Arts exhibit art, film and has a nice cafe and shop.
There are a few options for the afternoon itinerary, including a visit to the HMS Unicorn, one of the oldest warships left in the world, a tour of Verdant Works, the former jute mill or a drive out to the 15th century Broughty Castle.
Dine back in the city at the award-winning Castlehill Restaurant.
Getting to Dundee
The most efficient way to get to Dundee is by train.
Dundee Train Station is located just across the road from the V&A.
Where to Stay in Dundee
Hotel Indigo: Stylish boutique hotel with rave reviews
Central and Rural Scotland Trips
Note: some of the following weekend breaks in Scotland include a mix of city attractions and rural Scotland scenery.
The Kingdom of Fife and St Andrews Weekend Breaks
Just over the water from Edinburgh, The Kingdom of Fife, my home region, is jam-packed with history, cute fishing villages and Outlander locations.
How to Spend a Weekend in Fife
Cross the iconic Forth Bridge via train or drive over the Queensferry Crossing to get to the historic capital of Scotland; Dunfermline.
Spend the morning around the Heritage Quarter learning about Andrew Carnegie and the seven kings buried at Dunfermline Abbey.
Be sure to see the final resting place of King Bruce and take a photo of the architecture from Carnegie Dunfermline Library and Galleries.
See the squirrels and look out for the elusive Dunfermline peacocks at the Glen.
Lunch at one of Dunfermline’s many cafes before heading to the neighbouring village; Culross.
Culross is the first stop on your Outlander tour. See Claire’s herb garden at the photogenic Culross Palace and step back in time walking the cobbled streets of the village.
From here you can join the Fife Coastal Path which runs all the way to Newburgh taking in the popular East Neuk, St Andrews and more.
You’ll need more than a weekend to complete this multi-day trek mind you!
Stop off at Aberdour for sea air and then Burntisland’s ‘totally local’ high street which frequently makes the headlines as one of Scotland’s best with butchers, fruit and veg shop, fishmonger, coffee roaster and ice cream parlour.
Day two’s itinerary takes in the fishing villages of the East Neuk.
Enjoy a world-famous chippy in Anstruther before a day out at St Andrews.
Spend the next day in St Andrews exploring the Cathedral, paddleboarding, shopping or drinking your way around the town’s pubs.
If you are a golfer, you’ll already have your mind set on The Old Course.
Getting to Fife
While there are train lines and bus routes connecting many of Fife’s towns and villages, a trip is best done by road trip.
East and West Lothian City Breaks
East Lothian is a very underrated area of Scotland.
Its mix of history, beaches and country parks makes it an ideal weekend break for families.
How to Spend a Weekend in East and West Lothian
Start your visit to East Lothian at North Berwick with a hike up The Law for views to Bass Rock and over Edinburgh.
Spend the rest of the day at the beach or head out to the 14th-century ruins of Tantallon Castle.
If North Berwick is too busy for you, consider Dunbar.
Dunbar is home to John Muir Country Park, a golf course, historic ruins, a high street with take away shops and a lovely beach called Belhaven Beach which sees lots of water sports activity from morning ’til night.
On day two, make time to visit Linlithgow Palace, home to the monarchs of Scotland in the 15th and 16th centuries and filming location for the Netflix movie, Outlaw King.
End the day at Dalkeith Country Park where there are endless tree-lined walks, Fort Douglas Adventure Park for the kids and a gorgeous shop/cafe and wellness lab called Restoration Yard.
Stirling (City) and Stirlingshire Weekend Breaks
Stirling is a small yet historically significant city in central Scotland.
Its most popular attractions include the old town vibes with cobbled streets, Stirling Castle, Stirling Bridge and Wallace Monument.
How to Spend a Weekend in Stirlingshire/Clackmannanshire
Your first morning should be spent at Stirling Castle at the top of Castle Hill.
Set aside 2-4 hours depending on your level of interest.
