Edinburgh is the perfect place to have a truly Scottish weekend. As soon as you step out the door of our brand new , it’s highly likely that you’ll hear the sound of bagpipes from a kilted musician busking on a nearby corner. The quaint old buildings that line the cobblestone streets of Edinburgh’s centre are so that you’ll be itching to pull out your camera and capture the city’s boundless charm.
To celebrate the opening of our new St Christopher’s Inns hostel in Edinburgh, we’re revealing the best way to spend a weekend in the city... complete with haggis, medieval castles, and a touch of scotch whiskey!
Check out our latest video on how to spend 48 Hours in Edinburgh
Day one: Morning
There’s no better place to start your Edinburgh weekend than the Royal Mile. This thoroughfare stretches between the royal castle and palace buildings and is named for its length, which is equal to a ‘Scots mile’ - a measurement slightly longer than an English mile which hasn’t been used since the 18th century.
Begin your day at Edinburgh Castle before the crowds arrive. This attraction is extremely popular, so it’s best to pre-book your tickets online at least one day ahead then arrive at the castle before it opens at 9:30AM. This will save time lining up for tickets and will save a few pounds on entrance fees! Once inside the castle, head straight for the Crown Jewels then stop in at the Royal Apartments and the Great Hall.
Next, do some exploring along the Royal Mile and surrounding streets. Harry Potter fanatics will love this area - take a walk down the picturesque Victoria Street which was the inspiration for Diagon Alley, and get lunch at The Elephant House cafe to see where JK Rowling spent time writing her books.
Day one: Afternoon
In the afternoon, head over to Dean Village for what is possibly the most adorable area of Edinburgh. This former grain milling village follows the Water of Leith and has buildings that date back to the 12th century. As you walk along the rivulet, you’ll find super cute bridges, cobblestone alleys, and colourful houses that look like something out of a fairytale.
The perfect way to end a full day of sightseeing is at a classic Scottish pub, so kick back with a pint of real ale at The Halfway House on your way back to the hostel. This traditional establishment has a range of affordable meals on the menu including steak and gravy pie, so grab a tasty pub dinner while you’re there.
Day two: Morning
Start your second day at the other end of the Royal Mile by visiting Palace of Holyroodhouse . This palace is used as the royal residence when the Queen is visiting Edinburgh, which she does for one week every summer. The rest of the time, this 16th century palace is open to the public so you can wander through the halls pretending like you’re on the cast of Downton Abbey. The entrance ticket includes a self-guided audio tour where you’ll learn about historic tapestries, marvel at elegant furniture, admire painted portraits of important historical figures, and get a glimpse of monarch life.
Once you’ve had enough royal luxury, stop in at the more casual Clarinda’s Tearoom for scones with jam and cream, toasted sandwiches, and a pot of tea. This cutesy cafe is decorated just like your Grandmother’s sitting room and will make you feel right at home while you fill up on lunch.
Day two: Afternoon
With your post-scone energy, take a short walk up the nearby Calton Hill which is one of the best free things to do in Edinburgh . Your efforts will be rewarded with a grand view of Edinburgh’s city skyline featuring church spires, clock towers, and of course - the magnificent castle.
During the afternoon, stop in at the National Museum of Scotland to gaze at the spectacular atrium of the Grand Gallery and wander through some unique exhibits. Get a background of Scottish history and inventions, learn about the patterned tartan fabrics used by the clans of Scotland, and find the taxidermied sheep named Dolly who was the first ever cloned mammal.
Were you really in Scotland if you didn’t try whisky? Finish up your trip with a tasting at one of Edinburgh’s Scottish Whisky bars . If you want to be a bit fancy, head to Whiski Rooms for a guided tasting followed by a dinner of haggis in their restaurant (they even have a meat-free option of vegetarian haggis). There’s no better way to wrap up your weekend in Edinburgh.