With its twisting lanes, hidden entrances and weathered buildings, Edinburgh is a city that oozes mystery and begs to be explored. Whether you’re visiting for a weekend escape or you’re preparing to embark on a great road trip through the Scottish Highlands, here are some ideas on how to spend 48 hours in Edinburgh:
Start your morning right with some breakfast at Peter’s Yard, a popular coffee shop and bakery that serves up Swedish cakes, breads and biscuits.
From there, make your way to the city’s most famed attraction: Edinburgh Castle. Situated atop Castle Rock, over the years this historic fortress has served as both a military barracks and a royal residence. Some of the highlights inside Edinburgh Castle include the Crown Jewels, which are made up of the crown, sceptre and sword of State; the Stone of Destiny, which is the stone upon which the Kings of Scotland were enthroned for centuries; and Mons Meg, a medieval cannon that dates back to the mid-1400s.
After touring Edinburgh Castle and enjoying the views from the top, head down the Royal Mile for a leisurely walk down the Old Town’s main thoroughfare. The street is lined with cafes, pubs, boutiques, and plenty of souvenir shops so it’s a great place to pick up a tartan scarf or some Celtic-inspired jewelry.
Next it’s time for lunch. As you make your way down the Royal Mile, take a right turn on Upper Bow followed by another right turn on Victoria Street/West Bow. There are lots of great spots for a quick lunch here, including Oink, where the specialty is freshly carved hog roast served on a roll, and Hula Juice Bar, where you can get healthy smoothies and toasted bagel sandwiches.
From there, walk over to the Princes Street Gardens, a beautiful park in the heart of the city. From the West Gardens, you can enjoy views of Edinburgh Castle from a distance, and then in the East Gardens, you can visit the Scott Monument and even climb the 287 steps to the top for more scenic views of Edinburgh.
After all that walking, head over to the The Elephant House for a little break and a hot cup of tea. This café gets a lot of Harry Potter fans walking through its doors because it’s the very place where J.K. Rowling penned the famed Harry Potter series.
Next up, walk to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery for an art-infused afternoon. The collection has over 30,000 pieces, including the portraits of many men and women who helped shape Scotland.
For dinner head down to the Whiski Rooms on North Bank Street. They make a great haggis with neeps and tatties that’s bound to delight the first-timer.
Start your morning with a full Scottish breakfast at your hotel, and get your walking shoes on for an action packed day ahead.
Enjoy some fresh air and climb up Arthur’s Seat, a dormant volcano that stands 251 meters above sea level. This is the perfect spot to enjoy the morning calm and watch the city slowly come to life.
Next up, visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is located at the very end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, and acts as the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. The palace is open to visitors who are granted access to the State Apartments, the Throne Room, the Great Gallery, and the chambers of the ill-fated Mary, Queen of Scots.
Seeing as lunchtime is approaching, head over to Bene’s for a traditional fare of fish and chips, and then for dessert treat yourself to a deep-fried Mars bar. When in Scotland!
For a look at Edinburgh’s past, venture into Mary King’s Close. A ‘close’ is the Scots word for an alleyway, and deep beneath the Royal Mile lies a famed close that holds many dark secrets. Descend into the deep underground on a guided tour and learn about the myths and tales surrounding Edinburgh.
You can’t come to Scotland and not take part in the Scotch Whisky Experience (and yes, that’s whisky with just a ‘y’)! The Scots are famed for their drink, and the Scotch Whisky Experience offers an interactive journey through whisky history complete with a whisky tasting session. Just make sure you don’t go on an empty stomach!
If you’re still not ready for your last night in Edinburgh to be over, head over to George Street for a selection of bars and live music.
From there you can either catch your flight back home or embark on a trip through the Scottish Highlands. There are two-day tours from Edinburgh or longer if you have the time to spare.
What would you do with two days in Edinburgh?