How to spend a fun and fascinating long weekend in Edinburgh

28 June 2022

Edinburgh’s gothic grandeur, hodgepodge history and thriving independent scene attracts visitors from all over and with flights just an hour-long or less from most airports in the UK, this bonnie capital makes for the perfect place to spend a long weekend. Here’s how to get the most out of three days in the city.

Day 1

MORNING: Royal Mile

This iconic street packs a punch for your first morning in Edinburgh, bookended by the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Edinburgh Castle. If you start at its foot, there’s a goody bag of landmarks, and Milne’s Court, Makar’s Court and Advocate’s Close are always camera-ready. The Royal Mile is also home to three of the oldest buildings in Edinburgh – John Knox House, St Giles Cathedral and St Margaret's Chapel in Edinburgh Castle.

AFTERNOON: Grassmarket

You deserve a tipple after that mile-and-a-bit walk. Grassmarket has the pick of pubs, especially of the historic variety. A livestock market in its past life, reach it by walking from the castle esplanade then down the steps between the Quaker Meeting House and St Columba’s Church. If you’re a fan of the wizarding world, Victoria Street’s colourful cobbled curve inspired Diagon Alley.

EVENING: Cowgate

Cowgate is where to find some of the best nightlife in Edinburgh, just off from Grassmarket. An area packed with bars, clubs and ghost tours, it’s got an underbelly feel thanks to its location below South Bridge and George IV Bridge. Three Sisters is a highlight of this warren, where you can find live music, a huge outdoor area and screens that stream all kinds of sports. Sneaky Pete’s is also a great grassroots music venue with gigs almost every night of the week.

Day 2


If the sun’s shining on Leith, head down to The Shore. The waterfront is lined with cafés and this dynamic area has some of the coolest places to grab a bite to eat in the city, including The Pitt. You’ll find award-winning street food and more in this old industrial dockyard – think craft beer, local roasters, live music and comedy.

AFTERNOON: Royal Yacht Britannia

The fun’s not over yet! The Royal Yacht Britannia is one of the most popular attractions in Edinburgh, now docked at Ocean Terminal. The tour’s five-star rating should sway you and it’s pretty cool to say you’ve seen the royal family’s holiday souvenirs. Nelson Mandela, Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra have also been on board in the past. Did you know it’s the only royal yacht in the world available for exclusive hire?

EVENING: Cocktails

There are cocktails, then there’s a cocktail experience and Edinburgh excels at the latter. You’ll find award-winning mixologists throughout the city, offering everything from an immersive potion bar to a speakeasy hidden behind a telephone box door. If you’re a connoisseur, head to internationally acclaimed Panda & Sons. It may look like a vintage barbershop but inside is a delicious menu and staff with the know-how to guide you through it.

Day 3

MORNING: Stockbridge

Is it caffeine that gets you out of bed in the morning? Artisan Roast is first on the itinerary for your final morning in Edinburgh. The Pastry Selection is your next stop with its satisfying sweet cravings with its cakes and pastries. Raeburn Place is proudly independent so meander between booksellers and cheesemongers, wine merchants and boutiques. Stockbridge is a favourite weekend haunt for locals and their four-legged friends.

AFTERNOON: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Here’s a great place to go for when you want to hit reset after a weekend of exploring, a free and super peaceful setting that feels miles away from the hustle and bustle of Princes Street. A short walk from Stockbridge, the grounds are gorgeous year-round as is the gift shop – you may find yourself heading home with a houseplant or two. Sadly, the glasshouses are closed for the next few years as they undergo major restoration and conservation.

EVENING: Calton Hill

A complete panorama of New Town, Old Town, Arthur’s Seat and Leith, Calton Hill has a strong claim to being the best view in Edinburgh. The National Monument, Nelson Monument and City Observatory are all perched here, each offering a postcard-worthy shot of the skyline. Calton Hill is also one of six UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Scotland. It’s always open, so head up for sunset and finish your long weekend on a high note.