Edinburgh is an amazing and beautiful city with so much to do! When we went, we only planned on being in the city for one day which we regretted at the end. We totally fell in love and can’t wait to go back and explore more. If you are like us though and only have 24 hours to explore Edinburgh, these are the must see and do things!
If you haven’t already…be sure to check out our post on the Explorer Pass of Scotland. It’ll definitely save you some money while you’re adventuring around Edinburgh!
Start at the top of the Royal Mile
In case you didn’t know, Edinburgh Castle and Royal Mile is located on the top of a giant hill. Starting off at the top gets you into Edinburgh castle early to beat some of the rush. Plus, starting at the top of the Royal Mile ensures that you don’t have to walk uphill (trust us…it’s a doozy) at the end of your day.
Make your way to Edinburgh Castle (included in the Explorer Pass)
With so much history, Edinburgh Castle is a must-see! There are public performances, tours, and the firing of the gun. The castle is open from 9:30-6 daily, with the last entry at 5 pm. The most popular time to be at the castle is for the firing of the gun, which takes place on most days of the year to mark 1 pm (except Sundays and holidays). There are so many areas to explore in the castle, you could spend hours!
Walk down the Royal Mile
The Royal Mile runs from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It runs right through the heart of Edinburgh Old Town. The cobbled streets and narrow alleyways give the city an authentic old world vibe. With museums, shops, pubs, and tea shops scattered down this road; you will wish you never had to leave. Be sure to check out The Real Mary King’s Close, St Giles’ Cathedral, and the modern Parliament building.
Veer right at George VI Bridge and visit The Elephant House and Walk Victoria Street
Where are my Harry Potter fan’s at? If you are Potter fan, you know that The Elephant House is said to be where J.K. Rowling wrote the beloved first book and is said to have based many places in the book on this city.
From the Elephant house, take a walk down Victoria Street and take in the colorful storefronts. This street is seen so much on Instagram and it did not disappoint.
Head over to the Grassmarket Area
The Grassmarket area is a great spot for eclectic shops and lively drinking spots. This area was once a medieval market place and site for public executions. Even though the Grassmarket executions ceased in 1784, some of the traditional area’s pubs, such as The Last Drop and Maggie Dickson’s, keep alive the bloody tale of a chequered past. The White Hart Inn has played host to some famous patrons, including Robert Burns and offers live music and acoustic performances on most nights.
Head back to the Royal Mile and end your day at Holyroodhouse Castle
Holyroodhouse is the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh and the home of Scottish royal history. The castle is open throughout the year and has a rich history with some well-known historic figures such as Mary, Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie. Holyroodhouse is open from 9:30-4:30 (November 1- March 31) and 9:30-6 (April 1- October 31) prices start at £15.00.
If there’s time, Stirling Castle (explorer pass)
We were unable to visit this amazing Castle due to timing but it is on our must so for next time! It is open from 9.30am to 6pm with advance adult tickets at £15.00 and on-site prices at £16.00.