There are many exhibitions in this 12th-century royal building.
Enjoy a quick lunch in the city centre to fuel up for the busy afternoon ahead.
In the afternoon, head out to The National Wallace Monument.
This structure that celebrates Sir William Wallace is a prominent feature in the Stirling landscape.
There is an entry fee which includes access to the four upper levels, three exhibition halls, and The Crown, where there are 360° views of the area.
Next, is a five minute drive/30 minute walk to Stirling Bridge where Wallace and Andrew Moray’s (Murray) men fought the English army in 1297.
An alternative option is to spend the spa afternoon at the old Victorian school building, Stirling Highland Hotel.
Relax in the hotel pool and enjoy some treatments.
Some packages also include lunch, which I recommend.
Day two is set aside for a road trip through Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire.
» Read next | The best road trips and driving holidays in Scotland
If you are into hiking, head to Ben Ledi, Ben More (Crianlarich Hills, pictures below), or the Ochil Hills of Clackmannanshire for a day hike.
I recommend Ben Ledi if you like a straight up and down hike under five hours.
If hiking isn’t for you, take a scenic drive stopping by the village, Dollar, for lunch (Bridge Street).
Stretch your legs at Dollar Glen and swing by the 15th-century fortress of Castle Campbell.
Alternatively, find the hidden Finnich Glen aka The Devil’s Pulpit.
This hiking and filming location is a gorge carved into the sandstone by a river that still runs through it.
This used to be a secret hike but it is pretty busy now.
The Kelpies in Falkirk are less than a 30-minute drive from Stirling.
These 30-metre high modern art sculptures are well worth a visit day or night if you’ve not experienced them up close yet.
Have a full day?
Check out the walks along the canal and Falkirk Wheel which is next to the Kelpies.
How to Get to Stirling
Stirling is easily reached by train however a car is recommended if you plan to visit further afield.
Where to Stay in Stirling
Stirling Highland Hotel: Victorian building with a spa.
Perth (City) and Perthshire Weekend Breaks
The best time to visit Perthshire is autumn when the foliage is akin to New England!
How to Spend a Weekend in Perthshire
Base yourself in Pitlochry and, if you time it just right, you can see the Enchanted Forest light festival at night.
Take a stroll over the salmon farm and warm up with tea and cake at Hettie’s.
In the afternoon, drive out to Dunkeld to rub the Wolf of Badenoch statue for fertility luck.
You’ll find him nestled in Dunkeld Cathedral.
Set aside two hours for a relatively easy stroll around The Hermitage and then lunch at Perth Arms Hotel.
The next day, drive out to Kilicrankie to witness where the Jacobites chased the Redcoats into the River Garry.
Feeling brave? You can bungee jump or swing over the river!
Next, head to Queens View, mind your driving as the road is tight but so worth it for the views across Loch Tummel to Schiehallion.
Take a light walk to Falls of Bruar before heading to the city of Perth to close the day.
Other areas to consider include Aberfoyle, Callander (where my parents went on honeymoon!), Killin and Aberfeldy.
Getting to Perthshire
There are train and bus routes to parts of Perthshire but this Scottish weekend trip is best done by car.
Where To Stay in Pitlochry
Saorsa 1875: Vegan, hip hotel with stunning gardens
» Read more | We tandem bungee jumped in Perthshire
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire
The granite city has had quite the facelift thanks to its annual street art festival; Nuart.
Scotland’s first city to celebrate murals on its walls, floors and tunnels, this Northeast city is worth a look as a contender on your long weekend in the UK bucket list, especially if you like castles!
Aberdeenshire and its Royal Deeside is home to hundreds of castle ruins including the Insta-famous pink castle, Craigievar Castle and Bram Stoker’s inspiration for Dracula, Slains Castle.
Not to forget Stonehaven’s Dunnottar Castle which is a medieval fortress which juts out over the sea.
How to Spend a Weekend in Aberdeenshire
Your first day should be spent making your way to Aberdeen.
