With this being my first visit to Scotland, after 3 days, and no set itinerary, I ended up really liking the order of events that Lindsay & I lined up for ourselves. It ended up being our perfect introduction into the city of Edinburgh & a great way to immerse ourselves into the history of Scotland. While more time is always nice, if I had to recommend the best way to start off your first 24 hours in Edinburgh, this is how I'd do it (which is pretty close to how we did it).
We arrived from London via train at 4pm, and dropped off our bags at (the freshly renovated) Stay Central, our hotel just a block away from the Royal Mile (I’d recommend this one).
First off, TRY SOME SCOTCH AT THE INN ON THE MILE
At the corner of The Royal Mile & High Street, sits what used to be a old bank, now converted into an Inn & restaurant/bar down below. If you’re one to appreciate repurposed architecture, this is the spot for you.
Go in & warm your soul up with some good comfort food, like soup, or the juiciest fish & chips you’ll ever eat (think fish covered in crunchy battered rooster skin). More importantly, when in Scotland, get your first glass of scotch. If you’re unsure of what to get, the bartenders here can set you up with a few to try. At the very least, don’t forget to check out their penny covered bar & the former bank vault downstairs!
GO ON A GHOST TOUR AT NIGHT
After dinner, or preferably when it’s dark out, walk off your dinner by strolling up The Royal Mile & sign up for a walking Ghost Tour. There are a few booths along the mile & you will not be disappointed. Over the span of 1-1.5 hours, your tour guide will walk you throughout the city, down a few alley ways & tell you darkest pieces of Edinburghs history. It also works as a great first day introduction into the city.
You’ll even get to walked through a cemetery, where you’ll learn of the Edinburgh series killers, Burke & Hare (more about them later). If you’re a scaredy cat like me, bring a friend, so you can hang onto them when they take you underground. Maybe you’ll even see a ghost there.
HAVE BREAKFAST AT SOUTHPOUR
What kind of travel post would this be, if I didn’t recommend another deliciously, Instagram friendly place to grub?
For breakfast the next morning, take a 10-15 minute walk away from the Royal mile, and enjoy the city as it’s waking up. If you can’t wait until breakfast, there are also plenty of amazing coffee shops along the way, like Black Medicine (recommended to use many times over). Southpour also great coffee & tea (with fudge), but it’s their tasty breakfast options that sold me twice. They’re vegan & gluten free friendly, and they also have trivia nights!
SEE THE BOOK MADE OF HUMAN SKIN AT THE SURGEON’S Hall MUSEUM
Another reason to visit Southpour for breakfast, is that on the way back towards the Royal Mile, you’ll run into the Surgeons Museum on your right, as well as the Wohl Pathology Museum, in the same building.
The museum covers how the biggest advancement in medicine, started it’s root here in Edinburgh. As two people in the medical profession, this was a must visit for us. It was also a great follow up, because the Surgeon’s Hall Museum is also the home of the famous skin book; mentioned on the Ghost Tour we went on the night before. It's a “leather bound” book, made from the skin of serial killer William Burke, after he was hung. Now if that isn’t worth checking out, I don’t know what is. (Sorry we weren’t allowed to take pictures.)
If you haven’t already lost your lunch from the Museum of Pathology, or ended up sucked into their rabbit hole of specimens, start walking back towards the top of the Royal Mile, to Edinburgh Castle.
It’s about £17 to go inside, but it also includes a great 30 minute guided tour, starting at the entrance of the castle, and ending at the very top. The tour gives a great understanding of how Edinburgh came to be, and how the Scottish & English monarchs came together. Plus, after the tour, you have an idea of what you want/where to explore more of, on your own, as you make your way back down. Don’t forget to check out the royal crown!
MAKE YOUR WAY DOWN THE ROYAL MILE
Now that you've hit the major spots, exit the Edinburgh Castle & work your way down the Royal Mile. You’ll find plenty of Scotch shops along the way, places to eat, as well as shops selling wool/cashmere scarves with tartans. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, make your way to the end of the Royal Mile & check out Holyrood House, otherwise known as the Holyrood Palace. It's the official residence to the British monarch, in Scotland.
And there you go! 3 days of trial & error for us, plus lots of Christmas souvenir shopping later… we’ve condense for you, the best way possible to do 24 hours in Edinburgh. Tried & tested! Hope this was a helpful post! Cheers! - Jen
The other things we'd highly suggest doing are:
- Walk through Princes Street Gardens (and say hello to Wojtek, the bear).
- Spend half a day at the National Museum of Scotland (it's big!)
- Go Shopping along Princes Street - you'll find stores like Allsaints, Jo Malone, Topshop & Dr. Martens.