What to do in Edinburgh: A Local’s Guide + Itineraries
Drum roll pleaseeeee – here’s my local’s guide to Edinburgh complete with itineraries, what to do in Edinburgh, fun tours, local tips, and everything in between. This post was created from my personal experiences in Edinburgh, guide books, and local knowledge. The perfect trifecta!
As many of you know, I lived in Edinburgh (for free) for 1 month+ volunteering with Worldpackers. I got to learn all about every little thing there is to do in Edinburgh & in this guide I’ll share those things with you. First I’ll go over basic things to know about Edinburgh & how to get there, then I’ll talk about where to stay, what you can expect for budgeting, things to do in Edinburgh, then finish the guide off with an example itinerary & map.
Typically I don’t recommend or fully enjoy the cities I visit. I find them loud, busy, overwhelming, and chaotic. I much prefer hiking in the mountains or spending time camping in the woods instead. Edinburgh however… There’s something special about this city! I’d recommend Edinburgh to everyone, no matter what type of traveller you are.
- Things to know about Edinburgh
- How to live in Edinburgh for FREE
- How to get to Edinburgh
- Where to stay in Edinburgh
- Restaurants & pubs in Edinburgh
- Helpful Edinburgh travel tips
- Edinburgh budget expectations
- What to do in Edinburgh
- Edinburgh itineraries
- Map of Edinburgh
Explore more of my guides for:
This post contains affiliate links; see my full disclosure. If you click these links and make a purchase you’re supporting The Holistic Backpacker. Thanks for your support & happy adventuring! – Taylor ♡
Quick United Kingdom Travel Guide
Countries in the UK: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Island.
Currency: Great British Pound, pound sterling, quid – there’s multiple names, but it’s all the same. Displayed as GBP or £.
Visa: generally not needed for stays up to 6 months (non member of the Schengen Zone).
Phone: buy a UK SIM card anywhere: airport, supermarkets, gas stations, etc. There are a tons of companies and the plans are all cheap – no need to be picky!
Helpful information: purchase an international adapter prior to travelling; I like this one.
Travel Insurance: ALWAYS purchase reliable travel insurance before your trip. This travel insurance is used and trusted by backpackers and sports enthusiasts around the globe.
More: Explore all my UK guides.
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I post quick-guides on Instagram to all the places I visit, including Edinburgh.
Things to Know About Edinburgh
Edinburgh is a beautiful and cozy city located in the northern region of the United Kingdom. There’s LOTS to explore in the area and there are tons of unique things to see too! I spent over a month living and volunteering in Edinburgh at one of the hostels in the city, so I really got to know the vibe and culture quite well. Here are some cool, quirky, and cute things you can expect to experience in Edinburgh:
- It’s pronounced: “Ed-in-buhr-uh.”
- The city is multi-layered and is actually built on an old, extinct volcano.
- You’ll often find google maps doesn’t work here because there’s an “upstairs” and a “downstairs” to the city – buildings and neighbourhoods are built on-top of one another.
- The Old Town (where you’ll be) is full of tourists. All the real locals live in nearby Leith meaning you won’t run into toooo many “difficult to understand” Scottish accents.
- Although Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, you’ll oftentimes hear people say “it’s not a real city” due to the fact it feels more like a cozy town.
- There are various areas of Edinburgh, including “old Town,” “New Town,” etc.
- The pace of life here is slowww, which I find quite nice! Usually cities have that “hustle” vibe to it, but not Edinburgh.
- You’ll find plenty of green space, water sources, and great walking trails within the city limits.
- You’ll notice that a lot of people are quite eccentric in Edinburgh. You’ll see lots of funky clothes, hair, and makeup here.
- Expect to hear bagpipes. There’s usually always someone playing them out in the streets of the Old Town.
- Scottish people are proud of their history and the people of Edinburgh will tell you all about the local stories, folklore, etc.
