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With just three days to explore this historic Scottish capital, follow my recommendations for the most fantastic sights a first timer (or repeat visitor) must not miss!

Good for
  • Nature Lover
  • Foodie
  • Like a Local

12 Places

4 City Tips

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12 Places

Day 1

Edinburgh Castle

Castles

Scottish National Gallery

Art Museums

Cafe Royal Circle Bar

Bars & Clubs

Princes Street Gardens

Gardens, Parks

Day 2

Royal Yacht Britannia

Speciality Museums, Ships

Ocean Terminal

Shopping Malls

Nobles Cafe Bar & Restaurant

Restaurants

Water of Leith Walkway

Scenic Walking Areas

Mimi's Bakehouse

Restaurants

Day 3

Arthur's Seat

Geologic Formations, Mountains

The Sheep Heid Inn

Restaurants

National Museum of Scotland

Speciality Museums, Natural History Museums

Paul P's City Tips

  • An adult day ticket gives you unlimited travel on buses and trams. A family ticket, for 2 adults and up to 3 children, is also amazing value.
  • It is not customary to tip bar staff for serving drinks, and this is certainly not expected.
  • It is customary to tip 10% for food. In pubs or cafes, a tip jar is usually placed near the till for you to leave a tip in if you wish.
  • When riding in taxis, round up the fare to the nearest pound.
    Day 1
  • Edinburgh Castle
    Castles
    See more photos
    Paul P Says:

    Located in the heart of the city and built on a high volcanic rock, the Edinburgh Castle provides you not only with spectacular views of Edinburgh and beyond, but also with a deep sense of history. Plus, it's the home of the Scottish Crown jewels.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Book fast-track tickets online to avoid waiting in queues at the entrance.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 338 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A majestic structure in the heart of Edinburgh 27/08/2016
    • Lovely view from castle 27/08/2016
    • Edinburgh Castle
    Phone:
    441312259846
    Price range:
    US$ 28 - US$ 28
    Other:
  • Scottish National Gallery
    Art Museums
    See more photos
    Paul P Says:

    Just a few minutes walk from Edinburgh Castle, the Scottish National Gallery hosts examples of Edinburgh's past and present in the form of paintings, sculptures and photographs.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Admission is free.
    • The cafe downstairs serves great coffee, tea and home-baked scones, cakes and lunches.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #20 of 338 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A good place for a quick lunch 27/08/2016
    • Impressionists exhibition well done 26/08/2016
    • Scottish National Gallery
    Address:
    The Mound
    Edinburgh EH2 2EL
    Scotland
    Phone:
    0131 624 6200
    Hours:
    Thu
    10:00 - 19:00
    Fri - Wed
    10:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Cafe Royal Circle Bar
    Bars & Clubs
    See more photos
    Paul P Says:

    At Cafe Royal Circle Bar, you can enjoy tasty seafood, steaks, wines and local beers in a beautifully grand setting. The mussels, cooked in two or three different ways, are a particular favourite of the regulars.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Be prepared to wait for a table on the weekends, as it gets very busy.
    • The moules frites are superb.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #18 of 214 Nightlife in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • the place to be 23/08/2016
    • Neighborhood not Great but Food is Awesome 05/08/2016
    • Cafe Royal Circle Bar
    Address:
    17 West Register Street
    Edinburgh EH2 2AA
    Scotland
    Phone:
    0131 556 1884
    Hours:
    Sun
    12:30 - 23:00
    Mon - Wed
    11:00 - 23:00
    Thu
    11:00 - 00:00
    Fri - Sat
    11:00 - 01:00
  • Princes Street Gardens
    Gardens, Parks
    See more photos
    Paul P Says:

