Last month my best friend Ryann visited us in Dublin and we decided to take a quick flight up to Edinburgh since neither of us had been. From Dublin it’s about an hour flight and cost us about €70 roundtrip on Ryanair! There are 12+ nonstop flights a day so it was super easy to find flights that fit into our tight schedule. We decided to fly Friday afternoon to get there for dinner time and stayed through Sunday night. In total, we had about 48 hours to explore this awesome city and here’s what we did:
Upon arrival at about 6:30pm, we opted to take an uber from Edinburgh Airport to our Airbnb in the city center. There’s the option to take a bus or the tram, but an uber only cost about £9 and got us there in half the time. We stayed just northeast of Edinburgh Old Town which ended up being a great location. It was a quiet neighborhood but we could walk to the center in about 15 minutes. After dropping our bags, we walked to town and got our first view of the beautiful city.
Dinner at Whiski Rooms was outstanding! It’s traditional Scottish Food with a gastropub vibe. They have an extensive whisky menu which my husband enjoyed and we also tried the traditional Scottish dish called Haggis. Don’t look up what’s in it, just order it!
After dinner we headed to Old town and hit up a few bars. We’d recommend Biddy Mulligans, The Last Drop, and Fiddlers Arms.
The next morning we headed out early to hike Arthur’s Seat which is the main peak of a few of hills formed by a volcano. It’s right in Edinburgh and gives terrific views of the city.
On our way to the base, we stopped at The Manna House Bakery for delicious ham and cheese croissants and coffee. Really cute and local spot that we'd recommend for a quick pastery on your way.
For the hike, we started where Hollyrood Gait meets Queen's Drive and made our way up the main Red trail. It took about 40 minutes to get to the top on this route and was medium difficultly. The views were outstanding, definitely worth it!
After the hike we headed over to Calton Hill which also gave great views. Beware that there are a lot of stairs in Edinburgh so Google Maps may give short walking times but doesn’t account for the stairs and hills!
By that time we were ready for a beer so we stopped at Malone's beer garden which had live music and was a great pit-stop for an hour. We grabbed kebabs for lunch and then spent the afternoon walking up and down the Royal Mile. It’s pretty touristy but there’s great architecture, cool shops, and is a good plan for an hour or two.
After a quick stop back at our Airbnb we headed back out but this time stayed in New Town which is just north of the historic Old Town. We tried to go to Heads and Tales gin bar for some specialty gin and tonics but they were booked out, so if you want to go book in advance! We ended up walking down Rose Street instead and went to Bryant & Mack Private Detectives for some fancy craft cocktails. It’s a speakeasy style bar and was a little to quiet for us but the drinks were great.
That night for dinner we went to Chaophraya for Thai. Not a typical cuisine given where we were but we could only do pub food so much! Chaophraya is on the top floor and has an amazing patio looking out at the city. The food and wine were excellent and if you say it’s your birthday, you get a free desert :)
After dinner we went to Queens Arms for beers which ended up being one of our favorite spots on the trip. They had a great crowd, good beers, and played some great 80s and 90s tunes that of course we had to sing along to.
Since we were leaving that night, we wanted to take full advantage of our last few hours in Edinburgh. We stopped for coffee at Artisan Roast and then walked about 20 minutes over to Stockbridge for their Sunday Market. The market is outside and not super big, but they had a bunch of great food options from crepes and sweets to Asian dumplings and paella.
After eating, we walked it off by heading back downtown and stopping in the Dean Village neighborhood on the way. It’s super old and quiet but had some cool photo ops and seemed like very quintessential Edinburgh.
We kept going making our way back to Old Town to the Edinburgh Castle. Of all the things we did, I would say this was our least favorite. It’s €17 and just very touristy. It’s self guided but without purchasing a headset, it’s hard to figure out what you’re looking at or what the significance of certain rooms or buildings were. We spent about an hour there, but likely wouldn’t recommend it if you only have limited time in the city.
We then headed to the Elephant House café where JK Rowling started writing Harry Potter which was a must-do for me. There’s not a ton to see there, but it’s a nice café for breakfast or coffee.
That night before needing to head out for our 9pm flight home, we ate dinner at the Royal McGregor right on the Royal Mile. We sat outside which was great for people watching!
We had a terrific time in Edinburgh and even though we weren’t there long, it was the perfect amount of time to get a feel for the city and experience what Scotland has to offer!