One of the friendliest and most beautiful places on earth, Scotland should be at the top of travel lists everywhere. The country offers so much from the cities – to the historic sights – to the Highlands.The capital Edinburgh has so much hiding within and it’s practically beckoning visitors to discover it. The winding, hilly, cobblestone roads are filled with so much history and charm.T o help pack it all in, here is your 48-hour guide to Edinburgh before seeing the rest!
– Hop on the Big Green BUS for the Edinburgh Tour! Bus tours can vary depending on city, but Edinburgh is a great place to take one. At £14, the green loop is one of the easiest and most reasonable ways to get around. The bonus is that you have a live Scottish guide narrating and teaching you as the sights pass by. The Scottish accent itself makes it worth it!
– Some of the best stops on the bus includes the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Scottish Parliament, Old Town, National Museum of Scotland, Grassmarket, Edinburgh Castle, and New Town.
– Now it’s time for lunch! Start things off with a good meal at a local Scottish pub once you arrive. World’s End is our pick for meat pie or fish & chips.
–Walk your meal off on the Royal Mile up to Edinburgh Castle. Take in the sweeping views, and go inside for £16 if you’re interested in learning more, taking in views from the fortress, and touring the buildings such as the Great Hall, St. Margaret’s Chapel and the Royal Palace. (If you go in, don’t miss the sweet soldier’s dog cemetery).
– From the castle, walk down to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. This museum has just been redone and is just below the castle on Queen Street. The best part – it’s free! So take as much or as little time perusing as you’d like. Don’t miss the portraits of Mary Queen of Scots, or (more modernly) Sean Connery!
– Stroll the Royal Mile as you head back down, popping into shops and tartan plaid shopping. Don’t miss St. Giles Cathedral, which has been a church site since AD 854. Further back down the Mile you can find unique museums like the Scottish Storytelling Center, Museum of Childhood and more. The Writer’s Museum is worth checking out for those interested in the works of Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, and more. Pick up some Walkers pure shortbread to take home, it’s my favorite Scottish treat!
– Later in the afternoon, stop in for a quick tea time back down at Clarinda’s Team Room (near the bottom of the Royal Mile). It is adorable and offers inexpensive teas, sandwiches and sweets. (Thanks Jordan for showing this place to me!!)
– Stay at the lovely Macdonald Holyrood hotel, just off the Royal Mile at the bottom. The restaurant here is one of the best. We ate two dinners here and absolutely loved both. We still talk about it!
Start the next morning off with a hike and walk up to Arthur’s Seat (hoping it’s good weather for this jaunt!) Another option is to walk up Calton Hill for more views of the Castle, Leith and the Firth of Forth, and Arthur’s Seat.
Next go for a tour of the Scottish Parliament – a modern and unique building right in old-fashioned Edinburgh.
Work up an appetite by climbing the Scott Monument for only £4. This Gothic tower honors Sit Walter Scott and gives the greatest view of the city (and a leg burn!)
Afterwards, enjoy the scenery of the Princes Street Gardens. For more art, pop into the Scottish National Gallery or National Museum of Scotland (fun for kids!) right nearby.
Lunch options today include The Doric, The Guildford, or The Dogs for more fun pub settings. Another option is the popular Outsider brasserie for a different Mediterranean fare.
Get some post-lunch shopping in along George and Princes streets. It’s fun to stop into the fancy department store Jenners, a traditional favorite in Scotland.
Stop in for tea (or just a picture) at the Elephant House cafe … where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book!
If it’s nice weather and you have time in the afternoon, stop into the Royal Botanic Garden. It’s a 70-acre garden with natural Scottish Highland plants as well as exotic plants grown in glasshouses. Take in a cup of tea at the garden’s Terrace Cafe if you want yet another cuppa. Nearby is an old-fashioned record store called Voxbox Records which can be fun to check out.
Dinner should be at The Gardener’s Cottage, serving delicious meals based on season. You’ll sit at big tables together with other diners and enjoy fresh amazing specialties. You can’t go wrong with the amazing food and ambience (even live music!) The Voodoo Room is also fun for a bar & restaurant that feels like it comes straight from The Great Gatsby in a huge converted ballroom with sparkly ceilings. One other option is Panda and Sons!
– If you’re a cinema lover, go to the finest cinema: the Cameo. Classic gems and low-budget indie films play here, along with brand new blockbusters. Chase found this and it was so fun!
If you don’t stay at the MacDonald Holyrood, other good options include the Glasshouse Hotel or Hotel Missoni.
After time in Edinburgh, get prepared for some time in the Highlands! If you rent a car back at the airport you can easily work with Premiair parking, Edinburgh Airport’s number one spot for parking your car.
Let me know of any of your Edinburgh favorites in
the comments, and enjoy your 48 hours!