One Day in Edinburgh

So you have one day in Edinburgh – the wonderful Scottish capital. What are you planning to do? Here’s a few ideas… 

One Day in Edinburgh – Activities

If you’re a history buff then you should definitely go to Edinburgh Castle! Set upon a huge volcanic plug and dating back to as early as the 12th century, this impressive fortress is soaked in history. It is a sight of many notable sieges, battles and historic events. This makes it all the more thrilling to know that you are walking the same footsteps as kings, queens, pirates and prisoners of centuries gone by. If you want to find out more about visiting Edinburgh Castle, take a look at this post. 

You can also explore some of the old streets of Edinburgh by visiting The Real Mary King’s Close. Situated on the Royal Mile (read more about that below!), opposite St Giles Cathedral, this unique experience gives you the chance to go underground and walk around what was once a well lived-in area of Edinburgh. Your ticket includes a fully guided tour which will take you around preserved streets and teach you about the cities somewhat gruesome past! 

If you like taking in the sights then why not take a walking tour? Or hop on a bus! There are multiple guided tours around the city with prices starting from around just £15. Whether you choose to see the city on foot or from an open-top bus, you will surely be able to see famous sights. Here are some fantastic tour ideas from Get Your Guide: 

  • You can enjoy a City Sightseeing: Edinburgh bus tour, which allows you to hop on and off the sightseeing buses for 24 hours! Tickets start from £16. This bus will take you all around the city, with multiple stops near famous sights and attractions (attraction tickets will need to be purchased separately)
  • If you fancy a walk on the dark side of Edinburgh, then you could try something like this spooky walking tour. You’ll get a live tour guide for 2 hours, telling you all about the dark history of Edinburgh’s streets – and graveyards!
  • If you’re more of an adventurer and a fan of ‘Outlander’, then you might like to spend the whole day exploring on the Outlander Adventure Day tour. For £45 per person, you can Doune castle, and the 16th century village of Culross, also known as Cranesmuir. You will definitely cover some ground by both walking and being chauffeured in a Mercedes mini-coach!

If you want to learn something or be a bit cultured, there are plenty of museums and galleries – some of which have free entry! You could visit The Museum of Edinburgh (open Mon to Sun, 10am to 5pm, free entry) to see iconic artifacts all to do with the city’s history. The Scottish National Gallery (open daily, 10am-5pm, Thursdays until 7pm, free admission) is located on Princes Street and is home to an extensive art collection including pieces by famous artists such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt. As well as housing works from major Scottish painters Ramsay, Raeburn, and Wilkie. The Museum of Edinburgh is one of the best free things to do in Edinburgh.

If you want to buy some souvenirs, then the best place to start is the Royal Mile. This is an iconic part of Scotland to visit, anyway, but it’s especially good for the shops! You will most definitely find cheesy gifts for the family or the perfect ‘Scotland’ fridge magnet. But it’s also a great place for seeking out some authentic Scottish tweed and tartan, expensive bottles of whiskey, Christmas decorations or finding some of your favourite luxury brands. 

The next place to shop would be Princes Street (a good tip – if you’re coming into the city on a tram, this is a great central stop to get off at!). This is where you’ll find recognisable high street shops for your fashion, beauty and tech needs. 

For those who like to get their geek on – come on, we all do! Then there are a couple of really unique shops in Edinburgh! You can walk to Galaxy and Ever Ever After from Princes Street (50 and 51 South Bridge) to find amazing merchandise from all your favourite franchises including Marvel, DC, Star Wars and Disney. Lastly, if you’re a Harry Potter fan then you have to head to Victoria Street.

one day in Edinburgh

This windy road, just off the Royal Mile, has at least 2 shops themed around the famous books and films. You can show your house pride with official merchandise (I’m a Hufflepuff) and buy all sorts of everything wizard inspired. Victoria Street leads down to the Grassmarket, which brings us perfectly to… 

One Day in Edinburgh – Food & Drink

Where to go when you get hungry or thirsty?!

Don’t worry, you’ll find plenty of bars, pubs, and restaurants all over the city. My best tip would be to pull up Google Maps to see what’s around and takes your fancy! 

The Grassmarket has a buzzing food and drink scene. You will find a whole range of eateries including cafés, juice bars, pizzerias or a classic Scottish pub or two. Why not visit The Wee Pub on Currie’s Close – the smallest pub in Scotland! You will most likely be able to find your favourite, reliable chain restaurants around the city, but it might be fun to go somewhere unique instead as there are loads of independent restaurants! 

Finish your One Day in Edinburgh in a Beer Garden!

And finally, if your one day in Edinburgh happens to be in the summer months, definitely check out a nice pub beer garden. Or if you’re after something a bit more quirky, you could try the Cold Town House rooftop bar! The perfect chance to rest your legs after exploring the city all day.

To help you pack for your trip to the UK, we created the below list of must-have items.

First of all, you need a plug converter as in England 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.

UK 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.

Columbia Women's Arcadia Ii Rain Jacket, Black, M UK
  • ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: Columbia Women's Arcadia II Jacket features our signature, air-permeable protection that’s waterproof and breathable to shield your little one from drizzle to downpour. Center back length: 26"
  • ADJUSTABLE FEATURES: This shell top jacket features an adjustable storm hood, drawcord adjustable hem, and zippered hand pockets for ultimate comfort.
  • LIGHT & PACKABLE: The waterproof, lightweight design packs into your hand pocket for convenience on days when the weather is unpredictable.

To avoid pickpockets, we recommend bringing with you a theft-proof backpack, a crossbody bag, and a money bag.

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.

rolling suitcase

In order to stay healthy while travelling, activated charcoal helps with stomach distress absorbing toxins that may be in your system; and natural jet-lag remedy pills help you sleeping while boosting your immunity and can avoid you to ruin precious days of sightseeing.

You might also like to read about Where to Stay in Edinburgh

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