I love that you are reading this post because it means that you have booked some flights and come to Edinburgh to spend a few days.
I guess this is your first time in town and I’m really glad you chose El Blog de Viajes to welcome you.
We have organized a free two-day trip to Edinburgh where you will discover the essentials of this beautiful city that the locals call “Edinburgh” even if you write “Edinburgh”. Don’t you believe me? Look when you hear people chattering at the Royal Mile: only tourists say Edin-burgh! Good thing you’re reading this and now you’re gonna be able to talk like a local.
First Day in Edinburgh
On the first day we always recommend a free tour of the city of Edinburgh.
Not only will you learn to locate yourself in the city, but you will also soak up history, culture and many anecdotes that will serve as the basis for subsequent visits. The functioning of the free tours has already been explained on other occasions: basically the guide takes the group to the different places of interest and at the end of the two-and-a-half hour tour, asks for a tip. How much to give is at everyone’s discretion.
Where to eat
After the tour it is almost always lunchtime and we recommend some typical places where you can have a quick drink to keep visiting things in the afternoon, as the British time means that almost everything closes between 5 and 6 o’clock.
A very interesting option for Harry Potter fans is The Elephant House, where JK Rolling wrote the Hogwarts story. If you don’t want to leave without haggis, the traditional Scottish food, we recommend the Royal McGregor pub (at the Royal Mile).
If you prefer something exclusively veg(etari)ano, The Baked Potato is a very good option and a place of worship for the locals (and it is also very central!).
Once rested and with a full belly, I would dedicate the afternoon of these two days in Edinburgh to the following things (in the order you wish):
Visit some things nearby or in the Royal Mile that you have seen above when doing the tour, such as St Giles Cathedral or Victoria Street, one of the most charming streets. Take a picture with David Hume!
Visit Edinburgh Castle (for a fee, more information here). Depending on your level of passion for this monument the time you will be here will vary, but I would calculate 2 hours at least.
Climb Calton Hill (free visit, all details here). This hill is very accessible and the photos you are going to take from the top are going to be the best memories you can take with you from Edinburgh… Estimate 1 hour of your time approximately.
Walk down the most central street, Princes St and visit the Princes Gardens with its clock of flowers, take pictures with the castle in the background and also with the monument to Scott. Take the opportunity to enter some souvenir shops… I would devote about another hour to this part.
Take a walk in Dean Village (also free), taking advantage of the opportunity to walk a little (weather and climate permitting) along the Leith River route, known as Water of Leith. It depends on how fanatical you are of this beautiful landscape and the nature that surrounds the river, but I estimate that it will take you between 1 and 2 hours.
Dinner in Edinburgh
After a very active first day – a tour of almost three hours in the morning and about 5 hours for different visits in the afternoon), we will leave you some options for dinner, for all pockets and tastes.
After all, most of the visits we’ve recommended are free (you’ll only have spent seeing the castle and the tour tip) so you might want to give yourself a small, well-deserved luxury in the form of dinner – or maybe you’d rather repeat one of the places we suggest you eat!
In any case, our preferred options are:
High price (more than 35 pounds per person, excluding alcoholic beverages)
I never tire of recommending the incredible Six by Nico, a hidden gem in the heart of Edinburgh. It’s usually full, so if you can’t find a place, another possibility for a luxury dinner is The Dome, in George St. Vegetarians and vegans don’t be afraid, as there are many options in both restaurants.
High average price (about 20-25 pounds per person excluding alcoholic beverages)
I think if you like Indian food, in the UK it is one of the places where you can have a good curry or a gulab jamún almost to the level we tried in our trip to India. One of my favorite Indian restaurants in Edinburgh is Ignite, a place very close to Haymarket that serves delicious Indian food – the best korma of my life I’ve taken there.
If you are in the mood for something more British Angels with Bagpipes is also a possibility to consider; located in the Royal Mile, it will surprise you with its black haggis roll creations and other Scottish specialities, which you can dine on as part of the tasting menu or also (and cheaper) ordering from the menu.
Low price (about 15 per person excluding alcoholic beverages)
This is the category with the most options without a doubt.
For delicious burgers that will leave your stomach full, I really like Bread meats bread (again, don’t be fooled by the name, there are vegetarian and vegan options for all tastes).
It is also an option some of the chains that have different premises around the city, such as Zizzis (Italian cuisine) or the ultra famous Nandos. If you prefer an Asian buffet one option may be China Red, very close to the Usher Hall auditorium building. And if you’d like to try one of the city’s most famous exclusively vegetarian and vegan restaurants, then I can’t forget Hendersons!
Music and drinks
If after dinner and kicking all day you still have strength, then I have to make you the wave! Taking advantage of your two-day visit to Edinburgh is a good decision.
For the more active and thirsty for a little nightlife, I recommend you visit one of these places:
– The Royal Oak Pub, which is famous for its folk improvisations or…
– Ghilie Dhu, with her traditional Scottish ceilidh dance most days of the week.
I let you dance and give it all, I think I’m going to bed because the second day you’re going to need all your energies, believe me!
Summary of places visited on the first day
– Free Tour
– Royal Mile
– The hill called Calton Hill
– Princess St and its gardens
– Dean Village and Water of Leith