48 Hours in Edinburgh, Scotland

48 Hours in Edinburgh, Scotland

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This is a guest post written by Anu from Travel With Anu.  If you would like to write for A Passion and A Passport, find out more information about guest posting here.

The capital and 2nd largest city in Scotland, Edinburgh lies on the east coast facing the North Sea.  When I came here 3 years back to make a living, it was love at first sight with this city.  It has this unique combination of charming past and modern glamour – gothic churches, cobblestone streets, Georgian buildings coupled with modern architecture and a sizzling night life.   Overall, Edinburgh has a lot to offer – museums, art galleries, shopping malls, gardens, castle, palace, trekking & hills that offer panoramic views of the city – everything around the city centre.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh is not just a cultural city.  It is known as a literary capital of English speaking world.  It has been home to many authors like Sir Walter Scott and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and has been an inspiration to authors like J.K.Rowling.  To add, Edinburgh has incomparable festivals that happens all though the year – Fringe Festival, Military Tattoo, Hogmany to name a few.   Altogether, Edinburgh is a complete package for all ages.  Ok! Don’t think I am all bragging about Edinburgh.  I say all this because 48 hours is not adequate to see and enjoy this city.  But I will try my best to share the best attractions!

 
Day 1:
 
9.00am – Start your day with a nice morning walk to Calton Hill.  Part of city’s UNESCO Heritage Sites, this hill is also home to historic monuments and buildings like the National Monument, Nelson Monument, Dugald Stewart Monument, old Royal high school, Robert  Burns Monument, City Observatory and Political Martyr ‘s Monument. It’s located at the end of Princes Street and the hill offers a great view of the city, all for free.  It can be accessed by steps, or a walking path.  I suggest taking the walking path, as it gives you the view of all dimensions of the city. Grab a sandwich, and carry with you a book, blanket and a nice sunscreen, you are sure to have a great picnic here! 
Calton Hill, Edinburgh (Scotland)
View of the Dugald Stewart Monument and the city from the Calton Hill
 
11.00am -Enjoy the timeless view of Princes Street that is dominated by Sir Walter Scott Monument on the left and retail shops on the right as you walk away from the hill.  Walk towards the Princes Street until you find Scottish National Gallery on your left. If you are an art buff, this is a great place and entrance is absolutely free. You can spend an hour or two gazing through some of the finest masterpieces of both national and international artists. 
 
There are plenty of restaurants in Rose Street that runs parallel to Princes Street.  Or enjoy your lunch at Hadrian’s in the Balmoral Hotel, located in the Princes Street itself (close to Waverley Station).  This year they’ve been awarded the “Restaurant of the Year”.  Their menu offers a mix of scottish and international cuisine served in a nice ambience.
 
Time your lunch in such a way that you head to Edinburgh Castle before 1.00pm.  Sitting on an extinct volcano -Castle Rock, the castle dominates the city’s skyline.  Dates back to 12th century, the castle has a lot to offer. Make sure to hear the 1.00pm canon firing.  Don’t miss out the St. Margaret Chapel, National War Museum, Prisons of War, and Crown Jewels.  You can spend a good 3 hours looking through the castle and enjoying the view. 
 
3.30pm –If it’s a nice clear day, head towards Camera Obscura which you can see as you step out of Edinburgh Castle.  It’s a 5 floor full of impressive optical illusions and a rooftop 360 degree view. It’s one of the top rated (and definitely not overrated!) tourist attractions in Edinburgh for both adults and children. 
Camera Obscura - Edinburgh Scotland
5.30pm – Walking out of Camera Obscura, take the road along which is the Royal Mile – “one Scots mile” of cobblestone road that connects Edinburgh Castle on one side and Holyrood Palace down the hill.   Take a stroll and admire the old town and witness the busiest tourist street that is garnered by plethora of bars, cafes, restaurants, and cashmere wool and souvenir shops.  
 
