Edinburgh, the beautiful capital city of Scotland continues to top the lists of the best cities to visit in Europe according to Travel and Leisure. Full of history and charm, I guarantee you will find plenty of things to do during your 2 days in Edinburgh! Edinburgh was the final stop on our 7 day Scotland itinerary, before heading off to Dublin, and I must admit, we quickly fell in love with this charming city. And trust us, Edinburgh is a compact city, so 2 days in Edinburgh is just the right amount of time.
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2 Days in Edinburgh: Day 1
Take an Edinburgh Bus Tour
After dropping your bags off at your Edinburgh hotel or Airbnb (click here to get a $40 Airbnb credit), introduce yourself to this great city with a bus tour. The City Sightseeing Bus Tour is a great way to get to know the layout of the city and see it from a different perspective, atop the double-decker bus. You can hop-on and hop-off at 14 different stops, or just stay on to orient yourself with the city. Either way, for less than $20 per person, this is a great introduction to Edinburgh.
Walk The Royal Mile
An area that is jammed pack with things to do is definitely Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Based in old town, the entire stretch of the Royal Mile is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mile-long stretch of street connects the fabulous Edinburgh Castle to the palace of Holyrood House. Lined with shops, restaurants, quaint closes (alleys), churches, and visitor attractions, the Royal Mile is definitely a place to spend some time.
Tour Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle sits at the top of the hill and marks the beginning of the Royal Mile. Serving as a royal residence and then a military stronghold, this beautiful castle demands attention as it looms over the historic town that it has protected for so many years. Once inside, you will find an amazing view of the city, a tiny Romanesque chapel, the Scottish National War Memorial, and the historic Royal Palace that houses the crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny. Be sure and visit the Royal Apartments to see the bedchamber where Mary, Queen of Scots, gave birth to her son James VI.
To get a complete history on the castle, along with skip the line entry, book a Skip-the-Line Edinburgh Castle Walking Tour. This 1.5-hour tour teaches you all of the history and secrets of the castle while still allowing you to see all of the fabulous sites. Trust us, the castle sites are much more interesting when you actually know what you’re looking at and the guide let us in on a little secret about a free whisky tasting!
If you are spending some time touring Scotland like we did, then the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass is definitely worth investing in. Not only did the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass allow us free entry into Edinburgh Castle, but we were also able to tour several beautiful castles and abbeys in Scotland for free with our pass.
If you’re a castle lover, you might consider visiting the stunning castles in Fife as well.
Enjoy the Scotch Whisky Experience
After leaving the castle, you are bound to see The Scotch Whisky Experience. Head inside to enjoy a barrel ride through a virtual distillery while learning all about the making of Scotch whisky. After your tour, you will be escorted into the largest collection of Scotch Whisky in the world before participating in a tasting of your choice. Read all about our delightful Scotch Whisky Experience to get more information on this fun place.
Eat at Oink
If you’re on the Royal Mile and you’re feeling hungry, then you have to head to Oink. Now, don’t get freaked out by the fact that there is a whole roasted pig staring at you, it’s ok. In a minute you are going to be face first in one of the most delicious sandwiches ever, so overcome your apprehension and dive in. Go all out with your sandwich by adding stuffing, apples, and some awesome sauce. Trust us, you won’t regret it as these sandwiches are delicious!
If you’re not into Oink then check out Where to Eat in Edinburgh on Your First Visit.
Check out St. Giles Cathedral
Also located on the Royal Mile, St. Giles Cathedral is a feast for the eyes. Founded in 1124, this historic church has been a religious focal point in Scotland for hundreds of years. Inside you will find beautiful stained glass, intricate and beautiful architecture, exquisite carvings, paintings, and decorations.
Tour Edinburgh’s Underground Vaults
Book a night tour of Edinburgh’s mysterious underground vaults. This Underground Vault Tour was one of the highlights of our trip to Edinburgh. Not only do you get to tour the underground vaults, but you also get exclusive access to “off-limits” parts of Cannongate Kirkyard. This access to two of the most haunted places in Edinburgh is sure to have you getting chills by the time you’re done.
2 Days in Edinburgh: Day 2
Visit Holyrood Park and Hike Arthur’s Seat
Holyrood Park is a short walk from the Royal Mile, and the perfect place to start out day 2 of your 2 days in Edinburgh. This 640-acre park is next to Holyrood Palace, and its crown jewel is the highest point, Arthur’s Seat. One on top of Arthur’s Seat, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the city and park below. While in the park, don’t forget to check out the 15th-century medieval chapel, St Anthony’s Chapel and Salisburg Crags-a series of 150-foot cliff faces.
Tour the Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Queen’s official residence in Scotland and home to an immense amount of Scottish Royal history, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is your next stop. Located at the end of the Royal Mile, you can explore the palace and learn all about its connection to Mary, Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie. This lavishly decorated palace also has a beautiful garden and a historic abbey on site.
Escape to Dean’s Village
Get out of the tourist area today and feel like you’ve left the city behind when you step into the tranquil Dean’s Village area of Edinburgh. This residential area located along the waters of the Leith River is sure to win you over with its charm. Founded in the 12th-century as a small mill town, Dean’s Village has transformed into a charming neighborhood that is a pleasure to walk around and relish in the peace and quiet.
Check out The Greyfriars Bobby
Greyfriars Bobby is the most loyal dog in Scotland, if not in the world! Bobby, a long-haired Skye terrier belonged to an Edinburgh police officer, John Gray. It is said that Bobby and Gray were best friends until Gray passed away in 1858. When Gray was buried in the cemetery, Bobby spent the next 14 years living at his gravesite showing his complete loyalty to his deceased owner. A statue to Bobby has been placed on the south side of the George IV Bridge and visitors can visit his grave in the Greyfriars Cemetery.
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