Home » 2 Day Edinburgh Itinerary: How to Spend a Weekend in Edinburgh

2 Day Edinburgh Itinerary: How to Spend a Weekend in Edinburgh

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 walk-able, friendly and you can easily visit most, if not all, of the main attractions with 2 days in Edinburgh. If you have more time to explore Edinburgh, you could most certainly use it as a base for day trips to the surrounding Lothians – where you can go hiking, cycling, play golf, go fishing or enjoy watersports in some of the many country parks.

Or perhaps spend even a full week here for the city’s world-famous celebration of performing arts, Fringe Festival, that takes place in the month of August each year. But book your accommodation well ahead of time!

Edinburgh is marked as Europe’s first literary capital and is a UNESCO World Heritage site – consisting of the Old and New Tow, two adjacent areas that are easy to explore in one weekend. If you arrive by the train, the moment you step out of Waverley station you can see straight away why its a UNESCO Heritage Site.

You can even find a dreamy luxury castle to stay in near Edinburgh. I decided to stay at the Dalhousie Castle Hotel which was pretty special – see my review on this beautiful hotel here.

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.

Best things to do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle

A must-visit on any trip to this historic city is Edinburgh Castle. Located at the top end of the Royal Mile, this medieval fortress is perched mightily atop an extinct volcano and beams down across Edinburgh.

Unfortunately, there’s often a queue for tickets but it doesn’t normally take more than 10 or so minutes.

As of January 2020, 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.

2 days in Edinburgh
Standing outside of Edinburgh Castle
Inside Edinburgh Castle
Inside Edinburgh Castle
2 days in Edinburgh
Inside Edinburgh Castle
View from Edinburgh Castle over the city
View from Edinburgh Castle over the city

Palace of Holyrood House

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, which is located just near the foot of Arthur’s Seat.

Arthur’s Seat

This climb up the extinct volcano is definitely one of the best free attractions in Edinburgh!

2 days in Edinburgh
At the foot of Arthur’s Seat 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!

Views over Edinburgh from Arthur’s Seat
Views over Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat
Stunning evening light and beautiful views over Edinburgh from Arthur’s Seat

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 – located atop the third extinct volcano in the city. This scenic spots offers the best sunsets in Edinburgh and draws a crowd every evening. Here, you’ll find the National Monument and the City Observatory – so definitely one to visit in the daytime too.

Ghost and history tours in Edinburgh

Make sure to visit the 400 year old underground street in the Old Town, Real Mary King’s Close

There are also magical Harry Potter themed walking tours in Edinburgh, which I highly recommend. See the locations that inspired JK Rowling.

Literature and the arts

Edinburgh is not short on world class attractions covering these fields. As the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, an impressive list of authors and writers have called Edinburgh home over the past few centuries. Make sure to visit the Writer’s Museum in Lady Stair’s Close (and watch out for ghosts!) to celebrate the works of iconic writers, including of course, Robert Burns. Or perhaps visit the cafe where JK Rowling is rumoured to have drafted the first few Harry Potter books.

Some of the world’s great art collections are also on offer in Edinburgh – make sure to visit the Scottish National Gallery, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Oh why not spend an evening at the Scottish Opera, or see what is on at the National Theatre of Scotland or the Edinburgh Playhouse.


Sunday is a great day for exploring this beautiful and affluent suburb of the city. And I consider this a complete must visit area, even with just 2 days in 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.

2 days in Edinburgh
A beautiful crescent in Stockbridge, Edinburgh
The perfect Instagram streets in Edinburgh
The perfect Instagram streets in Edinburgh
The perfect Instagram streets in Edinburgh
Stockbridge streets in 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.

The start of the walk from the Water of Leith to Dean Village, Edinburgh
The start of the walk from the Water of Leith to Dean Village, Edinburgh
2 days in Edinburgh
Beautiful scenery in Edinburgh

New Town

New Town is the other major area in Edinburgh’s city centre that is worth visiting. This neighbourhood consists of stunning neoclassical architecture and is particularly good for shopping and luxury hotels.

Christmas in Edinburgh
Christmas in Edinburgh

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:


There are quite a number of these now in Edinburgh, with new ones popping up all the time. One of the best is the Holyrood Distillery, where you can learn how malt whisky and gin are produced.

Best places to eat in Edinburgh

Breakfast in Edinburgh

First things first, is breakfast of course. An essential start to any day of exploring. There are plenty of great cafes and brunch spots across Edinburgh. Some of my favourite spots are:

2 days in Edinburgh
Breakfast at Cairngorm Coffee Co, Edinburgh

Dinner in Edinburgh

There are plenty of brilliant restaurants and places to eat in Edinburgh. 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.

