While Edinburgh may have the touristic edge, Glasgow is fast catching up with the Scottish capital. And thanks to its convenient central location, Scotland’s biggest city makes an excellent jumping-off point for day tours. From misty lochs to rugged valleys, here are our top picks for day trips from Glasgow.
Scottish Highlands — about 16 miles (26 km) away
With its gorgeous glens, majestic peaks, brooding lochs, bluebell woods, and wave-battered cliffs, the Highlands are Scotland at its most dramatic. The region, delineated by the Highland Boundary fault, begins just a 30-minute drive or so from Glasgow and extends all the way to Scotland’s northern tip. Most organized day tours follow routes up the Central and West Highland regions, incorporating Oban, the breathtakingly beautiful valley of Glencoe, the National Heritage Site of Rannoch Moor, and the historic city of Stirling.
Loch Lomond — 33 miles (53 km) away
Though it’s just a 30-minute drive north of Glasgow, peaceful Loch Lomond—part of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park—feels a world away. Stroll or cycle around its tranquil shores, or venture out on the water by kayak or on a boat cruise. Tours from Glasgow to Loch Lomond include round-trip transportation as well as stops at historic sites such as Kilchurn Castle, Castle Stalker, and Stirling Castle. For whisky enthusiasts, optional Scotch tastings are available.
Ayrshire — 43 miles (69 km) away
Take a day trip south of Glasgow to discover Ayrshire, a less-visited region rich in literary heritage. See the village of Alloway, the birthplace of the famous Scottish bard Robert Burns. Explore the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum and view the Alloway Auld Kirk (the setting for Burns’ poem Tam o’ Shanter). Nearby are the splendid clifftop Culzean Castle and Culzean Country Park, a scenic spot for an afternoon ramble.
Loch Ness — 157 miles (253 km) away
A few hours’ drive north of Glasgow sits one of Scotland’s most famous natural wonders: Loch Ness. The blue-black waters of this vast loch are said to be the lurking ground for a mysterious aquatic creature, affectionately known as Nessie. Take a boat ride out on the water and explore the evocative lakeside ruins of the 16th-century Urquhart Castle.