How to Live in Edinburgh (for FREE)
Scotland and the UK in general are very expensive places to travel. On a “cheap” day, you’re looking at upwards of 50gbp/day for accommodations, food, transportation, etc. This adds up quickly if you’re spending days, or weeks, travelling here.
If you’re a budget traveller (like me), prices like this certainly won’t do. So, here’s a budget travel hack for you. Use Worldpackers! Worldpackers is a platform that connects you with volunteer opportunities around the world. I found a gig at a little hostel on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh and stayed here for over a month.
During my month in Edinburgh I made tons of friends, got to really experience the city AND I spent only 100gbp (ish) – TOTAL! My accommodations were free, some food was included, and I was able to budget everything accordingly to make my time in Edinburgh super affordable.
If you click this link you can see current Worldpackers positions available in Edinburgh and if you use my code (THEHOLISTICBACKPACKER) you’ll save $10 off your membership!
code: THEHOLISTICBACKPACKER for $10 off!
^ watch my experience with Worldpackers via Instagram ^
How to Get to Edinburgh
Edinburgh is very easily accessible – it’s the capital city of Scotland, after all. You have a few options of getting to and from the city:
Edinburgh Airport (EDI) – Edinburgh airport is located a 30 minute bus ride from the city centre. It’s connected via the 100 Airlink which will run you approx. 4 gbp. The bus will drop you off at Waverly station.
The Train – The Waverly train station is located smack in-between New Town and Old Town. The train is a super fast way to get around Scotland as well as the rest of the UK, however it will be a bit pricier than taking the bus.
Buses – There are a multitude of bus routes and companies that connect Edinburgh to the rest of Scotland/the UK, however the most popular intracity buses are Lothian bus and First Edinburgh. If you book in advance these buses are cheap, however the longer you wait the higher prices rise. Here’s the bus station location. You can find intercity bus routes and schedules via Omio.
Rent a car – you will most likely not need to rent a car whilst visiting Edinburgh as there’s a great public transit system. However if you’re looking to do a trip to the Highlands, renting a car is a great option. You can check out Discover Car Hire which will give you a breakdown of the cheapest car rentals in the area.
If you’re struggling to find timetables, transit companies, etc I’d recommend using Omio. Omio is a user-friendly app that finds and displays all public transportation routes in the European countries. Omio is my go-to method of finding transportation when I’m travelling in Europe.
Where to Stay in Edinburgh
As I already mentioned, Edinburgh is an expensive destination to travel. Accommodations can run you a pretty penny, which is why I recommend utilizing the local hostels instead of hotels.
The following are my top recommendations based on budget and experience within the Old Town; I recommend staying in the Old Town because most of the things you’ll want to see are located here.
Hostels on the Royal Mile (Old Town):
- Cozy/quiet vibe – Royal Mile Backpackers (where I volunteered).
- You can book a stay at Royal Mile Backpackers Hostel here via Booking.com or Hostelworld.
- Party – Castle Rock.
- You can book a stay at Castle Rock here via Booking.com or Hostelworld.
- Somewhere in-between – High Street Hostel.
- You can book a stay at High Street Hostel here via Booking.com or Hostelworld.
Hotels in the Old Town:
- Luxury – The 5 star Witchery Hotel is located by the castle and features an authentic, gothic Scottish getaway. This hotel is ideal for couples and must be booked in advanced as there are limited suites available. Alternatively, the 4 star Scotsman Hotel has a great view overlooking Princess Street Gardens and Calton Hill. The Scotsman Hotel is more geared toward larger groups and/or families.
- Mid-range – The Market Street Hotel is a travel sustainable property on the cute and cozy Market Street in Old Town.
- Budget – this cute little B&B on the Royal Mile
If the previous recommendations don’t fit what you’re looking for, you can use this link to view all available accommodations in Edinburgh.
Restaurants & Pubs in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is a great foodie scene and this article from Timeout lays out 30 of the best restaurants in the city. I however recommend Pizza Paradise for inexpensive grab-n-go food, the Edinburgh Larder for locally sourced breakfast/brunch, and Burrito ‘N’ Shake for the best burritos in town. As you can see, I have a highly sophisticated palate.
