Edinburgh Itinerary 2 Days: Seeing the Best Edinburgh Attractions in the Shortest Amount of Time
Let’s be Brutally Honest about this Edinburgh Itinerary 2 days:
No way can you see all of the best sights in Edinburgh in just two days. Sorry but it’s not gonna happen. Edinburgh Scotland is just too wicked awesome.
Two days is simply not enough time to experience all of the amazing Edinburgh things to do.
So the Short answer to the question:
“Are 2 days in Edinburgh enough?” is absolutely not.
I’ll do my best to give you all the Edinburgh Scotland travel tips you need in this Edinburgh Travel Guide.
I know you’re busy. You have places to go and people to see and may only be planning a weekend itinerary in Edinburgh.
That’s Why We Should Just:
Cut out all the literary fluff and skip to the super helpful part where I tell you what to see in Edinburgh, what to do in Edinburgh, and most importantly, where to eat in Edinburgh if you’re planning a 2-day itinerary for Edinburgh Scotland.
So pack your tartan kids, we’re going to Edinburgh, Scotland! One of the best cities in the world.
***As you exit Customs, bare right and find the blue buses at stand 19. They depart every ten minutes for the city center and, depending on traffic, take 30 minutes to get there. Tickets cost £4.00 for a single ticket and £7.00 for an open return ticket. Phew, glad we got all the lame and boring Edinburgh travel information out of the way.
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Day 1 (You can also turn this into an Edinburgh Itinerary 1 Day if you’re short on time)
***If you’re a morning person, grab a blanket, a thermos of hot chocolate, tea, or coffee, and enjoy the sunrise from Calton Hill. One of the most enchanting and TOTALLY free things to do in Edinburgh, Scotland. Obviously, if you hate mornings, you can watch the sunset instead, (just make sure you have clear skies, which are something of a rarity) but you’ll just have a bit more company.
Before I Gab on Any Further, Let’s Start with Some Breakfast Shall We?
Walk along the Royal Mile and beeline it for Mimi’s Little Bakehouse. Here, start your day off right with what else, a lovely scone, or ten, since Mimi’s has some of the best scones in Edinburgh (not that I know much about scones as an American).
Scones, not your cup of tea (lol)?
Great because Mimi’s also serves fresh cakes, traybakes, cupcakes, brownies, and muffins. So take your carb bomb of choice and chase it with a strong cup of coffee or tea.
Actually, better stick with the tea since you’re in Scotland after all.
***Since Mimi’s doesn’t open until 10 am on Saturday and Sunday, you can also try Word of Mouth Cafe if you want to start your day a bit earlier. Yes, it’s a bit of a hike (just punning it up left and right here) from Arthur’s Seat but totally worth a visit for their delicious vegetarian Scottish breakfast. Seriously one of the best breakfasts in Edinburgh.
Calories don’t count on vacation so eat as much as you want. Plus, you’ll need all those extra calories to hike up Arthur’s Seat (The earlier the better if you want to avoid the masses of tourists that descend upon Arthur’s Seat like a plague of locusts! Kidding, I sort of like people). Also make sure that you hike up on a clear day because otherwise, you’ll be like, “View, what view?”
Depending on How Fit You Are (I’m about as fit as a bowl full of jelly):
This hike will probably last between two and three hours, round trip. I may or may not have felt like I was gonna cough up a lung the entire time. However, just be aware that this hike is by no means easy and that you should pack some water and good shoes. Trust me, ain’t nobody got time to fall down the side of a mountain.
Do yourself a favor Though:
DON”T rush! The views at the top are exquisite and deserve to be savored.
Be Careful Thought Because it Can Get Super Windy at the Top. Just think, “Low Center of Gravity”.
Swing by the Scottish Parliament and see a, how shall I say this diplomatically (I made another lame funny!), rather interesting building. Yeah, the design is super offbeat and modern so you will either love it or place a curse upon the man that conceived of the building.
Do Take a Moment to Take a Moment to Look Inside Though:
It’s neat since this parliament is actually one of the youngest parliaments in the entire world.