Have your dinner in any of the restaurants along Royal Mile, or North Bridge (which is adjacent to Royal Mile).  Lots of restaurants of your choice.  For Indian cuisine, try Kalpana or Suruchi on Nicholson Street.  Other famous restaurants are The Witchery by the Castle & Angels with Bagpipes. Try tasting Haggis!  After your dinner, head down to Grass Market to witness a vibrant night life.  The place also boasts of about 300 bars, some traditional pubs like The Last Drop Tavern and Maggie Dickson’s and the White Hart Inn.
Day 2:
 
9.30am – Start your day from where you left, and head over to other side of Royal Mile, walking towards Canongate to Scottish Parliament Building.  It has an impressive architecture composed with mixture of Oak, Granite and Steel.  It’s a free attraction, and you are given guided tours to visit Committee Room, Debating Chamber and Green Lobby.  Spend about an hour here.  

11.00am – Next attraction is Palace of Holyrood Place, Queen’s official residence in Scotland, which is located just opposite to the parliament building.  With a dramatic backdrop of Salisbury Crags (cliff) and Arthur’s Seat (hills) and history of Scotland amidst beautiful tapestries, paintings and royal furniture, this palace makes a compelling attraction.  Enjoy touring the state apartments, Mary, Queen of Scots’ Apartments, Holyrood Abbey and the Palace Gardens.  The ruined Abbey and Palace Gardens is a great photographic opportunity! You can easily spend about 2 hours here.
 
View of Salisbury Crags (right), and Arthur’s Seat (hills behind)- seen from Calton Hill

1.00pm – You can grab up your lunch in one of the restaurants on Royal mile. Wedgewood the Restaurant and Pancho Villas are a good choice. 

2.00pm till 6.00pm – After lunch, head back again to the Palace road towards the hill until you see a roundabout.  That is Queen’s Drive, and it’s a great place to do walking, running, cycling, even trekking.  Gear up and climb the Arthur’s seat or Salisbury Crags. The view of the city from the top is breathtaking and one of it’s kind.  

 

Particularly that of Salisbury Crags. After the strenuous trek, standing at the edge of that cliff, breathing for the cool air and seeing the unlimited view of the city – that feeling is priceless!!
 

If you’re not up for a trek, then walk left on the roundabout until you see a Margaret Loch (Lake) on your right side.  It’s a gorgeous lake with mountains at the backdrop.  You can walk around the lake or feed the swans & ducks around or simply relax and do people watching.

 
Head back to Royal Mile or Northbridge for a dinner and let your feet relax at Grass Market while you enjoy your pint of beer!
 
Additional Tips:.    
  • Edinburgh weather is so unpredictable.  Always carry a sturdy umbrella and raincoat with you.
  • Due to this unpredictability, I’ve suggested a combination of both outdoor and indoor attractions. Coz you never know how the weather turns!
  • Edinburgh is a great city to explore by foot. So wear nice, comfortable shoes.  
  • You can also travel in the local buses to explore Edinburgh.  Adult day ticket costs £3.50 with unlimited rides on Lothian Buses.
  • Edinburgh is well connected by rail/road/air network from London and other major cities in UK.  Waverley is the main train station which is located on the Princes Street itself. 
  • Best time to visit Edinburgh is between May-Sep.
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This post was written by:
Anu, an Indian travel blogger and photographer who is currently residing in Edinburgh.  She has been travelling for the last 5 years along with her husband.  She blogs at Travel With Anu  sharing information about her travel experiences, budget ideas, dining experiences, romantic gateways, destination guide and her photos. She’s travelled to 20 countries – most of which within Europe. 

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One Comment

  • Anu Srinath says:

    Completely agree with you Megan. It's very difficult to compress the sightseeings in Edinburgh to 48 hrs..there's a lot of interesting things to do in this city, as well as in Scotland as a whole. Every time I venture into a new landscape, it never fails to make me go "aww" 😀

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