Official Guide to Edinburgh

A Weekend in Edinburgh

A contemporary cultural capital, a weekend break in Scotland's capital city provides you with a fantastic opportunity to explore Edinburgh's history and heritage.

Grassmarket

A weekend trip in Edinburgh is a perfect amount of time to experience everything the city has to offer. With so much to see and do, it’s essential to get stuck in, but how do you do it without exhausting yourself?

Stick with us! We’ve taken care of everything (but the bill!) Our Weekend in Edinburgh Itinerary has the perfect balance between the best of Edinburgh tourist attractions, stunning natural scenery, entertainment, shopping and locals-only hidden gems. It truly is the best way to make your way around this incredible city, so enjoy! 

A note about pre-planning: Some of the suggestions here may require a little pre-planning (such as buying tickets for an attraction or booking a table for food in advance). We’ve marked these with an *️ so you can make sure your visit goes smoothly. Due to current Covid regulations, some activities might be affected, so we advise checking ahead with the venues to make sure you can visit.  

Friday (late) Morning

Welcome to your Weekend Tour in Edinburgh! We’re delighted to be your guides for the weekend, and we’re going to do our very best to make sure you have the best time ever. We’ve given you plenty of time to get settled in your accommodation and find your feet so now, let’s go. We’ll meet you near the top of the Royal Mile. Adventure awaits!

Getting Around with Edinburgh Bus Tours * (may have Covid restrictions in place).

Bus Tour

We recommend stopping off at Waverley Bridge to pick up a ticket for a hop-on-hop-off bus tour. The buses take you on (or near) most of the spots on your Weekend in Edinburgh Tour, so it’s worth it. The best part is that if you fancy staying on the bus to enjoy a guided tour and sneak away from our itinerary for a few hours, the bus tours can help you do that!

Just make sure you keep hold of your ticket as it will come in handy for the rest of your Edinburgh sightseeing tour

St. Giles’ Cathedral * (may have Covid restrictions in place).

St Giles New Lenten Banners Looking East

We’re meeting here as it’s close to the George IV Bridge where we’re going next and is a popular meeting point for Edinburgh residents looking to catch up with friends.

The cathedral itself is stunning, boasting incredible stained-glass windows and memorials to over 200 important Scots throughout the ages.

Entry is free, but check their website for opening times.

Greyfriar’s Bobby

Greyfriars Bobby 20181120

We’re on our way to the National Museum of Scotland, but before we do, let’s stop off at the statue of Greyfriars Bobby, the Skye Terrier who became known in 19th-century Edinburgh for spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner until he died himself in 1872.

It's a monument to love and loyalty, and easy to see why it’s one of Edinburgh’s most popular tourist attractions, and Instagram spots, so get in there for a quick photo before we move on to the museum.

National Museum of Scotland * (may have Covid restrictions in place).

National Museum Of Scotland Trex

We’re easing you in gently to your tour of Edinburgh, so you’ve got lots of time to wander around the grand halls of The National Museum of Scotland. If you’re feeling peckish, there is a restaurant (serving delicious meals in a restaurant setting) and a cafe for quick snacks and coffee.  The museum exhibits over 77,000 items, and it’s a wonderful way to explore Scotland’s rich history and heritage.

If it’s open, take a trip to the tower’s top for incredible views across the city. You’ll see some of Edinburgh’s iconic landmarks which you’ll visit over the weekend.

Friday Afternoon

After a good few hours travelling through time in the museum, you must need some refreshments, and we’ve got the serious business of shopping coming up, so it’s time for a drink, we think!

Jump in a cab; we’re taking you to one of Edinburgh’s best-kept secret shopping areas!

West End Village

 West End

Before any shopping can take place, head onto William Street which is the heart of Edinburgh’s West End Village. The Voyage of Buck is excellent for a pitstop, and if you haven’t eaten yet, the food is delicious. So let’s refuel and recharge those batteries - shopping awaits!

Every great city has at least one quirky shopping area, and Edinburgh is lucky enough to have many! One of the most central is the West End Village is a lovely tangle of tiny boutiques, colourful galleries, quirky shops and funky jewellery stores. It’s a haven of independent shops, and well worth a browse and explore.

Princes Street

From luxury and stylish to high street fashion and local independents, Princes Street is where you'll find some of the best the High Street has to offer, with George Street home to some of the most sought after designer labels. Tucked away on Rose Street and Thistle Street you'll find tailors, cobblers, whisky specialists and more just waiting for you to pop in for a browse too.

Check out our guide to shopping in Edinburgh's New Town >

Luxury Shopping & Cocktails * (may have Covid restrictions in place).

If you haven’t had your shopping fix sated just yet, then the next stop has to be Multrees Walk. This is where you’ll find luxury and high-end goods from fashion labels such as Armani, Calvin Klein, Mulberry and Louis Vuitton.

 Multrees 600

It’s also home to Harvey Nichols department store, boasting five levels of extravagant and exciting shopping from fashion to beauty products, homeware and confectionery. 

