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Things to do in Lothian

Lothian comprises East, West and Mid Lothian. They're situated in south-eastern Scotland, bordering the southern Firth of Forth. They surround Edinburgh - Scotland's capital city - and offer a great opportunity to get a wider picture of this unique part of Scotland.

Edinburgh Evening Skyline
Edinburgh Evening Skyline

Edinburgh and Lothians Tourist Information centres can be found at the VisitScotland iCentre at 249 High Street, Edinburgh.

Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh
Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh

East Lothian

Edinburgh and Lothians Tourist Information centres for the area can also be found in Dunbar and North Berwick.


East Lothian has a varied landscape, with the Lammermuir Hills to the south and a coastline of broad sandy beaches and rugged cliffs to the north and east.
Landscape of the Lammermuir Hills
Landscape of the Lammermuir Hills

These stretch for over 40 miles between Berwickshire and Edinburgh with an expanse of farmland, woods and rivers being found in between.

East Lothians landscape
East Lothians landscape

This diversity offers opportunities for a host of different activities including walking, horse riding, cycling, golfing and bird watching.

There are East Lothian Trails which you can follow to enjoy the area in a structured and informative way. Tourist Information centres have leaflets with further details.

The Hillfoots Trail is 27 miles of scenic splendour. It follows the lower slopes of the Lammermuir Hills, which inspired Sir Walter Scott's 'Bride of Lammermoor'.

Berwickshire coastline
Berwickshire coastline

You will find historic conservation villages along the trail, along with distinctive churches, wildlife and memorable scenery.

The Saltire Trail is a 27 mile route through central East Lothian, introducing you to Haddington - the birthplace of John Knox.

River Tyne and old Nungate Bridge in Haddington
River Tyne and old Nungate Bridge in Haddington

You'll also find Athelstaneford which reputedly is the the place that the Saltire Flag came from. The Museum of Flight is in East Fortune while Preston Mill is at East Linton.

Preston Mill
Preston Mill

The Coastal Trail takes you on a 31 mile journey along the south east coast.

This is a great way to explore the historic local seaside towns, villages and castles.

St Abbs Harbour
St Abbs Harbour

There's also stunning scenery to enjoy, along with golf courses and the bird sanctuary on the Bass Rock along the way.

Bass Rock
Bass Rock

North Berwick, has two fine beaches and an 18 hole golf course and is home to the Scottish Seabird Centre.

North Berwick
North Berwick

Dunbar has a good sandy beach, its ruined castle perched above the town, was visited by Mary Queen of Scots in 1566 after the murder of Rizzio.

The John Muir Country Park is also a great place to visit with its wildlife and cliff top walk.

Northern Gannet colony on Bass Rock
Northern Gannet colony on Bass Rock

Mid Lothian

Mid Lothian is situated to the south of Edinburgh, bounded by the Pentland Hills to the west and the Moorfoot Hills to the south.
Pentland Hills Regional Park
Pentland Hills Regional Park

The area has a rich heritage of ancient monuments, castles, historic houses and interesting visitor attractions.

Midlothian has much to offer - its stunning scenery encourages walking, cycling and golf. It also has a Ski Centre and several good leisure centres.

Poppy Field in Midlothian
Poppy Field in Midlothian

The Scottish Mining Museum (in Newtongrange) is one of the finest surviving examples of a Victorian colliery in Europe.

Roslin Chapel - made globally famous by Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code' - has long attracted attention for the beauty of its carvings and its references to the Knights Templar and Freemasonry.

Roslin Chapel
Roslin Chapel

Vogrie Country Park, near Gorebridge, is a 19th century estate surrounded by a formalised park, walled garden, farmland and woods. There are many ranger led events taking place here throughout the year.

Butterfly and Insect World is a very popular family attraction where you can watch free-flying exotic butterflies in an indoor tropical forest.

There are many more attractions in the area, details of many being available on this site - simply follow the links below.

West Lothian

You'll find Tourist Information for West Lothian in Linlithgow.

The skyline of Linlithgow
The skyline of Linlithgow

West Lothian is situated between Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling.

The Three Forth Bridges
The Three Forth Bridges

The area consists of rural countryside with ancient buildings and monuments and busy industrial sites. It's a thriving part of Silicon Glen.

Linlithgow Palace dates from 1424 and stands on a knoll overlooking its picturesque loch.