And while I didn’t spend a ton of time here, I was astounded by the joy and enthusiasm that the Scottish people displayed when they received governmental representation for themselves (plus it’s free so why not check it out).
Pop across the street and soak in the beauty and majesty of Holyroodhouse Palace.
This enormous palace is the Queen’s residence when she is in Scotland. And since I’m super special and visited Edinburgh when the Queen was in residence, I couldn’t tour Holyroodhouse itself. Womp, womp, womp.
But Generally Speaking:
The palace is open to the public with, duh, a ticket.
Since I Couldn’t Explore the Palace of Holyroodhouse itself:
I went to the Queen’s Gallery instead, which showcases a small subset of the art that is found within the royal, private collection.
***For the Queen’s Gallery, tickets are £7.00 for adults, £6.40 for adults over 60 or students (with valid ID), £3.50 for children under 17 or the disabled, and children under 5 are free. The Queen’s Gallery is open daily from 9:30 am – 6:00 pm.
Are you Starving Yet?
I’m famished and all I did was write this silly post. Well, if you’re in need of sustenance to quell your rumbling tummy, then check out Hotel du Vin and Bistro.
They serve a fabulous Sunday Brunch between 12:30 pm – 4:00 pm, where you can partake in some amazing soup, as well as a saliva-inducing, fresh market table where you can help yourself to an assortment of delectable brunch items (if you’re not here on a Sunday, they serve lunch between 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm. I ordered the French style pizza with roasted Mediterranean vegetables. Yum).
***Before you leave, be sure to visit Greyfriar’s Bobby, a statue that commemorates the Skye Terrier that became famous for allegedly spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner, until the dog died on 14 January 1872. Whatever you do though, do NOT rub Greyfriar’s Bobby’s nose. Shockingly enough, rubbing the statue’s nose will not inundate you with good luck and will piss off locals since you are inadvertently rubbing off the statue’s paint, an act that leads to the corrosion of the statue.
As a result of all this wear and tear:
The bronze beneath has started to come through, making the nose look shiny and gold (the statue is hollow and actually all black).
So back away from the nose and no one gets hurt.
This restaurant and fabulous hotel are at the opposite end of the Royal Mile.
I suggest a late lunch after you explore the charming, cobbled streets of this historic area and experience some street performers, Canongate Kirkyard (Adam Smith is buried here), Dunbar Close, St. Giles Cathedral, and eventually Edinburgh Castle itself, all the way at the top of the Royal Mile (Be sure to book your Edinburgh Castle skip the line tickets in advance).
The Royal Mile is Lovely:
If you overlook the hordes of souvenir shops that are hawking anything and everything tartan (not plaid) to the clueless tourists, me included.
A super cool and super free ghost tour that meets at 7:00 pm at 90/3 Grassmarket (Half Way Up the Royal Mile) and goes all the way until 9:30 pm, or until your tour guide loses their voice.
It’s totally worth staying up late for this tour (Leave any time you want since it’s free) because it’s a fun, creative, and a cheap way to experience the eeriness that is Edinburgh’s checkered past.
***No, I didn’t forget dinner! LoL. I could never skip a meal! It just depends on how hungry you are and when. But a great place to eat is the Huxley, which is a twelve-minute walk from Edinburgh Castle. On your way there, take a slight detour and check out the beautiful Princes Street Gardens. Personally, I love the Mac and Cheese or the grilled Halloumi but they have other great items to choose from too. And don’t worry about missing dinner since the kitchen is open until 10:30 pm daily. Oh, and join their website mailing list if you want a discount!
Day 2 (of this 2 days in Scotland)
I Hope You Slept Well.
Because we are so gonna rock this 2 day Edinburgh Scotland itinerary.
First order of business…Breakfast!
We are going to explore Leith today, so we’ll hop on the bus towards Ocean Terminal and get off near Roseleaf Bar and Cafe.
The dish to order here is the Yin or full Scottish breakfast with sausage, black pudding, bacon, and haggis.
I skipped this since I’m a veg and went with the Roseleafer, which consists of vegetarian haggis, beans, tomatoes, mushroom, egg, spinach, and toast.
