48 Hours in Edinburgh – Scotland’s Beautiful Capital City

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is one of the greenest, hilliest and most beautiful cities of the UK. I headed further up North from Liverpool to Edinburgh on a road trip with BAV (our trusty Polo) and my boyfriend Sy. We travelled North to Edinburgh on the Friday night and didn’t plan on leaving until Monday morning, which meant that we could do a full day in the fabulous Scottish capital. In this blog, I’m going to let you know what’s possible in 48 hours in Edinburgh! Edinburgh is an essential destination for any Scotland Itinerary.

After experiencing an attack of 169 Waldos (students dressed as Where’s Wally’s) at a motorway service station near Carlisle, we checked into the Holiday Inn near Edinburgh Zoo around 10pm on Friday night.

My 48 hours in Edinburgh started early on Saturday morning. I had a full English breakfast topped off by my first ever taste of Scottish Haggis (try it before you know what it is!) and then I was rearing to go. From the Holiday Inn, it took around 20 minutes to get into Edinburgh city centre on the East Lothian bus.

Travel Tips: The best way to travel from London to Edinburgh is the Caledonian Sleeper. When you are travelling locally within Edinburgh, make sure you use the East Lothian buses rather than the Airport Link buses – as the airport link bus is much more expensive. Have the right change for Edinburgh buses!

York Place: St Paul’s and St George’s Church and St Mary’s Cathedral

I got off the bus near to York place, to capture some shots of Church architecture. St Mary’s Cathedral and St. Paul’s and St. George’s Church are two examples of stunning architecture directly adjacent to each other. St Mary’s is Roman Catholic and St. Paul’s and St. George’s is a Scottish Episcopal Church.

Metal Giraffes – Edinburgh Sculptures

Opposite St Mary’s Catholic Church was the contrasting modern architecture and giraffe sculptures! These two metal giraffes are nicknamed Martha and Gilbert!

The Scott Monument and Princes Street Gardens

From York Place, I walked up towards the Scott Monument and Princes Street Gardens. The Scott monument is the largest monument to a writer in the whole world, commemorating Sir Walter Scott.

I then walked through Princes Street Gardens, the beautiful gardens set in the shadow of the castle. From there, I walked up the News steps from market street (Near Edinburgh Waverley Station) to St. Giles street on the Royal Mile. It was around a 15 minute walk from York place up to St Giles Cathedral, but remember that going up 127 steps is not easy going! 😉

Brew Lab Digital Nomad Hangout

Next stop was Brew Lab to meet some fellow travel bloggers who I connected with at TBEX Stockholm over a year ago! It was great to sit and share blogging and Instagram tips and talk about our next destinations.

Greyfriars Church and the Story of Greyfriars Bobby

Skye basically became my own tour guide – he knows Edinburgh like the back of his hand. He’s been here at least 6 times on and off, and plans to settle in Edinburgh as a base for the foreseeable future. He knows I love dogs and Churches, and found the perfect route around the old town for me.

First of all was a stop off at Greyfriars Church, the Church graveyard commemorative of the heartfelt story of a little dog called ‘Greyfriars Bobby’. In the 1850’s, this faithful little dog (a Skye Terrier) stayed beside his master, John Gray, day and night during his work as a night watchman for the police force. When his master died of TB, Bobby refused to leave his masters grave in Greyfriars Church, even during the harshest weather conditions.  For fourteen years the dead man’s faithful little dog kept constant guard over the grave until his own death in 1872. Read the full story of Greyfriars Bobby here.

A statue of Greyfriar’s Bobby was sculptured by William Brody, and it was unveiled in November 1873, opposite Greyfriars Kirkyard. Rubbing his nose allegedly brings good luck, but you can see from this picture that due to the mass number who visit Bobby, it’s slowly eroding his little pooch face away!

We then explored the graveyard further, and as well as Bobby’s masters grave, we also found many Harry Potter related tomb stones including that of Tom Riddle!