And while you’re here, it would be rude not to take the lift up to the 5th floor for a couple of well-earned cocktails and admire the city views below you, before heading back to your accommodation to drop off those heavy bags!

Friday Night

A Night at the Theatre * (may have Covid restrictions in place).

There’s always something going on in the bright lights of Edinburgh’s nightlife. You can choose any number of night-time pursuits, but you’ve got a packed day tomorrow, so let's keep it reasonably tidy tonight and enjoy a show. 

Usher Hall

If you’re after a big name, all-out entertaining touring show or musical, check out what’s showing at The Edinburgh Playhouse or The Festival Theatre. But if that’s not for you, you’ll find the latest new writing and up-and-coming plays and shows at The Traverse, and there’s always something impressive happening at The Usher Hall.

Saturday Morning

Good morning, Sunshine! We hope you’re well-rested and relaxed after a fantastic first day on your weekend in Edinburgh. It’s a busy day of sightseeing in front of you today, so we hope you’ve got good walking shoes on!

We’ll start bright and breezy, first thing in the morning and meet you at the top of the Royal Mile for a visit to Edinburgh’s most famous landmark.

Edinburgh Castle * (may have Covid restrictions in place).

Princes Street Gardens On A Sunny Day

Edinburgh Castle looks down over the city from its volcanic peak and is one of the oldest fortified places in Europe. With a long rich history as a royal residence, military garrison, prison and fortress, it is alive with many exciting tales. Take a guided tour of the castle to dive into the history of this beautiful fortress.

Camera Obscura & World of Illusions * (may have Covid restrictions in place).

 Camera Obscura Web (1)

If you’re up for a bit of fun, then head into the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions.

Edinburgh’s first-ever purpose-built tourist attraction and just a few steps from Edinburgh Castle, Camera Obscura is part museum, part curiosity shop and a world of seeming impossibility. There are over 100 illusions, exhibits, tricks and wonders spread out across five floors, the highest one offering an incredible view over the city. Well worth a visit before wandering down the rest of the Royal Mile, as royalty once did, to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Palace of Holyrood House * (may have Covid restrictions in place).

Palace Of Holyroodhouse

Kings and queens have walked in procession down the Royal Mile for over 500 years, so why shouldn’t you? Make your way down to the beautiful palace and try not to get too distracted with the wonderful shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants that line the street!

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the Queen’s official residence when she’s in Edinburgh, usually around June and the beginning of July. It was a turbulent home to Mary Queen of Scots and many other Royal Family members throughout the ages.

The Scottish Parliament * (may have Covid restrictions in place).

Scottish Parliament From Canongate

Almost next door to the palace sits the magnificent Scottish Parliament. Head inside and watch parliament in session from the public viewing gallery or take a guided tour around the building and learn all about its fascinating architecture.

Lunchtime!

The cafe in the Parliament Building is excellent, so if you’re keen to eat and go, grabbing something here is a great idea.

Alternatively, we love Hemma, which serves casual meals, platters and bowls for sharing.

After lunch, it’s time to hop onto the tour bus and make your way back to Waverley Bridge where you’re about to get some height on this adventure!

The Scott Monument * (may have Covid restrictions in place, if climbing to the top)

Scott Monument From The Gardens

The Scott Monument towers above you as you stand at its foot. It’s an impressive building that stretches 200ft into the air. With four viewing platforms there are plenty of places to stop on the journey up the 287 stepped monument. But when you get to the top - you will be so glad you put in the effort — there are incredible views across the city and beyond. Great for capturing that perfect Instagram picture!

Princes Street Gardens

Time to relax like the locals. This is one of Edinburgh residents’ favourite spots to take a break from a busy afternoon shopping, especially when the weather is nice. Grab some nibbles from M&S on Princes Street or treat yourself to an ice cream from one of the vans at the Mound and sit back and enjoy the view.

The gardens separate the Old and New Town, and from this vantage point, below the castle, there’s lots of beauty to take in.

National Galleries of Scotland * (may have Covid restrictions in place).

National Galleries With Princes St Gardens (1)

After you’ve strolled around the gardens, it’s worth popping into the National Galleries of ScotlandThere are some beautiful paintings on display from artists as rich and diverse as Da Vinci and Monet, Raphael and Constable.

As well as the spacious public exhibitions - which are free - there are touring exhibitions from some of the world’s most well-known (and loved) across the ages so do check out what’s on and buy a ticket for something wonderful.

Saturday Night

Dinner, Drinks and Dancing * (may have Covid restrictions in place).

Time to visit a completely different type of palace now - Brewhemia is Scotland’s only ‘Beer Palace’. This building is a wonderland, with many floors and mezzanines, secret rooms and clashing styles and themes. As well as an incredible selection of drinks (non-drinkers will not be disappointed) there’s a great Scottish menu and plenty of atmosphere on offer. Local musicians, cabaret acts, live bands and everything in between is on offer to entertain and wow.

The Wee Small Hours * (may have Covid restrictions in place).

What are you in the mood for next? If you’re up for a party - Edinburgh will deliver. Check out the local listings for what’s on, or you could dance the night away at venues like Cabaret Voltaire, The Liquid Rooms or The Bongo Club.

