Given the fact the English built a great big wall to shut themselves off and keep the heathens at bay, in ancient times you’d be forgiven for thinking ‘well, there surely can’t be that much up there’. Fortunately, we’ve moved past all that. Nowadays, it’s common knowledge that Scotland is one of the best places for a holiday with every region brimming in rich culture and wealth of history. East Lothian is no exception. Here at Plum Guide, we’re experts when it comes to this. We know what to do and we know where to stay. In fact, we’ve got a brilliant selection of homes hand picked by our experts, if you’d like to start looking at Scottish accommodation today. Read on below to find out about the best things to do in East Lothian.
Take a quick trip to Edinburgh
A low-angle view of Edinburgh Castle from Princes Street Garden, Scotland, UK
If you look at a map, it’s hard to ignore the fact that East Lothian is in fact the back garden of Edinburgh. It’s right on the doorstep. So, it’d be pretty rude not to spend a day or two in the Scottish capital wouldn’t it? You can have a read of our full three day itinerary right here. Told you we were the experts. Naturally, we have some of our best homes on offer here in Edinburgh, with some being right on the fringes of the city so you can either dip into Edinburgh or out into the East Lothian region. The best of both worlds.
Visit the Museum of Flight
Now, on to the actual things to do in East Lothian. Prepare for take-off at the National Museum of Flight. While it may not be for everyone, the fact that it’s one of Scotland’s most popular attractions must mean there’s something going for it, right? (Or, if you’re a cynic, it just means there’s not much going on in Scotland at all and they were right to build that big wall). Personally, we think it’s a great day out. Here, you can discover a world-class collection of aircraft and hear the fascinating stories of the people who built and flew them. You’ll find out all about the history of aviation from the First World War to the present day and, for those with a taste for the finer things in life (yes, that’s you), you can even experience what it was like to fly supersonic on Concorde.
Enjoy a day at the Scottish Seabird Centre
On the topic of flying, the natural world has plenty to offer too. At the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, you’ll find a five-star education and conservation charity with a ‘Discovery Experience’ telling the story of Scotland's incredibly rich and varied marine wildlife and habitats. There are exhibits, games and interactive live cameras on the impressive Bass Rock and surrounding local islands. There’s also a lovely little cafe where you can enjoy a spot of tea over breathtaking coastal views. Scotland is a place you visit because of its exceptional outdoors offering. The wildlife and nature you can find here is world class and the seabird centre is no exception.
Travel out to North Berwick Harbour
A white hut on rocks looking out over the sea, North Berwick, Scotland, UK
Whilst visiting the seabird centre, it’s well worth taking some time to explore the general beauty of North Berwick Harbour. When the tide is in, there’s a very pretty postcard snap to be had with all the little fishing boats tucked safely inside the harbour walls. Stroll around the quiet little town and you’ll find plenty of bistros, cafes and restaurants (fish and chips by the seaside, obviously), as well as some great beaches. Well worth a stop.
Admire Tantallon Castle
Tantallon Castle, East Lothian, Scotland | Image by marsupium photography is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
When it comes to spending time in East Lothian, no list would be complete without Tantallon Castle. Like any great Scottish castle should be, it’s set dramatically on the edge of the cliffs, looking out to the Bass Rock as the North Sea relentlessly crashes against its foundations (God, maybe I should dabble in writing a novel). This formidable castle was a stronghold of the Douglas family and you’ll learn all about the history of how they often clashed with the crown, to the castle’s ultimate destruction in 1651 at the hands of Oliver Cromwell. It’s a place brimming with atmosphere and wonder. It’s very Game of Thrones. It’s very Scotland.
Take a tour of the NB Distillery
Rounding off our list is, of course, a distillery. How could it not be? The NB Distillery is a small, family-run affair pumping out world-class rum, vodka and gin. Lucky for you, they offer connoisseur and taster tours of the distillery. Slippers are provided on arrival (oh we like where this is going…) and you’re encouraged to really relax. It’s not a difficult thing to do when there’s a large, comfortable sofa positioned next to an old log burner. All this whilst a selection of canapés (made by local chefs) and different spirits are served up. One could be forgiven for forgetting this is actually a tour.