Image: Dunnottar Castle

© VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

7 Days in the East of Scotland

Want a real flavour of Scotland? Coastlines and castles, beaches and breweries, cathedrals and cashmere, whisky and walks; all this lies ahead of you (and much more) as you spend seven days exploring the east coast of Scotland.

Taking in a range of cities and towns, stretching from Edinburgh to Pitlochry, you can explore St Andrews, Dundee, Aberdeen and more. You'll also explore miles of countryside, weave through rural communities and even journey through one of our National Parks! Are you ready to tour the north east coast of Scotland?

Dundee has been named as one of Lonely Planet's 'Best in Europe' destinations and it's easy to see why with it's cultural scene, historic waterfront, buzzing music, creative events and much more on offer.

Start / Finish
Edinburgh - City Centre / Edinburgh
  • Days
    7
  • Distance
    396 Miles

    633.6 km
  • Transport
    Car
  • Main theme
    Sightseeing
Highlights
Edinburgh's attractions
Fishing villages of East Neuk
St Andrews
RRS Discovery
Arbroath Abbey
Dunnottar Castle
Strathisla Distillery
The Hermitage
Areas covered
East

Day 1 Take in the highlight's of Scotland's capital

Transport:
Bus
Walking

Edinburgh, Scotland's historic capital city is bound to leave an impression on you. You could easily spend days upon days discovering its many fantastic attractionshidden gems and vibrant cultural scene. Today's stops will give you a real feel for this beautiful city's unique character, fascinating past and unbridled charm.

  • Edinburgh Castle Edinburgh - City Centre

    Image: Edinburgh Castle

    Towering over the city, you won't be able to miss Edinburgh Castle. As well as offering spectacular views of the skyline, it's home to the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny. On your visit, uncover Scotland's military history in the National War Museum and take in the haunting National War Memorial. Once you've explored the castle, wander down the Royal Mile to take in this famous thoroughfare - it's lined with an eclectic range of shops, pubs, eateries and historic closes, and you can also find St Giles' Cathedral in the middle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the bottom of the street.

    Find out more about Edinburgh Castle
    Castle Hill, Edinburgh - City Centre, EH1 2NG
    Key facilities
    • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
    • Level Access
    • On Public Transport Route
    • Cafe or Restaurant
  • National Museum of Scotland Edinburgh - City Centre

    Image: National Museum of Scotland entance (c) Andrew Lee

    © © Andrew Lee

    Not only is the National Museum of Scotland free to visit and full of thousands of incredible objects, the building is an architectural masterpiece that should not be missed by fans of design. Take in the vast airy space of the Grand Gallery before moving into the galleries on art, design and science, which covers everything from Dolly the Sheep, a marvel of genetics, to the couture fashions of Vivienne Westwood, and the late Alexander McQueen. There are also fantastic temporary exhibitions to see. It's a real treasure trove!

    Find out more about National Museum of Scotland
    Chambers Street, Edinburgh - City Centre, EH1 1JF

    Closed

    Usually open Wednesdays 10:00 to 16:30.

    National Museum of Scotland: Check opening times

    Free entry

    Key facilities
    • WiFi
    • Hearing Loop
    • Accessible toilets
    • Level Access
    • On Public Transport Route
    • Cafe or Restaurant
  • Calton Hill and the National Monument Edinburgh

    Image: Scottish National Monument.

    © Kenny Lam, VisitScotland. All rights reserved.

    Edinburgh is a city best explored on foot, and for budding photographers or those keen to admire the stunning cityscape, it's time to head to Calton Hill to enjoy great views in the lingering light of the late afternoon. You'll see the National Monument, and art lovers can also pop into the Collective Gallery, one of the city's many art galleries. Afterwards, if you are ready for dinner, you could catch the 22 Lothian Bus to the Leith area of the city. It's one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in the UK and boasts two Michelin-star restaurants. Alternatively, wander along Princes Street or George Street to the city's West End.

