Edinburgh: A 3-Day Travel Guide to Scotland’s Capital


If you’re planning a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, you’re in for a treat. This historic city is known for its stunning architecture, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant arts scene. With so much to see and do, it can be overwhelming to plan your itinerary. That’s where this guide comes in. We’ll help you make the most of your three days in Edinburgh, highlighting the most important places to visit, offering routes to follow, and recommending places to eat and sleep. We’ll also point you in the direction of some free tours to help you get a deeper understanding of the city’s history and culture.

Before we dive in, here are a few travel tips to keep in mind:

  • Edinburgh is a very walkable city, so be sure to pack comfortable shoes.
  • The weather in Edinburgh can be unpredictable, so bring a rain jacket and dress in layers.
  • If you plan to visit some of the paid attractions, consider purchasing an Edinburgh City Pass to save money and skip the lines.
  • Edinburgh is a safe city, but like any city, it’s always wise to be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings.


Day 1: Old Town and the Royal Mile

Start your day by heading to the Royal Mile, a historic street that runs from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace. Along the way, you’ll see some of the city’s most important landmarks and attractions.

What to see:

  • Edinburgh Castle: This iconic fortress sits atop a hill and offers stunning views of the city. Be sure to check out the Crown Jewels and the Scottish National War Memorial.
  • The Scotch Whisky Experience: Learn about the history of Scotch whisky and enjoy a tasting.
  • The Real Mary King’s Close: Take a guided tour through the underground streets and hidden closes of Edinburgh’s Old Town.
  • St Giles’ Cathedral: This beautiful medieval church is the mother church of Presbyterianism and features stunning stained glass windows.
  • The Palace of Holyroodhouse: The official residence of the British monarch in Scotland, this palace has a rich history and features beautiful gardens.


Start at Edinburgh Castle and work your way down the Royal Mile, stopping at the attractions that interest you. End at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Where to eat:

  • The Witchery by the Castle: This fine-dining restaurant is located in a historic building just steps from Edinburgh Castle.
  • The Royal McGregor: This pub offers classic Scottish dishes in a cozy atmosphere.
  • Oink: This popular sandwich shop specializes in pulled pork and has multiple locations in the city.

Where to sleep:

  • The Balmoral Hotel: This luxury hotel is located right next to Waverley Station and offers stunning views of the city.
  • The Inn on the Mile: This boutique hotel is located on the Royal Mile and features stylish rooms.
  • Castle Rock Hostel: This budget-friendly hostel is located just steps from Edinburgh Castle and offers dorms and private rooms.

Day 2: New Town and Princes Street Gardens

On your second day in Edinburgh, explore the city’s New Town, which was built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This part of the city features wide streets, grand squares, and neoclassical architecture.

What to see:

  • Princes Street Gardens: This beautiful park sits in the heart of the city and offers stunning views of Edinburgh Castle.
  • The Scott Monument: This towering monument is dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, a famous Scottish writer.
  • The National Gallery of Scotland: This art museum features works by famous artists such as Botticelli, Van Gogh, and Monet.
  • Calton Hill: This hill offers panoramic views of the city and features several monuments, including the National Monument and the Nelson Monument.


Start at Princes Street Gardens and make your way up to the Scott Monument. From there, head to the National Gallery of Scotland and then up to Calton Hill.

Where to eat:

  • The Dome: This grand restaurant is located in a beautiful neoclassical building in the heart of the New Town.
  • The Gardeners Cottage: This cozy restaurant features a daily-changing menu based on local and seasonal ingredients.
  • Bross Bagels: This popular bagel shop has several locations in the city and offers a wide variety of bagels and toppings.

Where to sleep:

  • The Principal Edinburgh: This elegant hotel is located in a historic building in the heart of the New Town.
  • Apex Waterloo Place Hotel: This modern hotel features spacious rooms and a central location.
  • Castle View Guest House: This budget-friendly guesthouse is located just a few minutes’ walk from Princes Street Gardens.

Day 3: Arthur’s Seat and the Old Port of Leith

For your final day in Edinburgh, explore two very different parts of the city: the natural beauty of Arthur’s Seat and the historic charm of the Old Port of Leith.

What to see:

  • Arthur’s Seat: This extinct volcano offers stunning views of the city and is a popular spot for hiking and picnicking.
  • The Royal Yacht Britannia: This decommissioned royal yacht is now a museum and offers a fascinating look into the life of the British royal family.
  • The Shore: This historic port area is home to several restaurants, bars, and shops, as well as the lovely Water of Leith walkway.


Start at Arthur’s Seat and hike to the top for stunning views of the city. From there, take a bus or taxi to the Royal Yacht Britannia. End your day by exploring the Old Port of Leith and enjoying a meal or drink at one of the many restaurants and bars in the area.

Where to eat:

  • The Kitchin: This Michelin-starred restaurant features Scottish cuisine with a modern twist.
  • Teuchters Landing: This cozy pub offers a wide selection of beers and classic Scottish dishes.
  • The Roseleaf: This quirky bar is known for its cocktails served in teapots.

Where to sleep:

  • The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa: This luxurious hotel is located in the heart of the city and features a spa and fitness center.
  • The Malmaison: This boutique hotel is located in the Old Port of Leith and features stylish rooms and a lively bar.
  • Safestay Edinburgh: This budget-friendly hostel is located just a few minutes’ walk from Arthur’s Seat and offers dorms and private rooms.

Free Tours in Edinburgh

If you’re on a budget or just looking for a more in-depth look at the city, there are several free tours available in Edinburgh. Here are a few to consider:

  • Free Walking Tour Edinburgh: This 2.5-hour walking tour covers the history, culture, and legends of Edinburgh, including the Old Town and the Royal Mile.
  • Harry Potter Free Walking Tour: This 2-hour walking tour takes you to some of the Edinburgh locations that inspired J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
  • Edinburgh Free Tour: This 3-hour walking tour covers the main sights of Edinburgh, including Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street, and the Grassmarket.

For more information about these tours and to book your spot, visit the official tourism website of the city of Edinburgh here.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time to visit Edinburgh?

The best time to visit Edinburgh is during the summer months (June-August) when the weather is mild and there are several festivals and events happening in the city.

How do I get around Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is a very walkable city, but if you need to go further afield, there are buses and taxis available. You can also rent a bike or take the tram.

What are some other attractions to see in Edinburgh?

Other popular attractions in Edinburgh include the National Museum of Scotland, the Edinburgh Dungeon, and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

Overall, Edinburgh is a beautiful city with a rich history and culture. With three days, you can see some of the city’s most iconic landmarks and attractions while also experiencing its vibrant arts and culinary scenes. Follow our suggested routes, try some of our recommended restaurants, and consider taking one of the free tours to get a deeper understanding of this fascinating city. Whatever you do, you’re sure to have a memorable trip to Edinburgh.

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