16 Scotland Weekend Breaks: Cities, Islands & Spas

Scotland Weekend Breaks Staycations

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Looking for the best Scotland weekend breaks? This guide details affordable trips – cities to the seaside 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.

Best Weekend Getaways in Scotland For Staycations

Scotland City BreaksEdinburgh

Castles up top, dungeons down below! Scotland’s capital is an obvious choice for history and culture fans, families, friends and couples.

New Town edinburgh

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 to view the Kingdom of Fife.

Arthurs Seat Walk Park Edinburgh

End the day on a Grassmarket pub crawl, remembering to swing by Greyfriars Bobby for a picture.

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!

View of Edinburgh-Castle from The Vennel

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 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.

Edinburgh Tram, visitor with suitcase

Where to Stay in Edinburgh

Motel One: Reliable modern chain, excellent location.

I have a website dedicated to all things Edinburgh! Check out Everything Edinburgh for things to do, itineraries, food and drink.

Views of Edinburgh from Calton Hill

Glasgow City Breaks

If you are a fan of live music, art, shopping and a bit of banter,, Scotland’s biggest city is a perfect UK city break for you.

Barrowlands Park Glasgow

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.

Glasgow Duke of Wellington Statue

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 a building which was built with the profits from the transatlantic slave trade.

Grab food or a drink in the Merchant City or Trongate bars such as Maggie Mays, Buck’s Bar, and Beer Cafe, then head to Glasgow’s Cathedral and Provand’s Lordship, the city’s oldest house.

Work off lunch by taking an 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.

Glasgow Necropolis

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 East End, West or Drygate breweries. Not ready for the night to be over?

Check out Glasgow’s gig scene (SWG3, King Tuts, Barrowlands), a club night, cocktails or comedy.

There are lots of choices 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.

Return 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 to the city centre by train.

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

Floating Heads Installation by Sophie Cave at Glasgow Kelvingrove Museum

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 trails, 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 an additional entry charge for exhibitions.

There’s a nice view of 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.

Dundee V and A

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 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 still have room for one more art gallery, Dundee Contemporary Arts exhibits art and film and has a nice cafe and shop.  Enjoy a cheese and meat platter and wine at Gallery 48.

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.

Dundee Scotland

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

Castlehill Restaurant Dundee Food

West Coast Scotland Trips

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs

Loch Lomond is a very popular tourist destination, so if you want to avoid crowds during your Scotland weekend trip, book outside of the school holidays and avoid summer.

There are many cute towns and villages around the loch with accommodation options, food and attractions.

Boat Tour Loch Lomond in Balloch

Recommended areas to visit in Loch Lomond are Balloch for boat trips and food, Balmaha to hike Conic Hill, Duck Bay for drinks with views over to Ben Lomond, Loch Lomond Shores for shopping and TreeZone and Luss for a picturesque village.

Ben A’an is an easy two-hour hike with exceptional views over Lake Katrine.

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

Ellie Lighthouse Fife, flowers, grass, blue skies

How to Spend a Weekend in Fife

Cross the iconic Forth Bridge via train or drive over the Queensferry Crossing to get to Dunfermline, the historic capital of Scotland.

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. 

Dunfermline Abbey Fife_

See the squirrels and look out for the stunning Dunfermline peacocks at the Glen. 

Have 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 village’s cobbled streets

Culross Fife

From here, you can join the Fife Coastal Path, which runs to Newburgh, taking in the popular East Neuk, St Andrews and more. 

Mind you, you’ll need more than a weekend to complete this multi-day trek! 

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 shops, fishmonger, coffee roasters 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.

St Andrews Cathedral Fife

Getting to Fife 

While train lines and bus routes connect many of Fife’s towns and villages, a trip is best done by road trip. 

Aberdour in Fife

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.

Linlithgow Palace Scotland Outlaw King Set Bruce Castle Chapel

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.

Bass Rock Beach Dunbar Scotland Bowie

Spend the rest of the day at the beach or head out to the 14th-century ruins of Tantallon Castle. 

Belhaven Beach Dunbar Scotland

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.

Dunbar Scotland Camper

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

Linlithgow Palace Outlaw King Set Bruce Castle Chapel

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 a 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.

You may also like out guide to lodges with hot tubs in Scotland

Ben More with Bowie_

Bonus Trip

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.

Falkirk 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.

Stirling Castle.Scotland

Perth (City) and Perthshire Weekend Breaks

The best time to visit Perthshire is autumn when the foliage is akin to New England!

River Garry Perthshire Scotland Bridge

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. 

Enchanted Forest Pitlochry

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 or Palmerstons Cafe.

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! 

Bungee Jump Scotland killiecrankie

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 | Perfect Perthshire itinerary

Saorsa 1875 hotel lunch

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.

Check out The Balmoral Cairns Hike, which takes you through a forest to visit a number of cairns, including Prince Albert’s Pyramid.

Swing by Stonehaven and explore Dunnottar Castle then lunch on cullen skink in a bread bowl at the Marine Hotel, or a chippy at The Bay by the beach.

Betty’s is the place to get an ice cream in Stonehaven.

After settling into your accommodation in Aberdeen, 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.

Nimi and RH74 Union Row Street Art Aberdeen Girl Castle

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.

Bullers of Buchan Abderbeenshire

Where to Stay in Aberdeen

Skene House: Located on Rosemount Viaduct, free parking.

Read Next

Craigievar Castle Aberdeenshire

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 skyline, bridge, sea, NC500 route

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. 

Achmelvich beach, blue sea, white sand, rocks, people North Coast 500 Scotland

We have covered the NC500 extensively, here are all the guides to help you plan:

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

North Coast 500 Tours Scotland

South Scotland 

Looking to avoid the crowds of the NC500? Head south for small towns with big stories, historic ruins and the UNESCO Galloway Forest Park.

Portpatrick Pubs Flowers Scotland_

Starting from Glasgow head to Galloway Forest Park for the UNESCO Biosphere reserve where you can hike, fish and get into the water yourself.

Stargazers will want to check out the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory.

This region has lots of lochs and small towns worth stopping at including Wigtown, Scotland’s only book town. Find out more by reading our South West Scotland road trip.

Book Bench Wigtown, Scotland

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.

Loch Fad West Island Way | Isle of Bute

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. 

Rubhan Eun Lighthouse Isle of Bute West Island Way-9

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

Boathouse Supersuites Rothesay | Isle of Bute

Isle of Arran 

More popular than Bute, ‘Scotland in Miniature’, Arran is famous for its cheese, wool and Goat Fell hike. 

Lamlash Arran

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.

Arran ice cream

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. 

Glen Rosa Arran

Oban +and 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.

Staffa Tours Fingal Puffin, on Mull Scotland

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. 

Dunollie Museum Oban Scotland

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.

Portavadie Spa Scotland Private Spa Area Pool

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 reserved for guests with no children.

Alternatively, pay a certain amount for 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.

Seaweed Bath Portavadie Spa

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 off 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! 

Eilean Donan Castle

Pin to your Scotland planning board for later

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Final Words

Whether 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. 

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