How much time do you need to see Edinburgh? No more than 2-3 days. If you spend 2 days in Edinburgh, 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 trips from Edinburgh.
Check out the itinerary 2 days in Edinburgh to find out what you should not miss.
Edinburgh in 2 days itinerary map
08:30 AM – 09:30 AM
Start the first day of the itinerary 2 days in Edinburgh with a breakfast at Sugarhouse Sandwiches.
09:30 AM – 11:30 AM
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 saw the stag. From here came the name of the abbey and subsequently the palace – Holyrood. Holyrood means “Holy Cross”.
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.
You can turn the ticket into a one year pass (more info here).
11:40 AM – 12:00 PM
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.
12:00 PM – 02:00 PM
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.
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.
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).
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.
03:20 PM – 03:40 PM
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.
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.
04:30 PM – 05:30 PM
Calton Hill is 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.
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.
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.
08:30 AM - 09:30 AM
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.
09:30 AM - 12:30 PM
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. You can rent an audioguide or join any of the free tours.
12:30 PM - 02:00 PM
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.
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.
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.
If you have a sweet tooth, make a stop at Ben’s Cookies. I liked them so much, that I visited the bakery twice.
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.
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.
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.
04:15 PM - 06:00 PM
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.
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.
Finish the second day of the itinerary Edinburgh in 2 days with some cocktails at Panda & Sons.
What else to see
If you are into ghost stories, check out these awesome Edinburgh ghost tours.
Check out the itinerary 3 days in Edinburgh for more ideas.
Have you been to Edinburgh? What else is a must if you have only 2 days in Edinburgh?