The Royal Mile and St Gile’s Cathedral

From there, we walked around Edinburgh’s historical centre and headed towards the Royal mile. There are three Churches on this road, two of which have been converted into markets.

St Giles’ Cathedral itself is a Cathedral of the Church of Scotland. It’s stunning inside and you must go towards the back and enter the Knight’s room. It’s £3 entry, but well worth it.

Travel tip: Buy a photography permit for just £2 from the desk in St Giles’ Cathedral if you would like to take internal photos.

Day of the Dead Festival at the Atik

After a quick nap and some room service at the Holiday Inn, I was rearing to go again at around 8pm! It was time to check out the fabulous Edinburgh night life. We headed to the ATIK for a Day of the Dead Themed Festival. It was more of a Day of the Dead themed club night than a festival, but hey – works for me!

Professional make-up artist – check. I mean, you gotta look the part! 😉

We then had several photos with skeletons during the DJ dance set. Doing well so far for just 48 hours in Edinburgh?

Travel Tip: Book your tickets for big club nights online in advance to avoid disappointment. 

So around 2.30am, trying to get a taxi, we realise that Edinburgh is BLOODY FREEZING at night, so make sure that you wrap up warm for the taxi rank after a night out! The tiredness, combined with being a little drunk and also alarmingly distrought about the ‘DOTD’ make removal meant that something really ace was needed the following day, but preferably something with a slightly later start!

48 Hours in Edinburgh – Edinburgh Zoo

The Zoo was an easy option due to its proximity of our hotel. Edinburgh Zoo is home to the only Giant Pandas in the UK.

We returned to the panda enclosure around 5 times, and on the last time we had almost accepted that we were not going to see Tian Tian the Giant Panda this time. But on our last visit, she came out! Don’t be concerned about the conditions here – they are very well kept and Pandas are endangered, so breeding does need to occur in captivity for this reason.

Other highlights of Edinburgh Zoo include the penguin parade and Koala’s. Be quiet when you visit the Koala house, as these animals are sensitive to noise.

What I Managed to See and do!

In summary, here’s everything I managed to do during 48 hours in Edinburgh:

  • Try Haggis (Traditional Scottish dish).
  • Visit St. Paul’s and St. Georges Church and St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral.
  • See the Scott Monument.
  • Walk through Princes Gardens.
  • Blog from Brew Lab Digital Nomad Cafe.
  • Visit Greyfriars Church and the Greyfriars Bobby Memorial
  • Walk down the Royal Mile.
  • Go inside St. Giles’ Cathedral.
  • Visit indoor Markets.
  • Go to a ‘Day of the Dead’ club night at the ATIK.
  • Visit Edinburgh Zoo and see the Giant Pandas.

I’m so proud and amazing by what I could fit into just 48 hours in Edinburgh – such a short time frame! Edinburgh is a compact city with excellent transport links, so you will be able to fit in a great deal – just wrap up warm in the winter months! 😉

You can book a walking tour of Edinburgh’s Old Town with Castle entrance here. You can also compare hotels in Edinburgh on TripAdvisor.

What to Pack for Edinburgh

To help you pack for 48 hours in Edinbiurgh, I’ve created this list of must-have items.

First of all, you need a plug converter as in the UK the power plugs and sockets are of type ‘G’: three-pin rectangular blade plugs. Be also aware that in the UK many power outlets have safety switches, so make sure you turn them on before use.

Scottish weather is well-known for being quite rainy and windy, so don’t forget a windproof travel umbrella and a raincoat like the one by Columbia below.

To avoid pickpockets, we recommend bringing with you a theft-proof backpack, a crossbody bag, and a money bag. Crime levels are relatively low in Edinburgh, but this is a good idea for any trip.

It is also a good idea to get a hanging toiletry bag, which is a fantastic way to keep all your belongings organized; and a practical rolling suitcase like the one below by Samsonite in lightweight polycarbonate.

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