If you’re looking to grab a pint, there’s certainly no shortage of pubs in Edinburgh. Stramash has traditional ceilidh dancing and live music, Dirty Dicks provides the classic “small” UK pub feel, and Pilgrims has karaoke nights. Aside from these options, Rose Street has a bunch of small pubs to explore + this article outlines a few more pubs in Edinburgh Old Town.
Unique Food Experiences in Edinburgh
- 3 hour Edinburgh traditional food tour
- Edinburgh afternoon tea experience
- Whiskey tasting & Scottish storytelling
Helpful Edinburgh Tips
- The best time of year to visit Edinburgh is summer/fall. Summer because you’re more likely to get good weather, fall because it’s shoulder season so things will be a little quieter and you’ll snag those shoulder season prices.
- Accommodations fill up quickly. Book in advance, especially if you’re visiting during festival season.
- Scotland is rainy! Bring a waterproof jacket and prepare for some grey skies.
- The cheapest grocery store is Lidl. Eating out is veryyyy pricey here, however groceries are relatively inexpensive! Take advantage of this and opt to cook when possible.
- There are great hostels in Edinburgh. Opt to stay in them rather than pay for expensive hotels.
- Tours and attractions within the city are very pricey. Pick and choose your favourites rather than doing everything.
- There are amazing thrift stores here! If you need odds and ends in terms of clothing, this is a great place to pick things up.
- Flying anywhere out of Edinburgh seems to be quite expensive. Although a bit more work, a cheaper option would be to book an overnight bus (in advance) to London and fly out from there.
How Much Does it Cost to Travel in Edinburgh?
Budget Experience – £50-ish
You can travel Edinburgh on a “budget.” Dorm beds range from £18-£40 and you can opt to do some cooking rather than eating out. There are tons of free museums, sightseeing opportunities, and nice walking trails that you can take advantage of too.
Mid-Range Experience – £100 – £200
The “mid-range” Edinburgh experience includes a more private night at a hotel or B&B opposed to sharing a dorm room with strangers. You can also budget in meals out and a drink or two at the pub. Note that if you visit during festival times, prices will increase notably.
Luxury Experience – £200+
The luxury experience is for those wanting an upscale visit at a 4/5 star hotel, restaurant style meals, and paid excursions/activities. Fancier hotels will run you a pretty penny here, but if you’re looking to treat yo’self, you can reallyyyyy treat yo’self in Edinburgh!
Take a Trip to the Highlands
Although not in Edinburgh, the Highlands are the GEM of Scotland. The lochs, the mountains, and the isles of northern Scotland are unmissable.
There are tons of tours departing Edinburgh, however I’d recommend renting a car to explore the Highlands. The tours can be busy and fast moving, meaning you’ll miss the quiet beauty and personalized tour touch. I’d recommend checking out Discover Car Hire to find the best rental car rates in Edinburgh.
Check out my favourite shots from the Highlands (and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram):
If renting a car isn’t an option, Id recommend choosing one of the following tours:
- 1 day tour to Lochness and Glencoe via Get Your Guide.
- Glenfinnan, Fort William, and Glencoe Day Tour via Get Your Guide.
- 3 Day Isle of Skye, Loch Ness and the Highlands Tour.
What to do in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is divided by areas; Old Town, New Town, Holyrood Park, Leith, Stockbridge, West End & Dean Village. In this section I’ll break down the things to do in Edinburgh by area to make things a littleeee easier to find 🙂
What to to in Edinburgh: Old Town
Edinburgh’s Old Town is where you’ll find all the cobblestone, gothic architecture, hidden valleys, historic sites, and everything else that makes Edinburgh “Edinburgh.” you’ll spend most of your time Edinburgh within the boundaries of Old Town.
Walk the Royal Mile
Wondering what to do in Edinburgh? Start with the Royal Mile!