Some other excellent places include:

  • Tattu – for a contemporary, unique dining experience
  • Hemingway’s – for ever changing seasonal small plates
  • Hawksmoors – for excellent steak
  • El Cartel – for the city’s best Mexican

Bars and nightlife in Edinburgh

I love both of these bars and highly recommend:

Where to stay in Edinburgh

Stay in a luxury castle hotel near Edinburgh! We stayed at the brilliant Dalhousie Castle here, and you can read my full review of this luxury Scottish castle stay here.

You can check rates on booking.com here.

Library Bar at Dalhousie Hotel Edinburgh
The beautiful Library Bar at Dalhousie Hotel 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:

Beautiful shopping streets in Edinburgh
Beautiful shopping streets in Edinburgh

Edinburgh 2 Day Itinerary

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 2 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

If you’ve enjoyed this post, feel free to share using the below links!

Wanna see more? Check my Instagram here, my Facebook here or my Twitter here!

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. 

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  1. Amber
    January 30, 2017 / 3:49 am

    Gorgeous photos! I want to go here! I’m a huge fan of history so being able to explore those castles would be a blast.

    • February 1, 2017 / 8:49 pm

      Thank you! Oh awesome, me too! There was so much to explore and there definitely aren’t too many castles in the world perched on top of a volcano! Claire x

  2. Kaylie
    January 30, 2017 / 4:14 am

    Looks like such an amazing place!! Enjoyed reading about your trip. 🙂

  3. Donna
    January 30, 2017 / 1:12 pm

    What a fab article! I love Edinburgh and know it really well, you did it proud! Beautiful photos x

    • February 1, 2017 / 8:51 pm

      Ah thanks, that’s so lovely to hear! 🙂 I could go back and visit again already, it’s such a special place! Claire x

  4. Tina
    January 30, 2017 / 6:46 pm

    Great photos & pinned a bunch to my “castle” board … thanks & definitely someplace to visit.

    • February 1, 2017 / 8:51 pm

      Oh lovely, thank you! I hope you get to the city soon, it’d be the most magical trip! Claire x

  5. tara
    January 30, 2017 / 7:45 pm

    I want to explore a castle. I have always be fascinated by castles

    • February 1, 2017 / 8:52 pm

      Me too – you’ll have to pop this one on your bucket list! Claire x

  6. LaDonna Dennis
    January 30, 2017 / 7:46 pm

    Wow your trip looks amazing. I would love to see parts of the world identical if not here!

    • February 1, 2017 / 8:52 pm

      Thank you, it was pretty awesome and so inexpensive! I hope you get to Edinburgh then someday! 🙂 Claire x

    • February 1, 2017 / 8:53 pm

      Thank you, it was pretty awesome and so inexpensive! Claire x

  7. Emma
    January 30, 2017 / 9:12 pm

    Brings back some great memories! I was there for four years when I studied at Edinburgh University (10 years ago). I love that city – it’s so historic, love the castle and the Royal Mile and I have very fond memories of trekking up Arthurs seat to watch the sun rise! Thanks for the throwback!

    • February 1, 2017 / 8:54 pm

      Seriously? Wow I’m so envious! On a previous trip I visited the student areas and went to some coffee shops and loved it! I definitely could have studied in this city! And you’re welcome! Arthur’s Seat at sunrise sounds like something for a future visit! Claire x

  8. Anne Yedlin
    January 30, 2017 / 9:17 pm

    First off, Happy Anniversary! You guys look like you had a blast. I have always wanted to stay and explore a castle, unfortunately there are non around here that I am aware of. Great pictures, love the view and you look great together!

    • February 1, 2017 / 8:56 pm

      Oh thanks 😀 Go us! And yes, we definitely did thank you! I reckon you’ll have to plan a future trip to visit a castle then 🙂 Claire x

  9. Melanie Smith
    January 30, 2017 / 10:46 pm

    WOW! Your pictures are incredible! I love that place, it looks so magical. You two look so beautiful as a couple. I will check your instagram to see more about your trip.

    • February 1, 2017 / 8:57 pm

      Oh wow thank you for your kind words!! Tehe thanks, I’ll pass that on to George! It is just such a nice city for any sort of break really, it offers it all! 🙂 Claire x

  10. Joely
    January 30, 2017 / 11:00 pm

    THIS – this is EVERYTHING! This is my DREAM vacation! Breathtaking! Oh and you look ADORABLE in that photo of yourself.
    That fireplace is unbelievable!
    So many things to comment on lol.
    Like that second image of Edinburgh with the colorful buildings!
    And the waterway photo. GAH!
    I have to go!

