With news of a new £15 train journey from London to Edinburgh coming soon, I got excited by the prospect of visiting this fab city again! Edinburgh was the last trip I had in the UK before Covid-19 struck, and it’s one of my absolute favourite places. So, here are my suggestions for a 3-day weekend in this culture-filled Scottish city.
Day 1: I hate getting up early, but to get the most out of your climb, I recommend waking at the break of dawn to venture up to Arthur’s Seat. Known as one of the potential locations for Camelot (the castle and court for King Arthur), the ancient volcano sits above the city at around 822ft. It quite the trek to the top but stick with it because the panoramic views across Edinburgh are just dreamy! After taking in the views (and taking lots of pics), descend into Edinburgh’s Old Town, passing the Parliament building, Queen’s Gallery and the charming ancient streets. For a hearty breakfast after an early climb, pop into Deacon’s House Café for all your breakfast needs – croissants, bagels, a cooked breakfast, and my personal favourite: Scottish Smoked Salmon & scrambled eggs.
Now you’re well fed, it’s time to take in some culture. First up: National Museum of Scotland. Up there with one of the best museums I’ve ever visited, it has everything: natural history, Egyptians, fashion and of course, lots of Scottish history. If, like me, you’re going to spend hours trawling the galleries, take a break in the Balcony Café and treat yourself to a delicious scone and cuppa. If there’s time left in your afternoon, you could visit the fantastic Surgeon’s Hall Museum filled with medical history/science/things in jars. If that’s not your bag, head back towards Edinburgh New Town to visit the Scottish National Gallery which has a huge collection of fine art including Gainsborough, Kauffman and Landseer.
After a long day, what more could you want than a traditional Scottish dinner? Head to the Albanach pub in Old Town for a Haggis & Potato pie with neeps & tatties and whisky sauce (veggie option also available). Pair it with a whisky or Irn Bru to get the real Scotland experience!
Day 2: It’s time to head to the city’s most famous landmark: Edinburgh Castle. It’s best to head there early as it’s usually quietest in the first & last slots of the day. Standing tall on Castle Rock, this stunning site was strategically positioned to overlook the city and has been occupied by humans since at least the Iron Age. Fun fact: the Castle is the most besieged place in Britain! Gallery highlights include The Great Hall, The Queen’s Embroideries and Honours of Scotland, which includes the oldest crown jewels in Britain.
After a morning of castle-fun, head for The Royal Botanic Gardens which are a 30-minute walk outside Old Town but are definitely worth it. Side note: on the way to the Gardens, stop into Meltmongers for a delicious grilled cheese toastie and continue your journey filled with cheesy joy. Getting out of the main city and being surrounded by so much greenery is very peaceful. Be sure to also visit the famous glasshouses and Inverleith House which often shows exhibitions.
In the evening, I suggest going to Maggie Dicksons for a bite to eat and a drink in the Square. The pub is named after a Scottish woman, known as ‘Half Hangit Maggie’, who survived a hanging in 1724 and went on to live for another 40 years! Afterwards, head to some of the old pubs along the main street to find one of the numerous inns hosting local singers to serenade your evening with a strong Scottish accent and a guitar!
Day 3: On the final day in Edinburgh, check out of your accommodation and jump on one of the Hop On, Hop Off buses that leave from the city centre throughout the day. I always try to ride a sightseeing bus when I’m in a new city as it’s such a good way to explore from above & hop off at spots you want to visit more. Key sights include the historic Grassmarket, Holyrood (for the park and Palace) and the Royal Mile, all narrated by an audio guide available in 10 languages.
The finish off your trip, I’ve saved the best place to eat, until last. The Outsider, located on George IV Bridge, is one of the best places I’ve ever eaten! Head to the restaurant between 12-5 to enjoy their lunch menu which offers up similar dishes to their dinner menu but for half the price (which means you can have a dessert afterwards!) Top tip: when booking ask for a table near the window to dine with a view of Edinburgh Castle in the background.
I literally cannot wait to revisit this beautiful city and I hope you get to enjoy some of the suggestions. Here’s to travelling (safely) again!