This Edinburgh itinerary is authored by Aga.
It will welcome you with the sounds of the bagpipes, hustle, and bustle of the historic city center, the sweet smell of whiskey and stunning views of the beautiful architecture.
Edinburgh is a city to be in.
You can explore the brilliant museums, admire fascinating, historical attractions, stunning architecture, try delicious food and even climb the ancient volcano.
Let’s have a look at the best Edinburgh itinerary to make the most of your 3 days in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Itinerary Day 1 – Explore Edinburgh’s Old Town
In your first day in the Scotland’s capital, you should head to the main place in the city – the historic city centre, classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Start from the famous Royal Mile – the succession of the streets in the old town connecting two significant locations in Scottish history – Edinburgh Castle and Palace of Holyrood house. Here you can stroll in between the local shops, admire old churches and typical buildings and grab a pint in one of the typical Scottish pubs.
Edinburgh Castle is a city’s main historic fortress and a must-see attraction. Towering over the city buildings on the volcanic cliff, called a Castle rock, the building has a rich and interesting history. Admire the 360 degrees view from the castle walls, visit the charming chapel, still used for the weddings, and check multiple well-preserved rooms with periodically changing exhibitions.
Full of pubs and outdoor areas, Grassmarket is another historic part of Edinburgh, with many events taking place on the square. If you head towards Georgie IV Bridge, you can find the statue of the famous local terrier – Greyfriars Bobby and the pub named after him. There’s a small church located behind it, also worth visiting. You can cozy up in a cute bookstore and watch the world go by as well.
Finish your day in one of the local pubs and enjoy the happy Scottish vibe!
Edinburgh Itinerary Day 2 – Visiting the New Town
Palace of Holyroodhouse
Start your day with a visit to Holyrood Palace – the official Scottish residence of Queen Elizabeth II. You can visit The State Apartments, Chambers of Mary, the Queen of Scot’s and tour a charming Abbey. Arrive early to avoid the crowds.
If you have some more time, on the way, you can have a look at the Scottish Parliament with free or guided tours. Be prepared for the security check. All visits are free of charge and usually include changing exhibitions. Check the Parliament website for the details of what is happening in the Parliament on the specific days.
New Town has a lot to offer. From the great shopping opportunities along the Princess street, the colorful flowers and green grass perfect for relaxing in the Princess gardens, to wonderful Scottish National Gallery full of interesting artwork. By Princess Street, the towering Scott Monument should also catch your eye.
It’s the largest monument dedicated to a writer in the world – erected for the Sir Walter Scott. In the proximity lies St. Andrews Square, where in the summer you can find many outdoor beer gardens and Edinburgh in winter has the vibrant Christmas market.
National Museum of Scotland
A very interesting and free museum, where you can learn about Scottish history, literature, and science. Save at least a couple of hours if you want to see it properly!
Edinburgh Itinerary Day 3 – Hiking in the City
Today you can go hiking and visit two great locations overlooking the city – Arthur’s Seat and Calton Hill. Both great for taking a picnic or a drink up and enjoying the views.
I’m sure you’ve already spotted the huge hill overlooking the city. It’s Arthur’s Seat – an ancient volcano and the highest hill in Edinburgh, located in the Holyrood Park. With its interesting geology and diverse flora, it’s a site of special interest and provides amazing views over the whole city. In the area, you can also visit the 15th century’s medieval chapel and the Duddingston Loch – a lake filled with swans and ducks.
For more of the great views of the city head to Calton Hill. Grab a snack and some drinks, sit on the grass and enjoy the evening view of the old town lit up. Wrap up warm, as the weather in Scotland can change and the wind will be stronger on the top.
There are several possible day trips from Edinburgh. They include visiting another big Scottish city Glasgow, which is a popular destination for shopping and going out. Another place, located close to Glasgow is a beautiful hilly area of Loch Lomond, where you can stroll around the lake and climb few hills. Another day trip can be taken to Stirling where you can visit multiple historic sites and monuments, together with a famous Stirling castle.
Check out my Edinburgh packing list to be fully prepared for your trip, no matter what time of the year! And if you have more time in Scotland (and I sure hope you do), visiting the Isle of Skye is a must!
Edinburgh is a great city with a positive vibe. There’s even more to do than what has been described above – with multiple shows, art galleries and festivals (the famous Fringe in August) happening all year round. Come to Edinburgh and check it all yourself.
Any plans on doing an Edinburgh trip soon?
Aga from Worldering Around – a geologist from the profession and a travel addict with the passion for the outdoor adventures and photography. I love discovering the off-the-beaten-path locations and I’ve independently visited almost 50 countries while studying or working full-time. On Worldering Around I share my backpacking stories, together with the comprehensive guides to the amazing destinations and tips for budget travelling. Join me on my adventures from watching lemurs in Madagascar to swimming with turtles in the Philippines, climbing Himalayan peaks in India, trekking the active volcanoes in Indonesia and hitch-hiking around Europe – all of that to inspire you to travel more and travel better.
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Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad since 2011 and blogging on Where in the World is Nina? for nearly as long. Nina helps people like you move around the world while making money. She loves talking about how to work abroad and online to travel longer!