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72 Hours in Edinburgh, Scotland

by Lauren Mulvey

Here’s a three day itinerary of things to do, see, and experience in the enchanting medieval city of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Written by Lauren Mulvey (Photo by by Richie Chan)

Sitting on the tram on my way from Scotland’s Edinburgh airport to the city center, a light breeze that smelled of air freshener blew against my face as we cruised smoothly along a tram track lined by bright green shrubbery and flowers. Compared to the grimy underground NYC subway I was used to, I knew that I was going to enjoy this city.

I arrived in Edinburgh with a longtime friend on what was her first trip outside of the U.S, and felt giddy as the green shrubbery surrounding our tram car turned into medieval buildings and streets lined with shops and tourists milling about. Over the next three days of our stay we explored all that Edinburgh has to offer.  

Whether you’ve already booked your ticket or you’re just planning your trip. Here’s a three day itinerary of things to do, see, and experience in the enchanting medieval city of Edinburgh, Scotland.

 

The Royal Mile (Photo by Sergii Figurnyi)

Day One

Settle into your Edinburgh accommodations and then take a walk through the city. The architecture alone will be a feast your eyes for your first day, so explore the streets. Edinburgh (which by the way is pronounced “Eh-din-bruh”) is split into different quarters. There’s the Old Town, a facet of nearly every European city and the place to be for historical architecture, and then there’s New Town, where you’ll find more modern buildings and lots of shopping.

Grab a full Scottish breakfast at The Edinburgh Larder complete with black pudding and haggis. This spot has great ratings and is located right in the heart of Old Town. After breakfast take a walk down The Royal Mile, or the city’s high street, and explore gothic landmarks and shops full of Scotland’s best sweaters, or pop into a museum.

Visit Edinburgh Castle which sits above the city on Castle Rock and looks an awful lot like Hogwarts school from Harry Potter, which makes a lot of sense because the best-selling book series was written in Edinburgh. 

 

Panoramic View of Edinburgh from Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat (Photo by Milosz Maslanka)

Day Two

A short walk from Old Town you’ll find a gorgeous vista of green and yellow cliffs and hills; this is Arthur’s Seat, which has an elusive name that historians predict is either named for King Arthur or was adapted from a translation of the phrase “height of arrows.” 

In the spring and summer, the hills are coated in a thick sheet of an invasive species of flower called gorse. This bright yellow flower lines the moderately difficult hiking trail, and serves as a distraction from all the heaving and sweating you’ll endure on the way up. The trail is steep, so take your time, bring some water, and stop for breaks along the way. Though the trek may be difficult, the views are absolutely worth it. 

If your legs aren’t too tired after the hike, grab some pub grub and enjoy Edinburgh’s nightlife. Various clubs play hits from every era so you can dance the night away. For a more relaxed vibe enjoy some live music at The Jazz Bar, or snag a beer at The Pear Tree and watch a soccer match in their beer garden amongst many jeering fans. 

 

Scottish National Gallery (Photo by Sakhan Photography)

Day Three

You’ve seen the big city sights, now it’s time to hop on a bus, which conveniently uses a tap payment if you have Apple Pay or a tap credit card. Grab a bus from Princes Street and head just outside of the city to Dean’s Village, a chic more residential neighborhood that is home to lovely cafes, views, and the National Galleries of Scotland.

Here you can find Bells Brae Bridge, one of Edinburgh’s most Instagrmmable spots that looks like a little old English village with a stream passing through and a shrubbery framed bridge overlooking the water. From here you can start a beautiful walk along the Water of Leith Walkway which takes you along the Water of Leith through gorgeous hanging greenery for 13 miles with exits at different destinations and local streets. 

Venture just a bit further out of town and you’ll reach Stockbridge, a neighborhood with picturesque cobblestone streets which will eventually lead you to the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh, one of the world’s leading botanical gardens that dates back 350 years. This property sits on 70 acres of land, and is a perfect place to spend your afternoon.

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