I will preface this with 2 warnings:
- 1 day in Edinburgh, Scotland is not nearly enough time. We had really wanted to focus mainly on The Highlands for this trip, so we only planned for 2 nights in Edinburgh.
- This is not an itinerary for all you could possibly do with a full 24 hours in Edinburgh. This is more of an itinerary for a jet-lagged traveler…AKA, nap time is allotted. 😉
We arrived to Glasgow Airport, picked up our rental car from Holiday Autos and made the 1 hour drive into Edinburgh. This was Jake’s first experience with driving on the left side of the road, but it actually wasn’t too bad. We apparently rented a gutless Smartcar (no, Holiday Autos it is not ‘the same or similar to a Ford Fiesta). The mileage was great, but it was a manual and was quite difficult to accelerate with.
For the price though, Holiday Autos could not be beat. We booked our car for a week for £60. We ended up getting full automobile insurance on it, after our unfortunate rental car experience in Iceland. So with insurance we paid around £250 for the full week. It was totally worth it though to get the full coverage, so when we ran over a curb and scratched the bottom of the car it wasn’t completely nerve-shattering.
Upon looking at prices of hostels and hotels in Edinburgh we decided to rent this self-contained cabin on Airbnb. We paid $50/night. This was much cheaper than other options we found, which often did not include free parking. We had a wonderful stay and would absolutely recommend this for a couple traveling on a budget.
If you are a single traveler, or don’t mind sleeping in a dorm, a hostel would definitely be the way to go. There are plently of great hostels in Edinburgh, for a great price. We have included other recommendations below, depending on what kind of budget you are traveling on.
- Budget: Hostelworld.com | Dorms start at $12.50/night
- Mid-Range Hotels: Albany Ballantrae Hotel | Starts at $84/night
- Luxury Hotel: Prestonfield House (Scotlands highest rated hotel) | Starts at $237/night
- Airbnb: You can save $40 on your first Airbnb rental by signing up for Airbnb through our link
Eat at a Local Pub
By the time we got settled into our Airbnb and bought some groceries at the local Tesco market, it was time for dinner. We ate our first Scottish meal at Ye Ole Inn, which offers classic Scottish food. We tried haggis, neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes), meat pie and a huge order fish and chips. The food was very heavy, but sooo good! I was surprised by actually enjoying the taste of haggis, I was just trying it to say I did but I ended up ordering it many times on our weeklong trip.
Queensferry at Night & the Forth Bridges
Our Airbnb was on the west side of Edinburgh, so we wanted to explore somewhere without having to brave the traffic in Edinburgh proper. We found an interesting looking bridge in the Queensferry area. There is the Forth Bridge, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the soon to be opened Queensferry Crossing, which will be the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world. For more info on the bridges you can read here.
We parked our car along the waterfront, grabbed a coffee from a pub across the street and just walked along the waterfront for about an hour. The bridges were mesmerizing as they were lite up from traffic and the lights on the bridges. We walked through the small town of Queensferry and went down to a dock to see if we could get a better view. It was completely dark and there weren’t many people out, but we felt very safe then entire time. TIME: 1 HOUR
IN THE MORNING:
Catch the Sunrise at Arthurs Seat
Arthurs Seat is an extinct volcano that looms above Edinburgh. I had read that it was a relatively easy hike and had great views at sunrise, so we woke early our first morning there and headed to Arthurs Seat. The hike was much more intense and windy then I had anticipated! You can read about our full experience here, but if you are considering adding it to your itinerary you must! TIME: 2-4 HOURS
Old Town / The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile includes some of the oldest parts of Edinburgh, and many of Edinburghs top visitor attractions. You would need at least a whole day to really explore this history-rich mile. We only had a few hours, so we had to budget our time wisely to see what we wanted to see.
To see all the amazing things you can do in Edinburgh I recommend Visit Scotlands website and check out the interactive map at the bottom and search ‘attractions.’
Scotch Whisky Experience
I had no idea what a big deal Scotch was to Scotland. It’s not just a hard alcohol, it is their livelihood and pride in a lot of ways! I don’t even drink whisky, but I made an exception for the Scotch Whisky Experience. And honestly, it was one of our favorite experiences in Scotland! I wrote a post on our experience since we enjoyed it so much. TIME: 3 HOURS
We spent too much time in the Scotch Whisky Experience that we missed visiting inside the castle. It is just a short walk from the Whisky Experience though so we decided to check it out, even though it was dark. It was so beautiful! The views from the city below were equally as stunning. TIME: 1 HOUR
“The will to do, the soul to dare.” -Water Scott
This gothic monument is hard to miss when you’re in Edinburgh! It definitely stands out from the other architecture. It is a monument to one of Scotlands greatest writers, Sir Walter Scott. There was a bagpipe player on the corner playing as we laid eyes upon the monument, it was a very surreal moment! You can climb the 287 steps to the top of the monument for better views, but we opted not to. Admission is £5 per person and you can find more info here. TIME: 30 MINUTES
We spent the rest of the time just kind of wandering around and stopping in little shops. We were quite jet-lagged and took it pretty easy in Edinburgh. I definitely want to go back to Edinburgh and experience more of it because I have a feeling it could easily be one of my most favorite cities in the world. I will say that I can confidently say that I think it is the prettiest city I have been to. It may not appeal to everyone, but I thought it was absolutely stunning. The architecture, the cobblestone streets, the bagpipes playing on some corners, hell even the dreary weather was both fitting and beautiful in its own way.
If you are looking for more options on what to do in Edinburgh my post on what we had intended to do in Edinburgh was much more ambitious!
Have you been to Edinburgh before? If so, did you fall in love with it like I did?! Let us know what you think in the comments!