2 Days in Edinburgh
Scotland has always appealed to me for reasons I can’t quite explain. Although kilts, bagpipes, and the Lochness Monster get a lot of attention in pop culture, there was something wild and rugged that drew me to this place. For me, Edinburgh was like stepping into an 18th Century city filled with the ideal amount of modern charm. I stayed in a room at this adorable little AirBNB with my elderly host Moira; if you’re a female travelling solo, definitely consider this as an option. Visiting for a weekend was the perfect amount of time, and I’m eager to see more of Scotland in the upcoming months! If you want to view a map with all the spots mentioned below, click here.
What to see
I think this was one of the coolest museums I’ve ever been too. I didn’t originally plan on going, but someone suggested checking out the Robots Exhibit they had on, and I ended up staying for almost two hours. The Animal World and Fashion and Style exhibits were my favourite permanent sections, and the Robots Exhibit was definitely worth the money in my opinion. Tip: Make sure to check out the roof terrace - there is a great view of the castle from up there. [Free, £10 for Robots Exhibit]
What a beautiful little spot to walk around! It’s a really quiet little area, and the paths along the river are also beautiful. I visited in early February so it was quite cold, but I’m sure it would be even better in the summertime. [Free]
Although this is more so just a place to walk past, if you’re in the area it’s worth having a peak at the colourful buildings and checking out some of the independent shops. [Free]
This is where JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book, and man is this place cashing in on their claim to fame. I didn’t go inside, but it was cool to walk by and imagine Rowling brainstorming what has become one of the greatest series ever written. [Free from the outside]
As someone who has worked with children for nearly 15 years, this was a must-see on my list. However, I think it has something to offer everyone and is definitely worth a visit if you have time! They have a really interesting collection of old toys, which is presented in a way that is both appealing to adults and children. [Free]
You get a gorgeous view of the city from up here, and it’s also a great place to watch the sunset on a clear day. [Free]
Since I was visiting in early February and the temperature was less than ideal, I didn’t make it up to Arthur’s Seat during this trip. Check it out if you’re here in the warmer months though! [Free]
I usually avoid paying entry fees for places like this unless I feel particularly interested in the history or significance of the building. Holyrood was not only the home of Mary Queen of Scots, but it’s also still used by the Queen for royal functions and events! It had the best audio tour I’ve ever experienced, so it’s well worth the money in my opinion. [£15 entry fee]
This castle is hard to miss from its place up on the hill. I didn’t go inside because the entry fee was far too expensive in my opinion, but I did walk up to the entryway and admire it from afar. [£17 entry fee]
The gardens were really close to my AirBNB, so I ended up walking through at the end of my second day. Although it is a beautiful green space, I wouldn’t recommend adding it to your itinerary unless you’re visiting in the warmer months. I paid to go into the glasshouses, but honestly it felt like I was in a ‘plant zoo’ - not worth the money in my opinion. [Free; £7 for the glasshouses]
Where to eat
I loved this place. The service was genuinely friendly and their menu offers creative farm-to-table options. I had the special - pork shoulder served with potatoes and greens - and it was incredibly tasty. They also have vegan/vegetarian options and apparently their brunch is great too. [£13.95 with tip]
If you’re looking for somewhere to head for brunch on the weekend, this is the place. They have a wide variety of options ranging from an American-style breakfast to Eggs Benedict. I highly recommend the vegan/gluten-free Spiced Sultana Pancakes. This place is popular, so keep in mind there is usually a line from mid-morning onwards. [£14 with drink and tip]
This 100% vegan cafe is a great alternative to some of the more well-known vegan places in town. It’s cozy, welcoming, and you can tell that it’s a labor of love. They have a full menu, but I went mid-morning for a turmeric latte and a giant chocolate peanut butter slice. [£7.60 for a latte and dessert]
This place came up as a recommended cafe in Edinburgh, so I made sure to add it to my list. Seating is very limited, but I managed to get a spot and enjoy a pot of tea with a scone. To be honest I was disappointed by the scone, which tasted more like a dinner roll. They did have some other eye-catching desserts, but only a few options that cater to people with dietary restrictions. The decor is cute and the staff was very friendly, so if you’re in the area and don’t have any dietary restrictions, check it out! [£5.20]
If you’re in Edinburgh on a Sunday, check out the market (open 10-5pm). Although it’s fairly small, there are a lot of great stalls selling locally made food and goods. I grabbed a chicken masala ‘naanwidge’ at Babu and savoured every bite. There was also a Japanese stall which appeared to be very popular for it’s gyoza, as well as another stall cooking the largest paella I’ve ever seen. Even though there aren’t a ton of food stalls, the options for those with dietary restrictions were still plentiful. [£6 for lunch]
I stumbled upon this place one day and made a point of returning the following day for a dessert. They sell 100% gluten free desserts, many of which are also dairy-free. If you need a solid dose of sugar but have dietary restrictions, this is the place to go. [£2 for a cookie sandwich]
Tips and tricks
- Edinburgh is enjoyably walkable, and I didn’t end up using public transport at all. However there are a lot of hills, so take that into consideration for yourself and those you’re travelling with.
- If you pay taxes in the UK, most entry fees for museums and historical attractions can be claimed as a donation, so make sure to ask about getting an official receipt.
- You’ve probably heard that the weather in Scotland can be a bit unpredictable, which is certainly true! I recommended bringing a raincoat (it’ll likely be too windy for an umbrella) with you everyday, especially if you plan on doing a lot of walking.
Food and drink: £52.20
Accommodation: £62.28 for three nights