Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and a must-visit for anyone traveling to the United Kingdom.
While you can enjoy some of the city’s most popular attractions over a weekend, this four-day itinerary features the best of Edinburgh for first-time visitors and a few off the beaten path spots.
Getting around Edinburgh couldn’t be easier as you can walk everywhere or catch a quick ride on one of the city’s public buses.
Whether you visit during the summer for the Fringe Festival or during the winter to enjoy the holiday decor — you won’t run out of fun things to see and do!
As the writer Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “Edinburgh is what Paris ought to be”.
Arrive in the morning and drop off your luggage at the hotel. The check-in time for most hotels is after 2:00 PM or 3:00 PM. If a room is available early, you may have to pay a fee to check-in early.
Grab a coffee or tea at the Elephant House Café, the birthplace of Harry Potter.
Snap a photo of Greyfriars Bobby.
For those who are not familiar with his story: This dog became known in the 19th century for spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner until he passed away himself in 1872.
Apparently crowds would gather at the entrance of Kirkyard waiting for the one o’clock gun where Bobby would leave his owner’s grave for his midday meal.
Want to enjoy your next holiday while staying on budget? Organize your vacation expenses with my FREE Travel Budget printable below!
- 23 secrets to booking cheap flights
- 18 ways to save money on hotel accommodation
- 25 free things you can get at hotels
Photo of Greyfriars Bobby
Head to the National Museum of Scotland. Plan to spend at least an hour here (or more, depending on your interests).
My must-have Edinburgh accessories:
Click the product to shop
Explore the Scottish National Gallery. Plan to spend about an hour here.
Shop along Princes Street.
Photo of the Dome
Grab a cookie and hot beverage at Ben’s Cookies.
Enjoy a gourmet burger (or veggie burger) at the Red Squirrel.
Photo of Old Tolbooth
Head to Edinburgh Castle first thing in the morning. Aim to be there when it opens as it gets quite busy with tour groups by the lunch hour.
I went first thing on a week day morning and it felt like I had the whole castle to myself!
Plan to spend at least 2 hours here (or more, depending on your walking pace). If you have time, stick around for the one o’clock gun.
Check out Camera Obscura. Don’t miss the Camera Obscura show on the top floor.
The presentation also gives you a nice overview of Edinburgh and its history, which is great if you’re unfamiliar with the area.
Plan to spend about an hour here (or more, depending on your interests).
Photo at Camera Obscura
Visit Victoria Street, which J.K. Rowling used as inspiration for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.
Photo of Victoria Street
Walk along the Royal Mile.
Visit St. Giles’ Cathedral. It’s free to enter and beautiful inside!
Photo of St. Giles’ Cathedral
Explore free museums such as The Museum on the Mound, the Writer’s Museum and the Museum of Edinburgh.
These museums are smaller in size and will not take long to explore.
For a full list of free attractions in Edinburgh, click here.
Choose to go on either a historic or ghostly underground tour with Mercat Tours on the Royal Mile. Click on the link to check out my review of their Ghostly Underground Tour.
Photo of Holyrood Park
Grab a light breakfast and head to Holyrood Park to hike up Arthur’s Seat. Wear comfortable shoes and don’t forget to check out the ruins of St. Anthony’s Chapel.
Enjoy lunch at Clarinda’s Tea Room. Don’t forget to save room for cake and scones! Click the link to check out my review.
Photo of Clarinda’s Tea Room
Explore the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This palace is the official residence of Her Majesty the Queen in Scotland. Plan to spend around 2 hours here. Don’t forget to check out the gardens and Holyrood Abbey.
Head to Calton Hill to get another beautiful view of the city.
Have dinner at a local pub. Sample some of Edinburgh’s whisky.
Photo of Dean Village
Take a walk through Dean Village. This is a beautiful green oasis on the Water of Leith (just a 5-minute walk from Princes Street).
Climb to the top of Scotts Monument. This is a monument to the Scottish author Sir Walter Scott and is the largest monument to a writer in the world.
View from the top of Scott Monument
Have lunch in Leith.
Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens.
Photo in Leith
Spend your last evening in the city at the cinema, theatre, listening to live music at a lounge or attending a comedy show.See the best of Edinburgh with this 4-day itineraryClick To Tweet
Over to you — what are your favourite things to do in Edinburgh?
1. Guide to Climbing Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh
2. Mercat Ghostly Underground tour: Edinburgh vaults
3. The best tea room in Edinburgh
4. How I had a 10-day vacation in London & Edinburgh for only $924 USD
Travel Budget Printable
Enjoy your next holiday while staying on budget with my FREE Travel Budget printable!