Scotland’s capital since 1437, there are lots of historical buildings and monuments to see here (4,500 in fact). So what better way to start your trip than by diving straight in to some of Edinburgh’s most iconic attractions?
As soon as you arrive at Edinburgh Waverley Train Station, you’ll instantly be inspired by the gothic buildings that make up the city’s old town. As you leave the station, you’ll be stepping straight into Edinburgh’s history as you pass the Scott Monument (a figure of famous Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott), peer upwards at St Giles’ Cathedral and head down into Real Mary King’s Close.
Here, you can take a guided tour with a local historian, or just wander the streets and soak in some of the atmosphere.
To take a break from your historical tour, head round the edge of Princes Street Gardens and down into Grassmarket, where you can choose from a variety of cafes and restaurants to rest your feet and refuel.
It’s a must-visit destination for a reason. Having played host to kings, queens and invading armies, Edinburgh Castle is well worth a visit, both for its history and for the fantastic views that the grounds have over the city.
When it comes to nightlife, the Royal Mile is the place to go for a choice of bars, restaurants and takeaways. Whether you want to treat yourself to some up-market Scottish cuisine, or to try something a bit different, like at Makars Gourmet Mash Bar, you can find exactly what you fancy here before you head out on an evening in the city.
To round off your historical day, we recommend visiting the Royal Mile Tavern. Not only one of the oldest pubs in Edinburgh, it serves a range of drinks (yes, including whisky) and has live music playing every night. So you can dance, or just enjoy the music with a tasty ale.
During your full day here, you want to experience as much of Edinburgh’s character as possible. This itinerary takes you further out of the centre to explore more of the city’s culture and see some more of its landscape.
You may be starting the day a little later than usual, but the Edinburgh Larder Cafe has all the haggis and tattie scones you’ll need for a day of exploring.
To soak up the city’s culture, the National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art need to be on your destination list. The National Museum is home to some of Scotland’s rarest treasures and the National Gallery holds some of the country’s best art work, so you’re sure to find something for everyone.
For an alternative experience, head to the Surgeon’s Hall Museums, where you can see ancient medical tools owned by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. Be warned though, this collection may leave you looking a bit peely-wally.
If it’s not blowing a hooley and you fancy some fresh air, then head towards Calton Hill. Known as the city’s Acropolis, you can get a panoramic view of Edinburgh from here. As well as the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Parliament, you’ll also be able to spot Arthur’s Seat, a hill fort in Holyrood Park that’s thought to be thousands of years old.
If you decide to wander through the park, then see if you can spot Dr Neil’s Garden, a 12th-century secret landscape that looks out over a small loch.
For a quieter nightlife experience, head towards the Haymarket and West End. Although there are still plenty of bars and restaurants here (such as Scottish eatery Forage and Chatter), this area is more popular with Edinburgh’s locals and home to some of the city’s major events and sports venues.
Edinburgh isn’t just famous for its whisky, but for its gin too. The Jolly Botanist is just one of the bars where you can sample some of the local distillery’s products, and out of vintage cups no less!
It’s your final day here, so you want to make the most of it. Head out towards the outer reaches of the city to take in more of its food, history and even its stunning shoreline.
This morning, take the bus and head into the district of Leith for breakfast. Previously one of the city’s poorest areas, it’s now been renovated into a foodie heaven, with plenty of cafes and coffee bars to wet your whistle.
A floating holiday home to the Royal Family for over 44 years, the Royal Yacht Britannia was famously precious to the Queen before it was decommissioned in 1997. Now, it’s a major visitor attraction and is a great place to find out more about Britain’s history with the Commonwealth.
From the Britannia, wander along the shoreline of Leith towards Newhaven. Take in some views of the North Sea, or if the Scottish weather threatens to sweep you away, head into one of the nearby eateries, such as the Loch Fyne Restaurant and Bar.
Finally, to wrap up your trip, take a peaceful wander around the Royal Botanic Gardens. Having been in the city for 350 years, the 70 acre park is the perfect way to round off a fantastic short break in the city before taking the train back home.
Holidays just a train ride away
Whether you’re heading to Edinburgh for three days or even longer, travelling by train means you can start your relaxing break away before you even get to your destination. By booking your tickets in advance, you can get to one of hundreds of UK towns and cities easily, so all you need to think about is what you want to do when you get there.