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Enjoy Edinburgh to the Fullest with Our One-Day Itinerary

Last time I was in Edinburgh, I decided to embrace the local tradition of hillwalking, thinking it’d be a quaint stroll. Boy, was I wrong, since halfway up Arthur’s Seat, as I gasped like a fish out of water,

I realised my mistake. Just then, a local jogger, barely breaking a sweat, chirped a cheerful “Ye alright?” as they zoomed past. Lesson learned: Edinburgh’s hills are charmingly deceptive!

So, if you’re eager to experience the city without the breathless drama (unless you’re into that—no judgement! ), this one-day itinerary has got you covered. Packed with fun and beauty, it’ll leave you enchanted with Edinburgh, all hills aside!

7:00 AM: Breakfast at The Edinburgh Larder Cafe


Address: 15 Blackfriars St.

Contact details: +44 131 556 6922 

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Friday – 7:30 PM to 3 PM
  • Saturday and Sunday – 8 AM to 3 PM

Cost: ££

Kicking off your Edinburgh day right means fueling up, and where better to do that than at The Edinburgh Larder? This cosy cafe, tucked away in the city’s heart, is a local gem known for its dedication to fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

Their breakfast menu is an absolute stunner, featuring classic full Scottish breakfast,  porridge, waffle, buttery bap, eggs benedict, kilted eggs, and more. 

They also have, of course, coffee that is perfect to pair with some of their seasonal cakes.

Pro tip: Gift cards from The Edinburgh Larder Cafe make perfect presents for food enthusiasts, and the cafe can also be hired for private events, offering a unique setting for any special occasion.

8:30 AM: Walk along the Water of Leith Walkway


Address: 24 Lanark Rd.

Contact details: N/A

Operating hours: 

  • Open 24 hours

Next up, you can burn off that hearty breakfast with a tranquil stroll along the Water of Leith Walkway. Think of it as Edinburgh’s secret artery, winding through the city and offering a peaceful escape amidst the urban hustle.

The walkway stretches for miles, but even just a short amble will expose you to some of the city’s most quietly beautiful scenes.

It’s lush, it’s green, and it’s peppered with artwork and wildlife that’ll make you want to slow down and appreciate the smaller things.

Pro tip: Make sure you keep an eye out for the local wildlife, especially if you’re a bird lover. Kingfishers, herons, and even otters have been spotted along the water!

9:30 AM: Explore Dean Village

Media credit: myinstascotland


Address: Dean Path

Contact details: [email protected] 

Operating hours: 

  • Open 24 hours

Dean Village was once the centre of grain milling for more than 800 years, and today, it’s like a slice of historical serenity. By the way, you got a glimpse of it during your Water of Leith Walk, but it deserves a deeper dive.

The architecture here is fascinating; look out for the millstones and carved bread symbols as nods to its milling past. Just walking through the village is a peaceful experience, with the river adding a soothing soundtrack to your explorations.

It’s hard not to fall in love with the quaint, almost fairytale-esque vibes of Dean Village. Be sure to wander down to the water’s edge for some of the best views (and Instagram spots, if that’s your thing).

Pro tip: Don’t rush through here. The beauty of Dean Village is in the details, so take your time exploring the nooks and crannies.


Address: Modern One 75 Belford Rd. , Modern Two 73 Belford Rd.

Contact details: [email protected] 

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 10 AM to 5 PM

Cost: Free

Now, it’s time to dive into some art at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Housed in two impressive buildings (Modern One and Modern Two) a short stroll apart, it’s a treasure trove of modern and contemporary art.

The collections here include works by Picasso, Warhol, and Hockney, so you’re in for a visual feast. The grounds themselves are art-worthy, with sculptures by Henry Moore and others dotting the landscape.

What’s really cool is how accessible they make art. They have these fascinating curators’ talks and workshops that bring the art to life in a way that’s engaging, not stuffy.

Pro tip: Make sure you explore their on-site shop, or browse online for exclusive finds like limited edition prints, books, jewellery, and art-inspired gifts, perfect for unique souvenirs or gifts.

11:30 AM: Head towards Princes Street Gardens

Website: N/A

Address: Princes St.

