Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is a city steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty. Stunning medieval architecture meets a thriving arts and music scene, and from its narrow alleyways and busy streets it is always just a stone-throw to serene nature.
There is a lot to discover here: a quaint village in the middle of the city center, a mountain to climb next to the Scottish parliament, barista-brewed coffee in the shadow of a medieval castle. Whether you're exploring the cobbled streets of the Old Town, discovering the city's iconic landmarks, or walking along the water on Portobello Beach, Edinburgh is a city that has many faces.
So much history in the air can seem daunting or stuffy, but the city feels young at heart and exudes an adventurous spirit. Its people are friendly and warm, and excited to share their Scotland with any visitors that arrive with open hearts.
Let’s discover what makes the ‘Athens of the North’ so special and spend 12hrs in Edinburgh.
10 am – Walking in at street level, you don’t quite yet get a good sense of Market Hotel Edinburgh, all there is to discover is a small entrance area with some couches and two elevators. Those bring you upstairs into the lobby and to the rest of the hotel. But once you’re up there, you can really appreciate the unique selling point of this place: the views. Whether you're sipping your free welcome cocktail on the balcony of the champagne rooftop bar or relaxing in your room, you'll be treated to breathtaking panoramic views of Edinburgh. You’re right across the gigantic Waverly Station with the New Town spread out in front of you. The city's most iconic landmarks, including the majestic Edinburgh Castle, the Old Town, and the picturesque Princes Street Gardens, are just a short walk away.
Its modern design and laid-back vibe using natural colors and materials for the interiors make this a great base. The guest rooms are luxurious yet unpretentious, with comfy beds, sleek bathrooms, and a wonderful selection of local snacks.
11 am – Fruitmarket is a contemporary art gallery housed in two former market buildings adjacent to Waverly Station. While we also highly recommend a visit to the exhibition, our main reason for visiting is the institution’s café right at the entrance.
The cafe's menu features a variety of dishes that are inspired by local and seasonal ingredients, with a focus on fresh and flavorful options that are both healthy and indulgent. From hearty breakfast options like avocado toast and poached eggs to sandwiches and salads for a light lunch, this is a great place to start the day in a modern and bright space.
Of course, the cafe also offers a variety of coffees, teas, and juices, as well as a selection of homemade cakes and pastries.
12 am – Just a short walk from the busy city center of Edinburgh, Dean Village feels like a quiet nature break and a charming trip back in time.
Originally a bustling mill town in the 19th century, it’s now a peaceful haven with charming cobbled streets, cozy cottages, and babbling brooks. You can take a stroll along the Water of Leith Walkway, soaking in the views of the surrounding hills and countryside.
There are several landmarks to explore in the village, including the 16th-century Well Court and St. Bernard's Well, a neoclassical temple situated in a serene garden overlooking the Water of Leith.
1 pm – Perched atop an imposing rock in the heart of the Old Town, Edinburgh Castle is never far from view as you wander around the city. With a history dating back over a thousand years, this ancient fortress has served as a royal residence, military stronghold and prison, and cultural icon, and it remains a symbol of Scotland's enduring spirit and rich history.
The stunning architecture and sweeping views of the city alone are worth the trip, as are the castle’s many fascinating exhibits, including the Scottish Crown Jewels, the National War Museum of Scotland, and the Great Hall, where the Scottish Parliament once met.
Edinburgh Castle is also a vibrant cultural hub, with a year-round program of events and activities that showcase the best of Scottish music, dance, and art. From the world-renowned Edinburgh Military Tattoo to the annual Christmas festivities, there is always something happening at this iconic landmark.
We recommend booking your tickets online in advance to beat the queues and to download the audio guide to your phone. The narration is interesting and adds a lot of much-needed context.
Ciamar a tha thu?
2 pm – Edinburgh is a city for book lovers and the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. A walk through the city reveals a myriad of literary treasures, from the towering Scott Monument which celebrates the novelist Sir Walter Scott to the sinister ‘Black Dinner’ that took place in Edinburgh Castle in 1440 that is thought to have inspired George R. R. Martin penning one of the most shocking scenes in The Game of Thrones.
You can find many great bookstores in the city, and one of our favorites is Topping & Company Booksellers. The store's warm lighting, wooden bookshelves, and comfortable seating areas create a cozy and inviting atmosphere, perfect for browsing through the store's extensive collection of titles.
Topping & Company also sees itself as a cultural hub, with its own all-year-round Literary Festival, hosting readings in the bookshop and evenings with literary stars.
3 pm – Dishoom is not exclusive to Edinburgh, with several locations in London as well as in Manchester and Birmingham. Yet we wanted to feature the restaurant here, simply because it is one of our all-time favorites and we were delighted to find one of its restaurants here. Dishoom has been modeled after the Bombay Cafés that flourished in the Indian city during the 1960s. Built by Persian immigrants, there were once almost 400 of them in Bombay, and they attracted everybody – from sweaty taxi drivers to businessmen and families.