    The beautiful Princes Street Gardens are always full of colourful flowers and plants. Situated directly under the castle, they provide a different yet beautiful perspective of this historic city landmark.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • There is a very nice seated area, should it rain and you need to take cover.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #15 of 338 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Much bigger than expected 27/08/2016
    • Beautiful gardens in the heart of the city 27/08/2016
    • Princes Street Gardens
    Address:
    West Gardens Cottage Princes Street
    Edinburgh EH2 2HG
    Scotland
    Phone:
    0131 529 7921
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    07:00 - 19:15
    Other:
  • Day 2
  • Royal Yacht Britannia
    Speciality Museums, Ships
    See more photos
    Paul P Says:

    The Royal Yacht Britannia offers a unique chance to visit the Royal Family's spectacular floating palace! This yacht was used extensively by the royal family, and Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, took it out for their honeymoon. There are lots of rooms and decks to discover, and many surprising facts to learn about this ship and its decadent history.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Buy your tickets online and arrange to collect them at the visitor centre. There can be very long queues!
    • Audio guides are included in the ticket price and are very useful.
    • There is free wifi onboard, and the staff actively encourage guests to post to social media.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 338 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Very interesting look at how the royals travelled 27/08/2016
    • Nice tour 27/08/2016
    • Royal Yacht Britannia
    Address:
    2nd Floor, Ocean Terminal
    Leith
    Edinburgh EH6 6JJ
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 555 5566
    Price range:
    US$ 26 - US$ 26
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:30 - 16:30
    Other:
  • Ocean Terminal
    Shopping Malls
    See more photos
    Paul P Says:

    For a huge choice of shopping under one roof – in a beautiful, spacious building with spectacular sea views – you can't beat Ocean Terminal! There are a number of well-known chain stores here, plus more local stores selling traditional Scottish produce and handicrafts.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Trendsetter
    Tips
    • The Britannia Visitor centre is located inside the Ocean Terminal.
    • Regular bus services run to Ocean Terminal from all over town.
    • Lots of cafes and restaurants can be found inside Ocean Terminal – great for when you need to rest your legs or refuel for more shopping.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #107 of 338 things to do in Edinburgh
    • Love it here 26/08/2016
    • Terrible 23/08/2016
    • Ocean Terminal
    Address:
    Ocean Drive
    Leith
    Edinburgh EH6 6JJ
    Scotland
    Phone:
    0131-555-8888
    Other:
  • Nobles Cafe Bar & Restaurant
    Restaurants (European, Gluten Free Options, Gastropub)
    See more photos
    Paul P Says:

    Nobles is situated in an area of Edinburgh called 'The Shore', which is truly one of the most picturesque and beautiful areas of the city – and the pub itself is a true hidden gem. Not only is the building beautiful inside, with interesting artwork and stained glass, but it also has super-friendly staff, the most fantastic food and an excellent selection of drinks and real ales. You couldn't really ask for more!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Trendsetter
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Nobles is an ideal pit-stop after a shopping trip to the Ocean Terminal – a 5 minute walk or one stop on the #22 bus.
    • The moules frites and the rabbit burger are very popular and both cooked to perfection.
    • Nobles offers free wifi – ask for the code.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #120 of 1,860 restaurants in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • About the only genuine gastropub in Edinburgh we could think of 22/08/2016
    • Great grub 19/08/2016
    • Nobles Cafe Bar & Restaurant
    Address:
    44A Constitution Street
    Leith
    Edinburgh EH6 6RS
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 629 7215
    Price range:
    US$ 12 - US$ 36
    Hours:
    Sun
    09:00 - 00:00
    Mon - Wed
    11:00 - 00:00
    Thu - Fri
    11:00 - 00:45
    Sat
    09:00 - 00:45
    Other:
  • Water of Leith Walkway
    Scenic Walking Areas
    See more photos
    Paul P Says:

    Water of Leith Walkway is a fantastic network of walking and cycling paths that connect you to all different parts of the city. It's well worth exploring on foot or by bike.

