How to Spend 48 hours in Edinburgh

Thinking of heading to the Scottish capital? Here's how to spend 48 hours in Edinburgh.

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  • 23 February 2023
  • • 4 min read

Edinburgh is the perfect place to have a truly Scottish weekend. As soon as you step out the door of our , it’s highly likely 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 picturesque that you’ll be itching to pull out your camera and capture the city’s boundless charm.

If you're heading there soon and want to make the most out of your time in the Scottish capital, we've put together a guide 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 famous thoroughfare stretches between the royal castle and palace buildings and is named (obviously) for its length, which is equal to a ‘Scots mile’ - an ancient measurement slightly longer than an English mile.

To make the most of Edinburgh Castle, get there early before the crowds arrive. The castle 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 saves time lining up for tickets as well as a few £s on entrance fees! Once inside the castle, head straight for the Crown Jewels and stop in at the Royal Apartments and the Great Hall.

Next, head back 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 16th century palace is open to the public so you can wander through the halls pretending you’ve gone back in time. 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 Nan’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 make sure to find the taxidermied sheep named Dolly - who was the first ever cloned mammal.

Were you really in Scotland if you didn’t try their famous whisky? Finish up your trip with a tasting at one of Edinburgh’s best 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 veggie haggis option). There’s no better way to wrap up your weekend in Edinburgh.

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