Whether you’re looking to explore the charming streets, take in some whisky tasting or learn a touch of history, the city has it all. Here is our guide on what to visit in Edinburgh.

— Visited January, 2014 & August, 2020

A view of Victoria Street what to visit in Edinburgh

With staycations in full motion during 2020, we headed up north to our neighbouring country Scotland to visit the capital city. My last visit to this city was in the thick of winter, it was wonderful to experience this city in a different light as the warm summer weather blessed us during our long weekend in Edinburgh.

We are hoping to do the hard yards of research for you by listing what activities we embarked on during our trip. If you follow these guidelines we have no doubt you’ll have a wonderful time.

I hope you enjoy… What to Visit in Edinburgh.

Where to Stay in Edinburgh

Edinburgh isn’t the biggest capital city going, so wherever you stay you aren’t likely to be far from the action. If you want to be in the heart of the heritage sites, then we recommend basing yourself around the ‘Edinburgh Old Town‘. For those looking to be closer to the restaurants, nightlife and newer side of town, then you are best basing yourself in the North of Edinburgh, south of the ‘Bonnington‘ area. However, if you are looking for a more local vibe, then you’ll find this in ‘Stockbridge‘.

Here is some of our personally suggested budget options in these areas;

Edinburgh Old Town – Ten Hill Place
Bonnington – Claremont Guesthouse
Stockbridge – Yotel Edinburgh


Explore the Neighbourhoods

There are several smaller areas across Edinburgh, with each having its own style and worth spending some time in. The areas we explored are as follows:

Edinburgh Old Town

The Old Town of Edinburgh is the obvious site when it comes to exploring this magnificent city. We expect to see a lot of old buildings when coming to Edinburgh, but we did not expect to feel as much charm from the old town as we got. With lovely facades throughout this part of the city, we spent a lot of our trip in awe looking at our lovely surroundings. Some of the highlights include:

The Royal Mile

The traditional centre of Edinburgh, this one mile stretch of fascinating buildings run an entire mile from the palace to the castle. Some of the standout architecture along this stretch include St. Giles Cathedral, The Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Canongate Tolbooth. While you’ll spend most of your time looking up at the buildings, don’t miss the Heart of Midlothian down by your feet. This site has an intriguing history of being both a prison site and a place of execution. However, you’ll now find locals spitting on this heart as it is believed to bring good luck.

Victoria Street

A colourful street in the heart of the Old Town. With what a lot consider to be the nicest street in Edinburgh, you’ll find both a marvel on the eyes and also a number of shops to pick your fancy. The Victoria Terrace is a great spot with a number of terrace restaurants. Grab yourself a beer or a wine and take in the sight, we sure did.


The traditional marketplace for horse and cattle, and another known area of public execution. This part of the Old Town is now one of the most vibrant and lively areas in the city. With a number of independent merchants and fantastic restaurants, you will love this cobble stoned part of the city.

Dean’s Village

On the outskirts of the city centre, you will find the small quaint village of Dean’s Village. The pretty stoned houses and old bridges surrounding the Water of Leith make for a completely different feel from the city you just visited. This little village has a charm to it and is a must-see during your stay in Edinburgh. A walk both upstream and then downstream towards Stockbridge is a lovely way to take in some time in Edinburgh.


If you are looking for a more local and bohemian side to Edinburgh, then you’ve come to the right place. Off the typical tourist route, the village of Stockbridge has a peaceful vibe which allows for a nice break on your weekend trip. The Stockbridge Market is well worth a look in, with plenty to choose from, including artisan cheeses, jewellery, crafts, soaps, and so much more. This is a great way to pick up a few gifts and give back to the community. The Royal Botanical Gardens are in close proximity to Stockbridge and worth a stroll through while you are on this side of the city.

