A Weekend Guide to Edinburgh

Weekend in Edinburgh - woman with tartan cape on Circus Lane, beer at Edinburgh Castle, Victoria St colorful buildings

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Looking for the perfect way to spend a weekend in Edinburgh? Our guide has been carefully crafted and includes essential travel information, food and drink recommendations, advice on where to stay and the best things to do in the city to get the most out of your trip.

We’re going to take you higher than the Old Town’s majestic rooftops and low, deep down into the bowels of Auld Reekie, where people once lived underground! So get ready to pack your bags because everything else you need to know for a fun Edinburgh weekend is featured below.

Note: Edinburgh attractions are constantly responding to Government announcements. Please check for opening times. Remember to pre-book tickets online and reserve tables for meals and drinks during your 2-3 days in Edinburgh.

Only visiting for 24 hours? Check out our jam-packed one-day itinerary and bookmark this weekend guide for your next trip!

If you are planning a trip from the States, check out this article on things every North American should know before visiting Scotland and the best time to visit.

Edinburgh Castle Autumn Red Trees Leave

The Perfect Weekend in Edinburgh

Day 1 – Calton Hill Views and Edinburgh’s Old Town

Most people’s first impression of Scotland’s capital is that the streets are basically a free, live museum.

World-renowned landmarks on every corner and secret wynds that connect cobbled streets with unique attractions is definitely one of the city’s enchanting qualities.

Today, you are going to discover some of Edinburgh’s most popular attractions as well as its lesser-known spots.

Kicking off in the City Centre, close to the main shopping drag, Princes Street, the day starts with a very short hike for skyline views.

The city is built on 7 Hills so we think it’s apt that you start by climbing one…

Calton Hill – Edinburgh’s Open Air Museum

Calton Hill is a hill that only requires a five-minute walk to get up and provides great rewards for very little effort!

As you can see in the images below, there is a small set of stairs located at Waterloo Place that take you to the top of the hill.

At the summit of Calton Hill, you will be met by lots of green space and fellow visitors who have come to explore the monuments and enjoy the sweeping views.

It is a very popular spot for photographers at sunrise and sunset.

Edinburgh city centre airbnbs Calton Hill views

A reason to start the day with this short hike is to help you get your bearings for the rest of the weekend.

From the Dugald Stewart Monument pictured above, you can see Arthur’s Seat to the left, another one of Edinburgh’s famous 7 Hills, which takes around an hour to climb to the summit.

The Scottish Parliament is the modern white building in front of Arthur’s Seat; you just see the roof in this image.

Following the line along the Old Town spires, you will come to Edinburgh Castle.

To the right of the castle is the Balmoral Clock, it’s three minutes fast by the way!

Sticking out in the skyline to the right of the clock is Scott Monument, which you can also climb. It has 287 steps and is located in Prince Street Gardens.

To the right of Princes Street in the New Town are a series of high-street shops, such as H&M and Apple.

Behind Princes Street is Rose Street, a cute cobbled lane with pubs and restaurants.

The next adjacent street is George Street, where you’ll find upmarket shopping, restaurants and cocktail bars. such as Le Monde and Tigerlily.

George Street is where you will find The Dome, a festive institution—a must if you visit at Christmas time.

At the very end of Princes Street is the West End, a cool wee spot with independent shops and restaurants and Dean Village, the old mill area you may have seen on Instagram!

From Dean Village, you can walk to the lovely Stockbridge neighbourhood with a weekly Sunday market and many coffee shops.

A river walk called the Water of Leith will then take you from Stockbridge to Leith, a lively neighbourhood which is a big hit with foodies.

Once you’ve mapped your weekend out, it’s time to wander around Calton Hill.

Another monument you’ll stumble across is the National Monument of Scotland, often called the National Disgrace, as it was never finished!

It’s common to see people climb on it.

Scottish Monument 12 pillar Calton Hill Edinburgh

The tower that resembles an upside-down telescope is the Nelson Monument.

It was built between 1807 and 1815 to commemorate Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, the British naval commander famous for his victory against the French during the Napoleonic Wars.

You’ll find a Nelson monument in most UK cities, including Glasgow and Trafalgar Square in London.

Spend 30 minutes exploring Calton Hill and getting to grips with your bearings while appreciating the views.

