East Lothian: The Best Things to Do

Family attractions in East Lothian

East Lothian

East Lothian, an often-missed gem in Scotland, is a county that offers an astonishing blend of idyllic landscapes, charming towns, and a wide array of sightseeing opportunities.

Often called the ‘Garden of Scotland’ due to its fertile farmland, East Lothian is situated to the east of Edinburgh, extending along the southern shore of the Firth of Forth before arcing south to the Scottish Borders.

It’s a region rich in history, natural beauty, and charming wee villages, making it a must-visit destination for anyone wishing to explore further than the confines of Scotland’s capital city.

The landscape of East Lothian is truly awe-inspiring. The county is known for a number of natural wonders such as the Lammermuir Hills – an enormous range of moorland-covered hills – as well as mile after mile of golden sand beaches that provide the perfect place for a quiet walk or a day of family fun.

Gullane Beach

East Lothian is home to several quaint towns and villages but there are three that are perhaps best suited for tourists.

Haddington, the county town, is known for its beautiful countryside setting and historic architecture as well as a superb walking trail that follows the meandering waters of the River Tyne.

North Berwick, meanwhile, is a charming seaside town that’s a popular destination for its two beaches, the Scottish Seabird Centre, and the splendid views of Bass Rock.

Finally, the historic Dunbar, the birthplace of naturalist John Muir, is a lovely coastal town boasting stunning sea views, an attractive fishing harbour, and the ruins of one of Scotland’s oldest castles.

Wildlife is abundant in East Lothian, with a wealth of bird species making the region a paradise for birdwatchers. The Bass Rock, visible from North Berwick, is home to the world’s largest colony of Northern gannets, while Aberlady Bay – a designated Local Nature Reserve – is home to a variety of wading birds.

Aberlady Bay Nature Reserve

As for tourist attractions, East Lothian doesn’t disappoint in that department either.

Tantallon Castle, a semi-ruined clifftop fortress dominated by Scotland’s oldest curtain wall, offers a fascinating insight into the country’s turbulent past. The National Museum of Flight, located at East Fortune Airfield, allows visitors to explore Scotland’s aviation history, and for golf enthusiasts there are more than 20 courses including the world-famous Gullane.

For foodies, there’s the chance to visit the Glenkinchie Distillery, one of Scotland’s few remaining Lowland whisky distilleries, or enjoy fresh-caught seafood in North Berwick which has been named one of the best places in the country for cooked lobster.

In summary, East Lothian is an exceptional region of Scotland that makes a great break from the hubbub of nearby Edinburgh. With its mesmerising landscapes, charming towns, and a vast array of tourist attractions, it’s a place that’s truly worth exploring.

Find places to visit and things to do in East Lothian with these visitor guides.

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