72 hours in Edinburgh

Be sure to make the most of your trip to Edinburgh with this suggested 72 hour itinerary covering some of the city’s most visited attractions.

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  • Edinburgh Castle and the Ross Fountain, Princes Street Gardens
    Edinburgh Castle and the Ross Fountain, Princes Street Gardens
  • A couple stop to admire the view from Calton Hill, looking west to the castle and the Old Town, Edinburgh
    Looking across the city from Calton Hill
  • The Royal Yacht Britannia © Marc Millar
    The Royal Yacht Britannia
  • The Palm House at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
    The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
  • The largest collection of Scotch Whisky at The Scotch Whisky Experience
    The Scotch Whisky Experience

In order to get ahead of the crowds, start your day at Edinburgh Castle when it opens at 9.30am to see the Scottish Crown Jewels and Stone of Destiny. Afterwards, you can follow the Royal Mile on foot to explore various quirky shops, pubs, restaurants and narrow closes steeped in history.

If you want to get an idea of what you are seeing as you go, there are a wide range of walking, cycling and bus tours available.

Jump aboard one of the open-top tour buses where the fantastic onboard guides will supply an entertaining and knowledgeable insight into this fascinating city (multi-language tours are available). The buses will allow you to jump on and off at your leisure to visit attractions like the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Edinburgh Dungeon and the Scottish Parliament and provide a great introduction to the city.

There are plenty of cafés and eating places scattered around the city centre for a quick lunch. If you’ve spent the morning in the Old Town area (and you could easily spend several days there), cross North Bridge to the other part of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site, the Georgian New Town.

Later on, head back to the Royal Mile for a meal in one of Edinburgh’s many international or Scottish restaurants followed by a walking ghost tour.

From Princes Street in the city centre, it’s a short number 22 Lothian Bus ride to The Royal Yacht Britannia, which is now docked permanently at Ocean Terminal in Leith. After the tour, take some time to explore the Port of Leith, one of the most fashionable areas to live in Edinburgh.

If you’re feeling energetic, climb Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park. Last active over 300 million years ago, this extinct volcano is one of the best vantage points over the city. For a gentler walk, why not take a stroll around the National Museum of Scotland, which reopened in 2011 after a refurbishment which has allowed it to now display over 20,000 exhibits in 36 galleries?

If you dined in the Old Town last night, try something different around George Street tonight. One of the city’s main eating areas, there are restaurants to suit all tastes here.

Stroll up the Royal Mile and pay a visit to the fascinating Camera Obscura and World of Illusions which has captivated visitors with its amazing optical illusions and panoramic views of Edinburgh for over 150 years. Step inside a darkened room and watch incredible live moving images of the city and its inhabitants projected onto a table by a giant periscope while listening to colourful tales from the past.

Not far away, Scotland’s national drink is honoured at the Scotch Whisky Experience where you can sample a dram at the end of your tour. Enjoy a barrel ride to learn all about the whisky-making process and see the world’s largest collection of Scotch whisky. Why not stop for lunch at the Amber Restaurant which offers traditional Scottish produce?

Once you’ve recharged your batteries head down to Princes Street and George Street, the ideal destinations for some retail therapy. If shopping is not your thing, spend the afternoon touring the Royal Botanic Garden with its wonderful glasshouses, exhibitions and a world of colourful plants and shrubs.

In the evening, explore this UNESCO City of Literature on the Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour or head to the Shore in Leith, a fashionable and picturesque coastal area with a wide selection of bars and restaurants that serve fresh fish caught from the surrounding waters.