Calton Hill Nelson Monument tower among treesEdinburgh

Brunch/Lunch in the Old Town

Head down the steps to Waterloo Place, walk along Princes Street and past the Balmoral Hotel (read our Balmoral Hotel review!) with the clock tower you just saw from Calton Hill.

From here, you can walk through the Waverley Train Station to Market Street or past the station and turn left at Waverley Bridge.

Local tip: In summer and winter, the Waverley Mall’s roof hosts a jumping pop-up festival with live music, food, and drink.

Waverley Mall Edinburgh Shopping

Walking over Waverley Bridge, you will see Princes Street Gardens to the right. Skip it for now; the fairytale Old Town awaits.

Head down Waverley Bridge to Market Street. Hungry? There are two brunch options on the left.

If you want to grab a coffee and pastry, check out George Street Coffee.

If you prefer tea and scone or maybe lunch, I highly recommend avocado and feta sourdough; check out Mimi’s Bakehouse.

Want more choices? Here’s our best brunch in Edinburgh guide.

Note: You’ll see Edinburgh Dungeons on Market Street, a fun and active history tour of Scotland for wee ones. If you are visiting with your family, check out our guide on things to do in Edinburgh with kids.

Wait! There’s more.

Cross over the road at Market Street and wind your way up the Victorian buildings of Cockburn Street (pronounced Co-burn) for The Milkman (below), The Wall (below), Laila’s, Southern Cross Cafe, and Scran.

Side trip tip: If visiting on a Sunday and looking to try a traditional roast, check The Bon Vivant (55 Thistle St near George Street), which serves beef, pork, and fish with all of the trimmings.

The Royal Mile

So now you’re suitably stuffed; it’s time to walk off the calories wandering up the High Street on the Royal Mile. Turn right at the top of Cockburn Street.

From here, you will pass several attractions, including the bird-poo-streaked statue of the economist Adam Smith, buried near the bottom of the Royal Mile at the Canongate Kirk.

Keep an ear out for the 1 O’clock Gun, fired every day except Sunday at… 1 pm.

If you need to dive out of the rain at any point, there are plenty of cafes around here, such as Saint Giles Cafe.

Adam Smith statue on Royal Mile Edinburgh

On the right, you will find the City Chambers, where the handprints of the Harry Potter author are etched on the ground.

If you love all things Potter, check out our guide that features every Edinburgh Harry Potter location and dispels the myths about the places that didn’t actually inspire the books…

JK Rowling Hands City Chambers Edinburgh Harry Potter Edinburgh

Next door to the City Chambers is Mary King’s Close, one of Edinburgh’s underground tours.

Keep your eyes peeled for Advocates Close, and take a peak at the views over the New Town from the alley.

If you fancy a drink, the Devil’s Advocate has indoor and outdoor seating. A popular Old Town pub.

Next on the left is St Giles’ Cathedral and the Heart of Midlothian, which locals used to spit in because it was once the Burch Council offices, tax collection, and a place of torture and public hangings.

You can visit St Giles’ Cathedral, known as the Mother Church of World Presbyterianism.

On the right, there’s a statue of a man with a very shiny toe. That’s the Edinburgh-born philosopher David Hume.

Historically, students would rub his toe for luck.

Recently, Edinburgh University renamed its David Hume Tower after a petition highlighted that Hume “wrote racist epithets not worth repeating.”

You can find out more about Hume and other historical figures in Scotland’s black history during the Edinburgh Black History Walking Tour.

Touching Humes Toe Edinburgh Royal Mile Edinburgh

For your bearings, on your left is George IV Bridge, where you’ll find the Everything Edinburgh mascot, Greyfriars Bobby and Victoria Street, which leads down to the Grassmarket.

However, you’re not going there quite yet!

Keep walking up the Royal Mile; you are now in the Lawnmarket section.

On the corner, you’ll see a pub called Deacon Brodies; look up at the two faces on the outside sign!

Deacon Brodie lived a double life, which saw him executed. Find out all about him in our post on Edinburgh’s legends.

One of the best things about Edinburgh’s Old Town is what you’ll see looking up, down and around. We did say that the city is an open-air museum!

Deacon Brodie Pub Edinburgh Royal Mile Old Town

Writers’ Museum and Makars’ Close

To the left of the pub, look out for the alley with the dragons and make your way through to Makars’ Court, a popular Instagram spot.

This is where the Writers’ Museum is located, and it documents the lives of three Scottish authors, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Like many of Edinburgh’s museums, it is free to enter. A self-guided visit takes around 20 minutes.

