Wondering what to do in Edinburgh for a fun weekend break?
We gathered here some amazing Edinburgh attractions in the city to ensure that you will have a great time.
Edinburgh has been the heart and centre of Scotland for hundreds of years. It’s where the monarchs and government were established. The city offers a colourful and proud history of the Scottish people.
Edinburgh has also been known as the Athens of the North and Dùn Èideann in Scottish Gaelic.
I have been to Edinburgh a number of times, each time the city has never failed to amaze me with its classic beauty and charms especially in the Old Town.
If you love history, arts and culture you will definitely love Edinburgh.
Read More: Best UK Travel Itinerary for 2 Weeks
Edinburgh Attractions: What To Do In Edinburgh For Fun Weekend Breaks Contents
- How to go to Edinburgh?
- Here are the various activities and tourist attractions that you must not miss when visiting Edinburgh.
- 1. Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace
- 2. Royal Mile (Old Town)
- 3. Visit the Tartan Weaving Mill
- 4. Visit Various Edinburgh Museums
- 5. Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat
- 6. Try the Scotch Whisky
- 7. Experience Edinburgh Christmas market and Hogmanay celebration
- 8. Enjoy various music festivals
- 9. Try various Edinburgh activities and tours
- 10. Enjoy some Scottish food and coffee in The Elephant House
- Here are the suggested tours in Edinburgh
How to go to Edinburgh?
If you are wondering how to go to Edinburgh, here are the suggested ways on how you can reach this vibrant capital of Scotland. I will site various routes coming from London because of this particularly a major hub for the tourists.
There are different options to get to Edinburgh:
From London to Edinburgh
There are a few options to travel to Edinburgh from London, you can either take the trains, coach or drive a car.
If you use the trains on average, it takes around 5 hours and 30 minutes to travel from London to Edinburgh. The fastest route takes up to 4 hours 15 minutes. There are 31 trains commute between London and Edinburgh on weekdays. On holidays and weekends, journey time might be longer.
You can also try the Caledonian Sleeper train from London if you want to do overnight travel from city to city.
If you are using coaches (bus), you can take either the National Express or the Megabus lines travelling regularly up and down the country. This will take you around 7 to 8 hours bus ride, due to traffic and breaks in between.
If you fancy a road trip, you can also rent a car (if you are a tourist or don’t have one) from London and drive your way up to Edinburgh.
Glasgow to Edinburgh train
Edinburgh is well connected to all over the country through the train.
The Waverley Station and Haymarket Station are the main railway stations in Edinburgh. The average time for the train journey is 1 hour approx. from Glasgow Queen Street to Edinburgh. There are around 130 trains running regularly from Queen Street Glasgow to Edinburgh.
From Edinburgh Airport
Edinburgh airport is the main airport in Scotland, hundreds of international and domestic flights come here every day. Edinburgh airport well connected through public transport to the city centre. A tram service takes visitors to the city centre directly for about 30 to 45 minutes. In every 10 minutes, you can hop on Air link 100 Express Bus, which takes around 30 minutes. You can also take taxis from the airport, which cost up to £20.
Here are the various activities and tourist attractions that you must not miss when visiting Edinburgh.
1. Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace
Edinburgh Castle is the most remarkable attraction in the city located over the volcanic peak and covers the skyline of the city. It was a setting for many major historical events that happened in Scotland and Mary, the Queen of Scots is one of the famous people who once lived or visited in its walls.
You can see plenty of historical artefacts inside the castle, including clothing, weapons, and even Scottish Crown Jewels, aka the Honours of Scotland.
The castle also belongs to the National War Museum of Scotland and Scottish National War Museum.
Located at the other end of the Royal Mile is the Holyrood Palace or the Palace of Holyrood House, which officially houses the British monarch in Scotland. It is one of the most visited palaces in Scotland.
2. Royal Mile (Old Town)
Strolling down the Royal Mile is the next best thing to do after visiting the Edinburgh Castle. It is the high street of the Old Town and is still a bustling attraction itself. It is understood that it runs around a mile from the hilltop castle to Holyrood Palace on the bottom.
There are many things to see on the way to Royal Mile, including many cafes, restaurants, shops, and museums.
3. Visit the Tartan Weaving Mill
You can find a huge range of top-quality lamb’s wool and cashmere products at the Tartan Weaving Mill. Along with the authentic Scottish clan fabric patterns and a range of souvenirs for the tourists to shop. You may visit various clothing shops here and get the most of the exciting offers.
It is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh for the shopaholics. You can also get your portraits done here wearing traditional Scottish costumes. It would be great fun for the family and kids.
