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Edinburgh Itinerary – How To Spend 1 Day In Edinburgh

Located in the south-east of Scotland in Great Britain, the historical city of Edinburgh is its capital. Home to just over 500,000 people, it is relatively small city but it has plenty on offer.

It has long been known as a centre of education and a cultural hub with the National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery both in the city. 

However, it is probably most famous for its spectacular castle and for hosting the famous Fringe Festival – the world’s largest annual international arts festival.

The Scottish capital is a tourist haven. So here’s a complete one day in Edinburgh itinerary, for those looking to do Edinburgh in a day.

How To Get Around Edinburgh

Edinburgh is not a very big city and quite easy to get around.

On Foot

Edinburgh is compact enough to explore almost everywhere of interest on foot.

Bus

If your legs get tired then you have a choice of buses.

There are two bus companies in Edinburgh, Lothian Buses and First bus. Lothian has a more extensive network of routes throughout the city. Fares are the same on either bus.

Tram

There are trams that run between Edinburgh Airport and York Place in the centre of the city with 15 stops along the way. This is a great way to get to and from the airport but not very useful for exploring the city.

Tour

For those short on time, or that prefer everything to be organised for them, there are some awesome tours on Get Your Guide available to book in advance.

Best Time To Visit Edinburgh

If you prefer the warmer weather, the summer months of June, July and August are a good time to explore Edinburgh.

Although Scotland does get quite a lot of rain, so be prepared for a few showers even in the summer.

Also, if you want to avoid the crowds, then look out for the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival which takes place across the city during three weeks in August.

Attracting, artists, performers and audiences from around the world, Edinburgh is absolutely packed during this festival.

So even though this is an amazing festival and Edinburgh is at it’s liveliest during this time, it’s probably not the best time to get around and do any sightseeing!

Remember, this is just a guide, so you may want to mix it up and add/subtract different attractions. 

Also Edinburgh makes for a great intro or starting point for those heading around the NC500.

What To Pack

Photography Camera

Tripod

Day Bag

Power Bank

Reusable Water Bottle

Sunscreen

Lightweight Rain Jacket

Edinburgh Itinerary Day 1

The Scotch Whisky Experience

When you think of Scotland, a few things probably pop into your head. Haggis, bagpipes, kilts, and for many, whisky!

Scotch whisky is malt whisky or grain whisky, made in Scotland. So for the first stop on your one day in Edinburgh itinerary we recommend booking in on a tour.

The Scotch Whisky Experience is an absolutely awesome way to kill an hour or so and immerse yourself in the Scottish culture! Even as someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, I can still highly recommend it.

Tickets start from £17 for the silver tour, or £29.50 for the gold tour (which includes four additional single malt whiskys) and must be booked in advance.

As of 2018, there were 133 Scotch whisky distilleries operating in Scotland. The Scotch Whisky Experience takes you on a journey through history, as well as gives you a tour of how it’s made and plenty of tasters!

Home to ‘The Collection’, a priceless display of nearly 4,000 bottles of Scotch Whisky, it’s a great way to kick off exploring Edinburgh in a day.

Plus it’s located right in the centre of the old town. Leaving you in the ideal spot to carry on your one day in Edinburgh itinerary.

The Scotch Whisky Experience One Day In Edinburgh Itinerary Edinburgh In A Day
The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh
The Scotch Whisky Experience One Day In Edinburgh Itinerary Edinburgh In A Day
A few of the rare bottles on display

Edinburgh Castle

If you do choose to visit the The Scotch Whisky Experience, then Edinburgh Castle is located directly next door.

If you don’t, then the castle is probably going to be the first stop on your one day in Edinburgh itinerary!

Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city, from its position on the Castle Rock.

Attracting over 2 million visitors each year, it’s not only one of the most popular attractions in Scotland, but certainly one of the most beautiful.

From the medieval architecture, to the incredible views surrounding it, the castle stands tall among the city and is the pride and joy of the Scottish capital.

Full of history, entrance for adults is £17.50, if you book your Edinburgh Castle Ticket in advance, and includes an optional guided tour of the castle.

Tours depart every 30 minutes in summer and at least every hour in winter.

You can also wonder around the base of the castle. Here you’ll find Edinburgh Farmers’ Market open on Saturdays from 9am-2pm.

Edinburgh Castle One Day In Edinburgh Itinerary Edinburgh In A Day
Big smiles outside Edinburgh Castle

Royal Mile

Leading on from the Castle, the best way to get down into town is via the Royal Mile.

The Royal Mile is a stretch of road connecting Edinburgh Castle with Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s residence in Scotland.

It’s known for it’s bustling street entertainment, souvenir shops, amazing architecture and is just a lovely area to take a stroll through.

If you have time, and are a Harry Potter fan, you can also check out the Harry Potter Magical Guided Walking Tour that starts just off the Royal Mile.

You’ll find small side streets going in all different directions, and you can pretty much find anything you want on the Royal Mile.

This is the perfect way to end the afternoon on your one day in Edinburgh itinerary, as it leads down into the main hub of restaurants and pubs where you’ll likely want to spend your evening.

