2 days in Edinburgh

2 days in Edinburgh itinerary - What to see in Edinburgh in 2 days

What to do in Edinburgh in 2 days? Are 2 days in Edinburgh enough? For two days you will be able to see the highlights of the city. Yet, if you are a museum lover or planning to take some guided tours, better add at least one more day.

During my trip to Scotland, I spared 5 days for Edinburgh. However two of these days I spent exploring the rest of Scotland. Scotland is such a beautiful country and there is so much to see. Make sure to spare a day or two for some day tours from Edinburgh.

Check out the itinerary 2 days in Edinburgh to find out what you should not miss. To save time use a hop-on and hop-off bus tour.


What to do in Edinburgh in 2 days itinerary – map


Day 1


Morning

08:30 AM – 09:30 AM
Breakfast
Start the first day of the itinerary 2 days in Edinburgh with a breakfast at Sugarhouse Sandwiches.

09:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Holyrood Palace
The history of the palace started with its abbey. King David I of Scotland founded the Holyrood Abbey in 1128. According to the legends, the king had a vision of a stag with a cross glowing between its antlers. He decided that this was a sign from God and built the abbey on the same spot he had seen the stag. From here came the name of the abbey and subsequently the palace – Holyrood. Holyrood means “Holy Cross”.

Holyrood Abbey
Holyrood Abbey

The Holyrood Palace used to be the residence of the Scottish rulers. You can explore the State Apartments and the chambers of Mary, Queen of Scots. The abbey and the gardens are included in the ticket price. To skip all the lines, buy your ticket for Holyrood Palace in advance. You can turn the ticket into a one year pass.

Holyrood Palace
Holyrood Palace
The gardens
The gardens

11:40 AM – 12:00 PM
Canongate Kirk
The church is famous for its notables buried in the churchyard. You can find the graves of the economist Adam Smith, Agnes Maclehose (Clarinda of Robert Burns) and the poet Robert Fergusson. A statue of the latter stands right next to the church gates. This is also the final resting place of David Rizzio, the private secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Canongate Kirk
Canongate Kirk
The statue of Robert Fergusson
The statue of Robert Fergusson

12:00 PM – 02:00 PM
Lunch
Have a lunch at the Edinburgh Larder or the Piemaker. For a quick bite go to the Piemaker. They offer great traditional mini Scottish pies. Choose the Edinburgh Larder if you want a longer rest.

The Piemaker
The Piemaker

Afternoon

02:00 PM – 02:40 PM
Greyfriars Bobby Statue and Greyfriars Kirk
Greyfriars Bobby is the most famous dog in the Scottish history. After the death of its master, the cute Skye terrier stood by his grave till its last breath. The small dog died 14 years later and it was buried in the Greyfriars Kirkyard.

Greyfriars Bobby Statue
Greyfriars Bobby Statue

While wandering around the Greyfriars Kirkyard, you can spot few Harry Potter’s characters on the stones. This is the place from where J. K. Rowling got some of the names in her books. You can see the grave of Lord Voldemort (Tom Riddle).

Greyfriars Kirkyard
Greyfriars Kirkyard
The grave of Lord Voldemort
The grave of Lord Voldemort

02:50 PM – 03:10 PM
St Giles’ Cathedral
St Giles’ Cathedral is a stunning 14th-century cathedral in the heart of Edinburgh. It is dedicated to the patron saint of the city, Saint Giles. It is free to visit the cathedral. However, if you want to take photos, you have to buy a £2 photo permit.

St Giles' Cathedral
St Giles’ Cathedral

03:20 PM – 03:40 PM
Scott Monument
The Scott Monument is dedicated to the Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott. You can climb the 200 feet (about 61 m) high tower via a spiral staircase. Keep in mind that it is really claustrophobic and there are 287 steps to the top. I wanted to climb the stairs, but after checking few photos on google images, I gave up.

Scott Monument
Scott Monument

03:50 PM – 04:20 PM
Old Calton Burial Ground
On your way to Calton Hill, stop in the Old Calton Burial Ground. It is one of the most famous cemeteries in Edinburgh. The cemetery is dominated by a huge black obelisk, the Political Martyrs’ Monument. This monument is erected in memory of five political reformists from the early 19th century.

Old Calton Burial Ground
Old Calton Burial Ground

04:30 PM – 05:30 PM
Calton Hill
Calton Hill is a home of few iconic monuments: National Monument of Scotland, Dugald Stewart Monument and Nelson’s Monument. You can climb the Nelson’s Monument for better views over the city. Even if you don’t, the views from Calton Hill itself are stunning. It is a very popular spot for sunset watching. I spent two evenings there watching the sun sets over the horizon. Keep in mind that it is very windy.

The view from Calton Hill
The view from Calton Hill

Dinner
Finish the day with a dinner at the Doric or the Royal McGregor. They both offer traditional Scottish food.

If you are into Indian food, try Dishoom Edinburgh. It has a lovely atmosphere and the food is amazing.

