The Best Places To Visit in East Lothian
East Lothian is a small county next door to the Scottish capital. There's so much to see and do, making it a fantastic day trip if you're visiting Edinburgh, or it would make for a great long weekend if you want to stay for longer. Known as the Garden of Scotland, East Lothian has loads of amazing walking routes through many different landscapes, including the infamous John Muir Way, which takes you through some of the most beautiful places in the county. East Lothian is also on the coast, meaning there are multiple beaches to be explored too. There's also plenty of history in this small place, including the Birthplace of the Scottish Flag. There's really something for everybody!
So today I'm going to be highlighting some of the places I would recommend a tourist to visit when they come to East Lothian. For each one, I've given two options depending on the amount of time you have, interests, demographics of your group, etc. And if you've got longer to spend there, why not do them all?!
If you're looking for a nice relaxing walk, look no further than Dalkeith Country Park. Now, I'm already cheating, as Dalkeith is technically in the neighbouring county of Midlothian, however it's a short drive away, and it's a fantastic place to visit. There are multiple walking trails throughout the estate depending on how long you wish to walk for. There's also a wide variety of scenery, including fields and farms, woodlands, and rivers. To top it all off, there's a shop, a cafe, and a restaurant to finish the day in.
If you have small children with you, Dalkeith Country Park is a great place to go because of their play park, however I would recommend East Links Farm Park over Dalkeith for young families. Not only is it a great place to walk around in and pet the multitude of animals that they have available, but there's also many play areas for children, including adventure golf and a race track. It's a fantastic day out!
If you come to Scotland, you need to visit at least one castle as part of your trip...they're everywhere! And East Lothian is no exception; it has two main castles. The first is Tantallon, which is based just outside North Berwick. It's incredibly dramatic, situated right on the cliff, making it incredibly windy and stormy! It makes for some incredible photographs! If you're into your spooky history, Tantallon is often said to be one of the most haunted castles in the world, and has a very famous photo of a ghost sighting attached to it; research at your own risk!
If you prefer your history a little less dramatic and spooky, and a bit more renaissance-y, then Dirleton Castle might be more your cup of tea. It's an incredibly beautiful ruin situated in the small town of Dirleton. Surrounded by a wall, it's exactly what you picture when you think of a castle. There's also loads of space to run about, making it the perfect place to visit with children.
As I said, East Lothian sits right on the Scottish coast, meaning there are loads of beaches to explore. If you're looking for a traditional Scottish beach, then North Berwick might be the perfect place to visit. It has two beaches, each are fantastic for relaxing on a hot day, or for a brisk but scenic walk on one of the windier and rainier ones (it is Scotland after all).
If you're looking for an authentic Northern experience, the I recommend taking a visit up to Dunbar Harbour. Incredibly beautiful and dramatic, the harbour looks over the Firth of Forth, which eventually leads into the North Sea. There's always fishing work going on in the harbour, and if you're lucky you might even see some of the resident seals that live there! In the summer months there are often food vans situated there as well, serving delicious seaside food.
Perhaps the most famous museum in East Lothian is the Museum of Flight. Going through the history of flight and Scottish air travel, the Museum of Flight has some fascinating exhibitions, including many planes you can get into for a fantastic photo opportunity. Situated in an old World War Two aircraft hanger zone, it requires a drive by car or bus to get there, but it's worth the visit! It also has a Concorde that you can get into as well!
Alternatively, the Seabird Centre in North Berwick is a great experience for those interested in sea life and natural birds of Scotland. There are lots of interactive exhibits and activities, again making it a fantastic day out for small children and young families.
There are many natural wonders to explore in the Garden of Scotland, but one of the most spectacular is The Law. Again situated in North Berwick, The Law is a large hill that provides a challenging, yet rewarding climb up to the top, where you can see for miles, and there's even a whale's jaw bone at the top (a fake one, unfortunately)! It used to be a volcanic plug, making for an interesting and intrepid climb!
Alternatively, if a tough climb isn't for you, there are plenty of boat trips out to the Bass Rock. You may recognise this rock formation, as it's appeared in many travel TV shows and documentaries, known mostly for the massive colony of gannets. Steeped with history, it's a fantastic place to visit and provides a real taste of Scottish wildlife.
Places To Stay
So you've decided to visit East Lothian, now you need somewhere to stay! The county is incredibly popular with tourists, so there are loads of places to stay for many different interests, tastes, and price points. Below I've listed a couple that would suit a variety of different wants and needs.
If you're looking for a luxury experience, Archerfield Estate is the place to stay. I'm not going to lie, it's incredibly expensive, but the rooms are total luxury, and the estate itself has beautiful walks that can take you all the way down to the beach.
If you're looking for a historic stay, there are plenty of castle and manor house hotels to enjoy, including Carberry Tower, which can make you feel like you're living in a historical novel! Beautiful grounds and a beautiful building, this is a fantastic place to stay!
If you're looking for a more unique stay for your trip, why not try The Bus Stop? Situated right in the countryside, there are a series of buses that have been turned into beautiful places to stay. It's quite the experience! There's something to suit every requirement, from fully equipped luxury buses, to more rustic camping-style vehicles. It's certainly a unique opportunity!
And that's it for my recommendations when visiting East Lothian. If you've visited this county, I'd love to know what your favourite thing to do here is!
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Until next time,