Linthithgow Palace
Linthithgow Palace

It was the birthplace of James V and his daughter - Mary Queen of Scots.

Linlithgow Story - Linlithgow's museum - is to be found on the High Street and tells the story of the town through the ages.

Cairnpapple Hill, dating from around 2800 BC, one of Scotland's most important prehistoric sites, can be found in the Bathgate Hills. It consists of a cairn and a circle of upright stone and is the site of Bronze and Iron Age burials.

Cairnpapple Hill
Cairnpapple Hill

Lovers of the outdoors will enjoy a visit to Almondell and Calderwood Country Park, with wildlife, woodland and riverside walks, grassy play areas, a visitor centre and ranger lead walks throughout the year.

Autumn in the woods
Autumn in the woods

Days out in Lothian

  • Almondell & Calderwood Country Park
    A large country park incorporating two previously private estates, featuring many woodland and riverside walks, picnic areas, barbecue sites and open spaces for children to run and play in.
    Almondell & Calderwood Country Park
  • Arniston House
    Arniston is privately owned by descendants of the Dundas family who purchased the land in 1571. The present mansion house was commenced in 1726 by William Adam and completed by his son John , brother of the famous Robert, in the 1750's.
    Arniston House
  • Beecraigs Country Park
    Just three miles south of historic Linlithgow, nestled high in the scenic Bathgate Hills, West Lothian Council caters for a wide range of leisure and recreational interests within its 370 hectare (913 acre) Country Park.
    Beecraigs Country Park
  • Blackness Castle
    Blackness Castle was built in the 1440s, and was restored in the 1920s by the Office of Works.
    Blackness Castle
  • Boness and Kinneil Railway
    The Boness and Kinneil Railway is home to an exciting collection of railway buildings, locomotives, equipment, carriages and wagons.
    Boness and Kinneil Railway
  • Brass Rubbing Centre
    In the centre you will find a fascinating collection of replicas moulded from ancient Pictish Stones, rare Scottish brasses and medieval church brasses.
  • Camera Obscura & World Of Illusions
    At the top of Edinburgh's historic Royal Mile you'll find the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions - an attraction which offers a fascinating range of optical illusions old and new.
    Camera Obscura & World Of Illusions
  • Crichton Castle
    Crichton is a large and sophisticated castle with a spectacular Italian-style range.
    Crichton Castle
  • Dalmeny House
    When Dalmeny House was completed in 1817, it marked a great departure in Scottish architecture; its Tudor Gothic style, with its highly-decorated chimneys and crenellations, looked back toward fanciful 16th-century English mansions, such as Hampton Court.
    Dalmeny House
  • Dean Gallery
    Also know as the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, the gallery has an extensive collection of Dada and Surrealist art including works by Dali, Duchamp, Ernst, Magritte, Man Ray and Miro.
    Dean Gallery
  • Dynamic Earth
    Edinburgh's 5 star Our Dynamic Earth invites you on a journey back through space and time 15,000 million years.
    Dynamic Earth
  • Edinburgh Castle
    Everything you need to plan a visit to Edinburgh Castle: what to see, visiting with kids, tickets, fireworks, parking and more. Superb photos and video.
    Edinburgh Castle
  • Edinburgh City Art Centre
    The City Art Centre is home to Edinburgh's fine art collection. Mostly by Scottish artists, the works range in date from the 17th century to the present.
    Edinburgh City Art Centre
  • Edinburgh Dungeon
    The Edinburgh Dungeon invites you to delve into the capital's most blood-curdling history. Live actors, two hair-raising rides, shows and special effects transport you back to those black, bleak times...are you brave enough?
    Edinburgh Dungeon
  • Edinburgh Museum of Childhood
    The Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh is a great place to visit - a whirlwhind tour of all sorts of toys and games from Victorian to modern times.
    Edinburgh Museum of Childhood
  • Edinburgh Zoo
    Edinburgh Zoo is part of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, a registered charity. The aim is: "to inspire and excite our visitors with the wonder of living animals, and so to promote the conservation of threatened species and habitats."
    Edinburgh Zoo
  • Georgian House (Edinburgh)
    The Georgian House is part of Robert Adam's masterpiece of urban design, Charlotte Square. It dates from 1796, when those who could afford it began to escape from the cramped, squalid conditions of Edinburgh's Old Town.
    Georgian House (Edinburgh)
  • Gladstone's Land
    Gladstone's Land was the home of a prosperous Edinburgh merchant, Thomas Gledstanes, in the 17th century. But Gledstanes also let out parts of the building to different tenants.
    Gladstone's Land
  • Glenkinchie Distillery
    Glenkinchie distillery, like so many others, was founded by farmers and is situated in a quiet hollow, surrounded by the fields which supply the barley for malting on site.
    Glenkinchie Distillery
  • House of the Binns
    An Edinburgh butter merchant, Thomas Dalyell, who had made his fortune at the court of King James VI and I in London, built the House of the Binns between 1612 and 1630.
    House of the Binns
  • Inveresk Lodge Garden
    This inviting terraced garden in the historic village of Inveresk entices visitors with its colours and perfumes, colourful herbaceous beds, a variety of attractive shrubs and the scent of roses.
    Inveresk Lodge Garden
  • John Knox House
    John Knox House has been the outstanding building in Edinburgh's historic Netherbow for over five hundred years.
    John Knox House
  • Lauriston Castle
    A country mansion situated five miles west of the city centre, it stands in extensive grounds overlooking the Firth of Forth.
