Edinburgh, Scotland is one of our favorite cities in the world! In this guide we’re sharing where to stay, what to eat, and all of the best things to do if you only have 1 day in Edinburgh!
There are no words to describe how much we love Edinburgh (pronounced ed-in-bruh). The breathtaking architecture, rich history, delicious food, culture, and overall charm make it such an incredibly magical place to be. We felt like we were in a fairytale!
During our UK adventure, we spent 1 day in Edinburgh, which sounds super short, but we were surprisingly able to see a bunch of the city.
This 1 day Edinburgh itinerary is almost identical to our trip, which means that it’s tested and approved by both of us. 🙂 It’s filled with useful tips for your trip, how to get around, lodging options, where to eat, and what to see.
We are also including tons of extra suggestions of things to do, restaurants, and coffee shops in case you’re lucky enough to have more than 1 day in Edinburgh. Trust us, you’ll want to if you can!
We hope you enjoy the guide and fall in love with Edinburgh like we did. If you have any questions, please let us know!
Heading to the Scottish Highlands? Check out our 4 Days in the Scottish Highlands guide!
Note: this guide contains affiliate links, which means that if you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!
Tips for visiting Edinburgh
- Buy an adapter before you go! Also, make sure your hair dryer and straightener (and other electrical items) are dual voltage. We took this hair dryer and this straightener with us during the trip and they worked great!
- Get Pound sterling from your bank before you go. It’ll save you from having to find a place to exchange money and save you fees!
- August is the Fringe festival in Edinburgh, which means that prices will be higher and you’ll need to plan ahead to make sure you get good lodging. This makes the city busier, but we didn’t mind it at all!
The vibe was super fun and no matter where you were, it seemed like there was live music or people entertaining in the streets.
- The weather changes often, so pack layers! In our 35 hours in Edinburgh we experienced sun, warmth, clouds, crazy wind at Arthur’s Seat, and rain.
- We thought things opened later in London than we were used to, but this is even more true in Edinburgh. Our second morning in Edinburgh, which was a Tuesday, we struggled to find any coffee or breakfast before 8 AM.
This may not be an issue for non-early risers, but just something good to keep in mind. We used the extra time in the mornings to walk around before the crowds hit.
- Similar to our trip to London, 10-15% seems to be the standard when it comes to tipping and some restaurants add on a 12.5% service charge (make sure you review your bill!).
We had a couple situations where there was no tip line on the receipt and we had to use cash if we wanted to leave a tip.
- We highly recommend getting an international phone plan (or SIM card), it’s worth every penny. We purchased AT&T’s International Day Pass in advance, but hoped to not use it most days and rely on Wifi instead. Although we tried our hardest, it was much easier to get around using data and saved us a lot of headaches!
When to visit Edinburgh
We visited Edinburgh in August and it was absolutely perfect! Although the crowds were a bit larger and the prices were higher due to it being peak season (and Fringe Festival), the temperature was incredible (in the 60s!) and we lucked out and didn’t get rain on our full day there.
The late spring to early fall as a whole (May-September) is typically the best time to visit Edinburgh, as the weather is the warmest (although not hot at all!) and the days are a bit longer. There is still a decent chance for rain though, so make sure you bring a rain jacket!
However, if you don’t mind getting rain or being a bit cold, the late fall to early spring months will be a lot less busy and cheaper! But you may not be able to do everything you want to due to the weather.
Getting to Edinburgh
Edinburgh is home to the Edinburgh Airport, which has flights to and from different spots around Europe, the UK, and a few cities in the US. We flew into this airport from London, which was a quick flight.
If you’re already in Scotland, Edinburgh is about an hour drive or hour train ride from Glasgow, making it very easy to visit both in one trip. While we didn’t have the chance to visit Glasgow, we did visit the Scottish Highlands (the distance varies on where you go) and loved it and couldn’t recommend it more!
Getting Around Edinburgh
From the airport to the city, we recommend taking the Airlink, which picks you up right outside the airport and has many stops along the way to downtown. You can pay by card on the bus.
Once you’re in the city you have a couple options. Edinburgh is a very walkable city and we walked most places, which was a great way to get to see more of the sights. However, some locations were a little far to walk (or we were tired), so we took the bus around.
