Visit East Lothian: Great days out on Edinburgh’s doorstep

For an escape to somewhere that feels a world apart but is just a short journey from Scotland’s capital, take a fresh look at East Lothian.

Day trippers and short-stay holidaymakers can create the perfect itinerary in East Lothian, without spending hours getting there.

With a perfect mix of coast and countryside, the region boasts an impressive range of attractions, from heritage and museums to adrenaline-fuelled adventures, nature, entertainment, arts and culture and, of course, stunning scenery all around.

The area is ideal for families, friends and groups of all ages to come together. Responsible travel is easy with good public transport links from the capital, while cyclists will appreciate excellent cycle routes throughout the region.

Here are some top suggestions for things to see and do in East Lothian to help you plan a memorable trip:

Build your itinerary

Food and drink

Scotland is justifiably proud of its food and drink offering, with some of the best seafood and of course the best whisky in the world. If it’s the water of life you’re after, then Glenkinchie Distillery, The Lowland Home of Johnnie Walker  is perfect for that. Enjoy a sensory journey as you explore this beautiful Victorian distillery, with fragrant orchard gardens surrounded by farmland and wildflower meadows. Discover the secrets of the master distillers who craft the rare Lowland style whisky, evoking fragrant flowers, dried cut grass, and nutty cereal. Then sample the lowland malt that’s loved around the world, both on its own and as one of the four corners of Johnnie Walker.

For something different Belhaven Brewery’s award-winning Visitor Experience nestles in Dunbar, between rolling barley fields and the beautiful Belhaven Bay, just 25 miles from Edinburgh. Here you will learn all about Scotland’s oldest working brewery dating back to 1719 and sample a selection of Scotland’s best loved ales and stouts.. (Bus routes: 120/X7. Train to Dunbar station.)


The Brunton offers a great variety of live arts and entertainment at venues in Musselburgh and Haddington. Discover something for everyone to delight in, with music of all genres including trad, rock, classical and jazz - as well as theatre, dance, comedy, children’s shows, festivals and cinema screenings. Enjoy exciting, fun and inspiring entertainment at The Brunton’s venues, with a warm welcome guaranteed.


East Lothian Council Museum’s Service operates a host of free museums to keep you and the family entertained and informed.  John Muir’s Birthplace Museum tells the story of this famous Scot who still inspires climate action today, the interactive John Gray Centre museum in Haddington explores the region’s rich history, while Dunbar Town House Museum and Gallery offer a taste of life in the past. At Prestongrange Museum you can find out more about Scotland’s industrial heritage the Coastal Communities Museum covers 10,000 years of maritime history and Musselburgh Museum explains why this town had such high importance in the region.

At the National Museum of Flight you can see one of Europe’s best collections of aircraft. Discover the history of aviation from the First World War to the present day, take a supersonic trip on board Scotland’s Concorde, and get hands-on with over 25 interactive exhibits in the family friendly Fantastic Flight gallery. (Bus routes: 121).


Get your adrenaline fix at Foxlake Adventures. Foxlake is a 5-star award-winning adventure hub offering a wide variety of safe, unique, adrenaline-filled outdoor activities, from an inflatable obstacle course and an overwater ropes course to wakeboarding and Segway tours. And if you prefer to take things at a more relaxed pace, you can just sit back and enjoy the sauna and the award winning Jay Bird’s Larder cafe. Bus routes: X7 and the 106 (East Coast Buses).


Scotland is, of course, as famous for its castles as its whisky. Historic Scotland sites offer the magnificent Tantallon and Dirleton Castles for visitors wanting to explore the ramparts for themselves and imagine defending these dramatic structures against Oliver Cromwell’s Army. Newhailes House  is one of the jewels in the National Trust for Scotland’s crown. You can step back in time to wander the 300-year-old halls of this beautiful Palladian house, which played an important role in the Scottish Enlightenment. The stunning gardens and grounds offer lots of activities for all the family too.

A Day at the Races

There is a raceday to suit everyone at Musselburgh Racecourse, from family days and Friday Nights to Ladies Day and the Edinburgh Cup. Set in a unique coastal location, the racecourse is renowned for being one of the UK’s most stylish racing venues, boasting award-winning hospitality and a fantastic atmosphere. Musselburgh Racecourse was also crowned Champion Racecourse in 2023. (Bus routes: Lothian buses: 26 and 44. East Coast: 113, 124, 140/141).

Nature and wildlife

There are so many places to discover rare birds, flora and fauna along the coast and in the quiet countryside. But the Scottish Seabird Centre, located in the stunning coastal town of North Berwick, can help you make the most of what you’re seeing. Discover the local wildlife wonders on a guided coastal walk, rockpool session or book a boat trip to get up close to some of this area’s incredible coastal wildlife. Make sure you leave enough time to enjoy the amazing views of the Bass Rock from the Centre’s friendly café. (Bus routes: 124, X5 and Eves Coaches 120 and 121).

Be responsible

Whatever you do, and wherever you visit please be a responsible visitor by respecting wildlife and nature, not lighting fires and taking your litter home – leave only footprints and take only memories.

For more ideas on how to make the most of your visit to East Lothian visit the days out website here