    Good for
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Hidden Gems
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Join the walkway round the corner from Nobles Cafe bar. This is also very close to Mimi's Bakehouse, if you are looking for a nice coffee and tasty treat prior to your walk.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #39 of 338 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Delightful walk 24/08/2016
    • Leith me alone 19/08/2016
    • Water of Leith Walkway
    Address:
    24 Lanark Road
    Edinburgh EH14 1TQ
    Scotland
    Phone:
    0131 455 7367
    Other:
  • Mimi's Bakehouse
    Restaurants (Cafe, British, Scottish, Gluten Free Options)
    See more photos
    Paul P Says:

    Where better to have a well-deserved coffee and cake after a long walk along the water of Leith? Mimi's has previously won the coveted 'Scottish Baker of the Year' award, and you only have to try any one of the cakes or superb scones here to see why.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Trendsetter
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • The flat white is one of the best in Edinburgh, and the award-winning scones with clotted cream and fruit jam are superb.
    • Mimi's also does a great breakfast and lunch.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #101 of 1,860 restaurants in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Need to go early 27/08/2016
    • Yummy scones and cakes 27/08/2016
    • Mimi's Bakehouse
    Address:
    63 Shore
    Edinburgh EH6 6RA
    Scotland
    Phone:
    0131 555 5908
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    09:00 - 17:00
    Sat - Sun
    09:00 - 18:00
    Other:
  • Day 3
  • Arthur's Seat
    Geologic Formations, Mountains
    See more photos
    Paul P Says:

    Featuring beautiful hills and volcanic geology that can be approached from all directions, the journey to Arthur's Seat also rewards visitors with truly spectacular views of Edinburgh. Trails vary in difficulty – from gentle strolls to climbs for the more adventurous. After only 10-15 minutes of hiking you'll be blessed with stunning views, though to explore the area fully and get immersed in the history and beauty of the place, you can quite easily spend half a day here!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Hidden Gems
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Make sure that you wear sensible outdoor shoes, as there are a few rocky areas to negotiate.
    • There are no cafes, restaurants or toilets on Arthur's seat, so bring some water and snacks with you.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 338 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Right steep and left easy trail 27/08/2016
    • Beware of the Wind 27/08/2016
    • Arthur's Seat
    Address:
    Holyrood Park
    Edinburgh EH16 5BT
    Scotland
    Phone:
    07443658890
    Other:
  • The Sheep Heid Inn
    Restaurants (Bar, British, Pub, Scottish)
    See more photos
    Paul P Says:

    Serving since 1360, the Sheep Heid Inn is Scotland's oldest pub, and its patrons have included the likes of Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie – to name but a few! The pub has a nice beer garden, plus Scotland's oldest surviving bowling alley, in case you fancy a game with your pint of local ale.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • Pair a fine local ale with a traditional Scottish dish from the delicious menu.
    • The staff are very knowledgeable when it comes to choosing a fine ale or whisky.
    • In Duddingston, just on the south side of Arthur's seat, The Sheep Heid is a welcome pit stop after a long walk or climb to the landmark.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #484 of 1,860 restaurants in Edinburgh
    • Great old pub, possibly the oldest in Edinburgh 24/08/2016
    • Great find. 23/08/2016
    • The Sheep Heid Inn
    Address:
    43-45 The Causeway
    Duddingston
    Edinburgh EH15 3QA
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 661 7974
    Price range:
    US$ 11 - US$ 34
    Hours:
    Sun
    12:00 - 23:00
    Mon - Thu
    11:00 - 23:00
    Fri - Sat
    11:00 - 00:00
    Other:
  • National Museum of Scotland
    Speciality Museums, Natural History Museums
    See more photos
    Paul P Says:

    The perfect place to spend an afternoon (or a whole rainy day), the National Museum of Scotland features artifacts from Scottish history, plus interesting exhibits on history around the world.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Entrance is free.
    • There are plenty of areas to keep the kids interested. Look out for Dolly the sheep!
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 338 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Very good museum, no entry fee 27/08/2016
    • It was worth the wait 27/08/2016
    • National Museum of Scotland
    Address:
    Chambers Street
    Edinburgh EH1 1JF
    Scotland
    Phone:
    443001236789
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 17:00
    Other:
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