We spent 3 days in Edinburgh, Scotland and oh man what a fantastic city! With the gothic and medieval architecture of the Old Town, the castle peeking out at you from different parts of the city, and the bagpipes being played in the streets, we quickly fell hard for this place.
I’m hoping to make your trip a little simpler by sharing our daily Edinburgh itinerary. For reference, we visited Scotland in mid-September.
3 Days in Edinburgh
It’ll be a rather relaxed itinerary just to give you an idea of how much you can fit into 3 days in Edinburgh. Feel free to pick and choose what you love most and make it your own!
Since we were also doing a road trip to the Isle of Skye between the 3 days (post coming soon), we lost an entire afternoon driving back to the city. So if you don’t break up your days like us, you can do even more than we did.
We flew into Edinburgh from Bristol, England on EasyJet. EasyJet is a budget airline that has great pricing for travel within Europe. We sometimes get $30 flights from country to country! We use them frequently when in Europe and have never had issues.
Getting to the city center from the airport is easy. We took a tram toward York Place and got off on Princes Street, which is within walking distance to the Old Town. You buy the ticket right before you board. Just follow the signs at the airport. If you’d rather pre-book something and take the worry out of your transfers to/from Edinburgh Airport check out this affordable bus ticket.
Read More: 4 Days in London
Day 1 in Edinburgh
After checking into our excellent Airbnb (I’ll share more info below) right on the Royal Mile, which runs through the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, we made our way to some much-needed food.
We chose The Edinburgh Larder for our first meal. I had these delicious Scottish pancakes with honey syrup. Jorge had a traditional “full” Scottish breakfast which includes eggs, tomato, bacon, sausage, and black pudding. Black pudding is a type of blood sausage, soooo not what I consider tasty.
Of course, after traveling for 8+ hours it’s pretty hard to jump into explore mode. We took it easy on day 1. But honestly, we did what we love best, got acquainted with the city on foot as I took dozens of photos.
We walked a lot of the Old Town, went to visit Victoria Street, contemplated buying Jorge a kilt, and stopped for ice cream at Mary’s Milk Bar.
After some more walking and photos (I can seriously spend an entire day just doing that), we finished off with an amazing dinner at Howie’s. We got lucky with a quiet little booth and ordered some traditional Scottish dishes.
I had salmon with maftoul and Jorge had Cullen Skink, a type of Scottish soup. Afterward, we headed back to our Airbnb to relax and settle in for the night. We needed a good rest for day two’s adventures!
Day 2 in Edinburgh
We started the day with coffee at the Brew Lab and a great breakfast at Thomas J Walls. Usually, between my heavy meals, I like adding in a green juice for my stomach’s sake. I ordered a fresh one at Hula Juice Cafe.
After breakfast, we decided to walk over to Calton Hill to get views of the city. It’s about a 20-minute walk from High Street on the Royal Mile. It was an incredibly windy day which is not uncommon in Scotland.
Of course, as soon as we started walking up the hill to see the city from above, it started pouring rain! But we had gotten that far there was no way we were turning back.
We were the only fools up there. It was the windiest day I’ve ever experienced in my life, and I’ve been to O’Brien’s Tower on Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher. We couldn’t stop laughing at how strong the winds were. We huddled into a corner in hopes of not flying away.
Eventually, it calmed down enough for some photos. Once we were done and about to leave, the sun started shining and the birds started chirping LOL! This was the city minutes later:
From there, we walked the mile and a half to Dean Village. It’s a far walk but a pretty one I recommend. It was straight down Princes Street (another top street in Edinburgh). We got some of the best photos while walking down this path. If you have more days to spare, consider spending some leisure time in this beautiful garden with the best views of the castle.
Dean Village is a very picturesque area. We took a ton of photos before it started pouring on us again! Exhausted and cold from all the walking, we finished the night off by having the most perfect soup and wraps at Let Me Eat Too back in Old Town.
Day 3 in Edinburgh
After driving back from the Isle of Skye and missing half the day in Edinburgh, we made the most of every minute! But first, coffee. We stopped for some at The Milkman, and I also ordered a yummy waffle from Smoov. I do recommend both places.
Since whisky is Scotland’s national drink (the Scots spell it “whisky”), Jorge didn’t want to leave without doing a tasting somewhere. He chose Jeffrey St. Whisky and Tobacco. However, he had no reservation so he couldn’t do an official tasting where they share facts, history, and several tastes of whisky with a group.
But he was able to try a few and get general info on how the whisky is made. Of course, he bought a bottle to bring home! If you’re interested in doing a tasting, you can simply walk in and reserve it for the next day. So learn from Jorge and plan ahead.
After the tasting, we took another long walk to Circus Lane to see the mews. Circus Lane is a beautiful Londonish street that’s not very long but is photo-worthy. It is a residential area so please be mindful.
Unfortunately, once we arrived the sun was going down and I couldn’t get many photos. I love my lush facades so I was a little sad about it.
Starving but trying to save money, we chose to eat some greek food at Ola Kala. The place is unassuming but the food is great! Just what we needed to end our stay in Edinburgh. The restaurant is in the Haymarket area, a bit further out of the Old Town, but still near a lot of good restaurants and bars.
Things to Do in Edinburgh If We Had More Time
If you can do more than 3 nights in Edinburgh, go for it the city has a lot to offer. Here are a few more things we wish we could have added to the itinerary:
- Climb Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano that sits at 824 feet above sea level offering stunning views of the city.
- Visit the Writer’s Museum because it’s kind of my life’s work. We also had a view of this museum from our Airbnb stay on the Royal Mile and it looked pretty cool!
- Explore other neighborhoods outside of Old Town. The area around Circus Lane looked nice, but since we were losing light we couldn’t go beyond it.
- Plan an actual whisky tasting or possibly visit some distilleries.
- Visit the Edinburgh castle! We took lots of photos from the outside but didn’t plan a trip to explore the inside. If you’re interested, these are the tickets we would have booked, click here for availability. UPDATE: With the pandemic, the castle is temporarily closed so the link has been disabled. I will track it and update it as soon as it becomes available again.
Best Edinburgh Tours
- If you want to see a lot of the city but avoid the amount of walking we did, then check out this hop-on hop-off tour that takes you to the highlights. The ticket is good for 24 hours once activated, click here to book.
- If you’re a Harry Potter fan, this walking tour is one of the best-rated ones: Click here for the latest prices.
- More of the highest-rated tours:
Edinburgh day-tripping options
Where to Stay in Edinburgh
If you haven’t stayed in an Airbnb yet, you’re in for a treat! We’ve stayed in dozens at this point and love having the local experience. I always filter my searches to “superhost” and choose “entire place” to make sure I have the privacy and hosting that I’m paying for.
Airbnb on the Royal Mile– We enjoyed our stay in this stylish apartment located right in the heart of everything! It’s on the Royal Mile, but the bedroom is facing the back end with a view of the Writer’s Museum (as shown below) so it was quiet at night. The host is also a Superhost. Overall, a great find in Edinburgh!
Airbnb near the airport– For our last night, after returning from the Isle of Skye, we decided to stay closer to the airport. We had an obnoxiously early flight, and this apartment was minutes from the bus stop that takes you directly to the airport. We got to the airport in 12 minutes the next morning.
The place has great reviews and Susie (the host) is a Superhost. Plus, the apartment also comes with a washer and she provides laundry detergent. We were in the middle of a 3-week trip and only take carry-ons so this is always a bonus for us.
The more details I give of this great city, the more I want to return! Scotland, in general, has so many beautiful stops and some of the best scenery out there. I hope we can make it back soon.
Hoping to see more of the U.K.? Here are some helpful guides
- How to Spend 4 Days in London
- Cotswolds Villages: 5 Prettiest Places to Visit
- 17 Small Towns in Europe You Must Visit
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