What to see in Edinburgh in one day

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Edinburgh it is one of the most famous cities in the UK. Capital of Scotland, is endowed with a particular charm, which every year attracts millions of tourists who come to experience for themselves the magnificent sensations it offers. In this place, medieval atmospheres mix with modernity, all united by a fair dose of local and very particular charm. All this leads us to propose you a short one day itinerary, which runs through the Old Town and the New Town of Edinburgh. We will take you for a walk among the castle of the city, its streets and breathtaking views, all to make you fall in love with this Scottish jewel even more.


  1. Edinburgh day itinerary: Morning
  2. Edinburgh day itinerary: Afternoon
  3. Edinburgh day itinerary: Evening
  4. User questions and comments

Edinburgh day itinerary: Morning

1- Scott Monument, St. Andrew Park and James Clerk Maxwell statue

For our tour we will start from Central Station of Edinburgh, which is in an excellent strategic position as it is close to many must-see places in the city. As soon as you leave the station you will find "The Booking Office", here you can have a typical Scottish breakfast for € 7 in a classic Scottish environment. Continuing on foot for a few tens of meters you will arrive at Scott Monument, a few tens of meters from the railway line. It is a very important monument for the city. Built to commemorate Sir Walter Scott, one of Scotland's greatest writers, this building stands a whopping 61,6 meters high and is covered in 64 statues, most of which feature characters from Scott's stories. You can climb to its top and admire a breathtaking view by climbing "only" its 287 steps. From here, walking up S. St. Davis, you will arrive at St. Andrew Park, dominated by the column in memory of the Viscount of Melville. Opposite stands the statue of James Clerk Maxwell, the most important Scottish mathematician and physicist.

2- Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Calton Hill

Walking for a few dozen meters towards Queen Street you will arrive at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. This museum is quite particular, since the works contained are all focused on the theme of the portrait. In addition, the entrance is free, which is good. From there, by bus no. 1, 4,34, 104, 107,113 and 124, you will arrive at Calton Hill. Here, in addition to enjoying a splendid panorama, you can also visit various monuments, including the one a Dugald Stewart, Nelson and the Scottish National Monument.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 1,7 km / 25 min
  • places visited: Scott Monument (£ 3), Scottish National Portrait Gallery (free), Calton Hill (free)
  • Hop-on hop-off bus tour
  • where to have breakfast: The Booking Office, 17 Waverly Bridge

Edinburgh day itinerary: Afternoon

1- Real Mary King's Close

As for lunch, you can stop right in Calton Hill. In fact, the area is full of catering outlets for every budget. We offer you the "21212 Restaurant". The prices are a bit high (around € 50 on average), but his reinterpretations of traditional Scottish and European dishes are worth trying.
At this point it is time to "backtrack" on our route via bus 5, or 45, to Real Mary King's Close. Here, through small organized tours, you will be able to visit the most hidden areas of the ancient city, entering the underground city. A stone's throw from here is the St. Giles Cathedral, principal place of worship of the Church of Scotland in the city.

2 - Edinburgh Castle and Dean Village

From here, proceeding on foot on the Royal Mile for about 10 minutes, you will arrive at the much famous Castle, the oldest building in the city. Inside, in addition to the rooms of the Castle which house collections of precious and artistic objects, you can access the Scottish military museum, the "National War Museum", the St. Margaret's Chapel, a small chapel built on the highest part of the castle, and the prisons.
From the Castle, taking bus 40, you will arrive at Dean Village, in the Dean Path area. It is a small village that seems to have remained in the 1800s. Do not miss the walk on the river Leith to relax.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 3,2 km / 42 min
  • places visited: Real Mary King's Close (around £ 15), Castello (£ 17), Dean Village (free).
  • Castle tour Holyroodhouse palace tour
  • where to have lunch: 21212 Restaurant, 3 Royal Terrace

Edinburgh day itinerary: Evening

1 - Dinner and St. Columba

In the evening, treat yourself to a dinner at "The Elephant House". It is a fixed stop for Edinburgh lovers: here JK Rowling used to write pages and pages of the Harry Potter saga. To reach the place, starting from Dean Village, it will be enough to take bus 47. At this point. After dinner, walking up Victoria St. will bring you to St. Columba's Church, which is an unparalleled architectural spectacle at night.

2 - Royal Mile and The Hub

Further north for a few minutes you will come back to the Royal Mile. This street holds spectacular surprises in the evening, such as The Hub, Edinburgh's skyscraper. It is a spectacular building, which mixes gothic and modern elements. Inside it hosts all kinds of events, from congresses to weddings, while the outside, in the evening, is illuminated creating a suggestive light show.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 2,4 km / 33 min
  • places visited: St. Columba's Church (free), Royal Mile (free), The Hub (free)
  • 'Spooky' night tour of Edinburgh
  • where to dine: The Elephant House, 21 George IV Bridge

Before leaving: useful tips

Edinburgh is a marvel, but there are a few things to keep in mind before you leave. Here are some useful travel tips.

  • Many attractions offer guided tours of varying lengths. If you have little time, use it, it will allow you to organize your trip in a better way.
  • Some attractions offer agreements with restaurants and pubs.
  • Get around on foot or by public transport. Most of the attractions are located very close to each other.
    Instead, to get to the city center from the airport, we advise you to buy tickets for the bus transfer online
  • If you decide to extend your stay and enjoy Edinburgh by night, you can consult our offers for accommodation in Edinburgh.

What not to see: the attractions that are better to give up

Unfortunately some things we have to leave aside for now. A day to visit Edinburgh is cheap, but keep these places in mind for a future trip

  1. National Museum: to visit it would take a whole day, so better keep it aside for when you have more time.
  2. Arthur's Seat: the place offers a spectacular view, but if you visit Calton Hill there is no need to waste any more time.
  3. The Royal Edinburg Military Tattoo: the place hosts events of bands known all over the world, if you want to visit make sure you get your tickets on time.

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