Over the early May bank holiday I headed up to Edinburgh to enjoy the unexpected sunshine and show Luke around the city that I’ve fallen in love with over the past few times I’ve been lucky enough to visit. As it was Luke’s first time we decided to try and see as much of the city as possible so here’s my itinerary for Edinburgh and spending a three day long weekend in the city.
I much prefer getting the train from London to Edinburgh as I find that once you’ve got to the airport, checked in and everything time wise it isn’t much different and the train is comfortable, you don’t have to worry about luggage constraints and it takes you straight into the city. We opted for the 7am train from Kings Cross which reached Edinburgh Waverly at 11.25am.
Once you reach the city grab a train over to Haymarket to the Haymarket Hub Hotel which is opposite the station and the perfect central location to cover your weekend in the city. As trains leave to Haymarket every few minutes you’ll be at your hotel dropping your bags by 11.45pm at the latest. The tram is the easiest way to quickly get around the main parts of the city and it’s just £4 for a full day travel card so jump on the stop outside your hotel and get off at Princes Street ready to head to Waverley Bridge to exchange your Trip Advisor Royal Ticket.
Once you have all your tickets head over to the Castle just along the royal mile where at 1pm you’ll see the cannons being set off. This used to be a sign of the time to sailors and ships out in the water but is now down out of tradition. Most castles did a timing at midday and had to fire twelve rounds but Edinburgh Castle changed the time to 1pm in order to be savvy and save money on cannon fire which is very clever.
Once you’ve heard and seen the cannons head to the Castle Cafe for a light lunch before joining on the walking tour around the outside of the castle. I love these walking tours as you can find out so much more about the area that you wouldn’t know from just walking around and they’re much more interactive than the audio guides. After the walking tour head inside to see the crown jewels and admire the city view before leaving to walk down to the other end of the Royal Mile at about 4pm.
At the other end of the Royal Mile is Holyrood House which is the royal residence in Edinburgh. Both the house and the gardens are beautiful and the audio guided tour will take about 90 minutes in total and it’s a great way to seeing how the Royals live in the residence which is still used to this day.
You’ll finish at Holyrood house around 6pm so head up the Royal Mile and settle down for a good dinner and some drinks at one of the many restaurants availavle. At 8pm head to the Mercat Cross next to St Giles Church for the evenings Ghost Tour which will take you around the cities streets, underground into the vaults and over to the Canongate Graveyard. Tales of murders, witches and torture will fill your evening before you head back to your hotel on the tram at 9.45pm.
After a good sleep and a hearty breakfast grab a tram to Waverley Bridge to jump on the green majestic hop-on, hop-off city bus tour at 10am which features a live guide around the central parts of old and new town and takes around 90 minutes. Stay on the whole tour to get a great snapshot of the city and when you’re done at midday head over to Mary’s Milk Bar for a lunchtime ice-cream, I recommend the peacon and cinnamon.
After your pit stop jump on the longer hop-on, hop-off bus which is the blue tour which goes further out of town. Sadly this tour doesn’t feature a live guide but you can plug in to the audio guide to hear more around the city and further out. When the bus gets to the Britannia Yacht around 1pm jump out and head towards the enterance as it’s time for lunch aboard the yacht.
There’s a lovely cafe on the top deck of the boat where you can sit and have lunch before starting your audio tour around the boat which was once used as The Queen’s Royal residence. This is one of my favourite things to do in the city as it’s so interesting to see all the royal rooms done up as they would have been back when the boat was in use.
Once you’re done on the boat around 4pm head outside to the bus stop and get the hop-on, hop-off bus back into the town centre of Edinburgh and spend a little bit of time picking up some souvenirs and items from the shops. You can’t come back from Edinburgh without some tablet fudge which is so tasty, some traditional shortbread and either some whisky or gin as both are big in the city. If you head back to Princes Street you’ll come across an all year round Christmas shop which has some of the cutest decorations so I’d recommend getting a personalised one to remember your trip by.
At 5.30pm start walking over to Queen Street to find Bramble Bar which is hidden down some stairs and if you didn’t know it was there you’d definitely walk straight past. It’s a lovely bar which is cozy and has a great affordable range of cocktails and spirits so spend an hour or so just relaxing.
At 7pm start walking over to the Stockbridge Restaurant where you’ll enjoy an incredible meal before heading back on the tram to your hotel.
Chances are you’ll be feeling pretty refreshed after your more reasonable nights sleep last night so after breakfast you can check out and get the hotel to store your luggage ready to pick up later when you head home.
Start your final day in the city around 930am by heading over to the Scott Monument which is next to Waverley Bridge and Station and is the largest monument to a writer; Sir Walter Scott. You’ll have seen the monument at lots of points over the past few days but this morning it’s your chance to climb it right to the summit and get some beautiful morning views out over Edinburgh.
At 1030am start walking back along Princes Street to the Edinburgh Gin Distillery to enjoy a morning tour around the small working distillery right in the city centre. The Edinburgh Gin you’ve seen all over the city (and probably back home) is made right here and you’ll get a chance to learn about the history of gin, how it’s made, the process and botanicals which all ends in a gin and tonic tasting which is the best way to start a day.
At midday head outside and get the train over to Edinburgh Zoo for the final stop of your trip. I’m a huge zoo fan and this one is pretty great as not only is it the only place in the UK you can see Panda’s but it’s so spread out meaning the animals all have quite a lot of room to roam around and be as natural as possible in their habitat. A lot of research and conservation projects are done from this zoo so it’s really trying to educate the world about the animals they have and the habitats they come from.
At about 4pm head back on the bus to Haymarket where you can collect your bags, stock up on snacks for the journey home and jump on the train at about 5pm ready to slowly make your way back to London.