Time well spent in Edinburgh, Scotland

Travel advisor Kristen Kolek in a blue dress
Curated By

Kristen Kolek

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  • Edinburgh

  • Scotland

  • Arts & Culture

  • Food & Wine

  • Local Culture

  • Local Food

  • Sightseeing

An aerial view of a castle-like building during nighttime
Curator’s statement

Edinburgh is known for its historic charm and stunning architecture. I was fortunate to visit this city a number of times while my daughter was a student at St. Andrews, and I am still looking forward to going back again! It is a very walkable city, with landmarks like Edinburgh Castle, Calton Hill and the Royal Mile. Princes Street offers shopping and beautiful views of the city, and Dean Village offers a quiet, beautiful place to stroll and enjoy. Overall, Edinburgh is a city rich in culture, history, scenic landscapes and wonderful places to eat and drink.

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Where to stay in Scotland

The Balmoral Hotel

Legendary hotel and landmark clock tower, The Balmoral Hotel is a regal and luxurious hotel that is a true love letter to Scotland.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel

Perched on the edge of a picturesque private garden in the New Town, Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel blends traditional glamor with the Scotland of today.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

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Things to do in Scotland

A picture of vintage stone houses in a row with a water stream in the middle.

Royal Mile

The Royal Mile in Edinburgh is a historic and vibrant street that runs through the heart of the Old Town, connecting Edinburgh Castle at one end to the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the other. The Royal Mile is lined with picturesque medieval buildings, shops, pubs and restaurants. It is a hub of activity, with numerous street performers (I love to hear bagpipes while I am in Scotland!), and a variety of shops selling everything from traditional Scottish kilts and tartans to contemporary crafts. It is a must-visit for those seeking a taste of the city's culture and heritage.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress that dominates the skyline of Edinburgh and offers panoramic views of the city. It stands as a significant cultural and historical landmark, drawing visitors from around the world. They fire the cannon at 1:00 every day except Sunday, something to keep in mind when you plan your visit! It is one of the most popular sites in Edinburgh, so I recommend purchasing tickets in advance.

Calton Hill

Calton Hill is a prominent hill located in the center of Edinburgh and offers panoramic views of the city and its surroundings, making it a popular spot for both locals and tourists.

Dean Village

Dean Village is a charming and picturesque neighborhood in Edinburgh, characterized by its quaint stone cottages, watermills, and cobbled streets. The village is a peaceful escape from the bustling city, offering scenic walks along the Water of Leith Walkway. It's a delightful way to spend a couple of peaceful hours if you can.

Day Trips:

Take a trip to Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel is a remarkable and intricately decorated medieval chapel located in the village of Roslin, not far outside of Edinburgh. It became very popular after being featured in Dan Brown's novel "The Da Vinci Code" and the subsequent film adaptation. Can also be coordinated with a stop at Glenkinchie Distillery.

Visit Glenkinchie Distillery

No trip to Scotland is complete without learning a bit about Scotch whisky, and a tour and tasting at this nearby distillery is a great way to do it. Can also be coordinated with a visit to Rosslyn Chapel.

Places to eat & drink in Scotland

A picture of a bar at a restaurant with a vase filled with white flowers placed on the counter.

Contini - Delicious Italian food in a beautiful 19th century banking hall. I went back there every time I visited!

Cafe Andaluz - We stumbled upon this place while walking along Georges Street and loved the atmosphere and the delicious tapas and sangria!

The Dome - Gorgeous place with delicious, fun cocktails. I did not get to eat here, but I highly recommend at least stopping in for a drink at the beautiful bar.

The Painted Rooster - Great stop for coffee and delicious baked goods on your way to enjoy a relaxing stroll in Dean Village.

Le Di-Vin - Gorgeous wine bar, perfect stop on the way back from a stroll through Dean Village for some wine and a cheese plate. Trust me on this one!

Hoot the Redeeme - A great little speakeasy bar with fun cocktails.

Greyfriars Bobby Bar - Traditional pub fare, with a cozy, inviting atmosphere. The name of the pub is based on the legend of an adorable pup called Bobby. When his owner died in 1858, Bobby faithfully stood watch over his grave and was eventually buried next to his master. You can check out Bobby’s statue right across the street and visit the Kirkyard next door. There you will also find headstones related to the characters in the Harry Potter books!

1820 Rooftop Bar at Johnny Walker Princes Street - Delicious cocktails with amazing views of the city, especially at night!

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, St Andrews, Scotland: The Home of Golf, and So Much More.

This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Scotland.

Travel advisor Kristen Kolek in a blue dress

Travel Advisor

Kristen Kolek

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