With it’s charming old buildings and quaint cobblestone streets, Edinburgh is the perfect place for a short city break. It has everything you could possibly want in a city; an historic old town, a new town full of high street stores for some retail therapy, and wide open spaces and hiking routes. What’s more is it’s only a stones’ throw away from the beach!
With so much to see and do it can be hard to even know where to begin in Edinburgh. What do you do when you only have a short amount of time in the city but want to do everything? Read on to find out how you should spend 24 hours in the Scottish capital.
- Breakfast at City Café, Old Town – A simple American style diner which serves up a mean full Scottish Breakfast (veggie option with veggie haggis available too). The café is small and tucked away on a street just off of The Royal Mile, but it seems to be popular with tourists and locals alike. That could be because the food is good and cheap!
- Breakfast at Aroma Coffee Bar, South Bridge – A small, no frills café on a busy corner of Old Town Edinburgh which serves some of the best coffee in town. Choose from a selection of pastries, breakfast rolls and omelettes to go with your coffee. Aroma also serves up curries cooked fresh in the mosque kitchen nearby.
- Sightseeing bus tour – After you’ve filled up on breakfast it’s time to do some sightseeing! Grab a hop-on-hop-off bus tour ticket for £15 and explore 14 of Edinburgh’s greatest locations. The bus takes you past many museums, down The Royal Mile, past the Palace of Holyrood, through Johnston Terrace – the oldest neighbourhood in Edinburgh – and, of course, around Edinburgh Castle.
- Visit the castle – The best time to visit Edinburgh Castle is around midday so that you can be there for the one O’Clock gun, which was fired way back when at one O’clock every day so that the ships in the Forth could set their clocks. Today it’s simply a tradition that has never gone away. Whilst at the castle don’t forget to see the oldest crown jewels on the British Isles, Mons Meg – one of the greatest guns in medieval Europe, and the Stone of Destiny – a stone which has been witnessing coronations for hundreds of years (and still does today). Whilst at the castle you can wander around the great hall pretending to be a nobleman or woman invited to a great feast, and you can wander the vaults below where the prisoners of war were kept.
- Lunch at Bar 50 – Marketed as ‘the Cowgate’s best kept secret’, Bar 50 is a modern bar tucked away from the street. It serves delicious hot and cold food, craft beers and has a cute terrace with heaters and fairy lights to give it that cosy feeling.
- Lunch at BRGR – A restaurant designed to look like a fast food restaurant. They serve burgers in foil not on plates (they give you a handy cardboard eating device so there’s no spills), fizzy drinks in the cans, and fries in fast food packages. If the quirky restaurant hasn’t enticed you yet, the burgers are delicious. Try the veggie halloumi burger, you won’t regret it!
- Take a stroll – wander down The Royal Mile towards Princes Street. Have a wander around Princes Street Gardens and climb the Scott Monument, a gothic spire built in honour of Walter Scott. Why not wander around the large open green space that is Holyrood Park (home to Arthur’s Seat), and visit the Palace or Holyrood Abbey whilst you’re there?
- Coffee Shop stop – Just off the Royal Mile is Cockburn Street (not pronounced how you think, grow up 😉) full of small, quaint boutique coffee shops. In the new town Princes Street is the main shopping street so there are plenty of chain coffee shops to choose from.
- Salsbury Crags at Sunset – Arthur’s Seat’s smaller cousin. Situated just underneath Arthur’s Seat, the Salsbury Crags give you the same stunning views across the city – but it takes less effort to walk up there and there are fewer people so you can enjoy the views in peace!
- Dinner at David Bann – A vegetarian restaurant so fancy they put strawberries in the water. David Bann is a more upmarket restaurant serving only the most delicious vegetarian food. It may be more upmarket but it’s not expensive for what you get. The restaurant is situated just down the road from Holyrood Park so it’s in easy walking distance from the Salisbury Crags.
- Dinner at Ciao Roma – A simple little family run Italian restaurant which serves some of the best pasta I’ve ever had! The décor is nothing to marvel at and the menu is nothing fancy but the food is great; all dishes are authentically Italian and use the finest ingredients, their wines come from their own vineyards in Italy and their gelato was voted the best in Edinburgh!
- Dinner at The Outsider – A fine dining restaurant situated right underneath the castle. Their food is a little on the pricy side but when they’re serving things like pigeon and lobster that’s what you’d expect (they do limited, but lovely, vegetarian food too). Fantastic food and wonderful views, what more could you want?
- Ghost Tour – After dinner why not see a different side to the city on a ghost tour… if you dare. The Ghost Bus Tour (they deserve customers based just on that name!) takes you through all of Edinburgh’s most haunted locations including, the Royal Mile, Greyfriars’ Church, The Old Town and Holyrood Palace to name a few. Not only that but you’ll learn all about the gruesome murders and grisly goings on of days gone by. Prepare to be fascinated by the story of Burke and Hare, and horrified by stories of witch hunts.
- Drinks and dancing – If you’re not ready to end your night Edinburgh has plenty of bars and clubs to choose from! Head on down to Lothian Road for craft ale pubs and cocktail bars like ‘The Hanging Bat’. Hang around the old town for some more traditional pubs and clubs, or head on down to the pink triangle to party all night long!
Has anyone been to Edinburgh? Have you done anything on this list? What do you think I’ve missed out? Let me know in the comments!
If you want to download this article as a handy pocket guide you can do so here! The guide is free to download and use offline but if you want to upgrade it, so it gives you gps directions to each place of interest, you can do for a small fee (and if you do I’ll get a few pennies!)
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