Balmoral Updated (1)

For a quiet, more laid back drink we love finding a corner table in one of the bars in the large hotels like The BalmoralThe Scotsman or The George. But if you fancy a good old-fashioned pub crawl, then head to Edinburgh’s famous Grassmarket. You’ll love bouncing from pub to pub, enjoying the banter and the fun.

Sunday Morning

Ah, Sunday. In our opinion, the best day of the week.

We’ve given you a hectic couple of days, so we’re going to ease you into a chilled Sunday in Edinburgh. Today, you’re going to make like the locals and enjoy some low-key Sunday adventures in some of the city’s lesser-known parts. 

Another relaxed start to the Weekend in Edinburgh tour today, as it’s Sunday and you deserve it!

We’re going on a gentle walking tour today around some of Edinburgh’s neighbourhoods. They’re all connected by a beautiful, peaceful walk so you can enjoy a much calmer pace of life today.

Stockbridge Neighbourhood Outside Shot Of Buildings

The first stop is Stockbridge, a beautiful neighbourhood with a chilled out atmosphere. There’s so much to see and do here, so the key here is to get something tasty to eat and explore the excellent independent shops, thrift and charity shops, books shops and jewellers.

Stockbridge Market * (may have Covid restrictions in place).

Stockbridge Market Edinburgh

Wander around the beautiful stalls in this impressive artisan market—luxury soy candles, delicious bread, handmade soaps and food from around the world. Open every Sunday all year round from 10am to 4pm, Stockbridge Market is vibrant and friendly and full of excellent products sold by people who genuinely care about what they make. It’s a lovely way to indulge the senses and enjoy meeting locals and soaking up the atmosphere. There here are plenty of tasty treats on offer, so don’t overeat at breakfast!

The Water of Leith Walkway

You might not know this, but the City of Edinburgh is connected by miles and miles of cycle paths and walkways that connect neighbourhoods and threads its way in and around the busy capital. The Water of Leith is just one of these fantastic, leafy and peaceful walkways and perhaps the best known. It’s undoubtedly the longest, with 12 miles of walking paths along the waterway, starting at Balerno and ending in Leith. We’re making use of the Water of Leith for the last 3 ‘stops’ as we make our way out of Stockbridge and into Canonmills today for a spot of lunch. 

Dean Village

Sunday Afternoon

Lunch: Water of Leith Cafe Bistro * (may have Covid restrictions in place).

When you head out of the walkway onto Canonmills, walk around the corner onto Howard Street, and the first cafe you come to is The Water of Leith Cafe Bistro. Big tasty portions are served up by friendly, helpful staff. The very reasonably priced menu is packed with delicious Scottish food, and there’s always a delicious dessert or two to try out. Even if you think you’re full!

You will have to book a table here, but if you can’t get in today, there are lots of other excellent cafes and restaurants nearby so you won’t go hungry.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh * (may have Covid restrictions in place).

RBGE IMG 5018 736

 

After a hearty lunch, if you keep walking along Howard Street, you’ll find the illustrious Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Thousands of plants and flowers are carefully curated in this peaceful and vast city centre garden space. If you love botanical gardens, then you’ll easily spend a good few hours here.

Next Stop on the Water of Leith Walkway

We’re heading on to Leith now, so head back onto the Water of Leith Walkway (pay attention, because it’s not the same spot where you arrived in Canonmills, use the crossings and take the Warriston Road entrance, which is slightly staggered to the right)

The Royal Yacht Britannia * (may have Covid restrictions in place).

The Royal Yacht Britannia

While in Leith, if you love peeking into the lives of royalty, then a visit to The Royal Yacht Britannia is an absolute must. Serving as the royal yacht for over 40 years, the Queen once claimed it to be the ‘only place I can truly relax’. As a royal residence, it was a luxurious hideaway from the press’s prying eyes but had a fascinating history in its own right.

Britannia Drawing Room 600X250 By Marc Miller

(Image Credit: Mark Miller)

The Shore

Make your way back into the centre of Leith and spend a few hours wandering around the bars and shops around the shore area. There’s plenty of great spots to sit and enjoy people watching, a pastime you can never get bored of in Leith due to its colourful characters and shops.

Shore Inline

Dining in Leith * (may have Covid restrictions in place).

If you can’t tear yourself away from Leith and fancy some lovely food, the shore has some fantastic options like The Roseleaf and The Kings Wark. If you’re after something with more finesse, the Shore has not one but two Michelin star restaurants, Martin Wishart and The Kitchin.

A lot of the restaurants in Leith are extremely popular, so book ahead if you want to eat here.

And this is where we leave you, intrepid explorer. Your legs are tired, your belly is full, and your wallet is (most likely) empty, but we’re sure your hearts are full of happiness from a weekend brimming with amazing Edinburgh adventures.

It was a joy to share a weekend in Edinburgh with you. You’ve been excellent company, and we hope you’ve loved it as much as we have. Till next time!

If you’re looking for more inspiration on what to do next, head to our Edinburgh Itinerary page and join us on another adventure soon.