It’s easy to forget sometimes that there’s more out there apart from city, and Scotland is full to the brim with quaint and picturesque spots that are well worth a visit. Feeling the need to escape for the day? Check out our guide to the prettiest towns and villages that are no more than an hour’s drive away from Glasgow to explore if you’re bored of the same old views of concrete or your bedroom walls.
Located south of Glasgow in South Lanarkshire, Lanark is a small town with plenty of charm. Wander the high street or venture to nearby attractions and green spots like Castlebank Park and Clyde Valley Woodlands Reserve. Lanark and the surrounding areas offer plenty of tranquillity thanks to the bodies of waters in the vicinity, see the River Clyde flow by, head to the Falls of Clyde, a woodland area with breathtaking waterfalls, or enjoy a moment of calm at Lanark Loch. The area is also reaped in history with the former site of Lanark Castle located in Castlebank Park and just a 30 minute walk away you’ll find New Lanark, a World Heritage site which features a mill, cafe, hotel and a water wheel that sends water towards the Falls of Clyde.
🚗 How to get there: 42 minutes by car, 56 minutes by train.
Stretched along the northern shore of Loch Long, Arrochar is a beautiful village in the Argyll & Bute region. However, Arrochar is not only blessed with one nearby loch but two- and the other is a whopper! Head east towards Tarbet and you’ll find the almighty Loch Lomond with the Trossachs National Park and Ben Lomond towering behind the loch. You can climb a Munro in the Arrochar Alps and reach the rocky summit of The Cobbler and be rewarded with views of the glorious landscape. Arrochar is not only a great base for those looking to go hiking or cycling but there are a number of bars, restaurants and cafes in the village where you can eat or drink with views across the water.
🚗 How to get there: 1 hour by car, 1 hour 10 minutes by bus.
South of Arrachar is another quaint spot in Argyll & Bute in the form of coastal town Helensburgh with its tree-lined streets and historic architecture. Lying between the Clyde, Gare Loch and Loch Lomond, on a clear day you can sit by the waterfront and see the likes of Greenock and Rosneath across the water. Helensburgh owes its name to the wife of Sir James Colquhoun, Lady Helen- Colquhoun bought the land and encouraged wealthy merchants to leave the smog of the city for the fresh air of his new town (and even now Helensburgh still provides this escapism). On your visit to Helensburgh, you can take a lengthy wander inside the 55 acre Duchess Woods, explore Geilston Garden or venture out on a kayak as the town is the final stop on the Argyll Sea Kayak Trail, a 150km-route that begins in Oban and follows the river south. An be sure to sit by the pier with an ice cream in hand to finish your trip!
🚗 How to get there: 54 minutes by car, 44 minutes by train
Durisdeer, a hamlet found at the base of the Lowther Hills in Dumfries & Galloway. This cute village is something of an undiscovered treasure, partly due to the two narrow roads which end in the village itself being the only points of access. Salman Rushdie is said to have described Durisdeer as “a village so small it didn’t have a pub”, which he’s not wrong about but don’t let that put you off as visiting this hamlet will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time thanks to its charming cottages and farmhouses nestled within the woodlands and green hills. The parish church is brimming with history having stood on the same sight since medieval times and the luscious green hills behind are just itching to be climbed.
🚗 How to get there: 1 hour by car
By far the largest town on this list, Dunfermline is Scotland’s former capital in the heart of Fife. This town is covered in cobbled streets and bursting with history, culture and plenty of character. Dunfermline is also blessed with a number of green outdoor spaces to explore including Pitreavie Castle Park, Rex Park, Dunfermline Public Park and Pittencrieff Park which has extensive walking paths and a peacock enclosure. Make a stop at Dunfermline Abbey where you can visit the grave of Robert the Bruce as well as see the stunning French Gothic clock tower of the City Chambers. You’ll find plenty of cute independent shops, cafes and restaurants along the town’s main roads and for an added dose of culture swing by the Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries.
🚗 How to get there: 50 minutes by car, 1 hour 9 minutes by bus
Calling all loch lovers, you can lust over the village of Luss. Located in Argyll & Bute, overlooking Loch Lomond from its west bank Luss is one of the most picture perfect villages near Glasgow. What Luss may lack in size it certainly makes up for in beauty thanks to the rows of cute stone cottages that lead to the loch, lined with gorgeous flowers in their front gardens during the spring and summer months. If you’re after a postcard snap, a pic down Pier Road with the loch and green mountains in the background is the way to go. You can take a relaxing boat tour from Luss which allows you to see the numerous tiny islands on Loch Lomond close up. The Loch Lomond Faerie Trail is also found in Luss, so kids and grown-ups alike can follow the mystical route.
🚗 How to get there: 52 minutes by car, 1 hour by bus
This Perthshire village has previously won the Britain in Bloom Award a few times and we can definitely see why as the picturesque landscape lends itself to blossoming flowers and plants, especially the White Church and its courtyard. Another fan fact about Comrie is that it has more earth tremors than anywhere else in the UK, due to being on the Highland Boundary Fault. But don’t let that shake you as like Luss, there’s a main road running through the village with rows of quaint stone cottages to walk past and admire. Ramblers can walk alongside the Water of Ruchill heading to Cultybraggan then loop back up to the village or follow the Melville Monument Trail to Deil’s Cauldron waterfall. For more blooming wonderful scenery, Drummond Castle Gardens is a short drive away from Comrie.
🚗 How to get there: 1 hour by car
Close to Dunfermline, Culross is a village in Fife full of heritage and beautiful buildings. Wander along charming, peaceful streets which were once full of the hustle and bustle of a thriving 17th-century port on the River Forth and look out towards the water on the village pier. It goes without saying that The National Trust of Scotland site Culross Palace, a late 16th to early 17th century merchant’s house, is a must-visit whilst in the village- plus you can’t miss it with its bright yellow external walls. But magnificent sights don’t stop there as Culross is surrounded by a number of historic landmarks like such as Dunimarle Castle, Blair Castle and Culross Abbey. Better still, you can relive scenes from Outlander as Culross was one of the filming locations for the series.
🚗 How to get there: 42 minutes by car, 1 hour 10 minutes by bus