Your friends or relatives have just arrived in Edinburgh for one day only. With so much to see and do in the Scottish capital, it’s hard to know what’s worth cramming into your precious time. We asked the people of Edinburgh what they’d recommend, and pulled together our schedule based on suggestions from the people who know best.
This action packed itinerary includes the major attractions, but the main focus is on showing off the real Edinburgh, away from the beaten track of the tourists. With so much character to the city and so many different sides to its ‘personality’, it would be a shame for any visitor not to get a taste of at least some of its quirky charm.
Our full itinerary could probably only be completed by people with super human speed and stamina, but realistically you could pick and choose from this to create your perfect day.
7am – 8am: A walk on Cramond Beach
Kick off the day with an early morning walk along Cramond Beach. The rest of your time will be jam packed with city centre attractions, so it’s nice to start things off with a bit of fresh air and stunning scenery away from town. Enjoy a sandy beach, wide promenades, an ice-cream van and cafe, free parking and a great view of the Firth of Forth. Watch the boats in the harbour or if the tide’s out, take a stroll out to Cramond Island. It’s a beautiful part of Edinburgh, steeped in Roman history.
8:30am – 9:30am: A browse through Stockbridge
Begin the journey into town and on the way in take a stroll through Stockbridge. This leafy village-like part of town is home to a range of unique independent boutiques and businesses, as well as great quality charity and second-hand shops.
10:30am – 11:00am: Coffee on Broughton Street
After all that walking you’ll be in need of a rest. Stop for coffee at Artisan Roast on Broughton Street, a great little coffee shop with lots of charm. Broughton Street is bursting with character and well worth a look around.
11:30am – 12:30pm: Guided bus tour of city attractions
Rather than trailing round the main Edinburgh attractions one by one, we would recommend taking a guided open-top bus tour of the city to get it all in one journey. There’s a range of different tours available focusing on different attractions, and with flexible hop-on hop-off tickets, you can get out for a quick look around the attractions that interest you most. See Edinburgh Bus Tours for more information, click here to get informed.
1pm: Lunch in the New Town
Following an action packed morning it’s time for some lunch. There’s nothing more luxurious than Afternoon Tea, so we’d suggest treating your guests to one at the Scottish National Gallery on The Mound. The delightful restaurant has lovely views across Princes Street Gardens, and if you’ve got time after lunch you can always have a wander round the exhibitions.
3pm – 4pm: Stroll up Calton Hill
For some of the best views of the city head to Calton Hill at the East of the City. It’s a short climb up some steps, with views out to the Firth of Forth and beyond at the top. There’s also the opportunity for some great photos against the backdrop of the Parthenon.
4:00pm – 4:45pm: National Museum Rooftop Garden
The recently renovated National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street is another excellent attraction and tells the story of Scotland’s history, as well as exploring the natural world, world cultures, art and design, and science and technology. Take a trip up to the 7th floor and you’ll be met with a stunning rooftop garden and a great skyline of Edinburgh. The garden reflects Scotland’s landscapes, with coastal plants, sunken platters and summit vegetation.
5:30pm – 7:00pm: Drinks on The Shore
Head along to The Shore in Leith for your pre-dinner drink to get the evening started. Walk along the Water of Leith and emerge at the Shore, lined with bistros, bars and restaurants. The Roseleaf cocktail bar is a delightful place to stop for a drink – all their delicious cocktails come served in china cups and teapots for a really original experience.
7.30pm: Dinner at The Grain Store Restaurant on Victoria Street
Where to go for dinner? Why not try The Grain Store Restaurant, located on vibrant Victoria Street, just up from the Grassmarket in Edinburgh’s Old Town. This top-class restaurant believes in serving the very best Scottish produce and all their dishes are cooked to order. You can expect an intimate dining area with a great atmosphere and beautiful decor.
10pm – 11.30pm Cocktails at Dragonfly in the Grassmarket
Wander down Victoria Street after your meal and into the vibrant Grassmarket, packed with pubs and bars. If its cocktails you’re after, head to the Dragonfly, an award-winning cocktail bar which is unique to Edinburgh.
11.30pm – onwards: A dance at the Jazz Bar
Dance the night away to live music at Edinburgh’s Jazz Bar. It’s an upbeat bar with tables and chairs, as well as room to dance, and is usually full of people from all walks of life. Expect more than just jazz, there’s music from a variety of genres.