Man walking down Circus Lane in Stockbridge Edinburgh

Scotch Whisky Tasting

Whisky tasting in Edinburgh

A trip to Edinburgh is not complete without taking on some Scotch Whisky Tasting. Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of the spirit, like us, the liquid is a part of the countries history and worth looking into. We trusted ‘The Scotch Whisky Experience‘ to take our hand through the process of Scotch whisky providing information about both the production and details on how the 5 different regions of Scotland produce different flavoured whisky due to different geographic parameters. It was a fascinating experience.

The tour also included a look through the magnificent Scotch collection of over 4000 whiskies that they keep safe in their basement. And of course, ending with the grand finale, a tasting. How many tastings you received depend on what tour you booked. We decided to go with the Gold Class tour so that we would get to try a whisky from each of the 5 different regions of Scotland. Overall, the price was very reasonable! We loved our time tasting the whiskies of the land, even though we aren’t big drinkers of the spirit so that says a lot.

Edinburgh Castle

At the heart of Edinburgh, you will always find the famous castle. Viewable from most places across the city, it provides a view that you won’t tire of seeing as you wander the streets. A lot of people say that the castle is overpriced for what you get, and this may be the case if you have been inside a lot of castles, but I personally loved wandering inside the walls. The castle has been maintained extraordinarily making it feel as if you are walking through the old times when you are inside. The view over the city from the castle yards is also worth the adventure.

Note: At the time of writing this, COVID restrictions limit the exhibitions available within the castle. For this reason, I would give the castle site a miss until things are back to normal.

Discover the Underground City

In the centre of Edinburgh, right off the Royal Mile, you can walk amongst the homes that were literally built on top of each other. Discover this part of the city with a tour by The Real Mary King’s Close where you will experience the confined living quarters, learn about the locals who lived here and hear about the tough times experienced within these households during the outbreak of the Plague. This tour gives a little bit of history about the city that otherwise you would not likely know about, it was a great little addition to our trip to Edinburgh.

Viewpoints Over the City

A trip to Edinburgh is not complete without seeing the city from above. Fortunately, we are in Scotland where mountains aren’t hard to come by, and as a matter of fact, there are 3 ancient volcanos in Edinburgh to get a great view from. While Edinburgh castle is built on what is believed to be a plug for a Volcano, the other two volcanoes provide a great view towards the castle and surrounding city. Fortunately, the two climbs are varying difficulties which allows for all tourists of any fitness to get a view over this great city.

Calton Hill

This spot is just outside of the city centre and is a 5 minute walk to the top. Despite the short walk, this spot provides a great view over the city along with an up-close look at two structural features: The Dugal Stewart Monument and the National Monument of Scotland. Even if you have come for a relaxing non-activity trip to Edinburgh, we recommend heading up to this spot for sunset to see the lovely light drape over the city.

The view over Edinburgh from Calton Hill one of the lookouts in Edinburgh

Arthur’s Seat

For those up for a bigger walk, the 2 hours round trip from the city to the top of Arthur’s Seat is well worth the energy. The 250m high mountain provides a spectacular view over both the city and Salisburg Crags ridgeline.

Questions & Answers

We have started asking our following on Instagram to send in their questions about our adventure in advance of posting. If your question isn’t answered below, feel free to get in touch with us!

  • How long should we spend in Edinburgh?
    We recommend that a minimum of 2 full days is allowed to truly take in this magnificent city. We spent 3 days, and it allowed for a really relaxed itinerary and to not only absorb the sites but also experience the culture of the people.
  • How do you recommend getting around the city?
    Edinburgh isn’t the biggest capital city, so everything is easily walkable. Otherwise, the City Sightseeing Hop-On-Hop off bus could be a good option if your time in the city is limited.
  • Is the weather as wet as people say?
    Though we had magnificent weather whilst there, out of the summer months it is typically wet. It is best to be prepared for all weather conditions during a trip to Edinburgh.
  • Should we do whisky tasting even if we don’t like whisky?
    Yes! We aren’t the biggest fans either but think this is a must-do while on a trip to Scotland. The tour we did isn’t all about the drinking, so we think you’ll still enjoy yourselves.

Thanks For Reading

Thank you for reading our blog. We hope it gave you that little motivation to book your next adventure!

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