The Royal Mile is the “insta-grammable” cobblestone street filled with all the historical buildings, important landmarks, shops, and cute little cafes. If you’re lucky there may even be someone playing the bagpipes!
Photography tip – The West side of the Royal Mile (toward the castle) has the most dramatic gothic architecture.
Go on a Free Tour
Free walking tours are always a great option when it comes to travelling in a new city. The guides leading the tour are local experts and they’ll show you all the photo-worthy spots in the city. They’ll also teach you the important history and tell you interesting local stories.
Here are the free tours offered in the city:
Don’t forget to tip your guide! Although the tour is “free,” it’s expected you tip the guide around £10 for their time and expertise.
Hop on Hop off Bus Tour
As an alternative to the free walking tours, you may want to consider an Edinburgh hop on hop off bus tour. Bus tours are great because you can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. The bus tours are equipped with knowledgeable drivers who provide context and stories that match what you’re seeing.
Bus tours are a great alternative to the walking tours for anyone experiencing mobility issues too.
You can book the hop on hop off bus tour via Get your Guide.
Visit the Castle
Doing a quick google search of “what to do in Edinburgh” will undoubtedly leave you with recommendations for the Edinburgh Castle. However, I’d suggest skipping it – depending on your interests.
The castle is overpriced and, from what I’ve heard, it’s “not worth it inside.” If you’re interested in history and have expendable cash, the castle may be a good thing to do in Edinburgh. However if you’re on a backpacker budget, like me, the castle is probably something you’ll want to skip.
Instead you can walk up to the castle and view its exterior. Alternatively, you can find a great view from Castle Rock hostel and Princess Street Gardens.
If you’re interested in entering the castle, you can use this link to book your ticket OR you can book this tour which comes with a guide + fast-track admission.
Mary King’s Close
Mary King’s Close is an underground site in the heart of Edinburgh. The concept of a “Close” can be quite difficult to understand, so it’s best to check out the tour and learn all about the tales of ghosts, murders, and plague victims being left to die.
You can book a guided Mary King’s Close tour here.
Check out the Museums
Edinburgh has plenty of museums which will thrill all the history buffs out there. Whether you’re searching for history, art, or Edinburgh tales you can find what you’re after at one of the following local museums:
- National Museum of Scotland
- Museum of Edinburgh
There are many more museums in Edinburgh, however these are the top 2 recommendations.
Whiskey is a Scottish classic and there’s no better place to do a tasting than on the historic Royal Mile. The following link is for a whiskey tasting coupled with classic Scottish tales.
Book: Whiskey tasting + Scottish storytelling tour.
Victoria street is the one of the streets that inspired Harry Potter. Here you’ll find colourful storefronts that make the perfect photo-op!
Camera Obscura is an interactive gallery of illusions. There are 5 floors jam packed with optical illusions & physical ones too. OH ALSO, you’ll find such a beautiful view of Edinburgh from their rooftop balcony!
You can watch my visit at Camera Obscura here (don’t forget to follow me on insta):
ps – it rains a lot in Scotland and Camera Obscura is the perfect thing to do in Edinburgh on a rainy day!
St. Gile’s Cathedral
St Giles Cathedral is the beautiful church located on the Royal Mile. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the inside is WOW!
If you’re looking for a free thing to do in Edinburgh, St Gile’s cathedral is the perfect place to go as there’s no entry fee.
Greyfriar’s Bobby Statue
This might sound a little peculiar, but Greyfriar’s Bobby is a beloved dog statue in Edinburgh. Story has it that Bobby’s owner died, but Bobby continued to visit Greyfriar’s bar day after day. The bar owners and community took a strong liking to Bobby and made a statue of him!
Make sure you touch Bobby’s nose – it’s good luck!
David Hume Statue
Another one of Edinburgh’s funky statues is David Hume. I honestly can’t even tell you the story behind this one but basically this guy has a golden toe and if you touch it it’s good luck. Soooo yeah I don’t know, I guess add touching David Hume’s toe to your list of things to do in Edinburgh!