Drive through the River Deeside stopping at Braemar, the jewel of the Cairngorms, and Balmoral Castle, if you are a fan of the Royal Family.
Swing by Stonehaven and explore Dunnottar Castle and wash down the sea air with a chippy.
You’re in Stonehaven so it would be rude not to try ice cream from Betty’s.
After settling into your accommodation, enjoy dinner in the city then a few drinks or a movie at Belmont Filmhouse.
Wake up early, chase the art through the city using our Nuart mural trail.
Next, take a look at what prison has been like over the decades at Aberdeen Tolbooth Museum or life at sea via the Maritime Museum.
In the afternoon, hop in the car for a northeast road trip taking in Fitdee, Slains Castle and Bullers of Buchanan.
If you have time, stop in at Peterhead Prison Museum to see a real Scottish prison, without convicts!
Grab a craft beer at the world-famous but locally produced Brewdog in Ellen.
Where to Stay in Aberdeen
Skene House: Located on Rosemount Viaduct, free parking.
- Things to do in Aberdeen
- Things to do in Aberdeenshire
- Aberdeen Comedy Festival
- Nuart Aberdeen’s street art trail
Inverness City Breaks and The Black Isle
Inverness is an ideal base for those looking to visit the historic landmark, Culloden.
History fans will also want to add the bronze age, Clava Cairns, to their Highlands itinerary.
Inverness is the gateway to the Highlands but requires some time to explore the whole region.
If you are short on time, it’s possible to see some of the best of the area by planning a trip to The Black Isle.
Visit the cute towns and villages of Cromarty and Fortrose, Jemimaville, Rosemarkie, Avoch, Munlochy, Tore, North Kessock and Muir of Ord while enjoying the vast landscape and rural life.
There’s a good chance of seeing dolphins at Chanonry Point which has a stone and sandy beach.
If you drive as far as Golspie you can squeeze in a castle visit!
Dunrobin Castle has 189 rooms and is one of the UK’s oldest inhabited houses.
You can visit inside the castle and its gloriously maintained grounds for the price of the entry ticket.
Set aside 2-3 days.
Inverness City and North Coast 500
Inverness is the starting point of Scotland’s answer to Route 66, the North Coast 500 aka NC500.
The road trip, which is just over 500 miles, takes you around the cute villages and changing landscape of the Scottish Highlands.
While I would always recommend taking more than three days to experience the route, it can be done, albeit slightly rushed.
The NC500 is super popular so avoid it during high season if you can.
We have covered the NC500 extensively, here are all the guides to help you plan:
- NC500 Itinerary
- NC500 Packing List
- NC500 Accommodation
- NC500 Beaches and Campsites
- NC500 Highlights
- NC500 FAQs
- Read this before planning your NC500 trip
Getting To Inverness
Public transport (train and bus) does travel to Inverness from other major cities, however, unless you plan to take a tour, you will need a car to do the day trips or NC500.
» Read more | North Coast 500 tour options
Scotland Islands Weekend Trips
Although many of Scotland’s most sought after islands are long car journeys, short flights or even overnight ferry rides away, you can still experience the enchanting island life of those closely connected to the mainland.
Isle of Bute
Bute is an underestimated Scottish island which is a surprise considering its proximity to Glasgow.
How to Spend The Weekend on Bute
Start the day walking the Kilchattan Bay circular which is the day one route of the West Island Way hiking route.
Pass ruins, Rubh’an Eun Lighthouse and have your packed lunch in Kilchattan Bay. Bliss.
Warm up with a sit-in chippy and then karaoke at a local bar.
On day two, nurse your hangover with a greasy Scottish breakfast then soak up the opulence at Mount Stuart.
I’ve yet to see this spectacular 19th-century mansion but the décor looks extra.
Guided tours provide special access to hidden rooms.
One of the ceilings looks similar to the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris!
A bucket list for me.
