Updated: Oct 25, 2022
We know travel time is precious, and that sometimes there are just too many things to do on your bucket list than time allows. Although we recommend spending 2-3 days in Edinburgh, Scotland, below outlines the highlights of this great city, easily completed in just 24 hours.
Morning in Edinburgh
1. Enjoy breakfast at Quick & Plenty Café
Great Scottish breakfast, friendly staff, and reasonably priced food! This is a great place to stop for a traditional Scottish breakfast or for a quick bite amidst all of your Edinburgh exploring. A Traditional Scottish breakfast includes beans, toast, eggs, sausage, bacon, haggis, and black pudding.
Tip: recommended for trying a traditional Scottish breakfast (but beware of Haggis and Black Pudding!)
2. Take a stroll through Princess Gardens
As mentioned in our initial "fun fact", this garden use to be Nor Loch before it was drained in the late 18th century. Having been nourished from the Nor Loch waters, the vegetation in this garden is absolutely stunning. It is a great place to walk through, enjoy nature, and take in a wonderful view of the Edinburgh Castle. Once you walk through Princess Gardens, loop back around onto Princess Street and check out the entertaining shops & restaurants.
J&L Recommended: beautiful gardens with castle views
Afternoon in Edinburgh
3. Hike to Arthur's Seat
We highly recommend going on the hike to Arthur's Seat. It was one of the favorite parts of our entire trip. Along the path you will see ruins of a 15th century cathedral, as well as, a 360 degree view of the city & ocean. The peak of the hike is Arthur's Seat, which was built on top of an old volcano and has incredible views that will make it more than worth the climb.
J&L Recommended: A must-do in Edinburgh!
4. Grab some coffee and snacks at Elephant House
Grab your afternoon pick-me-up at this famous coffee house. This is the café in which J.K. Rowling wrote portions of the Harry Potter book series. There is a picture of her hanging on the wall of the café. See if you can find her exact seat! We ordered steamed milk with amaretto and sat at the same table J.K. Rowling was pictured writing her books.
Fact: This is the café in which J.K. Rowling wrote portions of the Harry Potter series.
5. Head over to Greyfriars Kirkyard
Keeping in line with the Harry Potter theme, this graveyard in old town Edinburgh is worth taking a stroll through. As you read the names of some of the gravestones, you will start to recognize some of these names as prominent Harry Potter characters. This is because J.K. Rowling often found her inspiration for character names walking through this graveyard.
Greyfriars Kirkyard is also home to Greyfriars Bobby. A heartwarming story of a Skye Terrier that sat on his deceased owner's grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard for 14 years and guarded the gravestone until the dog passed away himself. Today, Edinburghers recognize Bobby the dog with his own grave and statue near his owner.
Also Read: the full story of Greyfriars Bobby
6. Explore the grounds of Edinburgh Castle
Hours Peak Season: Daily from 9:30 - 6:00pm
The castle grounds used to encompass the entire city of Edinburgh. The city gradually expanded past the castle walls and transformed into present day Edinburgh. Each of the historic buildings inside the castle walls are now turned into museums. The highlights from our visit to the castle was the 1 o'clock cannon that was set off (to alert ships in the harbor of the current time), visiting the royal jewels, touring the royal apartment, and viewing the prisoners of war exhibit. We recommend at least 3 hours at this attraction.
Tickets: Starting at £17.50 at the gate and £15.50 online
Evening in Edinburgh
7. Grab Dinner at Oink
Amazing pulled pork sandwich! BEWARE of the topping "haggis". If you like trying different food and want to partake in a Scottish tradition, go for it! Otherwise, checkout this link to know what haggis is before ordering. If Haggis is not for you, you can easily order your sandwich without.
J&L Recommended: One of the best pork sandwiches we have ever had! (beware of haggis)
8. Take a stroll through The Royal Mile
This is a mile-long road leading to the Edinburgh Castle entrance, as well as, an overlook of the entire city. Along this road are many shops and local artists. Stop by, admire their work and maybe even grab a souvenir to remember your time in Edinburgh. Along this road is St Giles Cathedral, Mary's King Close, and many gratuity based walking tours such as Sandeman's.
We recommend trying the Elvis Juice. This American IPA cannot be overlooked. Elvis Juice is loaded with citrus flavor, specifically a orange and grapefruit combo, which packs a powerful flavor to delight the senses. Brewdog started in Ellon, Scotland (a couple of hours north from Edinburgh) in 2007 and now has grown to the scale of a multinational craft brewery due to rapid success among craft brew fans globally.