Dishoom Edinburgh
Dishoom Edinburgh

After dinner
Finish the first day of the itinerary 2 days in Edinburgh with a glass of good beer. Go to BrewDog and try a few of their craft beers.

BrewDog
BrewDog

I recommend these tours


Day 2


Morning

08:30 AM – 09:30 AM
Breakfast
Start the second day of the itinerary 2 days in Edinburgh at Hula Juice Bar & Gallery. Their Maca Nana Bowl is out of this world.

Hula Juice Bar & Gallery
Hula Juice Bar & Gallery

09:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is a must. The castle is among the most famous haunted places in Edinburgh. This nine centuries old castle is not only full of history, but it also houses the Crown Jewels of Scotland.

Avoid waiting in lines by buying your tickets for the castle in advance. To explore the castle you can rent an audio guide or join any of the free tours.

Regular events take places in the castle. At 01:00 PM there is a gun fire, that dates back to 1861.

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

12:30 PM – 02:00 PM
Lunch 
Have a lunch at Oink or the Deacon’s House Cafe. If you are a pork meat lover, Oink is a must. They offer mouth-watering sandwiches with pulled pork. Just go and try it yourself.

Oink
Oink

Afternoon

02:00 PM – 02:30 PM
Princes Street Gardens and Wojtek Statue
Stop for a short break at Princes Street Gardens. Enjoy the awesome view of the castle from here.

The view from Princes Street Gardens
The view from Princes Street Gardens

Don’t miss the statue of the soldier bear, Wojtek. This Syrian bear was bought by a Polish soldier during the WWII. The bear was helping the army by moving crates of ammunition. After the end of the war, it found a home in the Edinburgh Zoo and lived there for the rest of its life.

Wojtek Statue
Wojtek Statue

If you have a sweet tooth, make a stop at Ben’s Cookies. I liked them so much, that I visited the bakery twice.

Ben’s Cookies
Ben’s Cookies

02:40 PM – 03:00 PM
St Cuthbert’s Church
Another small beautiful church with a cemetery. Even if you are done with visiting churches and cemeteries, go for the view of the Edinburgh castle from the cemetery.

St Cuthbert's Church
St Cuthbert’s Church

03:00 PM – 03:15 PM
St John’s Episcopal Church
Make a short stop at St John’s Episcopal Church. Its most notable feature is the plastic ceiling vault, that was derived from King Henry VII’s chapel in Westminster Abbey.

St John's Episcopal Church
St John’s Episcopal Church

03:30 PM – 04:00 PM
St Mary’s Cathedral
On your way to Dean Village stop at the beautiful 19th-century Gothic cathedral. The best view of St Mary’s Cathedral is from Melville Street.

St Mary's Cathedral
St Mary’s Cathedral

04:15 PM – 06:00 PM
Dean Village
Once a separate milling village, nowadays Dean Village is a part of Edinburgh. Take your time and explore the old houses along the river, Water of Leith. It is a romantic place in which the time has stopped centuries ago.

The picture below is taken from the small bridge that connects Hawthornbank Ln and Damside Str.

Dean Village
Dean Village

Dinner
Try some Scottish food at the Dogs or steaks at Wildfire.

If you love Mexican food, go to El Cartel. They serve the best tacos and frozen margaritas in Edinburgh.

El Cartel
El Cartel

After dinner
Finish the second day of the itinerary Edinburgh in 2 days with some cocktails at Panda & Sons.


How to save money?

Royal Edinburgh 2-Day Attractions Ticket

The Royal Edinburgh 2-Day Attractions Ticket includes:

  • skip-the-line entry to Edinburgh Castle, Holyroodhouse and the Royal Yacht Britannia
  • 2 days access to Edinburgh’s hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus

By using this ticket (52 GBP) you will save 15 GBP.

  • Edinburgh Castle, Holyroodhouse and the Royal Yacht Britannia – 45 GBP
  • Hop-on hop-off buses – 22 GBP

I recommend these tours


What else to see

Loch Ness and Highlands 
Take a day tour to Loch Ness and Highlands, the most picturesque region of Scotland. See more Highland tours from Edinburgh.

Take a ghost tour
Take a ghost tour and reveal the dark side of Edinburgh’s history. Learn more about the most famous haunted places in Edinburgh.

Check out the 3 day itinerary Edinburgh for more things to do in the city.


Where to stay in Edinburgh

The easiest way to get from Edinburgh Airport to the city centre is by using the City Airlink bus.

The Witchery by the Castle – this lavish hotel has one of the best locations in Edinburgh, right next to the castle.

The Rutland Hotel – located next to the Prince’s Street Gardens and close to the castle, the hotel is a great base to explore both the New and the Old Town.

If you haven’t picked a hotel yet, find out what is the best area to stay in Edinburgh.




 Have you been to Edinburgh? What else is a must if you have only 2 days in Edinburgh?

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2 days in Edinburgh itinerary - What to see in Edinburgh in 2 days

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