Edinburgh is an ideal quick weekend break from London, especially as the city is such an easy flight or train from the capital. This gorgeous Scottish city is walkable, friendly and you can easily visit most, if not all, of the must see attractions in Edinburgh in a two day visit. If you have more time to explore Edinburgh, you could most certainly use it as a base for day trips or spend even a full week here for the city’s world-famous Fringe Festival.
Anyway, here is my suggested itinerary for 2 days in Edinburgh, including where to eat, where to stay and which attractions to see. Read on and start planning your own weekend in Edinburgh.
Breakfast in Edinburgh
First things first, breakfast. An essential start to any day of exploring. There are plenty of great cafes in Edinburgh, but I’d heard great things about Cairngorm Coffee Co online so we we made a beeline there for the usual avocado on toast. It can get quite busy but the cafe itself is light, airy and offers a really friendly local vibe.
Next stop, and just a brief 10 minute walk away is Edinburgh Castle! A complete must-see attraction in the city and top of almost any visitors’ to-do list in Edinburgh.
Unfortunately, there’s often a queue for tickets but it doesn’t normally take more than 10 or so minutes.
As of January 2019, tickets are £18.50 for adults and £11.50 for children. It’s worth noting that most student/ISIC cards don’t provide a discount (I did try!)
You can however, pre-book your tickets online in advance through Get Your Guide which will guarantee your entry:
You could easily spend an hour and two (or more) wandering through the castle and all the rooms – there is SO much to explore.
I imagine we could have lost around 3 hours there if we weren’t racing the setting sun!
I’ve been a few times and Edinburgh Castle is is definitely one of my favourite castles in the UK. Its views over the city are epic too.
Did you know that Edinburgh castle is built atop an extinct volcano that is more than 350 million years old? Pretty cool!
From Edinburgh castle, walk directly straight down the hill and enjoy the stroll down the entire length of the Royal Mile. This leads towards the Palace of Holyrood House, but also passes by the famous Baked Potato Shop on the way – highly recommended for a warming Jackie P!
The Palace of Holyrood House sits just near the foot of Arthur’s Seat. This climb up the extinct volcano is definitely one of the best free attractions in Edinburgh!
It’s a bit of a climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat and whilst it is quite rocky, it’s not too challenging and the view is just incredible. In one direction, you look out over the city and over to Edinburgh castle. In the other direction, the view stretches endlessly out to the sea and on a clear day, you can even see islands on the horizon!
Most Edinburgh visitor guides seem to estimate 2 to 2.5 hours to climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat and then down again. However, I think it is possible in around 1.5 hours and that’s with lots of photo stops. I visited in November and found the cold evening air kept us moving at a reasonable pace.
Another brilliant Edinburgh viewpoint is Carlton Hill, which offers the best sunset spot around and draws in the crowds every evening. Amazingly, this is atop another volcano!
Dinner in Edinburgh
There are plenty of brilliant restaurants in Edinburgh. In a two day visit, you cannot of course visit all. However, one of the best restaurants in Edinburgh for traditional fare is Deacon Brodie’s Tavern on the Royal Mile. This famous pub is named after a local who was a ‘respectable citizen by day’ and a crook at night, which eventually led to his hanging!
The food is traditional pub grub and the atmosphere is lively filled with friendly Edinburgh locals, making it a fun evening every time.
Where to stay in Edinburgh?
If you want to stay more centrally in the city, there are plenty of hotels to stay in Edinburgh.
A few affordable accommodation options in Edinburgh include:
On the luxury end of the scale, some of the best options in Edinburgh include:
Sunday is a great day for exploring this beautiful and affluent suburb of Edinburgh.
Stockbridge is within easy walking distance of the city centre but feels completely different to Edinburgh city centre. Stockbridge is charming, atmospheric and on Sundays, the area hosts a lively farmer’s market.
I really love this pocket of Edinburgh. It’s not too far from the city centre but feels miles away from the tourists, with loads of lovely delis, independent coffee shops and cute insta-worthy corners! The architecture is so grand, and the streets blend so seamlessly with each other. Make sure to visit during your two day visit to Edinburgh.
Just along from Stockbridge starts a beautiful walk along the Water of Leith to Dean Village. This area is so quiet and serene – perfect for a slow Sunday morning.
New Town is another key area in Edinburgh’s city centre that is worth visiting. It’s particularly good for shopping and luxury hotels, as well as the location of the city’s popular Christmas Market.
The Royal Mile
Back to the most well-known area of Edinburgh. The Royal Mile is a special and unique place. You could really spend hours losing yourself in the tiny laneways, hidden staircases and secret passages. It’s a real labyrinth and one that’s definitely worth getting lost in. Soak up the history!
We enjoyed a really fantastic ghost tour and would highly recommend this as a must-see attraction in Edinburgh. You can find local tour guides and pre-book online here:
Two day itinerary for Edinburgh
2 days in Edinburgh makes for a wonderful and pleasant weekend break. The city is fun, cosmopolitan and compact enough to be explored in just a couple of days. From exploring its cafes, bars and coffee shops to soaking up the history at Edinburgh Castle or on a ghost tour, it has a lot to offer families, couples and groups of friends, and plenty more ideas off the beaten track.
Do you have plans to go to Edinburgh soon? I hope this post on a suggested itinerary for two days in Edinburgh helps in planning your future trips here or at least inspires you to visit this beautiful city!
If you’ve already visited, let me know in the comments if you have any more top tips or any feedback! I’d love to hear from you 🙂 x
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Disclaimer: This visit to Edinburgh was entirely paid for by myself and there was no involvement from the local tourist board. This is an independent guide.