The perfect destination for a getaway of a couple of days, Edinburgh welcomes you with its gothic yet warm atmosphere.
The great thing about visiting the Scottish capital is that the entire city centre is accessible on walking distance, meaning that once you arrive, you have nothing but comfortable shoes to worry about.
© Irene Franci, Edinburgh, 2022.
Calton Hill is the absolute perfect place to start or end your day in Edinburgh. No matter whether you enjoy the sunrise or the perfect sunset, once you climb up the hill you will be treated to breathtaking views of the entire city. No wonder this site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is also home to the beautiful National Monument, modeled after the Pantheon.
Having enjoyed the tranquillity of Calton Hill, you can head straight to the Royal Mile to immerse yourself in Scottish tradition; this is a long street that connects the Palace of Holyroodhouse with Edinburgh Castle. As you start walking along here, you are completely immersed in the essence of Edinburgh, with its monuments, churches, traditional shops and live bagpipe music accompanying you during your walk.
Two of my favourite spots on the Royal Mile are St. Giles Cathedral, with its beautiful stained glass windows, and St. John’s Highland Church, the highest point in the city centre.
If you feel like immersing yourself in the real Scottish spirit, you must stop at the Scotch Whiskey Experience, where you will learn the process and history of the famous Scottish liquor and, of course, taste it afterwards.
After reaching the highest point of the Royal Mile, you are greeted by the iconic Edinburgh Castle and a dazzling view of the surrounding hills. The Castle houses several significant Scottish artefacts, including a collection of the crown jewels. You can also visit the National War Museum inside as well as all the different parts of the castle, a fascinating journey through the history of Edinburgh and Scotland.
Descending from the Castle towards Princes street is the National Gallery of Scotland, one of the largest and most valuable art galleries in Scotland.
After a day’s immersion in history and tradition, you can return to the present with a stroll down Princes Street, where you will find all the most famous shops and also the Princes Mall.
To round off your first day in the capital, I recommend sipping a whisky or a pint in one of the pubs all over the city, ideally in those where you can also enjoy live music.
Rise and shine on your second day!
There is no better way to start the second day than to stroll through the enchanting Royal Botanic Gardens, one of the largest gardens in Britain, with a huge variety of plant species from all over the world. It is the perfect place to recharge your batteries.
© Irene Franci, Edinburgh, 2022.
Later, head to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the royal family in Edinburgh. Here you can visit the interiors and take a look at the historic flats and portraits of Scottish kings.
The last stop to end this weekend is the National Museum of Scotland, a museum that will immediately amaze you with its magnificent architecture. This museum displays a variety of different collections, ranging from natural history – my favourite – to science, art and design: it is truly fascinating to explore this place.
When you arrive at the end of your weekend, you will surely leave Edinburgh thinking that two days may not be long enough to explore the entire city, but more than enough to fall completely in love with it.
Fun fact: If you are a dedicated Harry Potter fan, you absolutely have to explore the colourful Victoria Street, which is where J.K. Rowling was inspired to create the iconic Diagon Alley in the wizard stories. Plus, a stroll from the National Museum of Scotland you can see The Elephant House with its iconic red door, which is the café where J.K. Rowling sat down and wrote the Harry Potter stories in the 1990s, the place where her ideas came to life.