Read next | The best museums in Edinburgh

Castlehill on the Royal Mile

The top of the Royal Mile is called Castlehill, and you won’t be surprised to hear that this is where you find Edinburgh Castle!

However, before we reach the castle doors, there are a couple of points of interest that neighbour Edinburgh’s most popular paid-for attraction.

Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura is five floors packed with over 100 illusions, including magic mirror mazes and an LED light tunnel.

One of the biggest selling points for photography fans is the view from the rooftop, where your lens can get up close and personal with one of the oldest fortified attractions in Europe, Edinburgh Castle.

The estimated time to cover all attractions is two hours. Here’s our Camera Obscura review.

Ramsay Garden

Ramsay Garden is a very quick detour just around the corner from Camera Obscura down Ramsay Lane.

Its bright doors and striking red staircase make it onto lots of social media feeds!

Ramsay Garden Royal Mile Edinburgh

Patrick Geddes developed the area as part of a housing programme in the Old Town.

His family lived at number 14, and he referred to his project as a “seven-towered castle I built for my beloved.”

The image below shows the 1890s houses from Princes Street Gardens.

They look like little doll houses, don’t you think?

Ramsay Garden from Princes Street Gardens, tall buildings sitting on top of trees

Ramsay Lane opens up to the incredible views of the New Town, so you can see some of the attractions you spotted from Calton Hill from another angle.

Just think, you are just below another building you saw! Edinburgh Castle.

Views of Edinburgh New Town including Scott Monument from Ramsay Lane Edinburgh

Edinburgh Scotch Whisky Experience

If you are visiting Scotland for the first time and/or want to find out more about the national drink, whisky, Edinburgh Scotch Whisky Experience is a five-star experience.

The 1.5-hour tour is 3D in parts and ends with you taking a dram of the water of life, so factor that into your itinerary if you intend to visit past the castle doors.

This guide details the very best whisky tours in the city.

Whisky Experience Activities Royal Mile Edinburgh Toilets

Hey! The Camera Obscura may be double the amount of fun after the whisky tour!

Next to the Scotch Whisky Experience is The Witchery By The Castle, which is one of the most romantic places to eat in Edinburgh.

It is pretty pricey, so often reserved for special occasions. Find out more about Edinburgh prices here.

Alternatively, check out the lunch menu or afternoon teas for an affordable set menu.

Read all about afternoon tea experiences in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Castle

Now we move on to the star of the show, the castle that sits on a volcano crag at 443 feet (135 metres) above sea level.

The castle esplanade is free, so you can check out the monuments, such as the Witches Well and the views.

Witches Well Flower Edinburgh Castle Castlehill Activities Edinburgh_

If you want to step beyond the castle doors, a quick self-guided tour can be done in two hours, and there is an audio option if you want to learn about the history too.

Alternatively, join this guided tour and enjoy skip-the-line access to Edinburgh Castle.

Some of the building dates back to the 12th century, so there are many stories to cover. You could easily spend four hours at the castle if you wanted to explore every nook and cranny.

If you fancy the audio tour, you could skip the hike up Calton Hill and head straight to the castle for your pre-booked castle entry to beat the crowds.

Edinburgh Castle From Entrance Castlehill Activities Edinburgh_

A castle ticket will allow you access to the Lang Stairs, to see Mons Meg, the Medieval gun and the oldest building in Edinburgh, St Margaret’s Chapel.

The Honours of Scotland, the oldest Crown jewels, are also found at Edinburgh Castle, as well as the Stone of Destiny, which features in a movie by the same name.

There are also museums you can visit, Prisons of War, National War Museum and Regimental Museums.

Note: Since the esplanade is flat is suitable for wheelchair users and prams/pushchairs. There is a courtesy vehicle that takes people with disabilities to the top of the castle.

The Crown Jewels, Stone of Destiny and associated exhibitions have ramp and elevator access.

Free Braille guides and hands-on models of the Crown Jewels with Braille texts are available.

Edinburgh Castle Front Entrance Royal Mile Edinburgh Activities


Now it’s time to turn the weekend vibes up!

Head out of the esplanade and turn right down Castle Wynd North and then South until you arrive at one of the most vibrant spots in the Old Town, Edinburgh’s Grassmarket.

On Saturdays, there is a farmers’ market. If you want a quick bite to eat, grab some Scottish, international or fusion cuisine at one of the vendors.