Getting to Bute
Take the train from Glasgow and ferry from Wemyss Bay to Rothesay on Bute.
The ferry journey takes 35 minutes.
Where to Stay
The Boathouse Bute: Lovely family-run hotel on the waterfront
» Read more | West Island Way + Bute Guide
Isle of Arran
More popular than Bute, ‘Scotland in Miniature’, Arran is famous for its cheese, wool and Goat Fell hike.
How to Spend The Weekend in Arran
Visit Brodick Castle then sample some of the famous Arran cheese, infused or not, at Taste of Arran.
Either enjoy a day eating ice cream and watching the ferries come in at Brodick or have a few drinks in Lamlash with the Holy Isle in view.
You’re on island time now.
Day two is for hiking.
Go for Goat Fell if you are pushing yourself, or there are plenty of easier hikes such as Glen Rosa too.
We did the latter as the Goat Fell race was on. An excuse to go back!
Getting to Arran
Taking the ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick by car is your best option for getting around the island with ease.
We did use a public bus between Lamlash and Brodick and it was reliable.
Oban + 3 Isles Tour
I planned to do this in April so it still features on my bucket list, but from Oban, you can do a three-island boat tour taking in Mull, Iona and Staff.
How To Spend The Weekend in Oban
Climb the 144 steps of Jacob’s Ladder to McCaig’s Tower for views over Oban.
Enjoy a tour of The Oban Distillery which has been producing since 1794, making it one of the oldest sources of Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
Day two is set aside for the three Isles Tour which covers the majestic islands Mull, Iona & Staffa including Fingal’s Cave and Reilig Oran, the burial place of kings.
Depending on the time of year you visit, you might see nesting Staffa.
If you have another day to add to your weekend break, visit the fishing village of Tarbert.
How to Get to Oban
Oban can be reached by bus with regular service running from Glasgow.
Driving is also an option and worth it if you plan to explore more of Argyll and Bute.
Portavadie, Loch Fyne
If you are looking for a special spa weekend in Scotland, take Portavadie into serious consideration.
I visited recently with my friends and while the drive is a bit of ‘mare, it is worth it for the weekend luxury.
This purpose-built spa retreat boasts of luxury, and rightly so.
Picture floor to ceiling window apartments with loch views and you are there.
Everything you need is on the island, just pack your car with food, snacks and drink.
There are two restaurants on the premises and breakfast is included in the price.
There are a couple of options for spa use.
You can visit the public pool area which gives you access to the outside infinity pool and hot tubs.
For an additional fee, you can pay for private spa access which is reserved for spa guests only, no children.
Alternatively, pay a certain amount on spa treatments and receive free access.
I went for the facial and the sea kelp bath. The latter was unique to the area but not something I’d pay for again.
I went with the girls but honestly, this is as good as relaxed romantic getaways in Scotland get.
Check out the property and spa here.
How to Get to Portavadie, Loch Fyne
Drive to Tarbert and take the foot ferry or drive from Glasgow, through the Rest and Be Thankful, and park at your apartment.
But I want to go to Skye!
Heavy eye roll!
Honestly, you can’t do the Isle of Skye in two days.
Only travel guides written by ghostwriters, who have never set foot on Scottish soil, will try to pass Skye off as a weekend trip from Edinburgh.
While it can be done in three days, just, you’re better squeezing more out of your time by exploring an island closer to your starting point.
What’s the point in only seeing Scotland from a car window?
Yes, the Isle of Skye is special but unfortunately, the secret is out and over-tourism has spoilt it.
Save a Skye trip for longer island exploration and include North Uist, Harris and Lewis in that route.
You’ll thank me!
Pin to your Scotland planning board for later
Whether you are planning a long weekend in Scotland or a quick city break, this guide details everything you need to know from how to get there, top attractions and where to stay so you can plan the perfect UK staycation.
Which weekend trip to Scotland are you going for? Tell us in the comments below.