24 Hour Holiday – Top 5 Ways to Spend Time in Edinburgh Scotland

Do you ever think about other lifetimes? I’ve been fortunate enough to have serendipitously met a few people in my life that I have instantly bonded with. Bosom friends. Sister from another mister. Love at first laugh. There’s that moment when you connect so quickly it feels like you’ve known one another your whole lives. You can go years without seeing each other and get along better than most of the people you’ve met in the same amount of time. Almost like you’ve done this so-called life together before. Ok, enough of the philosophy. If I go too far down the rabbit hole there’s no going back! After not seeing each other for seven years, my friend Elyse spontaneously decided to visit me in Dublin for a week. She’s never been to Europe before so we managed to squeeze in a quick trip to spend some time in Edinburgh Scotland.

(If you don’t fancy reading a little story about university life, scroll down to my top five ways to spend time in Edinburgh Scotland).

Elyse is the first person I met at university. Some random “soph” (Definition: overly excited second-year student trying desperately to relive their first year) pulled me out of the car at my new residence and proceeded to force introductions with a handful of other students who were pulled out of their cars at the same time. Thankfully, Elyse was the first person I met and we connected as soon as we discovered we were both in the same media program. We ended up spending way too much time together as we found each other equally hilarious (surprisingly, not many others shared this disposition).

From thereon in, we ended up living in a share house with three other hilarious girls. After spending time with each other nearly every day of the school year for four years, I decided to take off to Australia, then British Columbia, then Ireland, until suddenly we hadn’t seen each other for seven years. We picked up exactly where we left off and made for great travel companions. Fast forward to an adventure in Edinburgh.

our time in edinburgh scotland, two females having a great time exploring edinburgh, scotland
Reunited and it feels so good! (Elyse on the left and Grace (author) on the right)

I’ve had the pleasure of spending time in Edinburgh Scotland four times. Every time I go as soon as I get a glimpse of the city all I can think about is how amazing it would be to live there. Panoramic views of breath-taking Victorian architecture is a treat for the eyes and a boost to the creative soul.

Edinburgh is a city that just makes sense. I’d imagine that the architects were inspired by the natural landscape and weather since the buildings are even more beautiful when it’s windy, cloudy and drizzling. Whenever I’ve gone I’ve only had one or two days to explore, so I’ve put together a little list of what to do in the city in 24 hours.

Our time in edinburgh, scotland - the view of the city streets in edinburgh
Edinburgh Old Town. Photo Credit: Elyse Booth
woman walking down the cobbled streets enjoying her time in edinburgh, scotland
Strolling around the city. Photo Credit: Elyse Booth

FIVE THINGS TO DO when you spend time in Edinburgh Scotland

My Top 5 Ways to Spend Time in Edinburgh Scotland


1. Walk the entire Royal Mile

The Royal Mile is the name given to a succession of streets in the Old Town. The stretch between two significant historic locations, Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, is the ultimate place to imagine medieval life. You can walk right up to the gates of Edinburgh Castle, and if you can spare the time, tour the inside for £17. On the opposite end you’ll find the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, who spends a week residing there every summer. You can visit the palace for £14.

View of the Castle at the end of the Royal Mile. We. got this shot from the tower of the camera obscura. We had the best time in Edinburgh Scotland! Photo Credit: Elyse Booth

2. Arthur’s Seat

A hill located at the end of the Royal Mile, climbing Arthur’s seat is a great way to spend your time in Edinburgh Scotland. A relatively easy climb (my legs only hurt for one day after), you’ll get a chance to catch your breath while getting amazing panoramic views at the top. I’ve climbed Arthur’s Seat three times and would do it again next time I visit Edinburgh. Arthur’s Seat is the largest of three sites of the Arthur’s Seat Volcano site. Like the location of the castle, its formation is the site of an extinct volcano system.

We made it to the top!

3. Whiskey and Wine: Restaurants in Edinburgh Scotland

Head out to either the Old Town or the New Town and try a unique Scotch you’d never get to try elsewhere. There are so many to choose from it can be a bit overwhelming. There are a lot of good whiskeys to try at affordable prices so just go for something you’ve never had before. Besides that, Elyse and I came across a couple of great wine bars. We especially liked Smith and Gertrude in the New Town. You can choose different artisan cheeses ranging from £3.50 to £4.50 and cured meats from £4.50-£5.50. Or you can do what we did and order a mixed board of cheese and charcuterie (three of each) for £16. So.Good. We also treated ourselves to a great bottle of Langhe Nebbiolo, La Ca Nova for £30. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy our time in Edinburgh Scotland. Can you?

Smith and Gertrude

4. Camera Obscura

If you’re short on time, visiting the camera obscura is a brilliant way of getting your bearings in the city. A Victorian style virtual tour, you are guided through the Unesco World Heritage site that is Edinburgh from a tiny dark room. Tickets are £15.50 for adults and they’re valid all day so you can come and go as you please. There are some great photo opportunities from the top of the building as well.

5. Walk Princess Street (and Primark!)

On the south side of Princess Street you get amazing views of the Castle perched atop the volcanic site, giving the illusion of the castle blending in to the rock as if it’s part of the earth itself. There’s also a massive gothic monument to Sir Walter Scott, the stunning Balmoral Hotel, and the Princess Street Gardens. On the other side, you’ve got your high street shops. Ladies and gents, there is some serious Primark action happening on this street. Sprawling over about 5 floors, if you fancy a bit of shopping you’ll find some stellar deals. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, there is always a ton of paraphernalia to choose from (pyjamas, socks, notebooks, etc).

View of the castle at night from Princess Street. As soon as we got off the bus in the city we were greeted with this view. Photo credit: Elyse Booth
Photo credit: Elyse Booth

We did all five of the things on the list (but didn’t go inside the castle or palace) in 24 hours and had a great time. Next time I’m there I plan to check out the galleries, museums, and evening ghost tour.

The Travel Details:

  • Ryanair return flight from Dublin for €50
  • Where to stay in Edinburgh Scotland: Two nights in a twin room at the Edinburgh City Hotel for £111 (£55.50/person)
  • Return air coach transport from Airport to Edinburgh City £7 (this bus leaves every 10/15 minutes. Great service).
  • The city is very walkable and we didn’t need public transit or taxis at all.

Edinburgh is wildly beautiful. In my opinion, it’s an underrated gem in the United Kingdom. It seems almost unfair for so many gorgeous buildings to be located in such close vicinity, and it’s a pleasure to visit every single time.

Walking through the Old Town on our way to breakfast at The City Cafe. Photo credit: Elyse Booth
Photo credit: Elyse Booth
Photo credit: Elyse Booth
Photo credit: Elyse Booth
Doesn’t it look like the castle is a part of the hill? Photo credit: Elyse Booth
Photo credit: Elyse Booth

Are you interested in travel? Check out my time in Slovakia – winter spa weekend. 

8 thoughts on “24 Hour Holiday – Top 5 Ways to Spend Time in Edinburgh Scotland”

  1. This is a great guide for what to do with only 24 hours. I’ve been to the castle before and it was stunning! These pictures are gorgeous 🙂 I definitely want to go back.

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