    Find out more about Calton Hill and the National Monument
    32 Greenside Road, Edinburgh, EH1 3AJ
  • Real Mary King's Close Edinburgh - City Centre

    Image: Bottom of The Real Mary King's Close

    If you're keen to pack in one more attraction in the evening and want to find out more about the history of Edinburgh's Old Town, then take a tour of the Real Mary King's Close. Step into the past as you head below the Royal Mile to discover a warren of old streets and living and working quarters from the 17th century which have been forgotten for hundreds of years. As well as fascinating and detailed accounts of the people who occupied the close, there's also a few chilling tales to unearth - a must for any history lover or fans of the macabre! Alternatively, take a supernatural-themed walking tour to uncover more of Edinburgh's spooky side.

    Find out more about Real Mary King's Close
    Time to explore
    1 hour
    High Street, 2 Warriston's Close, Edinburgh - City Centre, EH1 1PG
    Key facilities
    • WiFi
    • Hearing Loop
    • Accessible toilets
    • Cafe or Restaurant

Day 2 Explore Fife & St Andrews

Transport:
Car
Walking

Leave Edinburgh and venture out into the Kingdom of Fife, taking the Queensferry Crossing. Look out for the remarkable structure of the Forth Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Forth Road Bridge. Follow the brown signs for the Fife Coastal Route to take in the sparkling coastline and the picturesque villages of the East Neuk.

  • The villages of the East Neuk of Fife Pittenweem

    Image: Pittenweem perches on the rocks above the sea, its pink, white and grey houses topped with terracotta roof tiles and reflected in the water below.

    © Kenny Lam, all rights reserved.

    The East Neuk refers to a scattering of quaint fishing villages in the north east corner of Fife. With curious winding streets, ancient stone harbours, and original white-washed fisherman's cottages, they make the perfect place to stop, breathe in the sea air, and perhaps grab a refreshing cup of tea or coffee. In Pittenweem, wander to the pier to see colourful bobbing boats, or walk up Cove Wynd to find the tiny St Fillan's Cave, said to have been used as a chapel by the saint in the eighth century. Or, instead head to Anstruther to try famous fish and chips, before visiting the town's Scottish Fisheries Museum. It's here that you can hop on board The Reaper, a Fife sailing herring drifter featured in the TV series Outlander (access available by prior arrangement).

    Find out more about The villages of the East Neuk of Fife
    Pittenweem
  • St Andrews West Sands and Town Centre St Andrews

    Image: Looking along West Sands towards the town, St Andrews, Fife

    © Richard Campbell, all rights reserved.

    Next, head to beautiful St Andrews, a historic university town. If you're keen to work up an appetite before lunch, take a bracing stroll along the town's iconic West Sands, a long, flat beach which was famously featured in the historical drama film Chariots of Fire (1981). West Sands lines the town's world-famous golf courses and lying not far from the south end of the beach is the famous Swilcan Bridge on the Old Course. Wander through the streets of the town and you'll find a range of boutique shops, cosy pubs, cafés and restaurants, as well as the ancient university campus, St Andrews Cathedral and St Andrews Castle.

    Find out more about St Andrews West Sands and Town Centre
    St Andrews
  • Eden Mill Distillery & Brewery Guardbridge

    Image: Eden Mill St Andrews Distillery & Brewery

    If you fancy trying a local tipple, then book a late afternoon tour at Eden Mill Distillery & Brewery, just a 10 minute drive from St Andrews' town centre. Producing craft beer, small-batch gin and Scotch whisky, there's bound to be the perfect tour to match your palate. Perhaps you'll fall head over heels for the Love Gin, or enjoy a fusion of flavours as you sample the whisky barrel beer (but remember: it's against the law to drink and drive). From Eden Mill, head north and take the Tay Bridge across the waters of the silvery River Tay to Dundee.

    Find out more about Eden Mill Distillery & Brewery
    Main Street, Guardbridge, Guardbridge, KY16 0US

    Closed

    Provisionally open Wednesdays 10:30 to 17:30.

    Eden Mill Distillery & Brewery: Check opening times

    Key facilities
    • Pets Welcome
    • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
    • Accessible toilets
    • Level Access
    • On Public Transport Route
    • Parking

Day 3 Make Discoveries in Dundee

Day 4 Head north to Aberdeen

Day 5 Venture from Aberdeen to Elgin

Day 6 Weave through Royal Deeside to Highland Perthshire

Day 7 Journey from Pitlochry to Edinburgh

Other things you might like