Travel, UK Travel

2 Days in Edinburgh Itinerary

Welcome to my easy to follow 2 Days in Edinburgh Itinerary! Edinburgh is one of the best city breaks you can do in the UK. I fell in love with the amazing architecture and interesting history immediately! We filled the two days we were there tightly because there were just so many things we wanted to see! Edinburgh is quite an expensive city so I’ve mixed some free and some more expensive things to do in Scotland’s capital!
Read all the way to the bottom for my FREE downloadable 2 Day Itinerary and checklist you can print off and tick the places you get to!

How to get to Edinburgh

You can get to Edinburgh from all over the world and the UK. We took the train from Wigan which I think was the most convenient. Wigan is close to my home and our tickets only cost us £22 each with a railcard! There’s also many bus routes up to Edinburgh and flights too, so research all the different ways first to see which is the best for you!

Where to stay in Edinburgh

Hostel – A hostel I would love to stay in is the CoDE Pod Hostels – THE LoFT which is a short walk away from Princes Street and only 10 minutes from Waverley Train Station. These Japanese style pod rooms look amazing and have some great reviews. Starting at only £17 a night these would be a great budget place to stay!

Hotel – We actually stayed in a lovely hotel, about a 15-minute walk from the centre of Edinburgh. There’s a full review of the hotel here – Cairn Hotel Review. It’s a great budget hotel and if you don’t mind the walk, it’s well worth it. It was only £50 a night here.

Super Duper Hotel – If you really wanted to sleep in style you can stay at the 5* Balmoral Hotel in the centre of Edinburgh. Starting at £164 a night, they’re definitely on the expensive side but the rooms are so luxurious! You can also stay in the room where JK Rowling finished the last Harry Potter book! But to stay in that room (Room 552) you’re looking at spending £1000 a night!

Day 1

Twelve Triangles

Breakfast is the most important start to the day! If you’re staying a little out of town, we went to Twelve Triangles on our first morning after seeing a recommendation, and we’re so glad we did! The quaint little shop is bursting with pastries and bread. It had a relaxing environment and wasn’t as expensive as the middle of Edinburgh. Pastries were about £2 each and coffees were £2.50 – £3.

Opening times
Mon – Fri 8am – 5pm
Sat & Sun 9am – 5pm

Twelve Triangles Edinburgh
Twelve Triangles Edinburgh
Twelve Triangles Edinburgh
Twelve Triangles Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle

Then take a stroll down to the Royal Mile. One of the most recognised things to do in Edinburgh is visit the castle. Even if you don’t have the time or the money to go inside and wander around, be sure to walk up to the castle to take in the amazing views around it! If you do go inside you’ll see the oldest Crown jewels in Britain and learn all about how royals lived in the castle. Be sure to book tickets online as they’re a little cheaper and you can also skip the huge queues there! Tickets are £17.50 each so it’s one of the more expensive things to do in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Castle Tickets.
Opening times –

SeasonOpens Last entryClosing time
Summer (1 Apr – 30 Sep)9.30am5pm6pm
Winter (1 Oct – 31 Mar)9.30am4pm5pm
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

Harry Potter

If you love Harry Potter be sure to check out all these places! If you don’t, take a wander down to some of them anyway, you might be surprised! First head to Victoria Street and Candlemaker Row. It’s said that these streets became inspiration for JK Rowling whilst she was writing the books. The colourful streets and tight shops may have inspired Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series. On this street visit Museum Context and The Boy Wizard for some Harry Potter memorabilia and model movie props!

Victoria Street Edinburgh
Victoria Street Edinburgh

Next visit Greyfriars Kirkyard. If you’re not interested in the Harry Potter side, I’d still recommend this spooky graveyard. Known for a poltergeist and grave robbers it’s a pit stop on most ghost tours. But there’s also Greyfriar’s Bobby, a devoted Skye Terrier that stayed at his owner’s grave for 14 years before he died himself. He became so famous that they erected a statue outside the graveyard to commorate him and you can visit his grave inside. It’s tradition to bring him a stick and lay it on his grave. For Harry Potter fans you can actually see the grave of a Thomas Riddle; apparently JK Rowling wandered around here looking for inspiration for character names. Whether this is true we’re not sure but it’s a huge coincidence seeing as though she wrote the books overlooking the graveyard! There are also names such as William McGonagall and Elizabeth Moodie!