You can 100% close the day here, bar hopping between rooftop beers under the castle at Cold Town House, ghost hunting at The White Heart Inn, listening to good tunes at The Last Drop, checking out the live music at Eve, and dreamy cocktails at Dragonfly.

You’ll also find a variety of restaurants in and around the Grassmarket. Here’s a selection from the Grassmarket, Victoria Street and George IV Bridge, which takes you back to the Royal Mile.

Cold Town House rooftop sign and caravan bar

Graassmarket Restaurants

  • Cold Town House – Wood-fired pizza, one. of our top beer gardens
  • Mamma’s American Pizza
  • Made in Italy
  • El Toro Loco – Mexican small menu
  • The Last Drop – pub grub

Before you stumble around to the Cowgate to sample live music at Stramash or a band at Sneaky Pete’s, get a snap of Edinburgh Castle from The Vennel steps next to Mary’s Milk Bar.

It’s probably the most popular IG spot in Edinburgh.

Victoria Street Restaurants

Victoria Street is said to have inspired Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley! The buildings are brightly coloured, and there is a lovely terrace above.

George IV Bridge Restaurants

At the top of Victoria Street is George IV Bridge, which has a handful of food options. This is where you will find our mascot, Greyfriars Bobby too.

  • The Elephant House – Famous cafe where JK Rowling wrote
  • The Outsider – Castle views
  • Cafe Andalus – Tapas

Edinburgh at Night

If dancing the night away is not your thing, there are plenty of other nighttime activities you can do during your Edinburgh weekend itinerary.

The following ideas are just a selection; you can see our detailed guide here.

If you have 2 nights in Edinburgh, pick and choose from the options below or further recommendations in the guide link above.

Naturally, there are a number of bars and pubs to hang out in that don’t require too much planning but remember to book ahead if there is somewhere you have your eye on. You would be disappointed if you didn’t get in.

You might want to check out our guide to Edinburgh in the rain, too.

Tigerlily Bar bar seats at Christmas in Edinburgh

Paranormal Tour

So much of Edinburgh’s history lies beneath the cobbled streets of the Old Town but you need to let a tour guide take you because there are known spirits that still walk the damp streets under the South Bridge.

This 75-minute tour takes you down to Edinburgh’s Vaults and shares entertaining stories about Edinburgh’s legends and ghostly goings-on.

It is pretty cold down there, so wear sensible clothing and shoes.

The tour also walks you through the Old Town’s most haunted graveyard.

We love the dark side of Edinburgh and have a dedicated guide to all the spooky tours in the city.

Mortsafe Greyfriars Kirk Edinburgh Tour

Comedy Shows

Did you know that Edinburgh hosts the world’s biggest arts festival in August? It runs for three weeks and the programme includes dance, music and lots of comedy.

Luckily for us, the show doesn’t end when the Festival Fringe curtains close.

There are two comedy clubs in Edinburgh dedicated to making you laugh: The Stand (Queen Street) and the Monkey Barrel Comedy (Blair Street).

If you do end up at The Stand, look out for the speakeasy close by called Panda and Sons, behind the barbers.

Cool Pubs and Bars Unique to Edinburgh

It is Scotland, so you can be confident that there are a variety of bars and pubs to meet every type of desired night!

Here are some of our faves.

Old Town Pubs and Bars

  • Follow the fairy light tunnel on the Royal Mile to Monteiths and warm up with a butter beer cocktail.
  • Cold Town House for rooftop froses, Cold Town Beer towers and pizza with castle views.
  • The Last Drop on the Grassmarket for pub grub and good nod-your-head tunes.
  • Whistlebinkies for sticky floors and live bands playing covers you can dance to.
Monteiths Bar Sign on the Royal MileEdinburgh

West End and City Centre Bars and Pubs

  • Juniper Edinburgh at 20 Princes Street Street for castle views over Princes Street
  • Fancy ceilidh Scottish dancing with strangers? Ghillie Dhu in the West End is for you
  • Hoot the Redeemer, a friendly speakeasy at 7 Hanover Street
  • Craft beer fans, check out The Hanging Bat on Lothian Road
Ghillie Dhu pub food West End Edinburgh

Leith Pubs

  • Port o’ Leith for Tang and vodka: pre-gentrification, we used to dance on the bar here!
  • Carriers Quarters for a cosy fire, dogs and the occasional live band
  • Port of Leith Distillery for fantastic views and whisky
Pub Port O Leith Edinburgh

Stockbridge Bars

  • The Bailie for beers and malts in a basement bar
  • The Last Word Saloon for delicious cocktails
  • Hectors for sports on the TV
Hectors Brunch plates of food Stockbridge Plate

Day 2: Leith or Stockbridge, Dean Village and Holyrood

Yesterday, you became acquainted with the Old Town, so today, you’re going to start off by exploring the New Town and end the day back at a viewpoint by the Royal Mile.