Dishoom wants to be as uncomplicated as these establishments and manages that with ease. The crowd is lively and the décor reminds you of far-away places, with faded pictures on the wall and fans slowly turning on the ceiling.
The Indian food is fantastic, with a focus on small dishes to share. The long menu might seem intimidating, but the members of staff will happily assist you with your order.
Dishoom doesn't take reservations (unless you are a bigger party) so there is practically always a line outside around dinner time. But wait times are usually manageable, and you spend part of that time at the cozy bar on the ground floor, so don’t let that discourage you (or come early/late!).
4 pm – Nestled in the rolling hills just outside of Edinburgh, Jupiter Artland is a stunning sculpture park that is well worth the bus ride that it takes to get here from the city. Founded by philanthropist art collectors Robert and Nicky Wilson, the park showcases a constantly evolving collection of contemporary art installations set amidst the beautiful natural landscape.
As you stroll through the park, you'll encounter works by world-renowned artists as well as up-and-coming creatives from around the world. Each installation is carefully curated to create a unique and immersive experience that is both thought-provoking and visually stunning.
Jupiter Artland hosts various events throughout the year, including outdoor concerts, film screenings, artist talks, and workshops. It is open from April until September and offers ticket booking online.
5 pm – Union Brew Lab is a laid-back cafe in Edinburgh’s West End neighborhood, popular with students from the nearby university and coffee nerds visiting from further away alike. Brew Lab showcases the very best single-origin coffees, brewed by some of the most talented baristas in Scotland. The cafe sources its beans from the finest coffee roasters around the world and takes great care in ensuring that each cup is brewed to perfection.
The cafe's interior is cozy and welcoming, with a minimalist design in a historic building with low ceilings. You'll find plenty of seating options, from cozy couches to bar stools, and the relaxed atmosphere is perfect for catching up on work, chatting with friends, or simply enjoying a quiet moment with a great cup of coffee.
6 pm – This charming candy shop has been a staple of the city's Old Town for over 70 years, providing locals and visitors alike with its famous fudge and other sweets. The shop's shelves are stocked with a variety of handmade fudge, each one more delicious than the last. From classic flavors like vanilla and chocolate to more unique options like whisky and ginger, there's something for every taste.
The shop also offers a variety of other candies, from creamy caramels to tangy sour candies. If you're looking for a special gift to bring back home, you can't go wrong with their beautifully packaged gift boxes and bags of sweets.
One of the best parts of visiting The Fudge House is getting to watch the candy makers in action. You can watch as they stir the bubbling fudge in traditional copper pots, adding ingredients and flavors to create the perfect blend of sweetness and texture.
7 pm – Arthur’s Seat, located in the heart of the city's Holyrood Park, offers breathtaking views of the city and its surrounding landscape. Although you are close to the city center and practically right next to the site of the Scottish parliament, being here feels like being far away in nature. Hiking to the top is a moderate challenge, so make sure you wear appropriate footwear and clothes.
But the stunning views make it all worth it. As you ascend the hill, you'll pass by historic ruins, lush greenery, and stunning rock formations. Once you reach the summit, you'll be rewarded with panoramic views of the city skyline, the Firth of Forth, and the rolling hills beyond.
This hill is steeped in history and legend, and its distinctive shape has inspired countless stories and myths over the centuries. It's said to be the location of the legendary King Arthur's Camelot, and the hill's name is derived from the belief that it was the site of the king's final battle.
8 pm – Timberyard is a family-run restaurant in the heart of Edinburgh and one of the city’s best. The menu offers a culinary journey through Scotland's local flavors, combining traditional techniques with modern twists to create a truly unforgettable meal.
The ingredients used are sourced from local, artisan suppliers.
Set in an old warehouse dating back to the 19th century, the former timber yard is made intimate with candlelight, a woodburning stove, and chunky wooden tables. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, guiding diners through the menu and offering expert wine pairings to enhance the flavors of each dish.
The menu changes regularly to reflect the seasons and the availability of ingredients. Each dish is a work of art, beautifully presented and bursting with flavor. You have a choice of the four-course menu, where you get to choose from different options of appetizers, entrees, and desserts, or the tasting menu, which gives you an even more complete impression of modern Scottish cuisine.
Make sure to book a table in advance if you want to dine here.
9 pm – Hidden away on the corner of Charlotte Square in Edinburgh's New Town, Panda & Sons transports its guests to America's Prohibition era. Disguised as a barber shop, this secret speakeasy is decked out with quaint antiques, old school barber chairs and is home to an impressive arsenal of syrups, spices, and spirits.
The bartenders at Panda & Sons are true artists, and they serve up some of the best cocktails in the UK. Their menu featuring new creations and creative interpretations of classics – often using locally sourced ingredients – changes seasonally and the crew focuses a lot on different techniques of freezing, resulting in inventive and truly unique drinks. This place is popular, we suggest you book a table in advance.
12HRS © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED