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48 Hours in Edinburgh by Girl About Edinburgh

By Courtney Hall – 15th June 2020

A Weekend in Edinburgh:

It may not be the biggest city in Scotland, but with its history and romantic beauty, it’s no wonder Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital. Don’t let its size fool you, it’s bursting with things to do whether you’re a lone wanderer, a group traveller, a romantic jet setter or a family adventure seeker, there’s something for every one of you. If you’re travelling by air, then you can hop on the tram from the airport which will get you into the city in under 30 minutes, there are alternate buses and taxis if you don’t fancy a tram. If you’re a sucker for a good view then the train will bring you into the heart of the city, whether you’re getting into Waverly Station or Haymarket. Once you’re in the centre then everything is walking distance, so get your comfiest shoes at the ready and let me take you on my ideal 48 hours in my favourite city and home, Edinburgh.

Oh, and don’t forget your brolly you’re coming to Scotland after all and we’re famous for having 4 seasons in one day!

Girl About Edinburgh

Friday lunchtime in Edinburgh:

First stop, Eden Locke, your hip new home for the next 48hrs. Dump those bags, free your hands, put some comfy shoes on and get ready for your Edinburgh adventure. If you’re feeling peckish you can pick up some lunch to have on the go, or if their on-tap prosecco tickles your fancy you can have a quick tipple before I walk your little tooshies off. What better place to start your Edinburgh journey than a visit to Edinburgh Castle. Built in the 12th century and built on top of an extinct volcano and housing the oldest building in Edinburgh, St Margaret’s Chapel, you’ll be sure to feel the history as you walk around the famous walls. But, if history is not your thing, then the views alone will leave you breathless. As local law prevents buildings taller than the castle, you will have unspoiled 360 views over our romantic city.


Friday afternoon in Edinburgh:

You’ll be pleased to hear that your next destination is not a long walk from here, in fact, you’re already standing at it, The Royal Mile. Its name comes from its tradition as a processional route for kings and queens for the last 500 years between the Castle at the top and Holyrood Palace at the bottom.  Fun Fact: The Royal mile is actually 1 mile and 6 kilometres long. As you stroll down, take your time to explore the little lanes and closes that lead off on both sides of the mile.  Some often lead to excellent viewpoints of the city below and others are home to our most unique hidden bars.

There’re lots of fun things for kids and grown-ups to do on the mile, you can visit Camera Obscure & World of Illusions, The Museum of Childhood and if you’re a big Harry Potter fan you can take a quick detour to The Elephant House Café to visit one of the many places in Edinburgh that J.K Rowling wrote her books.

Returning to the mile you’ll be struck by the stunning St Giles Cathedral, which is also the heart of Midlothian. See if you can spot the heart-shaped mosaic built into the cobbled street outside of the Cathedral, but be careful not to get too close when taking your selfies as Edinburgh residents often spit on it as they pass.  This tradition harks back to the time when it was the entrance to the Old Tollbooth prison, home to some of the cities’ most dangerous criminals.

If you’re one for spooky things, visit Mary Kings Close, home to the cities long lost underground streets. These were sealed off during the plague, along with their residents, never to be reopened.  The street you are walking on today was built on top of where they originally stood.

If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to visit The Edinburgh Fudge Kitchen where you can sample some of the most delicious fudge imaginable.  Don’t forget to pick up a slice to take with you for the rest of your walk. When you reach the bottom, you’re spoilt for choice on what to visit next, with Holyrood Palace, the queen’s ancient residence straight ahead and the modern architectural wonder of the Scottish Parliament to your right.   Just behind lies Arthurs Seat, another extinct volcano which offers unparalleled views of Edinburgh and its surroundings.

Friday evening in Edinburgh:

Head back to your Edinburgh home for a quick rest stop, put your heels on and treat yourself to a taxi to dinner. No trip to Scotland is complete without tasting our most famous cuisine, Haggis.  We’re taking you to Stockbridge, home to the Scran and Scallie, a family-friendly gastropub specialising in the finest local Scottish cuisine. The menu was crafted by two of Scotland’s top chefs, Michelin starred Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack, you will be leaving with full tummies and planning your next trip to Edinburgh just so you can go again.

If you’re not ready to call it a night, you’re spoilt for choice with some of the cities best bars only a stone throw from the restaurant; Good Brothers, The Antiquary Bar, The Last Word, Smith and Gertrude to name a few.


Saturday morning in Edinburgh:

If you had one too many orange wines at Good Brothers, speaking solely from a friend’s experience of course ;), you’ll need a good breakfast and a strong coffee. We’re going to start the day by taking a walk up Calton Hill, where we will enjoy a continental breakfast with a view. The Lookout is one of Edinburgh’s newest restaurants, twinned with another of my favourites, The Gardner’s Cottage which sits at the bottom of the hill.  Both offer exceptional service, a unique dining experience and menus that use local produce.

