Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is a city that effortlessly blends its illustrious past with modern-day vibrancy. Its cobblestone streets, stunning architecture, and breathtaking landscapes make it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a unique experience. With a history that spans centuries, Edinburgh offers a wealth of attractions, cultural experiences, and culinary delights. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a food lover, or a digital nomad looking for coworking spaces, this charming city has something for everyone.
1. The History of the City
Edinburgh is steeped in history, with evidence of human habitation dating back thousands of years. The city’s iconic landmark, Edinburgh Castle, stands proudly atop Castle Rock, a volcanic plug that has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. The castle itself has witnessed numerous sieges and battles throughout history, and exploring its ancient walls provides a fascinating glimpse into Scotland’s past.
Another historical gem is the Royal Mile, a bustling street that stretches from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Along this mile-long stretch, you’ll find stunning medieval and Georgian architecture, quaint shops selling traditional Scottish goods, and historic sites such as St Giles’ Cathedral and the Scottish Parliament.
2. What to Do If You Have 3 Days in the City
With only three days to explore Edinburgh, it’s essential to plan your itinerary wisely to make the most of your time. Here are some must-visit attractions that will give you a taste of the city’s rich heritage and cultural offerings:
Day 1: Discover the Old Town
Start your adventure in the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with narrow alleyways, hidden courtyards, and fascinating historical landmarks. Begin your day at Edinburgh Castle, where you can delve into Scottish history, admire the Crown Jewels, and enjoy panoramic views of the city from its ramparts.
Afterward, make your way down the Royal Mile, exploring its numerous closes (alleyways) and historic sites. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Real Mary King’s Close, a preserved 17th-century street beneath the Royal Mile, offering a captivating insight into Edinburgh’s past.
In the afternoon, head to the National Museum of Scotland, located on Chambers Street. This impressive museum houses a vast collection of artifacts, including archaeological treasures, natural history exhibits, and interactive displays that will engage visitors of all ages.
Day 2: Experience the Majesty of the New Town
Dedicate your second day to exploring the New Town, a Georgian masterpiece characterized by wide streets, elegant townhouses, and beautiful gardens. Start by wandering along Princes Street, the city’s main shopping thoroughfare, and take in the stunning views of the iconic Edinburgh Castle.
Make your way to Calton Hill, a hilltop park that offers panoramic vistas of the city skyline. Here, you’ll find striking monuments, including the National Monument of Scotland and the Nelson Monument. Climb to the top of the Nelson Monument for a bird’s-eye view of Edinburgh.
In the afternoon, indulge in some retail therapy on George Street, known for its upscale boutiques and stylish restaurants. For art enthusiasts, a visit to the Scottish National Gallery is a must. This world-class gallery boasts an extensive collection of European masterpieces, including works by Titian, Rembrandt, and Monet.
Day 3: Immerse Yourself in Scottish Culture
On your final day, explore the cultural treasures of Edinburgh. Begin at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. Take a tour of the palace and its beautiful gardens, where you can relive the dramatic history of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Next, visit the Royal Yacht Britannia, the former royal yacht of Queen Elizabeth II. Step aboard this floating palace and discover the opulent cabins, elegant lounges, and the royal family’s private quarters. The yacht offers a fascinating insight into the life of the British royal family.
In the evening, treat yourself to a traditional Scottish experience by attending a lively ceilidh, a traditional Gaelic social gathering featuring music, dancing, and merriment. Engage in the spirited dances, learn traditional Scottish steps, and immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture.
3. How to Get There and How to Get Around
Edinburgh is well-connected and easily accessible by various modes of transportation. The city is served by Edinburgh Airport, which offers numerous domestic and international flights. From the airport, you can take a taxi, airport shuttle, or the Airlink 100 bus, which provides direct service to the city center.
If you prefer traveling by train, Edinburgh has two main railway stations: Waverley and Haymarket. Both stations are conveniently located in the city center and offer regular services to and from major cities across the United Kingdom.