Opening times –
January to March 2020
30 January – 11.30 am to 2.30 pm
6, 13, 20, 27 February – 11.30 am to 2.30 pm
5, 12 March – 11.30 am to 2.30 pm
16 – 19, 23 – 24, 30 March – 11.30 am to 2.30 pm

1 April – 31 October 2020
10.30 am – 4.30 pm – Mondays to Fridays
12.00 pm – 4.00 pm – Saturdays

Greyfriars Kirkyard Edinburgh
Greyfriars Bobby Edinburgh
Greyfriars Kirkyard Edinburgh Thomas Riddle

And lastly on the Harry Potter stop is eating lunch at The Elephant House. This beautiful cafe is apparently where she wrote some of her earlier Harry Potter books. From the cafe you can see amazing views of the castle and the graveyard is just below. It’s always busy in there so be prepared to wait for a table but the food was amazing! We had nachos and a baked potato which were big portions and there were lots of cakes on sale too. Even if you’re not a big Harry Potter fan, I would still suggest coming here for the great food!

Opening Times –
Monday: 8am – 10pm
Tuesday: 8am – 10pm
Wednesday: 8am – 10pm
Thursday: 8am – 10pm
Friday: 8am – 11pm
Saturday: 9am – 11pm
Sunday: 9am – 10pm

The Elephant House Edinburgh
The Elephant House Edinburgh
The Elephant House Edinburgh
The Elephant House Edinburgh
The Elephant House Edinburgh
The Elephant House Edinburgh
The Elephant House Edinburgh
The Elephant House Edinburgh

National Museum of Scotland

If you’re looking for something cheaper to do in Edinburgh, check out the National Museum of Scotland. It’s free to enter and you only have to pay if you want to see specific exhibitions (there’s a T-Rex exhibition on at the minute!). It’s also a great few hours inside if the weather is not so great as it’s not far from the centre of Edinburgh. Some great interactive things to do with the kids and lots of things to see!

National Museum of Scotland
Opening Times –
Open daily 10:00–17:00

National Museum of Scotland
National Museum of Scotland
National Museum of Scotland

Calton Hill

Then you can head up to Calton Hill for sunset! The views from this extinct volcano are amazing on a clear day, and only a short walk to the top. At the top you can see two observatories, Nelson’s Monument and a replica of the Parthenon in Athens. Definitely a must-see for panoramic views of the city, Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat.

Calton Hill Edinburgh

Mariachi

Heading back into town for dinner. We took an untraditional approach to dinner and avoided the pubs. There are plenty in the centre of Edinburgh to choose from though! We decided on Mexican, and we’re so glad we did! We ordered our food, chimichangas and burritos, and also a beer, Michelada style – a typical Mexican beer cocktail that’s known to cure even the worst hangover – Tabasco and Worchester sauce mixed with the beer in a salt rimmed glass. It wasn’t our thing but interesting to try. The food was amazing and we would’ve stayed for dessert but we had somewhere to be!

Opening Times –
Monday: 5pm – 10pm
Tuesday: 5pm – 10pm
Wednesday: 5pm – 10pm
Thursday: 5pm – 10pm
Friday: 12 Noon – 10pm
Saturday: 12 Noon – 10pm
Sunday: 2pm – 10pm

Mariachi Restaurant Edinburgh
Mariachi Restaurant Edinburgh
Mariachi Restaurant Edinburgh
Mariachi Restaurant Edinburgh

Ghost Bus Tour

If you’re into all things spooky like us, this tour is for you! There’s plenty great ghost tours in Edinburgh but as soon as I saw this I had to do it! The bus you’re driven around in was used in the 1960s as a hearse to escort coffins and their families to graveyards. That in itself is spooky. You drive all through Edinburgh as the comedic tour guide tells you all the haunted and grisly tales. You also walk through Canongate Kirkyard which is definitely spooky. I really enjoyed this tour and found the humour similar to that of the dungeons and other character tours. Definitely recommended to fill up a spooky night!