Now, that you’ve filled your tummies it’s time to explore a little and take in the sights. Housing six monuments and the city’s Observatory, it’s easy to see how Calton Hill earned it’s UNESCO World Heritage title. The most prominent of these is the ‘National Monument’, built as a memorial to those who died in the Napoleonic War, it was intended to be a replica of Athens’ Parthenon.  After funding dried up and the work on the monument halted, the half-finished structure later became known as “Edinburgh’s shame”. Luckily for us, it’s still stunning and a great place to perch for a rest with a view.


Saturday lunch in Edinburgh:

Next up, we’re going back to the old town through Princes Street Gardens, to the vibrant Grassmarket. Don’t be surprised if you bump into some ridiculously dressed groups of people, this is a famous haunt for stag and hen do’s due to the number of quirky bars and restaurants it has on offer. You may not be hungry after your breakfast so a smoothie at Hula or a slice of cake at Pumpkin Brown or LoveCrumbs might be just what the doctor ordered. However, if you are looking for something more substantial there are some great restaurants on Victoria Terrace which overlook Victoria Street, one of Edinburgh’s most photographed streets, famous for its colourful shops.

Saturday afternoon in Edinburgh:

Now, the next part is up to you. My recommendation and your first option would be to freshen up at your Edinburgh home, then take a 10-minute walk from the hotel to the historic Dean Village.   You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you explore around the 19th-century mill village, with beautifully painted houses, tranquil gardens and a river rushing through, you won’t believe you’re still in the centre of the busy city. From here you can walk or cycle (rent one of the many pay-as-you-go bikes dotted around the city), along the Water of Leith and find further history such as the Goddess of Wealth Statue at St Bernard’s Well.  Follow the river to The Shore, your dinner destination.

Alternatively, if you’d prefer less of a walk, another option would be to go straight to the Dean Village from the Grassmarket, then head home to freshen up before jumping in a taxi to dinner.


Saturday evening in Edinburgh:

I’m now taking you to the edgy and independent area of the city, Leith, made famous by the movie Trainspotting. Leith has not always had the best reputation but it has been brought back to life in recent years and has become a favourite for the city’s creatives. Bursting with independent shops, restaurants and bars, you’re spoilt for choice on where to spend your last night. That’s why I’ve chosen to suggest two of my favourites.

If you’re wanting to make your last evening special, then I would highly recommend Borough. Owned by a dynamic Husband and Wife duo, they have poured their heart and soul into making your dining experience a special one.  You will feel like part of the family as soon as you walk through their doors. Enjoy a 4-course ingredient lead menu, serving up locally sourced food bursting with creativity. Each wine and beer that’s on the menu has been handpicked to ensure that it complements what you’re eating.

If you’re looking for something more casual then Teuchters Landing is the place for you. Set at the edge of Leith’s famous docks, you can choose to dine al fresco on their waterside platform or stay cosy inside in their historic pub. Serving up traditional heartwarming local pub grub. Before becoming vegan, this was one of our favourite places for hungover comfort food, our favourite was Steak Pie and Mac & Cheese topped with bacon, both of which are their specialities. Why not end your evening by tasting your way through their extensive collection of single malt whisky along with some of Scotland’s finest signature spirits.

If you don’t want to end your evening here, then you can head along to the infamous Port O’ Leith Bar, which has featured in Ian Rankins famous crime thrillers as well as the movie Sunshine on Leith. Alternatively, you can head back into town and try two of my favourite cocktail bars, Lucky Liquor and Panda & Sons which are just a stone throw away from your home. Both have a great atmosphere, and if you’re into theatrics then you will love the “Speak Easy” style entrance to Panda & Sons.  I’ll let you work out how to find the bar yourselves.


Sunday morning:

Saving the best for last, you’ll return to one of my very favourite places in Edinburgh, Stockbridge. I know you were here for dinner on Friday, however, it’s worth exploring. On Sunday, everyone flocks to their famous market, which offers the finest local produce. With only a few spaces for stalls, it’s one of the most sought-after markets to be part of. Make your way through the crowds of families and friends to sample some of Edinburgh’s finest small local businesses. If you want to avoid the crowds then head to The Pantry for a variety of yummy breakfast options, you’ll be sure to find something for everyone.

To walk off your breakfast then head to Inverleith Pond to feed the ducks or The Royal Botanic Gardens for a walk around their enchanted gardens. If you would like to pick up some keepsakes there are lots of independent boutiques and some of the best charity shops in town where you can have a browse before your journey home.

Don’t forget to check out Circus Lane for one of the most Instagram worthy photos of the city.

I hope you have enjoyed your 48 hours in Edinburgh and have fallen in love with it as much as I have.


4 of my favourite places to stay in Edinburgh: 

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