Breakfast in Leith

Leith is a hip, wee area that feels like a village.

There’s a long street called Leith Walk that runs from the top of the city centre, near Calton Hill, to the Foot of the Walk in Leith.

During your next weekend visit to Edinburgh, you can spend some time popping into the shops and pubs on Leith Walk, but today, you’re going to start with brunch at Nobles for a full Scottish breakfast of link or square sausage, bacon, black pudding, haggis, beans, mushrooms, toast and potato scone or The Kings Wharf for eggs Benedict.

Leith Shore with orange boat

After food, you have two options.

Option one sees you wandering along The Shore, passing Leith Farmers’ Market if it’s a Saturday, to the Royal Yacht Britannia, the former yacht of the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, from 1954 until 1997.

Read our HMY Britannia review here.

Royal Yacht BRITANNIA Bell on Deck Tour

Pop into Ocean Terminal to pick up a souvenir from the Leith Collective, which sells crafts by local artists.

If you like the sound of Leith, check out our other guides on what to do in Leith, where to stay, and Leith restaurants and bars.

Teuchters Landing Pub Leith

Depending on the time, you can continue on with option two or head straight to the final leg of the weekend in Edinburgh plans for today, Holyrood Park.

Note: The Edinburgh hop-on/off bus tour travels between the Old Town and Royal Yacht Britannia.

Option 2: Stockbridge

Stockbridge is a super popular weekend spot for brunching and its cafe scene.

You can walk to Stockbridge from Leith following the Water of Leith Walkway starting at The Shore from Commercial Wharf.

There is a free audio guide to accompany your walk if you want to learn more about the areas that the Walkway connects.

The walk takes around 1.5 hours, and it is usually busy with runners and cyclists. The Walkway is well signposted.

Leith Shore with boat docked

If there are any closures on the path you can follow the diversions or use Google Maps.

If you don’t want to walk you can get the 36 bus which takes around 30 minutes.

Depending on traffic, a taxi ride should be no more than 25 minutes.

Black and gold Stockbridge sign on a wall

Stockbridge Photography

This neighbourhood is very photogenic. The lens loves the 1800s architecture, the mews called Circus Lane and the Georgian houses.

The most popular photo stops include the historic Stockbridge Market sign, Circus Lane with St Stephen’s Church and the residential house, Potted Garden.

Stockbridge Market Sign Stockbridge Edinburgh

Stockbridge Market

Every Sunday, there is a farmers’ market at Saunders Street selling hot street food, baked goods and crafts.

Shopping, Food, Pubs and Beer Gardens

Stockbridge has a handful of independent shops and is known for its fantastic second-hand thrift stores.

The area is pretty affluent, so the donations tend to be of high quality!

There is no shortage of places to eat, including casual lunch at The Pantry, Scottish food at Scran and Scallie or plates and paired wine at ROLLO.

Hector’s is known for its Sunday roasts.

Just fancy a drink? Many of Stockbridge’s bars are located in the basement, which makes for a pretty cool experience!

The Last Word Saloon serves epic cocktails among its hip decor, and The Raeburn has a beer garden if you prefer to drink outdoors.

The Raeburn Hotel Bar hand holding a Mimosa cocktail

An afternoon in Stockbridge should be enjoyed at a slow pace with lots of people watching and dog spotting.

If you decide to spend time here over your weekend in Edinburgh you will find the following guides useful.

A quick guide to Stockbridge and Dean Village, where to eat, the best pubs and bars, things to do in Stockbridge and where to stay if you decide that the New Town is better suited to your travel style.

Circus Lane St Stephen Church Stockbridge Edinburgh

Dean Village

Just ten-minute walk away from lovely Stockbridge is an incredible hidden mill town and Edinburgh World Heritage Site called Dean Village.