The bus is pretty easy, but getting a bus pass is a little tricky. The bus ticket machine at the airport was broken, so we downloaded an app called M-Tickets, which let us preload bus tickets onto our phone. However, there is £10 minimum for the app, so we sometimes had to buy more tickets than we needed to hit the minimum.
One other thing to note about the busses is that most of them do not display the stop names inside the bus, so you have to really pay attention to where you are on Google Maps to make sure you don’t miss your stop.
Where to Stay in Edinburgh
Since Edinburgh is super walkable and easy to get around, there’s really no bad area to stay in if you want to visit the city!
We stayed in an Airbnb in Edinburgh in Comely Bank, which gave us a more local experience in the city. Since we went during peak season, we were able to save some money this way as well.
Below are some lodging options, both Airbnb and Hotels to check out for your stay in Edinburgh.
- Option 1: A 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment. This is where we stayed and we LOVED it!
- Option 2: A royal studio on the Royal Mile
- Option 3: A beautiful 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment
- Option #4: A bright 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment
- Radisson Blu Hotel
- Apex City of Edinburgh
- Hub by Premier Inn-Edinburgh Haymarket
- Old Town Chambers
- Apex Waterloo Place
1 Day in Edinburgh Itinerary
In this 1 day in Edinburgh itinerary we’re sharing all of the best things to do in Edinburgh if you only have one day! From historic sites, beautiful views, to delicious food, we’ve gotcha covered!
Looking for more ideas? Make sure to check out our “if you have extra time” section at the end of this guide!
- Kick off your morning with a stroll through the quaint and peaceful Dean Village. We went early in the morning and had the entire place to ourselves. It’s such a beautiful area!
- Enjoy breakfast at The Bluebird Cafe. This tiny little cafe is such a gem! Another great option is Loudons Cafe and Bakery.
- After breakfast, head on over to Fortitude Coffee for a caffeine boost. We recommend their flat whites!
- Now that you’re full and caffeinated, it’s time for a fun hike up Arthur’s Seat! There are a few different routes you can take, but we recommend doing the hike as a loop (we suggest looking at this map). We didn’t do it this way and wish we would have!
When we got to the top, it was super windy, so be prepared! But WOW the views were gorgeous! We loved that there was nature so close to the city in Edinburgh.
- Spend a few hours walking around the Royal Mile. This charming street is full of some of the most beautiful architecture we have seen!
- While on the Royal Mile, head over to Victoria Street (our favorite!) and grab lunch at Oink, a super popular and affordable spot for pork sandwiches.
- Make your way to the Edinburgh Castle and spend a couple hours exploring the exhibits, admiring the views, and learning the history of Edinburgh and Scotland. Tickets cost £17.50 if you purchase online, so make sure to buy in advance to save some money!
- Continue your history lesson by going on a tour! There are quite a few options to consider, but some top ones to consider are The Scotch Whiskey Experience, The Real Mary King’s Close, or Mercat’s Ghostly Underground Vaults Tour.
We went on The Real Mary King’s Close tour and it was really fun and informative! You got to tour a historic close located under the city!
- Grab dinner at Makars Gourmet Mash Bar. We recommend the Bonnie Prince Charlie chicken and also hear that their Haggis is really good (we were too scared to try it)!
- Watch the sunset at Calton Hill. The view of the city from this spot is incredible!
- If you’re not exhausted at this point, grab drinks at The World’s End, Devil’s Advocate, or Pickles (a wine bar).
If you have extra time…
- Dishoom—our favorite Indian restaurant from London also has an Edinburgh location!
- The Haven Cafe
- Cafe Class
- Southern Cross Cafe
- Forage & Chatter
- Kezban Mediterranean Restaurant
- New Chapter
- Palace of Holyroodhouse
- Camera Obscura
- Edinburgh Gin Distillery
- National Museum of Scotland
- St Giles’ Cathedral
- Spend time in the Leith area
- Royal Yacht Britannia
- Inchcolm Abbey and Island
- Scottish National Gallery
Planning a trip to Edinburgh?
Pin our 1 day in Edinburgh itinerary to help plan your trip!