Go to the Grassmarket
The grass market is one of the “hipster” areas of Edinburgh. Here you’ll find independent cafes, high end thrift shops, beautiful bookstores, and lots of photo-ops.
Okay usually I find cemeteries super creepy and morbid, but this one is neat. Pretty much all of Edinburgh inspired J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter, however various tombstones in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard actually inspired the character’s names!
The cemetery itself is also beautiful. The entire space is full of gothic architecture and the grass there is some of the greenest I’ve ever seen.
If you’re a big Harry Potter fan and want to make sure you don’t miss any important spots in the cemetery, you can book a guided tour with a knowledgeable local.
Edinburgh’s Farmers Market
If you’re looking for something to do in Edinburgh on Saturday, make sure you check out the farmer’s market. Against the backdrop of the castle crags you’ll find local vendors selling all kinds of homemade cheeses, smoked trout, seasonal wild game, organic eggs, etc.
To find the farmer’s market you’ll want to follow the Royal Mile toward the castle. You’ll find a fork in the road in front of the tall cathedral – take a left here. Follow the road around the castle, take a right and you’ll see the farmer’s market next to the parking lot.
Self Guided Audio Tour
Some of us love guided tours, some of us hate guided tours. Something both sides of this debate can agree on though is that it’s nice to have information. In the case of you wanting local intel, but not wanting to be part of a tour group, an audio tour might be the perfect option for you.
The audio tour I have linked below spans 2 hours and covers the main Edinburgh highlights including Princess Street Gardens, a stop at the castle, and other scenic spots.
Book: Edinburgh Guided Audio Tour.
The Underground Vaults
Edinburgh is FULL of underground neighbourhoods, streets, and “closes.” One of the more famous ones being the underground vaults.
These vaults are supposedly haunted and have tales of witches dating back to the 18th century.
You can book a tour down to the vaults via Get Your Guide.
What to do in Edinburgh: Holyrood Park
Holyrood Park is my favourite area in Edinburgh. Just steps from the famous Royal Mile you’ll find great walking trails up and over the hills, ponds, and plenty of friendly birds.
If you’re wondering what do in Edinburgh (nature edition) Arthur’s Seat is a MUST!
Arthur’s Seat is a hill and it’s the main attraction of Holyrood park. It’s usually the only place people visit there which is super unfortunate because the rest of the park is so scenic!
The walk up to Arthur’s Seat is a perfect little workout and the view from the top showcases the entirety of Edinburgh.
Arthur’s Seat is easy to access – all you have to do is type it into google maps, follow the route displayed on your screen, and walk up around 160m. It should take you around 30 minutes to reach the top of Arthur’s Seat from the base of the hill.
Holyrood Palace is actually the Queen’s vacation home. It’s located right at the entrance of Holyrood Park and it’s quite impressive to look at. The Palace is gated, so you won’t be able to gain entry unless you buy an admission ticket.
If you’re interested in exploring the interior of Holyrood Palace, you can purchase an entry ticket here – this entry ticket encompasses a tour of the place too.
St. Margaret’s Loch
One of my favourite spots in Edinburgh is St. Margaret’s Loch. This is the closest water source to the Royal Mile. It’s a super cute little pond and it’s FULL of swans!
Typically swans are aggressive and quite scary, but not these guys. The swans here are so used to tourists photographing them that they’re not even phased by human interaction. This means you can safely photograph them, but please treat them like wild animals – because that’s what they are! And please don’t feed the birds. Clearly lots of people do, but it’s never okay to feed wild animals for a number of reasons.
Check out the swans I saw at St. Margaret’s Loch (and don’t forget to follow me on instagram):
Another cute pond further down the Duke’s Walk (which I’ll talk about soon) is Dunsapie Loch. This pond is backed by the Dunsapie Crag which makes for picture perfect scenery. If you’re looking for a bit more “quiet time” on your Edinburgh nature walk, opt to hang at Dunsapie Loch. There will be less people on this side of the park.
