Things to see, do & eat in Edinburgh, Scotland

Things to do in Edinburgh, Scotland—quick guide including where to stay, places to eat and the things you must see

There are lots of things to do in Edinburgh. While planning my recent trip to Scotland I realised it was going to be a real whistle-stop visit, every minute packed with sightseeing and refuelling—just how I like my city breaks.

While you won’t be able to see everything in 24-hours, with planning you can squeeze the main sights into a short stay. Here’s what I got up to.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Things to do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle | Sat atop one of two ancient Scottish volcanoes (who knew?), entry to the castle is pricey at £17 so I just admired it from outside—and got major Hogwarts vibes.

Arthur’s Seat | Edinburgh’s other inactive volcano, Arthur’s Seat is famous for its views over the city—unless your climb is timed as poorly as mine. Still, the mist was so atmospheric I couldn’t be mad.

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

National Museum of Scotland | There’s a decent view from this free museum’s roof terrace, and inside you’ll find the infamous Dolly the Sheep plus mysterious miniature coffins found at Arthur’s Seat.

Calton Hill, Edinburgh

Calton Hill | This vibrant area of town is full of cafés, shops and bars (including gay bars) and offers another scenic angle from which to view the city.

'Voldemort's grave' in Edinburgh, Scotland

All the Harry Potter stuff | From ‘Voldemort’s’ grave to the hotel where J. K. Rowling finished writing the very final pages of the Harry Potter series, check out my Harry Potter guide for the must-sees.

Mary's Milk Bar, Edinburgh

Where to eat and drink in Edinburgh

Mary’s Milk Bar, 19 Grassmarket | You’ve probably seen this cute shop on Instagram or Pinterest—but it’s not style over substance. It wasn’t exactly gelato weather when I visited but I had a dreamy hot chocolate float.

Bistro du Vin, 11 Bristo Place | As I’d booked a special deal at the Hotel du Vin, my room and dinner at the Bistro cost just £105. The food was excellent and, as you’d expect, there are plenty of wine options.

The Harry Potter fan's guide to Edinburgh: Spoon café, where J.K. Rowling used to write

Spoon, 6a Nicolson Street | This new-ish spot replaced Nicolson’s Café, where where J. K. Rowling began to write the Harry Potter series. The fry up is perfect for refilling after you’ve climbed Arthur’s Seat.

Lovecrumbs café, Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs, 155 West Port | This cake shop was on practically every Edinburgh guide I read, so I had to grab myself a slice for breakfast.

Checkpoint café, Edinburgh

Checkpoint, 3 Bristo Place | Thanks to Mat’s recommendation, and the convenience of this place right across the road from my hotel, I popped in for a toastie that was filled with macaroni cheese.

The Bow Bar, Edinburgh, Scotland

The Bow Bar, 80 West Bow | With over 200 whiskies available, visiting this bar is basically compulsory—even for non-whisky-drinkers like myself. The barman was able to recommend one that didn’t go down badly at all.

A couple of other places that kept cropping on lists of the city’s best eateries (but which I didn’t get the time to visit) included Meltmongers and Hemma.

Victoria Street, West Bow, Edinburgh

Places to shop in Edinburgh

Victoria Street | This curved 19th-century street has to be one of the most ‘grammed spots in Edinburgh and it’s not hard to see why people flock to the Old Town to shop and snap here.

Vintage shops in Edinburgh

W. Armstrong, 81-83 Grassmarket | This vintage shop is a total treasure trove of well-curated clothing and accessories. There are 3 city centre stores to rummage through.

Royal Mile, Edinburgh

Royal Mile | Actually 4 different streets, the famous Royal Mile is packed with shops and landmarks, including the castle.

Victoria Street, Edinburgh

Getting to Edinburgh

Edinburgh is well-connected by rail, including the famous (recently refurbished) Caledonian Sleeper, if you fancy a real adventure.

Where to stay in Edinburgh

I stayed at the Hotel du Vin, which is perfectly located and there’s a great special offer on Sunday night stays—dinner and a room for just over £100.

Hotel du Vin, 11 Bristo Place

Do you have any tips for things to do in Edinburgh that I can add to my list for next time?

Royal Mile, EdinburghThings to do in Edinburgh, ScotlandThings to do in Edinburgh, Scotland—including visiting the National Museum of ScotlandTraditional kilt-makers shop, Edinburgh, ScotlandNational Museum of Scotland, EdinburghGrey Friars Churchyard, EdinburghRoyal Mile, EdinburghTraditional Scottish bagpipes being played on the Royal Mile in EdinburghFree rooftop terrace view in Edinburgh, Scotland

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