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8 Best things to do in Edinburgh | Travel Dave

Travel Dave tells us his top tips when it comes to things to do in the Scottish capital.

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  • 09 September 2021
  • • 8 min read

Recently we sent travel blogger Travel Dave around the UK on a tour of all the St Christopher's Inns hostel locations in London, Bath, Edinburgh and Newquay.

We interviewed our Innsider Travel Dave and asked him for his top tips on what he would recommend doing over a weekend in Edinburgh. 

Here are his top Edinburgh suggestions on what to do while you're there, to help you with your trip planning.

Looking for affordable accommodation in the heart of Edinburgh? Check out our on Market Street

1. Book the Vault Room at St Christopher's Inns Edinburgh Old Town

I love staying in really unique rooms, and you can’t get much more unique than a hotel room inside an old renovated vault. The Vault Room at St Christopher's Inns Edinburgh in the Old Town is such an interesting place to stay, and it’s within walking distance from Edinburgh Waverley train station too. 

The hostel has been renovated within the last few years, and actually used to be a part of an old fruit market. When the renovations were happening, this vault room was discovered. Apparently it was used to store the cash takings from the daily fruit market. 

You can now stay inside a piece of history, as the vault has been transformed into a gorgeous hotel room. Don’t worry about shutting yourself in – the door is secured in place! You still might not want to leave this comfortable, private en-suite room however. Although, the good location means that there’s plenty to explore on your doorstep. 

2. Munch a Haggis burger at Belushi's Edinburgh 

Haggis is obviously a must-try when you’re in Scotland and I’d highly recommend trying it in the tasty burger from Belushi’s, St Christopher's onsite hostel bar. This famous bar is an ideal place to start a night out on the town. There’s usually sports on TV, and it’s a really sociable place for meeting other tourists too. I found the Haggis burger absolutely delicious so this is the place to come if you want to try it. Be sure to show your St Christopher’s Inns room key to the bar staff to get an exclusive discount too. 

3. Walk along the Royal Mile of Edinburgh

The medieval age Old Town of Edinburgh is perfect for a stroll and the perfect place to start is the Royal Mile. It’s a stretch of cobbled road that goes right through the heart of Edinburgh city. Breathe in the atmosphere, see the sights, and spend an afternoon walking from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace. The Royal Mile is actually a mile long, and is a central part of Edinburgh’s history and culture. During Scotland’s new year celebration Hogmanay, there’s a torchlight procession down the Royal Mile, and it’s also a popular place for performers to gather from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Some of my favourite details were brass bricks within the cobbles, marking important places and routes from years gone by. I love strolling along the Royal Mile and marvelling at the historical buildings, it’s a great way to explore the city.

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4. Visit the Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is actually one of the oldest fortified places in Europe which means that this historical attraction has been a royal residence, military garrison, prison, and fortress since the 11th Century. This fascinating castle has many hidden stories and secrets to share if you spend some time walking around, absorbing everything on a tour. 

Once you’re done soaking up history in the grounds, it’s a brilliant place for some afternoon tea in the tea rooms right the heart of the castle. Edinburgh Castle is sat on Castle Rock – it’s quite an unmissable sight when you’re touring the city. Every day apart from Sunday, they fire the one o’clock gun at 1pm. This cannon was so punctual it was used by ships to set their maritime clocks. It's one of the most iconic and historical things to do in Edinburgh.

5. Have a wee dram at The Scotch Whisky Experience

Along the Royal Mile, treat yourself to the Scottish Whisky Experience found just before Edinburgh Castle. If you love whisky this is the place for you! And if you’re keen to learn more about the famous heritage of Scottish whisky, then you’ll enjoy speaking to the knowledgeable staff and enjoying a tipple or two.

The selection of whisky available to buy in the gift shop is simply outstanding. You can learn so much about all the world-leading whiskies of Scotland just by walking around this establishment. On my visit, I went straight to the Amber Whisky Bar in the basement and enjoyed a “wee dram” – absolutely delicious whisky, and a very good time drinking it. Ask for the top recommendations from the bar staff, and enjoy some very reasonably priced high end drinks. This is one of my favourite spots to head to after a day exploring the city.

6. Enjoy the ultimate Edinburgh pub - The World's End

What you really want from your visit to Edinburgh is to try some Haggis, Neeps and Tatties in a lively pub atmosphere. 

You absolutely have to go to the World’s End and try the classic dishes of Haggis, Neeps and Tatties with a delicious Scotch gravy sauce. It all goes down perfectly with a local whisky, or the famous Irn Bru. 

I’ve eaten Haggis, Neeps and Tatties all across town – but my favourite rendition has to be the dish they serve at the World’s End. They bake the Neeps and Tatties (potatoes and turnips) on top of the Haggis (a Scottish savoury pudding containing sheep's pluck) with melted cheese on top. It’s like a delicious shepherd's pie casserole, and it’s the most wonderful filling dish to have in a cosy pub environment. The World's End pub was called that because of World's End Close just across the road. This was the last close found in Edinburgh before you entered the walls of the Canongate, in times where being outside of the city wall felt like being at the end of the world.

This place has so many charming classic Scottish characteristics, and it’s steeped in history. You’ll love visiting this Edinburgh pub, it’s one of my top recommendations every time. 

7. Hike to the top of Arthur's Seat to see stunning views overlooking Edinburgh 

Treat yourself to the best seat in the house and enjoy the most stunning views you will find over Edinburgh. 

Hiking to the top of Arthur’s Seat is one of the most popular tourist traditions in Edinburgh, and it’s a lovely excuse to get slightly out of town into nearby nature. 

This is how you get there – once you’re at the end of the Royal Mile, you’ll be in Holyrood at the corner of the Scottish Parliament building and Holyrood Palace. Turn right to see Holyrood Parks, which is where the hiking trail to the top of Arthur’s Seat begins. It takes around 1 hour to 1.5 hours to do the whole route and come back – with some time at the top to take in the views. Wishing you luck for good weather and a clear day when you head on your hike.

8. Explore the underground at night on an Edinburgh Vaults ghost tour

The Edinburgh Vaults are a series of chambers formed in the nineteen arches of the South Bridge in Edinburgh. At night time they do a ghost tour to really put your visit on the edge. A great way to learn a bit of Edinburgh history at night time, hope you're in for a scary experience.

If you like your history on the spooky side of things – take the Edinburgh Vaults ghost tour. The vaults are a series of chambers hidden in the nineteen arches of the South Bridge of Edinburgh. The night time ghost tour is good fun for a bit of a laugh, a scream, and some fascinating ghost stories from the history of Edinburgh. This is a great way to learn about the city, and let yourself in for something a bit different, and a little bit scary.

Thank you for reading Travel Dave's suggestions on what to do around Edinburgh, Scotland. I hope you've found the content helpful in planning your next weekend adventure around the UK. 

This guide was put together in collaboration with St Christopher's Inns hostels as part of Travel Dave's UK tour, visiting London, Bath, Newquay and Edinburgh throughout a selection of weekend escapes. 

Have fun planning your next weekend escape to Edinburgh, Scotland!

Looking for more Scottish inspiration? Check out these incredible , written by another of our St Christopher's Innsiders

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