Ghost Bus Tour
Tour Times –
Daily – 18:00 & 19:30

The Ghost Bus Tour Edinburgh

Hoot the Redeemer

If you’re looking for somewhere to have a drink afterwards there’s countless pubs all over Edinburgh. If you’re looking for somewhere a little different I would highly suggest Hoot the Redeemer. A speakeasy style bar takes you down a set of stairs and behind a non-descript door into an old-fashioned pub. With cinema furniture and even an ice cream machine with alcoholic ice cream, it’s easy to spend a few hours here. The cocktail choices were great too! There were tarot cards in a book and one is supposed to jump out at you; they all correspond to a certain cocktail. Hayden chose death without even looking what was in it which was a nice surprise. It’s a really nice place to chill for a couple of hours and we’d definitely go back!

Opening times –
Monday: 4pm – 1am
Tuesday: 4pm – 1am
Wednesday: 4pm – 1am
Thursday: 4pm – 1am
Friday: 4pm – 1am
Saturday: 3pm – 1am
Sunday: 3pm – 1am

Hoot the Redeemer Bar
Hoot the Redeemer Bar
Hoot the Redeemer Bar
Hoot the Redeemer Bar
Hoot the Redeemer Bar
Hoot the Redeemer Bar

Day 2

Mimi’s Little Bakehouse

The next morning head on down to the Royal Mile and towards Holyrood Palace. If you’re looking for somewhere for breakfast on the way, check out Mimi’s Little Bakehouse, full of pastries, coffees and breakfasts. I’ve heard the Biscoff Brownie is amazing!

Opening Times –
Monday to Friday 08:00-18:00
Saturday & Sunday 10:00-18:00

Holyrood Palace

Keep heading to the less busy side of the Royal Mile and into Holyrood Palace. This palace is the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh and home to lots of royal history. Some of it pleasant, some of it not so! It was once home to Mary, Queen of Scots and you can see how the Queen uses it today to carry out official engagements in Scotland. Listening with an audio set to help you navigate, we were fascinated by the rooms here in the Palace. It was like taking a step back in time in some of them and it was fun to know that the Queen had been here (I love her, she’s so cute). Also if you’re up for more pastries you can have afternoon tea at the Cafe at the Palace with scones, cakes, sandwiches and tea. Prices start from £21 per person. Prices for the Palace are £16.50 so one of the more expensive things to do in Edinburgh. We didn’t book and luckily it wasn’t busy on the day but I would suggest booking online first!

Holyrood Palace
Opening Times –

 Opening timeLast admissionClosing time
1 November – 31 March09:3015:1516:30
1 April – 31 October09:3016:3018:00

The Palace will be completely closed on:
10 April 2020
12 – 23 May 2020
24 June – 4 July 2020
25-26 December 2020
Holyrood Palace Edinburgh
Holyrood Palace Edinburgh
Holyrood Palace Edinburgh
Holyrood Palace Edinburgh

Royal Mile

Take another lovely stroll back up the Royal Mile towards the castle. Now you can do any souvenir shopping you need! There are hundreds of cashmere shops and places to buy kilts and scarves. We bought some souvenirs from a shop called Thistle Do Nicely, literally only because I liked the name! Souvenirs are quite expensive on the Royal Mile compared to further afield but we wanted something specifically from here. Also if you’re a huge stationery and ‘cute things you don’t need’ person like me you’ll love a shop called Neon Sheep! I bought a little notebook!

Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

Near the castle is Camera Obscura & World of Illusions. Filled with over 100 effects over 5 floors it’s enough to keep you occupied on a rainy day. The illusions are hilarious but you also learn a lot about different illusions and camera tricks. Make sure you watch the show on the top floor and go to the rooftop for amazing views of Edinburgh and the Castle. Tickets are only available when you visit and it wasn’t too busy when we went but you may have to queue. They cost £16.50 which is another quite pricey thing to do if you’re on a budget. But the ticket is valid all day so you can come and go as you please; maybe get your ticket early in the morning and come back to visit it again later on.

Camera Obscura & World of Illusions
Opening Times –
Monday – Thursday – 9:30am – 7:00pm
Friday – 9:30am – 8:00pm
Saturday – 9:30am – 9:00pm
Sunday – 9:30am – 8:00pm

Camera Obscura & World of Illusions
Camera Obscura & World of Illusions
Camera Obscura & World of Illusions
Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

Edinburgh Dungeons/Real Mary King’s Close

Make sure you make time for at least one of these attractions whilst you’re in Edinburgh. The dungeons are similar to the ones in different cities but I found this one had way more special effects. If you truly want to be immersed in Edinburgh’s gruesome history, these tours are perfect for you! With amazing actors and great special effects I will always recommend the dungeons.