Talk about major deliciousness!
The Roseleaf is pretty popular though so be sure to make a reservation if you plan on visiting over the weekend.
Once You’ve Fully Savored the Flavor:
Head towards the Royal Yacht Britannia. The entrance is actually inside the Ocean Terminal (a mall), on the second floor. Just walk inside and follow the signs to the place that has been voted the best visitor attraction in Scotland (save time and purchase a skip the line ticket in advance).
Not sure what the Royal Yacht Britannia is? You’re in good company because I’d never heard of it before planning my trip to Edinburgh, Scotland.
This Yacht Belonged to the royal family and was used throughout their international travels, between 1953 and 1997. Think of this boat as a mobile, luxury home of sorts that took the family wherever they wanted to go.
Grab a free audio tour and find out what it’s like to be a true Royal, straight outta the Lorde song. Its fun because you’re transported back in time by the 1950s, unfussy, simple (ish) decorative style that the Queen preferred.
You also learn a great deal about the ship, how it was run, and the lives of the crewmen on board; a crew that included 45 members of the royal household, an admiral, 20 officers, and 220 yachtsmen (That’s one massive entourage).
You can explore Leith and visit the Trinity House Maritime Museum, stroll along the Water of Leith Walkway or see the latest exhibits on display at the National Gallery of Modern Art.
You Could Also:
Catch the bus back to the Royal Mile and explore the beauty of Edinburgh Castle. FYI I feel like a lot of people are underwhelmed by Edinburgh Castle since it isn’t as grandiose and extravagant as say Versailles in France.
That’s because Edinburgh Castle was a royal residence that, from the 15th century onwards, became more of a military barracks with a large garrison.
Keep this in mind when you visit and be sure to get the audio guide and see the crown jewels! Just skip the crown jewel museum because the line is huge and I didn’t find it all that interesting.
As Far as Lunch Goes:
I recommend grabbing a light snack to tide you over until you get back from Leith. Head towards Princes Street and treat yourself to afternoon tea at the Palm Court in the Balmoral Hotel.
Seriously one of the best afternoon teas in Edinburgh, Scotland.
I remember the warm scones and the chocolate financiers fondly.
But be Aware That:
This is a formal afternoon tea service, so it obviously won’t be cheap.
Also, dress to impress (and make a reservation just in case)!
I mean, I doubt they’d turn you away but amidst the impeccable service, the beautiful Venetian crystal chandelier, and the palm trees, you kind of want to look and feel amazing.
After You’ve Savored a Bit of Afternoon Tea:
Head to one of my favorite Edinburgh points of interest, the Real Mary King’s Close. Truly one of the most amazing and historically accurate tours I have ever been.
Just Book Tickets Ahead of Time Because They WILL Sell Out!
This close, or alley off the main road, is a historic close that is located under the buildings on the Royal Mile, in the historic Old Town area of Edinburgh, Scotland (an awesome, underground village that transports you back in time).
The is named for Mary King, a female merchant of high status who resided on the Close during the 17th century.
Sadly on this Tour:
You cannot take photos. But that’s okay because the tour guides are fun, informative, and embrace their seventeenth-century characters in an exciting and enthusiastic way (tours run until 9 pm during the summer so this is a great evening activity).
***But what about dinner? Not to worry, I got you covered! For dining near the Royal Mile, try The Grain Store. They serve traditional Scottish fare. Just be forewarned that the bread is insanely delicious, as is their pasta. Not gonna lie, their desserts are also not to be missed so be sure to save some room.
So What Do You Think, You Edinburgh Travel Planner You?
Did I miss some insanely important, Edinburgh things to do? Do I need to purchase am Edinburgh travel guidebook because I am totally clueless?
Feel free to embrace your inner Doctor Phil and tell me what you think in the comments below.
Until next time, peace out cub scout!
***Looking for the best hotels in Edinburgh? You can try Edinburgh hotels like Rock House, Abercorn Guesthouse, and 23 Mayfield Guesthouse. All are fantastic hotels with RELATIVELY inexpensive rates. Not cheap but definitely won’t make you declare bankruptcy if you stay at any of these places.