Welcome! The sun is out and Edinburgh’s waiting for you! Our aim at Edinburgh Editor is to help you find your own version of Edinburgh, discovering a combination of the best big names and great local businesses along the way. Here are some suggestions if you have 24 hours in Edinburgh!
For most of us one of the most important parts of the morning is the time to caffeinate. Edinburgh’s love of coffee has been rapidly growing over the last few years – today there are coffee bars in every section of the city, so you don’t have to queue up in a chain and can get better coffee.
Coffee lovers should make a point of having a sit in coffee (with avocado on toast, if you’re there before 11:30) at Brew Lab in the old town, or get a take away delight from Fortitude on York Place.
More great coffees can be found in our coffee guides – Part I and Part II.
Must see sights
There are just some things that everyone should see when visiting Edinburgh. We couldn’t do this list, for example, without mentioning Edinburgh Castle – it’s pretty amazing, and right there in the city centre. But even if you don’t want to pay the entrance fee it’s well worth the walk up Castle Hill for the views out over the city and miles beyond.
But if you think the view is good from The Castle, then you should really get a little more height for an even better view. It may feel like you’re always walking up hill in Edinburgh, but when it comes to Calton Hill and Arthurs Seat the views are more than worth it. The picture postcard view across the New Town to the Castle is usually taken from Calton Hill, and for those willing to put a little effort in and climb Arthurs Seat the vistas are even better. And by taking the climb, you’ll have worked up an appetite just in time for lunch.
After a morning of sightseeing you’ll likely be feeling the need to pick up on the eating front again. Edinburgh is full of great places for lunch, with variety covering practically everything you could possibly want.
In the Old Town and fancy a bagel? Pop over the Elephants & Bagels by Bristo Square – it’s the less-touristy sibling of The Elephant House (famed as being where JK Rowling created Harry Potter) and does a staggering range of bagels and fillings. Feeling a bit chilly? What you need is soup – try Union of Genius on Forrest Road for brilliant fresh soups.
Not in the Old Town? Head down to Canonmills for all day breakfasts, great coffee and brilliantly large slices of cake at The Blue Bear; or alternatively get your cheese fix with the incredible cheese toasties at The Cairngorm Coffee Co. on Frederick Street.
Fully rested over lunch? Now It’s time to see one of the many amazing attractions our fair city offers. If you’re here during August or over Christmas there is a plethora of festival activities on, but don’t worry if you’re outside these times there’s always something exciting going on.
If none of the temporary activities take your fancy there are loads of permanent attractions – many of which are free! All publicly funded museums and galleries are free to enter, although a donation towards their upkeep is appreciated. The most famous of these is the simply stunning National Museum of Scotland – it’s the most visited attraction in Scotland for a reason – which houses both tantalising tales from within the nation’s history and a diverse selection from around the world. It also has one of the most incredible great halls you’ll see anywhere. Other great free attractions include the National Academy, Modern Art Gallery, or if you fancy some more time in the sunshine the breathtaking Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh are just a short walk from the New Town.
Other fantastic attractions which are well worth taking the time to see are the Palace of Holyrood – the Queen’s official residence in Scotland – which is brilliantly juxtaposed by the striking sight of the Scottish Parliament (we’d love to hear what you think it looks like. No seriously, we’re still not sure). Our Dynamic Earth, The Royal Yacht Britannia and Edinburgh Zoo are also wonderful places to pass the afternoon.
With everything from places serving comfort food to high end dining, Edinburgh has everything you want for dinner. We have a big range of pubs serving food and also the highest concentration of Michelin Star restaurants in the UK outside of London – every taste bud is catered for.
If you’re after a burger we’d suggest the seasonal specials at Burger Meats Bun on Forth Street or a venison burger at Holyrood 9a (who also happen to have a great selection of beers for you to try as well).
Looking for something a little more upmarket but still not too formal? Head to Stockbridge and The Scran and Scallie. This gastro pub is owned by two of our city’s Michelin Starred chefs and was created so they could serve great food to more people than can come to their star-clad restaurants.
Nearing the higher end of the scale, Timberyard is one of the city centre’s best hidden gems. It’s an old brick warehouse that was indeed once owned by a timber merchant; today it serves some of the best local and seasonal food in the city.
So you’ve had your dinner and the day is drawing on. Perhaps you’ve been for a little evening stroll and now you’d like a whisky, a glass of wine, perhaps a G&T or maybe several, where should you go? You’re in luck because Edinburgh has a very strong bar scene.
In the New Town for dinner? Why not try hidden away cocktail bar The Bon Vivant on Thistle Street – it’s famous for its delicious cocktails and excellent wine offering. Want to be blown away by the building you’re in? Then head to The Dome on George Street, it’s checker floured entrance is nothing compared to The Dome’s namesake in the main bar.
If you’re on the older side of the city and want a cocktail or some whisky then The Devil’s Advocate, just off the Royal Mile, will be the perfect setting for an evening soiree, or if you are in need of a refreshing G&T talk a walk to 56 North – it’s got more than 200 different kinds of gin on offer, the largest range in Scotland!
Sadly all good things have to come to an end, and it seems the sun has now set on your day, but that’s no reason to be sad. Either you are going to wake up tomorrow and do it all again or you can just start making that list of places you want to see and go to the next time you come visit Edinburgh, you’ll always be welcome back.
Occasionally our weather is not quite as sunny as we’d like for your visit, so here are a selection of 7 things to do when it rains!