Planning a weekend trip to Scotland? Wondering what to do in Edinburgh?
Don’t worry if you only have a few days to spare. We’ve got the perfect itinerary for two days in Edinburgh. Packed full of fun ideas, restaurant recommendations and even day trip ideas, you’ll be able to make the most of your time in Scotland’s capital.
Welcome to Edinburgh. Start your day early with a coffee and bite to eat at either the Zebra cafe or Black Medicine co., depending on which part of town you’re coming from. Once you’ve gotten your daily caffeine intake, head towards the Royal Mile -- where you’ll spend most of your day.
Edinburgh Castle sits at the very top of the Royal Mile and is the perfect place to start your day. Getting here early means you’ll (hopefully) beat the crowds and have plenty of time to explore before the tour buses arrive.
Built during the 12th century, Edinburgh Castle is an iconic part of the city. After all, it was within these walls that the first Edinburghers lived before it became too popular and people needed to move outside the walls. So much of Scotland’s history has centred around the castle, making it an important part of any Edinburgh itinerary.
Top Tip: Make sure to pick up a pair of headphones and audio guide from the booth directly inside the gates.
A short walk from Edinburgh Castle (literally less than two minutes from the gates) is Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura. Kids and the young at heart will love exploring the interactive, mind-bending exhibits. There’s lots of opportunity for fun family photos, and the kids will be totally knackered after a fun-filled hour or two here.
Top Tip: Don’t forget to visit the top observation deck for one of the best views in the city.
Walk another five minutes down the Royal Mile, where you’ll find the Real Mary King’s Close and discover that not everything in Edinburgh is as it seems.
Beneath the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Old Town lay a series of streets that were buried to make way for the Royal Exchange in the 18th century. These underground streets are home to many dark myths and legends including rumours of ghosts and murders.
Today, you can tour a small section of Edinburgh’s buried streets and learn about our hidden history at the Real Mary King’s Close. But, only if you’re brave enough.
Top Tip: Make sure to wear sturdy footwear as the tour goes underground and the terrain can be uneven in places.
Start day #2 with a guided tour of Edinburgh. Sandeman’s walking tour leaves from in front of the Starbucks on the Royal Mile and takes you on a 2.5-hour tour of Edinburgh. You’ll learn about the city’s fascinating history, darker-side like the Burke & Hare, and get inside tips on how to spend your time here.
Even better, the tour is tip-based, so you only pay what you think it was worth.
Top Tip: We recommend tipping the guide at least £5/person. While it may be tempting to pay less, remember that guides don’t get paid so rely on tips.
Continue your educational adventure by heading to Edinburgh’s National Museum. Here, you’ll find a treasure trove from Edinburgh’s past. You can explore exhibits from Scotland’s colonial days with artefacts from across the world, discover the country’s more inventive side, and admire dinosaur skeletons.
Those travelling with kids will especially enjoy the interactive exhibits and specially-designed kid-friendly playrooms.
You could easily spend a whole day exploring this massive building, or pop in for a quick look and coffee as the main hall is stunning.
Top Tip: As there’s so much to do and see here, the National Museum is a great place to entertain kids on a rainy day!
If the weather’s nice, take a walk through the Meadows. This large green park is an excellent place for kids to run and play or to have a picnic on a sunny day.
There’s also a huge playground, perfect for kids of all ages. After an hour or two playing here, the kids will sleep straight through dinner so you can enjoy your evening meal kid-free.
Edinburgh Old Town has some fantastic places to eat and not just overpriced tourists fare. Here are some of our favourites, popular with locals too:
Wings. Wings serve a wide assortment of chicken wings drenched in a variety of sauces from flaming hot bbq to cool ranch. We love it’s laid back atmosphere, thirst-quenching beers and of course chicken wings. You’ll find this restaurant on Old Fishmonger’s Close.
Cannonball Restaurant. Located directly outside Edinburgh Castle on Castlehill, Cannonball Restaurant offers fine dining in the heart of Edinburgh Old Town. The menu features locally sourced dishes like Scottish oysters and smoked salmon. Plus, vegan and veggie fare too.
Pumpkin Brown. Pumpkin Brown serves vegan and gluten-free light bites, making it the perfect place if you have special dietary needs. They’re, unfortunately, only open for lunch, so make sure to grab your mid-day meal here.
Staying at one of our central-based apartments makes it easy to make the most of your time in Edinburgh. We have many self-catering holiday apartments, like our cosy Rose Street apartment or Chessel Court, within easy walking distance of Edinburgh’s main attractions.
Browse all of our luxury self-catering apartments today or send us a wee message to check availability. We’re always happy to help you plan the perfect trip to Edinburgh.
Six Awesome Day Trips from Edinburgh. If you’re visiting for more than two days, you can squeeze in a day trip or two. Discover some of Scotland’s awesome towns and attractions within easy day trip distance from Edinburgh in our recent article.
A Guide to Edinburgh’s Unique Restaurants & Bars. Check out our comprehensive guide to some of the best places to eat and drink in Edinburgh, based on our personal recommendations.
Things to Do in Edinburgh with Kids & Other Child-Friendly Travel Advice. Our recent article makes it easy to plan (and actually enjoy) a trip to Edinburgh with a wee one in tow.
Written by Karen
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