The Ultimate Travel Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Things to Do in Edinburgh, Scotland: The Ultimate Travel Guide

There are so many reasons to visit Edinburgh: the stately historic architecture, the narrow cobblestone alleyways, the cozy pubs serving cold beer and warm hearty grub. The abundance of trendy coffee shops and designer boutiques, the funky art galleries and so much more!

If you are in any way interested in art, literature, theater or culture, Edinburgh is the place to be. This city is a culture-lover’s paradise. Many of the greatest writers of our time hailed from Scotland, including Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns.

Also, Harry Potter fans can find the café where J.K. Rowling wrote the first draft of her epic book.

Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes were inspired by the moody atmosphere of the streets of Edinburgh (even though they took place in London).

In Edinburgh you will find more art galleries, stand-up comedy shows, poetry readings and other cultural events than you will possibly be able to see during your visit. It makes the right side of my brain tingle just thinking about it!

Edinburgh is also becoming a culinary and nightlife hotspot in the UK. New restaurants are popping up everywhere so you can eat very well during your visit to the Scottish capital. And, it’s hearty, filling, tasty food, so bring your stretchy pants!

Edinburgh

Best Things to Do in Edinburgh

  • Take a walk up the hill to Edinburgh Castle
  • Go hiking up Arthur’s Seat (an extinct volcano!) and admire the view over the city
  • Take a historic walking tour
  • Go on a ghost tour and learn about the creepiest stories in this historic city
  • Visit the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
  • Have a picnic in Princes Street Gardens on a sunny day
  • Stroll down Victoria Street and admire the pretty shops and boutiques

…or just wander through the streets and see what you can discover!

Best Places to Go Exploring

Edinburgh is divided into two sections, the New Town and the Old Town. The New Town dates back to the Georgian era, so it’s not really that new. However, it’s new compared to the Medieval Old Town.

The best part of the city to explore is the Old Town, because it is a lot of fun to get lost within the narrow alleyways, small courtyards and cobblestone streets. However, exploring the New Town is a lot of fun too, as the Georgian buildings are so stately and elegant.

If the weather is sunny, there is nothing better than having a picnic on the grass of Princes Street Gardens.

What to Eat in Scotland

You are in Scotland – so trying haggis is a must.

I know you might be a little disturbed by the description of what it is. Who would want to eat sheep’s lung, liver and heart minced with spices, onion, oatmeal, suet and salt and simmered in the sheep’s stomach? Trust me on this one, though.

Haggis is warm, rich and comforting and tastes delicious with “neeps and tatties” (mashed swedes and potatoes) and some whiskey gravy. Who knew random sheep innards would make me want to lick the plate?

Best Places to Drink in Edinburgh

When I think of drinking in Edinburgh, I imagine hiding from the grey and dreary weather in a warm and cozy pub and sitting next to the fireplace with a whiskey or a pint. The ideal setting for this is one of the many historic, dimly lit pubs with wooden beams and brick archways – like The Last Drop, the Sheep Heid, the King’s Wark or the Jolly Judge.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Where to Stay in Edinburgh

Hostels are always a good choice, given that they only cost about £8-£10 per night. If you visit during the popular Fringe Festival in August, though, prices skyrocket and you can expect to pay £20-£25!

If you can get a few friends together you might want to consider renting an apartment via Airbnb – splitting the cost will make it more affordable and you will be more comfortable in your own space.

Best Shopping in Edinburgh

Princes Street is the main shopping street in Edinburgh and it has all of your typical UK chain stores like H&M and Topshop.

If you want to pay exorbitant prices for souvenirs and cheesy touristic whiskey and kilts, head to the Royal Mile.

For unique and funky alternative shops selling funky clothing and accessories, stroll down Cockburn Street.

Events and Festivals in Edinburgh

Visit during August so that you can sample from the all-you-can-eat buffet of theatre, art, comedy and other entertainment at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This is when the city really comes alive and there are thousands of performances to choose from. It’s what I imagine heaven will probably be like.

There are also plenty of other festivals throughout the year, such as the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Fringe Festival

Best Area for a Night Out

The city is absolutely riddled with pubs, so you will have a lot of choice for where to go – especially in Grassmarket, George Street, the Cowgate and Lothian Road.

If you want to learn about Scotland’s iconic drink, visit the Scotch Whiskey Heritage Centre at the top of the Royal Mile for a tour and a sampling!

Recommended Transportation

Edinburgh is a pretty compact city, so I would recommend walking everywhere. Most of the main sights are no more than a 15-20 minute walk apart.

Besides, walking around this attractive and atmospheric city is part of the fun!

How to Get to Edinburgh

If you are coming from another city in the UK, try looking for cheap deals on Megabus. I once took a bus from Preston, Lancashire to Edinburgh for £8 return!

Eight quid! Life is good.

Edinburgh

Insider Tips

  • I would recommend this free walking tour. It’s a great way to see the city and learn about the history!
  • If you have the time and the weather is nice, climb up Arthur’s Seat and check out the amazing view of the city.
  • Chat to the locals that you meet. They are so friendly and can give you more great recommendations of what to see and do.
  • If you are visiting in August for the Fringe Festival, start looking for your accommodation early! Hotels and hostels really fill up quickly.
  • If visiting the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, use the Half-Price ticket hut to save money on last minute tickets for shows.

Edinburgh Travel Resources

Map of Edinburgh, Scotland

What are your favorite things to do in Edinburgh? Let us know in the comments below!


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Kelly Dunning

Digital Nomad at Global Goose
Kelly Dunning is a freelance travel writer and digital nomad. She and her partner Lee have been traveling the world for the last 3 years while running Global-Goose.com, a source of information and inspiration for fellow travelers.

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One Response to The Ultimate Travel Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

  1. Trees Rotteveel April 11, 2017 at 4:46 am #

    This is a great post! I will use this information when I will go to Edinburgh. I will try the haggis.

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