Edinburgh is hands down my favourite city in the world, and it’s not difficult to see why. Steeped in history, full of cobbled streets, home of the world renowned Fringe Festival, birthplace of Harry Potter and not to mention theres a giant castle smack bang in the middle of the city. Oh, and I also met the love of my life in Edinburgh so it holds a special place in my heart. It is beautiful in every season; The most popular season in Summer with the Fringe Festival (I’ll do a separate post on this) seeing the city triple in size, but Winter equally provides the goods in Edinburgh-The beautiful Christmas markets sit below the twinkling Castle, theres ice skating, an incredible christmas light display and a world Famous New Year Eve Street party.
There is so much to see and do in and around Edinburgh, you could spend a month there and discover a new beautiful alley, gin bar or fab cafe every day! But if you don’t have the luxury of unlimited time in this stunning city, I’ve found the perfect fly-in 3 day Itinerary. Enjoy the Magic of “auld-reekie” (We’ll come back to this)
Getting there and around.
Edinburgh Airport is about 30 minutes by public transport from the city and I would definitely recommend this option. A taxi will cost you an arm and a leg and when public transport is so good, why pay more? The Airlink 100 bus runs 24 hours and leaves every 10 minutes. You can get tickets right outside the terminal at the bus.
There is also the tram service that runs from 06:18 – 22:48 hours and takes 30 minutes also. It leaves every 7 minutes. I have used both options many times at all hours of the day.
Edinburgh isn’t particularly big and you can get around the city centre New and Old town on foot for the most part. It also has an excellent bus system as well as the Tram line that runs through the city. If you plan on getting the bus, I recommend a day pass for 4 pounds and use it as much as you want.
I’d spend my first day exploring Edinburgh’s historic Old town starting with Greyfriars Kirkyard, (look for Tom Riddles grave) wander down the famous and picture perfect Victoria street to Grassmarket and grab a coffee at one of the many beautiful cafes and restaurants there (Mary’s Milkbar does amazing milkshakes) then take a 6 min walk up to Edinburgh Castle for a fabulous view of the City at the top of the Royal Mile. In my opinion, it’s a waste of money to go inside- the Magic of Edinburgh castle isn’t on the inside, but watching it sit atop the hill overlooking the city and is best seen from below in the streets.
Wander down the cobbled Mile as it heads downhill to Holyrood Palace. It’s filled with lovely tartan shops, cafes, whisky shops and pubs as well as the famousSt Giles’ Cathedral. It’s riddled with side streets and alleys so make sure you explore them! You can enter the Palace if you like but I love just wandering around the gardens. (don’t worry, you’ll be back here on day 3)
After a huge day walking and exploring the many beautiful cobbles streets of the Old town, relax in pub (The Inn on the Mile is a good shout) or a trendy Gin Bar. If you feel like getting spooky, jump on a Ghost Tour on the Royal Mile. I’ll admit I’ve had a few frights on these!
Today It’s time to hit the other side of the city and explore New town. Separating the two is Princes St, the high street, and the superb Princes St gardens.
Spend the early morning in the quaint Dean Village, that crosses the Water of Leith. It’s like a little oasis in the middle of the city and truly is gorgeous (and an instagrammers dream!) and is only a 20 minute walk back along the water of Leith into Stockbridge, the trendiest boho area of Edinburgh. I’s stop for brunch at The Pantry; great quality ingredients and excellent coffee. Spend the rest of the morning wandering trough Stockbridge and be sure to stop by Circus Lane, arguable the most instagrammed (and rightly so) street in Stockbridge. Take my word for it, it’s cute as. The Stroll toward Princes St through the Georgian New town. Walk the high street and its many shops and just take in the view-it has an uninterrupted view of the Castle. Grab some picnic nibbles from a local supermarket and head across the road into the Gardens for a late lunch (if its a nice day!) and join the many locals and tourists having a relaxing picnic under the castle.
Spend the afternoon strolling the cobbled streets or head back to your hotel for a rest.
If you ate in the old town last night, try one of the many restaurants along George st or Rose st in the New Town. If its your thing, see a comedy show at The Stand-a local institution. Hit one of the many pubs or Bars on George at afterwards. I love Voodoo Rooms in the city centre for swanky drinks, cabaret and live music (though I’ve never eaten here) If you fancy a late night dance we LOVE Fingers-a piano jazz bar that runs late into the night-prepare to get up on the sticky dance floor and scream all your favourites along with the Pianist.
Today is the day to get back to Nature (rain, hail or shine) It rains a LOT in Scotland, so if you let rain dictate your day, you often won’t get anything done!
Have a big breakfast, you’ll need it for Arthurs seat. Arthurs seat sits atop a Volcano behind Holyrood Palace, at the bottom of the Royal Mile and will give you stunning 360 degree views! Wander the gardens of Holyrood if you didn’t get a chance on day 1, then head up Arthurs seat. There are a few different trailheads, all leaving from Holyrood-follow the other walkers and you’ll find your way-I’ve taken a slightly different route up and down each time I’ve been. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views over the city!
Make your way back down and grab lunch, then spend your afternoon as you please-Edinburgh has fabulous museums and galleries. Come late afternoon, head up Calton Hill. You’ve probably seen it’s Athenian Acropolis peeking over the skyline at the end of Princes St, and is an easy 5 minute walk from a staircase at Regent Road. Take a blanket and a bottle of wine and enjoy the panoramic views over Princes st and the Castle. My favourite time is to catch the sun set over the city with a wine. (one of my first dates was a picnic on Calton Hill!)
I would spend my last night with a beautiful meal, a trip to a Gin bar (I love The Jolly Botanist) and a final comedy show, because if you’re going to watch comedy anywhere, Edinburgh is the place to be.
-The Tower, in the National Museum of Scotland-this is expensive and a real treat but beautiful food and what a setting!-
-Kyloe (if you eat steak!) and Shebeen is another steakhouse/South African Restaurant.
-Chez Jules – beautiful French Food and reasonably prices
-The Pantry- trendy brekky and brunch
-Timberyard- trendy warehouse restaurant with local produce-I haven’t had the 8 course main with paired drinks but hear it’s great!
-El Cartel i New Town-epic mexican
-Ting Thai Caravan
-Tigerlilly (great cocktails in a really beautiful bar!)
-Any pub really!!!