Three days in Edinburgh is never going to be enough. But my friend Jess and I made the most of our three days in Edinburgh by filling it with lots of relaxation, a little exploration and a lot of eating! Somewhat stupidly we didn’t realise it was Edinburgh Fringe Festival during this trip so the city was incredibly busy. However we managed to see and do a lot, avoiding the crowds as much as possible and still had an amazing time. What we saw of the festival was great and the general atmosphere in Edinburgh was amazing! There is so much to do in and around this city that rather than talk about it all, I though it best to roundup my favourite parts for you guys.
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DAY 1 – OLD TOWN AND A FREE WALKING TOUR
I don’t think there is a better way to learn about and see the best bits of a new city than doing a free walking tour, Edinburgh included. We joined the City Explores Free Tour and had Kenny as our guide. He was great, so funny and really knew his stuff. I learnt about Edinburgh’s history, Scotland’s history, J.K Rowling writing Harry Potter, Victoria Street which you can see in the picture above and lots more. It took about 2 hours and was easily my favourite part of the weekend. I definitely recommend prioritising a walking tour with only three days in Edinburgh.
Other Free Tours with City Explorers:
– New Town Tour
– Ghost Tour
– Harry Potter Tour
While you’re in the old town there are a few other bits worth seeing too. The National Museum of Scotland was really interesting, specifically the Scottish exhibits. I actually joined a free tour for this too, I must have been feeling super touristy! If you’re a Harry Potter fan, the Elephant House is an obvious must. This is where J.K Rowling wrote The Philosopher’s Stone. The cakes are great, service not as great I have to say but they were busy. You have to queue for a table but it’s worth it for the novelty. The castle is pretty too though I didn’t actually go in. However, everyone who I met that did go in said it was worth the money.
DAY TWO – CARLTON HILL AND EDINBURGH NEW TOWN
If you’re short on time, Carlton hill is the best walk for an amazing view of Edinburgh, the sea and of Arthur’s Seat. It takes about 15 minutes to get to the top from the city centre. The picture above is of Arthur’s seat, part of an extinct volcano and potentially named after the legend of King Arthur. There are information points on Carlton hill that give the backstory to everything you can see from the top. It was so cold and windy when I was there but the clouds made the view look super dramatic. It also started to rain on my way down so it is safe to say Carlton hill wasn’t my favourite part of the trip! But in the summer this would be perfect for a picnic and an easily accessible escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Edinburgh New Town is Georgian so not actually very ‘new’. If you do the walking tour Kenny will fill you in on it’s history. But it is definitely worth exploring too. You’ll see Scott Monument, pictured above, along with lots of big open spaces, squares and beautiful architecture. This is also the main shopping area of the city so you can spend some time wandering around the shops. If that doesn’t interest you, Princes Street Gardens and the Scottish National Gallery are right next door and are perfect for a relaxing stroll. They divide the old and new town and are shadowed by Edinburgh Castle. If you have time, this would be a good opportunity to visit the Castle as I doubt you’ll squeeze it in on day one!
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat, the food in Vesta Restaurant and Bar was really great. It is on the pricier side but the vegan pulled jack fruit tacos I had were definitely worth it. If you’re feeling fancy then The Dome is a really beautiful place to have a drink. I have to also mention that the Wagamamas in the New Town is the nicest one I have ever been to so if you’re feeling less fancy then that is always an option!
DAY THREE – GUIDED DAY TRIP
We decided to do a day trip with a tour company to have the chance to explore the area surrounding the city despite only having three days in Edinburgh. We went for one to Loch Lomond, The Trossachs and Doune Castle. The weather was hideous, non-stop heavy rain but I still enjoyed the trip. We didn’t stop to see much of The Trossachs but the Loch Lomond cruise was fun as was wandering around Doune Castle. If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones or Outlander then you may recognise it! We stopped in the little village of Aberfoyle and had lunch in a very Scottish pub called The Forth Inn and overall the day was really nice. I live in England, I’m used to the rain!
As I said, our trip happened to coincide with Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It was particularly busy and there was a lot going on in the city. I’m not sure I would recommend going during the Fringe unless you want to go to any of the shows however the atmosphere was great. There are lot’s of free shows to go to as well as paid and there are events on at the Castle too. We went to two comedy shows, one was fun, the other incredibly awkward but both were interesting experiences regardless!
Have any of you ever been to the city, if so where would you recommend going? I would love to go back and spend more than three days in Edinburgh and in the surrounding areas. Do you think I missed out on any important bits?