    Lauriston Castle
  • Lennoxlove House
    Lennoxlove, dating from the 14th century is the home of the Duke of Hamilton, Scotland's premier Duke.
    Lennoxlove House
  • Linlithgow Museum
    The Linlithgow Museum is situated at the Linlithgow Partnership Centre on the Royal Burgh's historic High Street.
    Linlithgow Museum
  • Livingston's Countryside
    The Ranger Service, based at Polkemmet Country Park, offers activities, clubs and advice to the public.
    Livingston's Countryside
  • Malleny Garden
    A peaceful haven from the bustle of the nearby capital, this three-acre walled garden has a delightful collection of old-fashioned roses and fine herbaceous borders.
    Malleny Garden
  • Museum of Edinburgh
    The Museum of Edinburgh traces the history of the capital from prehistoric times to the present day. It also houses extensive collections of Edinburgh-made silver and glass, Scottish pottery and other decorative objects.
    Museum of Edinburgh
  • Museum of Flight
    Man's fascination with flight comes to life at this First and Second World War airfield. Here you can explore an aviation collection that is one of the best in the UK.
    Museum of Flight
  • Myreton Motor Museum
    Myreton museum houses a large collection of cars , bicycles, motorcycles and commercial vehicles dating from 1899 to the 1970s.
    Myreton Motor Museum
  • National Gallery of Scotland
    The Museum houses an outstanding collection of paintings, drawings and prints by the greatest artists from the Renaissance to Post-Impressionism.
    National Gallery of Scotland
  • National Museum of Scotland
    The National Museum of Scotland is in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town. The museum, which has recently undergone a £47.4 million redevelopment, offers one of the UK's best days out.
    National Museum of Scotland
  • National War Museum
    In the magnificent setting of Edinburgh Castle, explore over 400 years of the Scottish military experience.
    National War Museum
  • Nelson Monument
    The death of Admiral Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 was felt by many people in Britain to be more than just a public calamity. In Edinburgh it was decided that a monument should be built which would be both ornamental and useful.
    Nelson Monument
  • Palace of Holyroodhouse
    The Palace of Holyroodhouse, official residence in Scotland of Her Majesty The Queen, stands at the end of Edinburgh's Royal Mile against the spectacular backdrop of Arthur's Seat.
    Palace of Holyroodhouse
  • Polkemmet Country Park
    Discover a world of excitement at West Lothian's Polkemmet Country Park, where the clock has been turned back and a large area of neglected ground restored to its place as a focal point of the community.
    Polkemmet Country Park
  • Preston Mill
    Picturesque Preston Mill sits on the River Tyne which still drives the mill's water-wheel. The conical roofed kiln and red pantile roof of these old 18th-century buildings hold a magnetic attraction for artists and photographers.
    Preston Mill
  • Queensferry Museum
    Situated in the historic former royal burgh of Queensferry, eight miles west of the city centre, the museum commands magnificent views of the two great bridges spanning the Forth.
    Queensferry Museum
  • Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
    Discover the wonders of the plant kingdom in Scotland's Premier Garden. Plants from around the world are displayed in over 28 hectares of beautifully landscaped grounds.
    Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
  • Scott Monument
    The Scott Monument is 200 ft. 6in high and 55ft square at the base; the highest gallery is reached by climbing a total of 287 steps. It is constructed of Binnie stone, taken from shale workings near Linlithgow.
    Scott Monument
  • Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
    The Gallery contains Scotland's finest collection of 20th-century painting, sculpture and graphic art. There is a sculpture garden and beautiful leafy grounds.
    Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
  • Scottish National Portrait Gallery
    The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is home to the Scottish National Collection of Portraits of Scottish Men and women and the Scottish National Photography Collection.
    Scottish National Portrait Gallery
  • Scottish Parliament
    Love it or hate it, the Scottish Parliament building is one of Scotland's most unusual contemporary buildings, built to house the 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs).
    Scottish Parliament
  • Seton Collegiate Church
    The transepts and steeple of this lovely building were built by the widow of the Lord Seton, who was killed at Flodden in 1513.
    Seton Collegiate Church
  • St Giles Cathedral
    When you walk through the door of St Giles' Cathedral, you are entering one of the most historic and romantic buildings in Scotland. Founded in the 1100s, this church has witnessed executions, riots and celebrations
    St Giles Cathedral
  • Tantallon Castle
    Tantallon Castle is a remarkable fortification, on a promontory, with earthwork defences, and a massive 14th century curtain wall with towers.
    Tantallon Castle
  • The People's Story
    Situated in the Canongate Tolbooth this museum was opened in 1989. It tells of the life and work of Edinburgh's ordinary people from the late 18th century to the present day.
    The People's Story
  • The Royal Yacht Britannia
    For over forty years The Royal Yacht Britannia served the Royal Family, travelling over one million miles to become the most famous ship in the world.
    The Royal Yacht Britannia
  • The Writers' Museum
    The Writers' Museum is dedicated to the lives and work of scotland's great literary figures.
    The Writers' Museum