Royal Mile Edinburgh One Day In Edinburgh Itinerary Edinburgh In A Day
Heading from the castle down towards the Royal Mile
Royal Mile Edinburgh One Day In Edinburgh Itinerary Edinburgh In A Day
Royal Mile should definitely be included on your one day in Edinburgh itinerary

Try The Local Delicacies

You can’t do Edinburgh in a day without getting stuck into the local food and drink selections.

Scotland is known for its funky yet satisfying delicacies, the most popular of them all being Haggis.

So here are just a few of our top picks to look out for and try on your one day in Edinburgh itinerary!

Haggis

This is Scotland’s national dish. A savoury meat pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs), traditionally accompanied by mashed potatoes, turnips (known as ‘neeps’) and a whisky sauce.

You’ll find it in nearly all pubs and restaurants, and there are even a few vegetarian versions floating about if you’re not keen on the idea of eating sheeps insides.

Irn-Bru

Irn-Bru is a Scottish carbonated soft drink, often described as “Scotland’s other national drink”.

Synonymous with Scottish culture, most Scots claim they couldn’t live without it – while others claim it is the best hangover cure around.

Launched in 1901, Irn-Bru has dominated the Scottish market for over 100 years. So although Coca Cola is the number one-selling soft drink nearly everywhere in the world, Scotland is one of those rare places that it just can’t conquer.

Fun Fact: Barr’s (the producer of Irn-Bru) sells around 20 cans of Irn-Bru every second!!

Deep Fried Mars Bar

Diabetes in a napkin, or heaven on a plate. You decide!

A deep-fried Mars bar is an ordinary Mars bar normally fried in a type of batter commonly used for deep-frying fish, sausages, and other battered products.

These can be therefore be found at most Fish & Chip shops around the capital. Though they’ll cost you around £2.50, almost 3 times the price of a standard Mars bar.

Irn Bru Edinburgh One Day In Edinburgh Itinerary Edinburgh In A Day
Irn Bru in a traditional Scottish pub – a must!

Eat Local

Apart from the snacks and drinks mentioned above, you’re probably going to want a good old fashioned Scottish feed at some point during your one day in Edinburgh itinerary.

If you’re a real food connoisseur, you may even want to book onto the Edinburgh: 3-Hour Guided Secret Food Tour.

We tried and tested a few recommended spots. So depending on what sort of vibe you’re looking for the following are great for some traditional fresh food!

The Ensign Ewart

Cosy pub, dating from 1690, with a low, wood-beamed ceiling and an all-day Scottish/European menu.

The Scran & Scallie

Rustic-chic gastropub with a Modern Scottish menu, draught and bottled beers, and whiskies galore.

Badger & Co

The wind in the willows has an influence on the decor of this restaurant for modern Scottish food.

Badger & Co Edinburgh One Day In Edinburgh Itinerary Edinburgh In A Day
Badger & Co was among our favourite restaurants in Edinburgh

Where To Stay In Edinburgh

Luxury

Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile Edinburgh

Radisson Collection Hotel is set in the heart of the city on the historic Royal Mile.

The hotel is 650 yards from Edinburgh Castle and 1 miles from Holyrood Park and Princes Street. 

Offerings include 136 bedrooms and suites, iconic design, free WiFi, a contemporary restaurant, a flagship bar, a spa, access to a sister hotel swimming pool facilities, as well as a fitness centre and 3 meeting rooms. 

The hotel’s bedrooms and suites balance style with comfort. Amenities include Nespresso machines, LCD TVs and free high-speed internet. Each room has an en-suite bathroom.

Mid-Budget

Leonardo Royal Edinburgh Haymarket

In Edinburgh city centre, less than 550 yards from Haymarket Rail Station, the Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh offers great value, with modern family-friendly en suite rooms and a restaurant-bar. 

Spacious, stylish rooms at the Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh each include a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a work area, tea/coffee facilities and a private bathroom. 

Princes Street’s shops and bars and Princes Street Gardens with the famous Edinburgh Castle are all just a 10-minute walk from the hotel.

Budget

West End Hostel

The West End Hotel is located in a B-listed Victorian townhouse only 15-minutes walk from the West End of Princes Street.

Offering simple, quality accommodation for guests that want to make the most of their time exploring Scotland’s capital.

The West End Hotel Edinburgh offers modern and bright dormitory rooms. Choose to stay in either a small 6 bed dormitory room with en-suite, or a larger dormitory with shared bathrooms.

The property also boasts original high ceilings and bay windows.

For more places to stay in Edinburgh, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.

Planning Your Trip

Book Your Flight

Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. 

They search websites and airlines around the globe to find you the best possible routes and prices.

Book Your Accommodation

Use Booking.com to find the best accommodation deals.

They consistently return the cheapest rates on everything from guesthouses to hotels for all of your budget needs.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Use SafetyWing to find the best travel insurance for you.

They provide travel and medical incident insurance built specifically for digital nomads.

Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations.

Book Your Tours & Activities

Use GetYourGuide to book your activities in advance.

They sell the best tours, excursions and activities to attractions around the world.

Conveniently book, download and access your tickets on the move all from your mobile. 

Book Your Rental Car

Use RentalCars.com to find the best deals on rental cars in the area.

They compare all major car rental companies and allow you to easily book the perfect vehicle for your trip.

Buy Those Last Minute Bits

Use Amazon to buy everything you need for your adventure.

They offer next day delivery and you can use my travel packing checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.


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The Perfect One Day In Edinburgh Itinerary