4. Visit Various Edinburgh Museums
If you have visited all the attractions in the Royal Mile, it is time to explore some prominent museums in this medieval city. You may start with the National Museum of Scotland. This free museum exhibits all kinds of things related to the world and Scotland, from art, culture, fashion, and history of Scotland to science and technology.
The museum regularly adds new pieces and always brings new exhibits. If you have not been here before, it is the best things to do in Edinburgh. If you are behind art, you can, at least, save a few hours to visit the Scottish National Gallery, one of several best free museums here.
Located near the Scott Monument and Princes Street Gardens on The Mound, the National Art Gallery has a huge range of paintings and various art forms dated back to the Renaissance era to the beginning of 20th century, representing both international and Scottish artists.
The Museum of Edinburgh houses one of the historic and iconic buildings of Royal Mile, the Huntly House, in Canongate area, towards the Scottish Parliament and Palace of Holyroodhouse. It has been served well by sightseeing and regular city buses.
5. Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat
You can get the serene and breath-taking views of Arthur’s Seat from Nelson Monument and Calton Hill. The highest point is Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park that you can climb and get a serene view across the Lothians and Edinburgh. It is a kind of steep walk towards the top (carry some water and wear hiking shoes), but views are worthwhile as on the clear day that can be seen from miles in all directions.
If you have a car and want the easiest and shortest hike, park around the Dunsapie Loch in the lot and take the shorter path to the summit. You can also visit the St. Anthony’s Chapel (built in the 15th century) in the park, see the Salisbury Crags, and spot the birds of Duddingston Loch.
6. Try the Scotch Whisky
The Scotch Whisky Experience is the most visited attraction near the Camera Obscura. You can take master classes, tours, and training sessions or have some whiskey and food at the restaurant. You may start from the least expensive and shortest whiskey tour, the Silver Tour.
You can start the informative and fun ride to whiskey barrel and take a self-guided tour to get an insight into the history, origin, and making the process of whiskey. You can learn about various whiskey regions and take guided tasting in Scotland. Finally, you can take a sneak peeking at the largest whiskey collection in the world.
Do not miss the whiskey with hot chocolate in the restaurant. If you love whiskey, you can even take a Top-quality detailed tour when getting more samples.
7. Experience Edinburgh Christmas market and Hogmanay celebration
The best and most popular time to visit Edinburgh is during the Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year, and Christmas. During this time, the Edinburgh Christmas market remains a lot busier, and accommodation is very costly and hard to come by. So, be sure to book in advance.
Hogmanay is a 3-day festival in Edinburgh which is full of events, including live music concerts, torchlight procession, massive street party, family events, fireworks, traditional dancing, and also the costumed parade finalizes with cold dip on the river. If you do not want to attend the festivals in August, you can visit Edinburgh at any other season to skip the crowds and save money.
8. Enjoy various music festivals
If you want to feel the festival vibes in Edinburgh, be sure to get here in the month of August and attend some of the biggest festivals which are The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
The Royal Tattoo is taken against the breathtaking view of Edinburgh Castle. It celebrates vivid symmetries through precise performances of the British Army and a few cultural acts from different parts of the world. Together with the iconic Pipers Trail, Massed Pipes and Drums, Hjaltibonhoga and Tattoo Dance Company. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is bigger, better and more exciting than before.
Another best music festival here is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the biggest celebration of arts and culture in the world. For three weeks, Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh welcomes creative energy every August. Thousands of performers take to plenty of stages every year across Edinburgh, which presents shows for all types of people.
9. Try various Edinburgh activities and tours
Want to get into the breathtaking Scottish capital? The Hop On, Hop off Bus tour can get you to see as much as possible. This guided bus tour can get you to see as much as you can. You can see wonderful sites at your own pace and make the ideal sightseeing itinerary. The tour is conducted on a double-decker open-topped bus with a great range of stops at the most popular Edinburgh attractions.
Another great attraction here is the historical walking tour where a local historian guides you through the fascinating history of Edinburgh, along with legendary heroes and notorious criminals as well as battles, which shaped the city into what it is now.
10. Enjoy some Scottish food and coffee in The Elephant House
Enjoy a wonderful cup of coffee and cakes up to the traditional Scottish Haggis in Edinburgh’s cosy coffee shops. Edinburgh is the Mecca for Harry Potter lovers because J.K. Rowling wrote in a cafe here as she worked on book series of Harry Potter. On the Drummond and Nicolson Street, Nicolson’s Café was the restaurant where J.K. Rowling wrote most of her first novel of Harry Potter when she was a newly single mother.
Since then, the location has become the Chinese buffet and now turned Spoon, a bistro. Later on, she penned more Potter novels at The Elephant House.
Here are the suggested tours in Edinburgh
I hope these suggested Edinburgh tourist attractions and other places to see will help you plan your trip to the capital of Scotland.