Edinburgh Dungeon
Opening Times –
Check the websites for daily tour times!

Real Mary King’s Close is of a similar premise but you will be learning all about the close, how people were trapped inside when it was closed during the plague. There’s loads of grisly stories that are told to you by characters from that time period. This is a great tour to see the real history of Edinburgh whilst also having a bit of a laugh!

Real Mary King’s Close.
Opening Times –
Check the website for daily tour times!

Edinburgh Dungeons

Scotch Whisky Experience

If you’re into whisky, or even if you’re not like me, this place is worth a visit! They have a huge shop, restaurant and whisky bar you can explore. We sat in the whisky bar for a while and had a few drinks. There’s hundreds to choose from and the staff are very helpful and informative if you’re a beginner. They also do tour experiences, ranging from becoming a one hour whisky expert to an extensive evening tour with whisky tasting and a seasonal Scottish tasting menu in the restaurant. Prices start at £17.00 so if you’re into your whisky go for it!

Scotch Whisky Experience
Opening Times –
Shop opens 10:00am daily and closes 19:00
Check website for restuarant, coffee shop and tour times

The Scotch Whiskey Experience
The Scotch Whiskey Experience
The Scotch Whiskey Experience

City Cafe

You can stay at the Whisky Experience restaurant for dinner as it has great reviews but it is a bit pricey. We chose somewhere closer to our last attraction. We went to City Cafe, just off the Royal Mile, which is an American Style diner. They had nice drinks such as alcoholic milkshakes (which were amazing) and a huge American style menu. We ordered a burger, all day breakfast and ribs and we couldn’t even finish it all! The food tasted great and the service was good. It wasn’t very busy which was nice and the decor in the place was very quirky. There was also a pool table so coming here for a few drinks and games could be possible too!

Opening Times –
Opening daily from 9am – 1am

Department of Mysteries

Probably one of my favourite things we did in Edinburgh was at the Department of Mysteries. This is a Harry Potter themed bar with a couple of escape rooms thrown in! We booked to do the Dark Lord Resurrection escape room. We had to don our wizard cape and help the dark lord rise again (maybe). Afterwards we treated ourselves to a potions making class where we chose a cocktail and had to make it. It was so much fun to follow the spell rules and make these unusual cocktails! I chose the Herbology one and had to find my ingredients and crush up some raspberries and Hayden chose the Dark Lord cocktail which included eyes, dark lady tears and bones of your enemies! They also had some themed games such as chess and you could even order some of the birthday cake that Hagrid made for Harry! It was such a fun night; you can just come for some cocktails or even try your hand at both of the escape rooms!

Department of Mysteries
Opening Times –
Open daily from 10:30am – 10pm

The Department of Mysteries
The Department of Mysteries
The Department of Mysteries

Thank you for reading all the way down here! It’s a big 2 Day Itinerary loaded full of things to do. Feel free to pick and choose whatever you’d like to do; this is just a guide of a few things to see! It is doable too. We did all these things when we went to Edinburgh – our legs just hurt afterwards but it was worth it!

Please check out my FREE downloadable Edinburgh itinerary that you can keep on your phone or print off and tick the places that you’ve visited! Let me know if you go to any of the places on the list, I’d love some feedback!

If you haven’t checked out my latest post and you’re into your spooky scary things, see 11 Spooky Things to do in Edinburgh for a great haunted time!

Stay Happy!
Sarah

16 thoughts on “2 Days in Edinburgh Itinerary”

  1. This is probably the best city guide ive come across! I love reading about peoples travels to the city but things like prices and opening times are sooo useful! I went to Edinburgh a couple years ago but went when the fringe was on and id love to go back when its a little more quiet!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! This is such an amazing guide, it is so jam packed with fun and interesting things to do! I love that you made the most of your time in Edinburgh and experienced so much! Your photos look gorgeous too and you found so many delicious looking spots for food. Thank you for sharing, will remember your suggestions if I’m ever visiting the city ❤ xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    Liked by 1 person

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