A weekend in Edinburgh is by no means enough time to uncover everything that this ancient city has to offer. Combining different architectural styles from medieval to Georgian times, “Auld Reekie” (Old Smokey) as it is affectionately called, is one of the few cities in which history and modernity are so intricately interwoven. Thankfully, even a couple of days are a perfect introduction to Edinburgh and its attractions.
Here is Stasher’s proposed perfect weekend in Edinburgh itinerary, including transportation options, dining suggestions and sightseeing.
Getting to Edinburgh for the weekend
Assuming you’ll be travelling from London, there are three main ways to get to Edinburgh: Plane, train and bus.
Plane to Edinburgh
A flight looks like the obvious choice for a weekend in Edinburgh. Flights are around £50-70 both ways (per person) with a low-cost airline, so it seems like the time-efficient and affordable option, especially if you plan on leaving directly after work. However, you still need to be well prepared for the following:
- The flight itself takes 90 minutes.
- The ride to the airport is anything between 30-45 minutes, and you will have to be there about an hour earlier.
- Getting to the city from Edinburgh Airport will take a further 30 minutes.
The whole trip will take about four hours, which is not ideal for people departing directly after work.
Taking the train to Edinburgh
The old school cool option, trains are much more flexible and take about the same time (about 5 hours) to reach Edinburgh. Plus, instead of travelling to one of London’s airports, you’ll find frequent train connections to Edinburgh from King’s Cross and Euston train stations. Benefits of train travel include internet connection on board, as many luggage as you want, plus a more comfortable journey. The downside is the price, as train tickets are about 2-3 times more expensive than aeroplane tickets. Time-wise however, they are pretty much the same.
Taking the bus to Edinburgh
The bus is the least costly option, but it takes around nine hours to reach Edinburgh. Megabus has two services connecting London and Edinburgh daily, while ticket prices are about £30-40 both ways.
Where to eat and drink in Edinburgh
One thing you should never worry about in Edinburgh is food. Whether you are the posh restaurant type or just want to stuff your face with fish and chips, there are fantastic options for you.
From the upscale Witchery in the Royal Mile to the Fishmarket on the iconic Newhaven Pier, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to food in Edinburgh.
Here are some selections of the best restaurants in Edinburgh, according to locals. Click or tap on the links to find them on the map.
- El Cartel – The best taco place in Edinburgh!
- Le Roi Fou – French bistro with generous portions.
- Shebeen – One of the best steak houses in the city.
- Ondine – Slightly expensive -but really good- seafood restaurant.
Bell’s Diner – Local-favourite burger joint in the Stockbridge area.
You couldn’t possibly expect that any place in Scotland would have a shortage of bars and pubs! Edinburgh’s nightlife is famous for its nightlife.
Here are some pubs, bars and cafes frequented by locals. Click or tap on the links to find them on the map.
A Weekend in Edinburgh: Saturday
If you’ve lived like a true Scotsman the night before, chances are waking up is going to be a challenge. However, it is highly recommended to get up and running on a reasonable hour to see as many things as possible!
Below you’ll find some of the must-visit attractions of Edinburgh, under no particular order. Just pick and choose the ones that appeal to you the most.
Edinburgh is a hilly city, but you can’t miss this big mountainy chunk of land that overlooks the city. Arthur’s Seat is the main peak of Holyrood Park. It’s located east of the city centre, about 2 km from Edinburgh Castle. With an altitude of 250 meters, it offers breathtaking views of the city. We recommend going there first thing in the morning, as the -easy- hike will take you at least 30 minutes. Don’t worry though; it’s absolutely worth it!
The definitive landmark of the city, the Edinburgh Castle is visible from all areas of the town. Do not expect sumptuous halls and expensive furniture, as this is more like an 11th-century city garrison. Also, the Scottish crown jewels are kept inside.
The Real Mary Kings Close
Just a short walk from the Castle, far from prying eyes, lies the haunted, not-so-well-kept secret of Edinburgh. The Real Mary Kings Close is a series of well preserved underground passages from the 17th century. After the area closed during the 18th century, it became the source of urban legends and terrifying stories. Touristy? Yes. Worth seeing? Absolutely!
This 5-storey tall tower is essentially a museum of illusions, perfect for children and grown-up kids. Be ready to spend a couple of hours there, exploring all the oddities and the little surprise on the top (hint: they don’t call it camera obscura for nothing!).
Walk the Royal Mile
That one you’ll probably do without realising. The Royal Mile is a street that runs from the Edinburgh Castle to the fascinating Palace of Holyroodhouse. Imposing tenements are perched on the sides of the road, which is dotted with cobbled alleys and narrow stairways that lead to Edinburgh’s underground secret world.
A Weekend in Edinburgh: Sunday
We recommend taking your time before departing on Sunday. Since you’ve pretty much seen all the important stuff in the city centre, it is perhaps a good idea to head out a bit. There are many great attractions near Edinburgh that are easily reachable by bus. Let’s see them one by one.
The Water of Leith walkway
This public footpath along the Water of Leith river runs from the outskirts of Edinburgh to the village of Leith on the shore. You can practically walk for miles and miles on this footpath as it crosses the whole city and the suburbs, although it is recommended to head towards Leith for a nice lunch break. Also, it is a great fishing spot if you are up for the game.
The Royal Yacht Britannia
If you do end up in Leith, take some time to see the Royal Yacht Britannia. The former royal yacht of the British Monarchy was retired from service in 1997 and is now enjoying a second career at the Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh where it is permanently berthed. Visiting it, you will get a tour of its sumptuous five floors. At the end, you can enjoy a cup of tea on the royal deck. Talk about a royal treatment!
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
If the weather is not too nice (which is always a possibility in Edinburgh), head out to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. The Gallery houses a vast collection of artworks over two buildings (more than 60000) from Joan Miro to David Hockney. It is impossible to see everything in one go, so take your time and don’t forget to get some scones and tea on your way out!
National Museum of Scotland
The National Museum of Scotland is Edinburgh’s foremost attraction, with more than 3 million visitors per year. It was formed in 2006 after the Museum of Scotland was connected to the adjacent Royal Museum. The two buildings store a staggering collection of Scottish antiquities and natural history exhibits. Entrance is free so be sure to visit it even if it is the last thing you’ll do in Edinburgh!
Where to store your luggage in Edinburgh
A weekend in Edinburgh is indeed a short time to see everything the city has to offer. Make the most out of your time after you’ve checked out of your Airbnb by storing your luggage in Edinburgh in one of our StashPoints. Booking luggage storage online with Stasher is easy, and you can find our locations near all important tourist and transport hubs of the city.