Explore the Other Hills Around Holyrood Park
Arthur’s Seat isn’t the only walkable hill in Holyrood Park! There are multiple other hills and each of them have multiple pathways. I walked up each of the hills in the park and I’ve gotta say that Whinny Hill (to the left of the Arthur’s Seat trail) is by far the most secluded. I walked around and barely saw anyone else up there.
This is a nice change up from Arthur’s Seat as you’ll find it’s super busy up there.
The Duke’s Walk – that thing I mentioned earlier – is a trail that encompasses the entirety of Holyrood Park. It takes you around the whole perimeter of the park which will bring you by both lochs.
This is a great walk to do early in the morning or late in the evening.
St. Anthony’s Chapel
The historic St Anthony’s Chapel is a small section of old ruins that overlooks St. Margaret’s Loch. To access the ruins you’ll want to continue walking straight at the fork where path divides to either St. Maragrat’s Loch or Arthur’s Seat.
What to do in Edinburgh: New Town
Edinburgh New Town features tons of designer shopping opportunities, Georgian architecture, boutiques, cocktail lounges, and wine bars.
Sunset at Calton Hill
If you’re looking for what to do in Edinburgh in the early evening hours, Calton Hill should be on your bucket list. Calton Hill is only around a 10 minute walk from town and it’s the go-to place for sunset.
Atop Calton Hill you’ll find the National Monument of Scotland as well as a PERFECT view overlooking the Royal Mile.
Princess Street Gardens
The popular Princess Street gardens is one of the many gardens located in Edinburgh. It’s central location makes it easily accessible.
In the gardens you’ll find Scotland’s beautiful green grass, various flowers and plants, and a picturesque fountain. Taking a stroll through Princess Street Gardens is a must-add for your list of what to do in Edinburgh.
Scottish National Gallery
The Scottish National Gallery is home to all types of beautiful artwork. You’ll find many styles of art dating back to different times and nations.
The Scott monument is definitely one of the most scenic pieces of architecture in Edinburgh. Photographers – you’ll love this spot!
You can pay a few pounds and go in the monument, however the best view is from the outside looking directly at the monument.
The Scott monument is located right next to Princess Street Gardens.
What to do in Edinburgh: Stockbridge & Dean Village
Stockbridge is the “hipster” area of Edinburgh. You’ll find Georgian architecture, quirky shops, lots of independent cafes, pubs & restaurants here.
The picturesque Dean Village is located only a 30 minute walk from the Royal Mile in Old Town Edinburgh.
Dean Village is a photographer’s dream as it encompasses colourful, pointed buildings next to the Leith waterway.
Tip – visit Dean Village in the evening and catch the golden hour light for the best photos.
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
If you’re looking to extend your time in Stockbridge and would like to add a splash of modern art to your day, you can add the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art to your Edinburgh bucket list.
Water of Leith
If you’re looking for a long, quiet, secnic walk in the city of Edinburgh consider checking out the Water of Leith Walk.
You can start the Water of Leith Walk behind the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and go all the way to the Royal Yatch Britannia.
On the walk watch out for Six Times, an interesting statue by Antony Gormley.
Royal Botanical Garden
The Royal Botanical Garden is yet another one of Edinburgh’s lovely gardens. To access the garden you’ll want to follow the Water of Leith walk from Dean Village, then venture off the path after Dean Terrace. Not far from there you’ll find the gardens.
What to do in Edinburgh: Leith
Leith is the “residential” area of Edinburgh. You’ll find tons of fun pubs and lots of authentic Scottish accents here.
Water of Leith
Refer to my description of the Water of Leith Walk above.
Ocean Terminal & Royal Yacht Britannia
The Royal Yacht Brittania is a five deck yacht. It features what life was like during Royal service on board HM Queen Elizabeth II’s former floating palace.
If you’re interested, this hop on hop off bus tour includes a stop at the Royal Britannia.
The Shore in Leith is a historic & picturesque waterfront area full of pubs, live music, and great photo-ops.