    • February 1, 2017 / 9:02 pm

      Oh thank youuuuu! Yes you definitely have to go!! The fireplace was amazing, I never wanted to leave. It felt like a film moment but I didn’t have a book to look awesome with, so I just sat on my phone! Felt like such a book-reading room! Claire x

  11. Sarah-Louise Bailey
    January 31, 2017 / 1:09 am

    I wanted to see the castle myself and explore and imagine a life in the past where I became a queen. lol

    • February 1, 2017 / 9:03 pm

      Haha, go and live that out! You can stay in some of the suites in this castle where they have suits of armour and four poster beds! Claire x

  12. The Travel Ninjas
    January 31, 2017 / 5:16 am

    Wow you had an amazing time in just 48hours. Edinburgh is gorgeous. We can’t wait to visit ourselves. Thanks for blazing a trail showing how much you can do in a short time.

    • February 1, 2017 / 9:04 pm

      Oh brilliant, glad to hear you have plans to go in the future! It’s definitely a really manageable city in 48 hours – especially if you plan it out! i’ve been before at Halloween too and that was awesome too! Claire x

  13. Annemarie LeBlanc
    January 31, 2017 / 6:51 am

    My cousin lives in Edinburg and although I travel to Europe once in a while, I never get a chance to visit him in his home. I have to make plans next time. There is so much to see. Such a beautiful, beautiful place!

    • February 1, 2017 / 9:14 pm

      Aw, yes you definitely must try and visit him next time! It is a beautiful city any month of the year! Claire x

  14. Elizabeth O.
    January 31, 2017 / 7:37 am

    There’s no doubt that Edinburgh is worth going to, especially if you love touring Castles! I think it’s awesome that you got to stay in one too. This trip is so awesome!

    • February 1, 2017 / 9:15 pm

      Thank you and yes I know!! i’ve always wanted to so we saved to make it possible! Thanks for your kind words!
      Claire x

  15. Hra
    January 31, 2017 / 11:15 am

    Its seems you had ana amazing time there ! i love your photos! Edinburgh is awesome!! 🙂

    • February 1, 2017 / 9:16 pm

      thank you and yes we really did! i can’t wait to go back! Claire x

  16. Marissa
    January 31, 2017 / 5:33 pm

    I wish I could travel. Its hard to get around the world with a family of 6.

    • February 1, 2017 / 9:17 pm

      Ah i can imagine. Maybe in a few years time it will become possible for you 🙂 Claire x

  17. MishyV
    January 31, 2017 / 5:53 pm

    First of all, I love your beanie! Second, that place where you stayed looks like from fairytale! And third, now I want to go to Edinburgh even more! I’ve always wanted to visit this city and now I just have to! Glad you had such a nice trip :))

    • February 1, 2017 / 9:19 pm

      Tehe thank you! It’s from Cotton On in Australia, like $5! Thanks for your kind words, glad to hear I inspired a little more wanderlust to visit. You’ll have to go! Claire x

  18. Bethany Stout
    January 31, 2017 / 9:20 pm

    This looks amazing, I have to visit here sometime.

  19. Karlyn Cruz
    January 31, 2017 / 11:04 pm

    That place is really stunning! It looks like a fairytale place and I love all your photos.

  20. Victoria Heckstall
    January 31, 2017 / 11:04 pm

    I’m sure you had a fun adventure, those photos are breath-taking!

    • February 1, 2017 / 9:22 pm

      Thank you! Was an easy city to take good pics of! 🙂 Claire x

  21. aziel
    February 1, 2017 / 1:56 am

    Sounds like you had a great time there and a wonderful experience, I want to go there soon.

    • February 1, 2017 / 9:22 pm

      We definitely did! I hope you are able to make plans to visit in the next year or two then 🙂 Claire x

  22. Stacey
    February 2, 2017 / 1:20 am

    What an amazing trip! It looked like you all had a wonderful time. I love cheap flights, they can make some of the best spontaneous trips!

  23. Lisa Rios
    February 2, 2017 / 4:17 am

    Sounds like a wonderful trip to celebrate your wedding anniversary. The Edinburgh Castle is just beautiful and all these pictures so gorgeous and inviting that I would love to go for a visit so sooner!

  24. Aduke Schulist
    February 2, 2017 / 4:53 am

    What an amazing trip. I love the pictures you got with the selfie stick

  25. Tasha
    February 2, 2017 / 6:01 am

    WOW!!! Those views are absolutely stunning! Oh how I would love to travel there to have my own opportunity to stay at a castle.

  26. Anosa
    February 5, 2017 / 3:02 am

    Indeed a one of a kind experience! I love the castle experience, it has a magnificent view! I also liked the library feels picture! Sure you had really an awesome experience.

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