I couldn’t write a blog about Scotland and not tell you about my historic hometown! Below is my local’s guide to the historic Scottish town of Linlithgow, West Lothian (just west of Edinburgh).
First off, what’s the best way to get to Linlithgow?
Linlithgow is connected by train to both Edinburgh and Glasgow. It’ll take you approximately 15 minutes by train from Edinburgh city centre or 30 minutes from Glasgow city centre to get here. ScotRail is a bit of a pain to be honest if you’re travelling during rush hour given the constant delays, but if you’re travelling out with peak times it’s usually quite a quick and pleasant journey! Tickets are (at the time of writing) just under £6 for an adult single or around £8 return.
There are buses connecting Linlithgow to Edinburgh, Falkirk region and other parts of West Lothian. If you’re looking for a quick journey though by bus from Edinburgh city centre, I’d recommend taking one of the express buses to Linlithgow by Lothian (Region) that takes you from St Andrews Bus Station right into Linlithgow town centre! Average travel time is around 40 minutes if you’re travelling this way. Tickets are around £5 for an adult single or around £8 for a return. Usually the benefit of coming by bus though is that if you pay a few pounds extra you can get on any Edinburgh Lothian city bus too (Lothian is the biggest bus company in Edinburgh city centre).
If you’re looking for a more scenic way of arriving, you can actually come from both Edinburgh and Glasgow to Linlithgow via boat on the canal, although I’d only recommend this in warmer Scottish temperatures, i.e. don’t do it in winter!
By car Linlithgow is very straight forward to get to off the motorway although you may find parking is an issue in the town – just a heads up! If you’re really stuck though, you can park at Tesco car park I believe for around 2 hours without getting fined!
Places of historic significance in Linlithgow
Linlithgow Palace was most famously the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and James V. It therefore has some historical significance in Scotland, but it’s also just generally a beautifully kept ruin. You’ll find some of the older parts of Linlithgow High Street are also pretty old and historic. For example, at just 5 ft 2, even I sometimes have to duck my head to get into a few doorways to get into wee shops on the high street!
If you’ve also watched the program Outlander recently, you may have seen the 15th Century Blackness Castle used as a setting. You can visit the castle in just a 10 minute drive from Linlithgow High Street. Entry is usually around £6 for an adult.
Places of natural beauty in Linlithgow
The second most popular reason people come to Linlithgow other than for Linlithgow Palace is Linlithgow Loch! A wee walk around the Loch is quite a common occurrence for locals here – particularly dog walkers and runners – if you fancy meeting some local people! However, even if you don’t make it the whole way round, the views of the Linlithgow Palace from various points of the Loch are definitely worth a visit!
Beam me up Scotty!
On a more fun note, and for Star Trek fans, Linlithgow is also apparently the birthplace of Scotty (as in beam me up Scotty) in the year 2222! Feel free to don your star trek gear if you must and hit the pub (it’s not my cup of tea but I know it interests some people!) ?
Where to find the best pubs in Linlithgow!
Linlithgow is home to many pubs along its high street! In fact, it’s rather famous in the local county and those surrounding it for its pub trail! Basically, you start off in a pub at one end of Linlithgow high street, usually the Star and Garter or Platform 3 if you’re coming from the east, or the West Port Hotel if you’re coming from the west. If you’re pub trail card gets stamped by at least 9 participating pubs on the high street then you get a free t-shirt at the end of it!
In terms of best times to go for a wee drink in Linlithgow I’d usually recommend a Friday or Saturday night unless you want a particularly quiet one. Also, you can bring your dog into many of the pubs in Linlithgow during the day provided they’re well behaved so don’t be afraid to stop for a pint after you’ve walked the dog at Linlithgow Loch for example!
Events in Linlithgow
Linlithgow Folk Festival is always worth checking out every September if you happen to be here. Apart from that Linlithgow Marches Day and Linlithgow Gala Day are the main two events for local people. Both have parades playing during the day. My best advice though is if you’re travelling with kids pick the Gala Day. If it’s a day of boozing you’re after pick the Marches Day.
Comedian Des McClean also runs a cool wee comedy night on at the Star and Garter monthly. Tickets are usually around the £10 mark and the night has featured a lot of comedians from the tv in the past so it’s well worth checking out if you’re popping by!
There is also now a regular music festival taking place every summer in Linlithgow called Party at the Palace. Previous headliners have included The Proclaimers and The Kaiser Chiefs! Again, if you happen to be here it’s worth checking out. Day tickets are usually in the range of about £55 per person.
Apart from that, another event I highly recommend (especially if you’ve got kids) is the annual Linlithgow jousting event taking place every June. Entry to the event is free and it’s something different to try in the summer.
Where to find the best cake, scones and coffee in Linlithgow!
Ok, so we’re getting to the most important bit now – where can you find a good slice of cake or scone in Linlithgow? Well, for scones I say head to Fenwicks of Linlithgow, a wee café about half way along the high street! For cake I say head straight for the Lochside Café! They usually have a good gluten-free selection too for those who require it! For the best cup of coffee in Linlithgow I’d recommend Taste Café at the back of the deli. The coffee is much better here than the Costa across the road.
Some good quality restaurants…
Linlithgow’s got more cafes than it has restaurants, but if you’re looking for a place to have dinner I always recommend Bar Leo on the high street. They do fantastic Italian cuisine and the staff are really friendly too! Alternatively, if it’s a good steak you’re after I’d head to the Champany Inn on the outskirts of the town. You’ll get an amazing steak here. Just don’t expect it to be cheap!
Other activities/things to do in Linlithgow
There is also a relatively new escape room in Linlithgow run by Eeek! Escape Rooms situated very close to Linlithgow train station. I believe prices for a minimum of 2 players range from around £45 upwards.
If it’s more of a sporting setting you’re looking for, Linlithgow Golf Club has an 18-hole course situated here. It’s approximately 5851 yards long, which is probably just enough to be long enough without being too tiring!
If you fancy a wee wilderness retreat somewhere nearby instead, you could also check out Beecraigs Country Park. At 370 hectares, nestled high in the Bathgate hills close to Linlithgow, it’s definitely a nice place to go for a walk and take a picnic if you need some time out.
If you’re coming from Edinburgh, Glasgow, or anywhere in between, Linlithgow is definitely a good day-trip option for sure! Bundled with history, beauty and the kind of place you can bring your dog to the pub… you don’t want to miss out on this wee gem of a town on your trip to Scotland!