To the west of the city you’ll find a region rich in heritage, expansive green spaces, and sights so special you’ll recognise them from TV and film.
Top reasons to visit West Lothian
From births and battles to feasts and tournaments, visit castles that have played a major part in Scotland’s history.
Soak up the beauty of art in an award-winning contemporary sculpture garden.
Pack a picnic and relax in nature at one of the region’s green and spacious country parks.
Hit the history trail
The ruins of 15th century Linlithgow Palace are perched on a hill overlooking Linlithgow Loch and the idyllic royal park grounds. But it’s not just a picturesque spot, it’s also central in Scottish history, as the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and a major royal residence of the Stewart dynasty. Inside, you can marvel at preserved architectural details, hear fascinating stories in the now roofless Great Hall, and climb Queen Margaret’s Bower for views to the Forth bridges. While outside, enjoy a walk around the loch or a picnic overlooking the water and spot some local wildlife. (Check the website for current opening hours and access).
The Linlithgow Heritage Trail highlights many more points of historical interest in this fascinating, ancient town. And from there, it’s just a 15 minute bus ride to Blackness Castle – an imposing 15th century fortress on the Firth of Forth’s southern shore.
Built in 1612 by Thomas Dalyell, an Edinburgh merchant who made his fortune at the court of King James VI and I in London, House of the Binns near Linlithgow has been the home of the Dalyells for over 400 years. Explore the rich collection of family portraits, furniture and porcelain which reveal the lives of the family through the centuries, or talk a walk through the beautifully landscaped parkland overlooking the River Forth.
If you’re interested in learning more about West Lothian’s mining heritage, The Shale Trail is a 16 mile walking and cycling route between West Calder and Winchburgh.
Experience art in new surroundings
Set in over 100 acres of meadow, woodland and indoor gallery spaces, Jupiter Artland is an award-winning contemporary sculpture garden unlike any other. Here you’ll find sculptures towering over fields, artworks emerging from water and dreamlike installations tucked away in woodlands. Home to over 30 permanent sculptures as well as a seasonal programme of carefully curated exhibitions and events, this is a place where anything is possible!
Discover art on a walking tour with the Broxburn & Uphall Heritage Art Trail. This 3 mile trail celebrates the history of the two towns with a series of site-specific artworks. Expect to see everything from a grand 18th-century hall with a ruined castle within its walls, to the historic Port Buchan.
Meet some wild ones
Get up close and personal with everything from lions and lemurs to birds and bears at Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder, which is home to more than 180 species. Throughout the day there are talks, live feedings and much more to keep the whole family entertained.
One of the world’s largest collections of owls can be found at the Scottish Owl Centre at Polkemmet Country Park near Whitburn. Witness flying displays, get your photo taken holding an owl, and even go deep into the rainforest realm to experience the sights and sounds of the owls of the tropics.
The great outdoors
With three Country Parks in West Lothian, the area is blessed with a mixture of green open spaces – perfect for when you want to escape into nature.
Set across more than 900 acres of forest and hills, Beecraigs Country Park is an ideal spot to stretch your legs and find some peace. There are countless walking routes to choose from, alongside mountain bike trails, adventure play area and field archery. Polkemmet Country Park offers beautiful woodland and riverside walks, golf and bowls – you can even hire a barbeque to make the most of the elusive Scottish sunshine!
Popular with walkers, cyclists, runners, horse riders and community groups, Almondell & Calderwood Country Park is also a wildlife haven with roe deer, foxes, heron, otters and woodpeckers all making their home here.
The only ‘Rare Breed Survival Trust (RBST) Accredited Farm Park’ in the whole of central Scotland, Almond Valley is home to all sorts of native rare breed farm animals, ranging in size from giant Clydesdale horses to tiny newly hatched chicks. And with soft play, playgrounds and picnic areas, it’s a great place for children of all ages to explore and get up close to nature.
Walk in the footsteps of Outlander
If you’ve been captivated by the hit TV series Outlander, you’ll be delighted to learn that you re-live the drama by visiting several in West Lothian where filming took place, from Linlithgow Palace where Jamie was imprisoned, to Blackness Castle, which featured as Black Jack Randall’s headquarters.
Mary’s Meanders offers a tour of the key locations and VisitScotland have a Outlander itinerary, map and digital audio guide on their website. Film on Forth also offer several itineraries to help you explore famous TV and film locations in West Lothian and beyond.
Shoppers from all over Scotland visit Livingston Designer Outlet, where the world’s top brands offer up to 60% off RRP. More than 70 stores might be enough for some, but just next door is The Centre – with over 150 more shops and restaurants covering high street favourites. With a cinema and adventure golf, there’s everything you need for a fun-filled day out.
Travelling from Edinburgh to West Lothian
The West Lothian regional boundary is around 12 miles outside of Edinburgh city and is well connected by train and bus. The main train stations in West Lothian are Armadale, Bathgate, Linlithgow, and Livingston North. For timetables and tickets see ScotRail.
Lothian Country run regular bus services from the city centre throughout West Lothian.
Plan your trip to West Lothian
The Royal Mile
Based in the Old Town and within a World Heritage site, the area is culturally and historically important to the city and jam packed with things to see and do.
Nestled in the heart of Edinburgh's historic Old Town, with stunning views of Edinburgh Castle, the Grassmarket is one of the most picturesque and lively areas of the city.
New Town offers residents an exciting fusion of shopping, dining and architectural splendour.
Tucked away just behind Shandwick Place, the West End Village is one of Edinburgh’s hidden gems.
With cobbled streets, Georgian architecture, green parks and gardens and mix of shops and restaurants, Stockbridge is one of the city’s most popular neighbourhoods.
Lively neighbourhood filled with museums, theatres and music venues.
A stone’s throw from the city centre, Tollcross is a buzzing neighbourhood with connections to the West End, Grassmarket, Fountainpark and Bruntsfield.
Bruntsfield and Morningside
A paradise of charming cafes, specialist food retailers and charity shops full of vintage and designer fashions.
Gorgie & Dalry
A great destination for a wee day out with the family, or a pitstop to grab a delicious takeaway or a sit-in dessert.
As far as iconic areas go, they don’t come more legendary than Leith.
Explore miles of award-winning sandy beach, ice cream parlours, arcades and beach-side cafes and bars.
Corstorphine is a great place to stay with hotels, pubs and restaurants to cater to a range of tastes and budgets.
Head to South Queensferry for the very best views of the River Forth.
Discover vast beaches, captivating wildlife and award-winning attractions in East Lothian.
Midlothian is an area of both natural and industrial heritage. Discover everything from stunning scenery and parklands to historic landmarks and famous filming locations.
The Kingdom of Fife
A short journey over the Forth Bridge into Fife, you’ll find quaint fishing villages, rich history, an unforgettable coastline and Scotland's newest city.
Rolling hills, winding rivers and farmland as far as the eye can see – the Scottish Borders are picture perfect. The reach of the region is too vast to be rushed, so we’ve picked some of the best spots to enjoy on a day-trip from Edinburgh.