Places to Visit in Lothian

  • Armadale
    Armadale, West Lothian, known locally as 'The 'Dale', is a former mining town, which straddles the Edinburgh-Glasgow 'Great Road', near the M8, about two miles west of Bathgate, and 30 minutes by road from Edinburgh Airport.
  • Craigmillar
    There are two main attractions for visitors near Craigmillar (a residential area): Duddingston Village by Duddingston Loch in Holyrood Park and Craigmillar Castle on Craigmillar Castle Road.
  • Cramond
    Cramond Kirk was built in the 17th century on the site of a medieval church which was itself built on top of the Roman fort...
  • East Linton
    East Linton is a pretty conservation village in East Lothian, Scotland, 20 miles east of Edinburgh. It's name comes from the Linn (waterfall) on the river.
    East Linton
  • Edinburgh
    Edinburgh is the amazing, historic and beautiful capital of Scotland, situated between the Forth Bridges and the Pentland Hills. It is a fantastic place to visit at any time of year with historic buildings, galleries and museums by the score!
  • Granton
    The run-down area of Granton is beginning to change as building and development continues to bring the area into the 21st Century. A walk along the Granton breakwater gives excellent views of the Firth of Forth and Leith.
  • Leith
    Leith amalgamated with Edinburgh in 1922. The Water of Leith flows down from the Pentland Hills through Balerno past the picturesque Dean Village (near Edinburgh's west end) down to Leith Docks.
  • Linlithgow
    Linlithgow is a historic town and Royal Burgh in West Lothian. It is midway between Edinburgh and Stirling, giving it great strategic importance.
  • Livingston
    Livingston is the largest town in West Lothian, situated 22 miles west of Edinburgh.
  • Newton Grange
    Newtongrange - (aka Nitten by the Bing) is a mining village 7 miles from Edinburgh City Centre, linked with regular buses (day & night). Work is beginning to reopen the 'The Waverley' rail link.
    Newton Grange
  • North Berwick
    Set on the south bank of the Firth of Forth, North Berwick is a charming coastal town in East Lothian. It is located 25 miles east of Edinburgh.
    North Berwick
  • Pumpherston
    Pumpherston is a small shale mining village situated 12 miles west of Edinburgh. It was once the central oil refinery for shale from the late 1800's to the early 1960's. Red spent shale bings surrounded the area for years.
  • South Queensferry
    South Queensferry is a town of just over 12,000 residents about ten miles north of Edinburgh. Situated on the south bank of the Firth of Forth, it was originally a royal Burgh.
    South Queensferry

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