Even before you reach this wee secret area you will be wowed by The Dene, which looks like something out of Harry Potter or Game of Thrones, and St Bernard’s Well.

The Dene Stockbridge Bridge_

St Bernard’s Well is home to Hygeia, the ancient Greek god of health.

The well was said to have attracted the city folks because of its healing properties.

You won’t believe you are in a city when you first arrive at Dean Village.

Once a city slum and home to eight working grain mills, today, residents live in the historic buildings by the water.

You don’t need longer than 20 minutes to wander the wee nooks and crannies of Dean Village, but remember you are in a residential area and don’t even bother trying to park a car here!

From here, you can walk to the West End and Princes Street in 15 minutes, so if you decide not to visit Stockbridge and Leith during this Edinburgh weekend itinerary, you know you can easily just pop to Dean Village as it is very close to the city centre.

Dean Village Wall Carving Bread Edinburgh

Princes Street Gardens

No trip to Edinburgh would be complete without a stroll through the old Nor’ Loch, Princes Street Gardens.

This tree-lined park frames Edinburgh Castle perfectly and has a number of statues and memorials dotted over its two sections.

From the West End, you can enter West Princes Street Gardens, where you will find Ross Fountain and the Fountain Cafe with outdoor seating.

Ross Fountain Princes Street Edinburgh

West Princes Street Garden is home to the adorable Gardener’s Cottage and the flower clock, which changes each year.

Edinburgh Park Nature Gardeners Cottage Princes St Garden

There are two art galleries by The Mound located in Princes Street Gardens, The Royal Scottish Academy and the Scottish National Gallery.

The latter is where the famous Skating Minister is located. This painting is said to have inspired some of the Scottish Parliament design.

The Skating Minister painting Edinburgh National Gallery Museum

The Scott Monument, which you could see from Calton Hill, can be found in the East Gardens as well as the exit out to the Waverley Mall and Train Station.

You can read more about Princes Street Gardens in our guide.

From here, if you decide you have smashed your weekend trip to Edinburgh, you can head to Rose Street, George Street or St Andrew Square to dine and/or have a drink.

I personally recommend the bars Tiles, Lady Liberty, and The Guildford Arms around St Andrew Square for a decent mix of cocktails and “old man pubs”.

Close to this area is the Pink Triangle, where you’ll find a handful of gay bars like The Street, Planet Bar, and CC Blooms.

Edinburgh Waverley Shopping Centre Station

Canongate on the Royal Mile

From Princes Street Gardens, choose which way you’d like to reach the Royal Mile; either of the following four options from Market Street work.

If you are looking for dinner, there are a handful of options on Cockburn Street, including Scran.

  • Winding up Cockburn Street
  • Take the frightful stairs up Fleshmarket Close
  • Find the secret Scotsman Steps
  • Walk along Jeffrey Street

Once you are on the Royal Mile, locate Edinburgh Castle at the top and walk down to the Canongate in the opposite direction.

At this stage of the Royal Mile, you can see John Knox’s House, which is the oldest medieval building in the Old Town, built in 1470, and the Storytelling Centre.

Across the road is The World’s End, the old city limits. This historic bar also serves pub grub.

As you head down to the bottom of the Royal Mile, take a peek at Dunbar Close Gardens on the left for a secret local spot.

Holyrood Park

Holyrood Park is a 650-acre (260 ha) urban green space.

It has three lochs (St Margaret’s Loch, Dunsapie Loch, and Duddingston Loch) and an extinct volcano called Arthur’s Seat.

It is also home to a number of attractions, including the Scottish Parliament and Dynamic Earth.

Scottish Parliament Arthurs Seat Edinburgh

Holyrood Palace

At the start of the park, you will see Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland.

Audio-guided tours of the King’s Bedchamber, the Throne Room, and the Great Gallery are available.

Holyrood Palace Scotland Edinburgh Activities_

The entry ticket also includes access to Holyrood Abbey, which was founded in 1128 by King David I of Scotland.

Built around 1195, you can spot Romanesque-style architecture and Gothic art, which was popular in the 13th century at the abbey.

Another claim to fame is that James II was born, crowned, married and buried here.

After the Reaffirmation in 1560, the Abbey was used as part of the palace expansion.

Some buildings were destroyed, but the naive was used for worship until 1768, when the roof caved in after a storm.

There is also The Queen’s Gallery, which hosts changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection, including old master paintings, unique furniture, decorative arts and images from the royal photograph collection.

