Are three days in Edinburgh enough time? This is a question we get asked often. We asked Karen Worrall to answer the question. She shared her ideal three-day Edinburgh itinerary.
Although I have lived and traveled the globe, I returned to Scotland as my home base because of its many attractions. I love Edinburgh. Because I live in Edinburgh, I know about the fascinating city. I also work as an Edinburgh travel guide.
Days in Edinburgh, Scotland: The Perfect Trip
You can see the majority of Edinburgh’s top attractions in three days. My knowledge and expertise will help you explore the city orderly and leisurely.
Day – Upper Old Town
The heart of Edinburgh is its Old Town. Everything begins at the Castle and continues down the hill. You’ll find many historical attractions in the Old Town. This area is worth a visit if you have only one day in Edinburgh.
Start in the Upper Old Town
Transfer to and from the Airport for USD 17
Hop on the Hop Off bus tour is the best way to explore Edinburgh. I recommend which stop you should make for each place to visit in Edinburgh. Get Your Edinburgh Hop On Hop Off Tour Starting from USD 19
Our three-day trip to Edinburgh will begin at Edinburgh Castle. This Castle is a must-see if you’re visiting Edinburgh for the first time. Edinburgh Castle was built on top of a volcano plug that is 350 million years old. There is evidence of human settlement there as far back as the Bronze Age (3500 years ago).
Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s most visited tourist attraction.
While Edinburgh Castle should be visited in 90 minutes, I recommend spending at least two hours seeing everything.
Some highlights include Saint Margaret’s Chapel and the Jail. Also, you can visit Mary Queen of Scots Chambers and Royal Apartments with the Scottish Crown jewels.
You can skip the lines and save time with Edinburgh Castle Tour while learning more about Scottish history.
Book your tickets to the Castle online.
You can also buy tickets online from Lothian Buses Edinburgh drivers without booking a time or being in line.
This is especially useful during the peak of summer (July to August) when lines can be very long.
Tartan Weaving Centre
Two minutes walk from Edinburgh Castle to the Tartan weaving Center. This center has an exhibit on its bottom floor (B2).
You will be amazed at how tartan is made. The exhibition includes information on tartan’s evolution through the years and a display of looms creating tartan.
We can walk further down Lawnmarket to the Writer’s Museum, a lesser-known but still beautiful (free). It’s dedicated to some of Scotland’s greatest writers.
The leading exhibitions focus on Sir Walter Scott, Robby burns, and Robert Louis Stevenson. There are also pieces about younger writers like R.K. Rowling, Ian Rankin, and others.
After visiting the Castle and reading literature, it’s time for lunch in Old Town. There are plenty of places to choose from in Lawnmarket.
The Writer’s Museum is just a few minutes from both restaurants I recommend for Day 1 Lunch.
The Witchery – Head back towards Edinburgh Castle to find The Witchery. Beautiful building with lots of history. This is the place where the most powerful witches used to convene. It is very Scottish, with various dishes such as haggis, neeps, tatties, and whisky. However, it uses high-quality seasonal ingredients.
Deacon Brodie’s Tavern can be found just a few doors down the hill, on the same side of the museum, with lots of history and character. It was named after Deacon Brodie, a Deacon in his trade: respected cabinet-maker, carpenter, and robber by day. The wall has a picture of him and his story and a sign outside with photos of both sides of the character.
Bobby was a tiny Skye terrier, born in 1855 and owned by Jock Grey (a local policeman). They were best friends and traveled together everywhere.
Bobby, Bobby’s two-year-old son, lost Jock to tuberculosis. The little dog was devastated. Bobby was able to make new friends and care for him. However, Jock’s death left Bobby devastated, and he spent the rest of his life sleeping on his master’s grave.
Greyfriars Kirk, the Scottish word for “church”) is named after him. William Brodie, a master sculptor, created his statue. The statue was made while the dog was alive. It is a custom to touch the nose of the dog for luck.
Greyfriars Kirkyard (Graveyard)
On the second day of our three-day stay in Edinburgh, we will explore Greyfriar’s Graveyard for more interesting graves.
Greyfriars Graveyard is also known as kirkyard, which means churchyard in Scottish. It is one of Edinburgh’s oldest graveyards. Here are 590 headstones, with many of Scotland’s most prominent residents interred.
Greyfriars Bobby Tour: Hear the story behind the book and the Disney film, as well as the history of the oldest places in the city.
Harry Potter Connection
Harry Potter fans will love the literary connections. Here is the grave of William McGonagall. He was Scotland’s most hated poet. JK Rowling got her inspiration for Ms. McGonagall from him. He named someone brilliant and skilled with words after someone who was extremely bad with words. You can also see the Tom Riddell grave, which is 197 years old.
To discover Old Town landmarks that inspired Harry Potter’s books, take a Harry Potter tour.
The Elephant House Cafe is just around the corner for Harry Potter fans or if you need to pick yourself up. This is where J.K. Rowling wrote much of her first Harry Potter novel.
There is a place where you can leave messages for JK Rowling at the back. Fans can leave messages for JK Rowling every once in a while, and she does read them. You can write whatever you want – one kind of funny or cheeky message stating, “Lord of the Rings is better.”
National Museum of Scotland
My favorite museum in Edinburgh, and all of Scotland, is the National Museum of Scotland. There is something for everyone. Scotland is the focus of the new section in the front of the building, which was constructed in 2011.
I love to see the coffin and clarsach of Mary Queen of Scots, the clan map, the Clarsach (Celtic Harp), and the 1500-year-old chess pieces – The Lewis Chessmen.
Permanent exhibitions are free, and temporary ones can be rented for around PS8-10.
For Dinner and Dancing, Grassmarket
The Grassmarket, a lively, vibrant area in Old Town, has a rich past. Its name derives from its past as a large market for animals that eat grass, such as sheep, pigs, and cows.
This was also where public hangings were held. Here were the gallows, and crowds of up to 20,000 people would come here to see the week’s convicted criminals end their lives.
Some pubs on the square are named after its dark history. “The Last Drop” is the name of the last criminal to be hanged. Maggie Dickson is named for Maggie Dickson, who lived a happy life locally and was known as “half-hanged Maggie.”