Once you’ve arrived in Edinburgh, getting around the city is a breeze. The compact city center is easily explored on foot, and most of the main attractions are within walking distance of each other. For longer journeys or when you need a break from walking, the city has an efficient public transportation system consisting of buses and trams. Purchase an Edinburgh Travel Pass for unlimited travel on buses, trams, and trains within the city.
4. Where to Stay
Edinburgh offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. Here are a few highly recommended choices in different neighborhoods:
Old Town: The Witchery by the Castle
For a truly unique and luxurious experience, stay at The Witchery by the Castle. This boutique hotel is located just steps away from Edinburgh Castle and offers lavish suites with sumptuous décor, antique furnishings, and whirlpool baths. Indulge in the hotel’s renowned restaurant, which serves exquisite Scottish cuisine.
New Town: The Balmoral Hotel
Situated on Princes Street, The Balmoral Hotel is an iconic landmark in Edinburgh. This elegant five-star hotel boasts luxurious rooms and suites, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and a spa offering rejuvenating treatments. Enjoy breathtaking views of the city and the castle from the hotel’s rooftop bar.
Stockbridge: Nira Caledonia
For a more intimate and tranquil setting, consider Nira Caledonia in the charming neighborhood of Stockbridge. This boutique hotel features individually designed rooms with contemporary Scottish décor, a cozy bar, and a gourmet restaurant. Explore the quaint streets of Stockbridge and enjoy its eclectic mix of shops, cafes, and art galleries.
5. Where and What to Eat
Edinburgh is a food lover’s paradise, offering a wide range of culinary delights that showcase the best of Scottish cuisine. From traditional dishes to modern twists, the city’s dining scene has something to satisfy every palate. Here are a few notable restaurants and food experiences to consider:
Owned by renowned Scottish chef Tom Kitchin, The Kitchin is a Michelin-starred restaurant that focuses on seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Indulge in a meticulously prepared tasting menu featuring dishes such as hand-dived scallops, Scotch beef, and Scottish cheeses.
The Scotch Whisky Experience
No visit to Scotland is complete without tasting its famous whisky. Visit The Scotch Whisky Experience on the Royal Mile, where you can embark on a sensory journey through the world of whisky. Learn about the distilling process, explore a vast collection of whiskies, and enjoy a tasting session led by knowledgeable experts.
For a quick and delicious bite, head to Oink, a popular eatery specializing in slow-roasted hog roast sandwiches. Choose your bun, select your sauce, and savor the succulent flavors of tender roast pork. This mouthwatering experience is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
6. Coworking Opportunities
For digital nomads and remote workers, Edinburgh offers a vibrant coworking scene with plenty of options to stay productive while enjoying the city’s charm. Here are a few coworking spaces worth exploring:
Located in the heart of the city, CodeBase is Scotland’s largest technology incubator and coworking space. It provides a supportive environment for startups and entrepreneurs, offering flexible workspaces, networking events, and access to a thriving community of innovators.
The Melting Pot
The Melting Pot is a social innovation coworking space that fosters collaboration and social change. With a variety of flexible membership options, it provides a welcoming and inspiring environment for freelancers, creatives, and social entrepreneurs. Join their diverse community and benefit from workshops, networking opportunities, and mentoring programs.
For those seeking a more established coworking brand, WeWork has a presence in Edinburgh. With multiple locations in the city, WeWork offers beautifully designed workspaces, amenities such as meeting rooms and event spaces, and a global network of professionals.
Edinburgh is a city that effortlessly combines its rich history, vibrant culture, and culinary delights, creating an unforgettable destination for travelers. From exploring ancient castles and wandering through medieval streets to indulging in traditional Scottish cuisine and immersing yourself in the city’s coworking scene, Edinburgh offers a diverse range of experiences. So pack your bags, embark on a journey through time and taste, and let the enchanting beauty of Edinburgh leave an indelible mark on your soul.