Queens Gallery Edinburgh Holyrood_

Hike Arthur’s Seat/Salisbury Crags

You will see Arthur’s Seat popping up around the city as it is the highest peak at 251 metres (823 ft).

Along with Arthur’s Seat is Salisbury Crags, a series of 46-metre (151 ft) cliffs.

Arthurs Seat in Edinburgh Nature Hike

Arthur’s Seat/Salisbury Crags is a very popular hike as it takes less than 2.5 hours to complete and can be done in trainers/sneakers on a dry day.

The distance is 4.75 km/3 miles.

At the top, you are rewarded with panoramic views over the city and The Kingdom of Fife.

It’s pretty windy and chilly at the top, so make sure you’ve packed an extra layer!

A sunset walk is a lovely way to end the perfect weekend in Edinburgh.

Arthurs Seat on a cloudy day Edinburgh

Edinburgh Hotels

Here’s a glance at hotels in the city centre for all budgets.

For more, check out our accommodation guide.

  • Motel One Royal is one of two Motel One hotels in Edinburgh. Modern and affordable
  • House of Gods is a fun and cheeky hotel that oozes personality (image below); read our review
  • The Witchery for a really unique, luxury and special stay in the Old Town
House of Gods Hotel Edinburgh Old Town Dark Red Room With Bed

Get Your Bearings

Edinburgh is split into a handful of areas (neighbourhoods).

If this is your first visit, it is recommended that you book accommodation in the Old Town or City Centre so you can squeeze as much as possible in during your weekend in Edinburgh.

If you prefer to live in a neighbourhood with locals, here’s an overview.

  • Old Town: Cobbled streets, historic monuments, popular tourist attractions, Royal Mile
  • City Centre: Shopping, dining, Princes Street Gardens, mix of Old and New Town
  • West End: Independent shops, restaurants, Charlotte Square and Georgian houses
  • Leith (New Town): Hip, young, independent restaurants, bars, canal walks
  • Stockbridge (New Town): Pretty, affluent, cafe culture, independent shops
  • South Side: Walking distance to Old Town, student life, affluent, Meadows (park)

Here’s our detailed guide on where to stay in Edinburgh before you book.

Meadows Park Cherry Blossom Gemma_

Getting Around Edinburgh

Edinburgh has the following modes of public transport – trams, buses, hop-on/off tour buses, trains, taxis, Uber, and e-bikes.

Lothian Buses serve the vast majority of the city – you can almost guarantee that you’ll be close to a bus stop wherever you stay.

Lothian also runs NightBus services every night of the week on selected routes.

Here’s our guide to Edinburgh Bus Station.

This airport guide details how to get to the city from the airport via bus, tram or taxi.

Planning a budget-friendly trip to Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is very walkable. Its small size means you can explore lots on foot, looking up, down and around to take all the history and beauty in.

Edinburgh New Town Tram Multrees Walk Harvey Nichols

Parking can be a nightmare, and it is rarely free during the day.

You can find free parking after 18:30 and on a Sunday morning.

Here’s our full guide to parking.

There are a handful of hotels that offer parking if you require an overnight stay with a space.

If you are desperate to see some of the Scottish Highlands during your 48 hours in Edinburgh you can actually join a 1-day Highlands tour!

Edinburgh Hop On and Off Bus Tour For Speed and Stories

The Edinburgh hop-on/off bus tour has three routes and two types of passes – 24 or 48 hours.

While the official starting point is St Andrews Square in the New Town, you can hop on or off at any of the stops.

It’s an efficient way of seeing the city if you are short on time and want to learn more about the city and its stops.

The Majestic Tour goes as far as the Royal Yacht Britannia in the lesser-known area of Leith.

If visiting the royal holiday yacht is a definite must during your weekend Edinburgh plans, then definitely consider the HOHO bus pass.

Edinburgh skyline at pink sunset and Greyfrairs Bobby statue

Essential Edinburgh Information 

Plan your trip, tips & advice
Where to stay in Edinburgh
Food & drink in Edinburgh
Best time to visit Edinburgh
Things to do in Edinburgh
How much does Edinburgh cost?
Free 7-day Scotland itinerary

Plan Your Trip To Edinburgh 

Book accommodation at Booking.com
Reserve a skip the line pass or guided tour at GetYourGuide
Save money with this Edinburgh Pass

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