It seems everyone who visits the Scottish capital falls in love with it a little bit. It’s easy to see why. You can wander the cobbled streets of the Old Town, admire the Georgian influence of the New Town, climb the surrounding hills overlooking the city, visit one of the hundreds of arts and music festivals that take place here, and dine in a city with almost as many Michelin-starred restaurants as London. A city of culture, of endless things to do and full of evergy and life, Edinburgh is a must.
Although I live in East Anglia, the area of England which is just above London, Edinburgh is only a four-hour train journey away (and it’s a direct train – result!) My sister and I booked our tickets in advance through thetrainline.com and stayed with my old flatmates I lived with in Wellington, New Zealand – saving on accommodation costs and having a well-overdue catch up!
As we only visited for a weekend, here is how to spend two days in Edinburgh to ensure you see as much of the city as possible!
Begin your time in Edinburgh by visiting Scotland’s most famous fortress. Built in the 13th century, the castle is perched on a dormant volcano and boasts incredible views of the city. The inside is exciting and interesting to explore; its history is violent and remorseful – perhaps this is why the Castle is thought to be one of the most haunted places in the country! Home to the Honours (Crown Jewels) of Scotland and the Scottish National War Memorial, a visit to the castle is a must to learn about the history of the city. It’s no wonder that this is the country’s most popular tourist attraction.
Entry cost: £17 – book your ticket here.
In the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, the Royal Mile is a (would you believe) mile-long street which begins at Edinburgh Castle and finishes at the Scottish Houses of Parliament and the Palace of Holyrood House. Taking a stroll up along the Mile will open your eyes to Edinburgh life. Pubs, restaurants and tartan shops line this cobblestoned street, which is dotted with buskers and street performers as well as the standard bagpipe players. Stop here for lunch – there are plenty of places to choose from. Many tours meet along the Mile to commence their visit of the city throughout the day and into the night – I wish I had been on an Underground tour like this one – how cool!
Entry cost: free
An absolute must for anyone visiting the Scottish capital is to climb the peculiar shaped hill that overlooks the city. Arthur’s Seat is in fact a dormant volcano; lava samples date back to 335 million years ago so I doubt it’ll be erupting again any time soon. The hill is fairly easy to climb but I recommend decent footwear, particularly because it can get muddy. Most people start from Queens Drive and follow the track to the top. And from the summit you will be met with 360 degree views of the city which are truly phenomenal. The light in the afternoon will be perfect.
What better place to try whisky than in the country it was created in? Edinburgh is home to a huge number of restaurants and bars that serve this liquor. Choose from one of the tours below to get the most out of your experience.
Start your day with breakfast at this lovely cafe – this is the one and only ‘birthplace of Harry Potter’. This coffee shop is where J.K spent a lot of time writing the Harry Potter books. Overlooking Edinburgh Castle, this cafe is one of the best tea and coffee houses in the city and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner too. Understandable that JK should choose this spot to conjure up (geddit?!) the characters of the world famous Wizarding World.
Whether you are a Potter fan or not, Victoria Street is well worth a visit. Just around the corner from the Elephant House cafe is the street which inspired JK’s Diagon Alley. I can almost picture the weird and wonderful wizardry shops here – Flourish and Blotts, Olivander’s Wands, Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, Eeylops Owl Emporium… okay I will stop with my Harry Potter nerdiness now!
This quaint little village is a lesser visited spot in the city and is worth a stroll. You are probably wondering why I would include a residential area on your Edinburgh itinerary, but this part of the city is truly gorgeous, with its cobblestoned paths, tiny houses and gushing river. You feel as though you have been transported back in time, the buildings are so quaint! The area is very quiet and peaceful – very different from the city centre. There’s a lovely viewpoint from the river but it’s worth heading down by the river too for more views of this area.
For more on Dean Village, see this post by the Earth Trekkers.
Another day, another hill! In fact, unlike Arthur’s Seat, this hill is actually only a very short hike from the street – it takes about 5 minutes to reach the top! Calton Hill is home to the National Monument of Scotland and the Nelson Monument, but I was most fascinated by the views of the city from here. Panoramic views span for miles, with the beautiful buildings spreading out into the surrounding hills. You can see Arthur’s Seat, Princes Street, Holyrood Park, and Edinburgh Castle amongst much more.
Entry cost: free
From Harry Potter locations to spooky places, book a tour with Get Your Guide and explore a side of the city you didn’t know existed!
Accommodation is quite pricey in Edinburgh – we were lucky enough to stay with our friends from Wellington, New Zealand when we visited! This was great as it meant being able to cook at home rather than eat out, and of course we had a good catch up.
For a similar experience, check out AirBnB – get £25 off your booking when you sign up through this link!
Otherwise, why not check out the properties below on booking.com.
Thanks for reading and happy travels!
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