As you’ve probably already guessed, the Newhaven Harbour is the harbour front in Leith. The colourful waterfront buildings make for quite the scenery!
Portobello Beach is a 10 minute walk from Leith and around an hour walk from Edinburgh. The beach is wide open and it’s absolutely beautiful during the evening golden hours.
Portobello beach is the perfect escape from the city and it’s a great place to have a bonfire.
What to do in Edinburgh: South Edinburgh
South Edinburgh is a peaceful residential neighbourhood. There’s not much to do in terms of sightseeing, however it’s a great walking area.
Okay to be honest The Meadows is basically just a big patch of grass with walking trails in-between the patches of grass, BUT the vibes here are really good and the grass is shockingly green.
If you’re planning on visiting the meadows I’m recommending a stop at Uplands Roast. It’s a pop-up hipster cafe and they serve AMAZING vegan hot chocolate + vegan baked goods. I don’t ever spend money on stuff like this while I’m travelling, but I went to this place twice because it was so cute/tasty.
Now that you know about what to do in Edinburgh, how to get to Edinburgh, and where to stay in Edinburgh, let’s talk about what your days in Edinburgh will actually look like.
Follow me on Instagram for my quick-guide to Edinburgh!
3 Day Edinburgh Itinerary
I recommend spending at least 3 days in Edinburgh. These jam-packed 3 days will give you ample time to explore the nature, city, history, and culture of Edinburgh.
Day 1 in Edinburgh
Day 1 in Edinburgh will start off with a sunrise hike to Arthur’s Seat, followed up by breakfast at the Edinburgh Larder.
At 11, embark on the free walking tour which will bring you to all the important photo-ops and previous “highlight spots” I mentioned in both Old & New Town. I like choosing free walking tours because you don’t have to fiddle around with google maps AND you get hear the history behind each of the places you visit!
^an alternative to the walking tour is this hop-on-hop-off bus tour. The bus tour takes you to more spots than the free tour and you don’t have to walk. This is a great option for those with mobility issues.
For lunch, go to the grassmarket and choose one of the “hipster” resturants.
Optional afternoon activities: go on a whiskey tour, visit Mary King’s Close, or explore Edinburgh’s underground vaults.
In the evening, visit one of the local pubs, try ceilidh dancing at Stramash, or sing your heart out at Pilgrim’s karaoke night (see all my restaurant/pub recommendations here).
Day 2 in Edinburgh
Day 2 starts with history – take your pick between the National Museum of Scotland or the Museum of Edinburgh.
During the day you can either stroll down the Royal Mile to take a closer look at the restaurants, shops, and castle. OR, you can take a walk over to Stockbridge to check out the picturesque Dean Village.
In the evening you’ll want to take a walk through Princess Street Gardens, check out the Scott Monument, then walk up Calton Hill for sunset. Be sure to get there early so you can explore the various buildings and monuments before you lose daylight.
Then, finish off the day with a spooky ghost tour (it’s free)!
Day 3 in Edinburgh
Day 3 is the day you depart from Edinburgh (sad face), however you’ll still have time to squeeze in a few activities!
Take your pick between the free Harry Potter walking tour, a food tour (try Scotland’s traditional haggis dish), or a relaxing walk over to the meadows where you can visit my favourite pop-up coffee shop; Uplands Roast.
Looking for where to go next?
Check out these day trips from Edinburgh.
Map of Edinburgh
The following map includes everything I’ve talked about in this guide coordinated by colour. Upon clicking the makers you’ll find links for booking tours, accommodations + additional information.
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About The Author
Hey! I’m Taylor – the voice behind The Holistic Backpacker.
After moving to Banff National Park in 2020 I became an outdoor adventure enthusiast and vowed to never stop exploring.
I’m now focused on travelling the world and seeing everything our beautiful home has to offer.
I created The Holistic Backpacker so I could share my adventures and help connect people like you with the same amazing experiences.
I am also an advocate for the environment and do as much as I can to take care of our planet.
Get to know me and my story more here 🙂
I can’t wait to share my adventures with you!