Contact details: +44 131 529 7921

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 7 AM to 9:35 PM

Cost: £-££

Princes Street Gardens is the perfect spot to chill for a bit, especially after a morning of walking. They split the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh with lush, green elegance and offer some of the best views of the castle.

And right there, towering into the sky, is the Scott Monument. You can’t miss it—it’s the largest monument to a writer in the world, dedicated to Sir Walter Scott.

Climbing to the top is a bit of a workout (narrow, winding steps alert! ), but the view from up there is worth every panting breath. You get panoramic views of the city that’ll make your heart skip a beat.

Pro tip: If you’re visiting during the summer, keep an eye out for performances and events in the gardens. There’s often something going on, and it’s a great way to experience the local culture.

12:30 PM: Enjoy lunch at Makars Mash Bar


Address: 9-12 Bank St.

Contact details: +44 131 226 1178

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Thursday – 12 PM to 8:30 PM
  • Friday and Saturday – 12 PM to 9:30 PM
  • Sunday – 12 PM to 8 PM

Cost: ££

Alright, by now you’re probably feeling a tad peckish, so let’s talk about lunch. Makars Mash Bar celebrates Scottish comfort food and they’re proudly introducing plant-based cooking.

Now, expect to come across dishes like lamb shank, beef shoulder, royal beef haggis, char-grilled smoke gammon, and, of course, a variety of mash. 

Now, their signature mashes feature classic Scottish dairy butter, Scottish black pudding, chilli smoked bean medley, and even some dairy-free or vegan mashes, all of which must be paired with their mains.

Pro tip: While Makars Mash Bar welcomes walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis, securing a reservation is highly recommended. Due to their popularity and limited space, spots can fill up quickly.

1:30 PM: Visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse


Address: Canongate

Contact details: +44 303 123 7306

Operating hours: 

  • Monday, Thursday to Sunday – 9:30 AM to 6 PM

Cost: £-££

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. It is at the end of the Royal Mile and is steeped in rich history and drama, with rooms that tell tales of Mary, Queen of Scots, and her turbulent rule. 

You’ll get to see the state apartments, the historic apartments of Mary herself, and the stunning ruins of Holyrood Abbey.

The gardens are a must-see, as they’re impeccably maintained and offer a peaceful respite from the city’s bustle. Plus, the gallery here hosts changing exhibitions that showcase royal collections, so there’s always something new to see.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to visit their shop for a selection of exclusive gifts inspired by the royal residence. Also, take a moment to relax and enjoy the palace’s cafe, a perfect way to complete your visit.

2:30 PM: Climb up to Arthur’s Seat

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Website: N/A

Address: Queen’s Drive, Holyrood Park

Contact details: N/A

Operating hours: 

  • Open 24 hours

If you’re particularly feeling adventurous, then you’ve got to tackle Arthur’s Seat—Edinburgh’s very own extinct volcano! This is the main peak in the hills right in the city’s heart, and it’s a favourite for locals and visitors alike.

The climb can be steep in parts, but there are gentler slopes if you’re not up for the more challenging routes. Once you reach the top, the views over Edinburgh are breathtaking—definitely worth the effort.

Depending on the time of year, you’ll want to be prepared for windy conditions at the summit, so dress accordingly. Also, bring some water and snacks for a little picnic at the top.

Pro tip: You may start your climb from Holyrood Park and choose the route that suits your fitness level. The park itself offers several different paths, each with its own charm.

4:00 PM: Stroll down the Royal Mile

Media credit: echanted_by_chaos


Address: High St.

Contact details: N/A

Operating hours: 

  • Open 24 hours

After Arthur’s Seat, a stroll down the Royal Mile is in order. This iconic street stretches from Holyrood Palace to Edinburgh Castle and is lined with historical buildings, charming shops, and all the Scottish souvenirs you could think of.

It’s also the hub for lots of street performances, particularly during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Check out the small alleys (alleys) and courtyards off the main street; they’re like hidden treasures.

Whether you’re into Scotch whisky, local crafts, or just people-watching, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained. And if you’re looking for gifts, this is the place to find something uniquely Scottish to take home.

Pro tip: Remember to dip into one of the whisky tasting rooms if you can. Even if you’re not a whisky aficionado, it’s a fun experience, and you’ll learn a lot about Scotland’s most famous export.

5:00 PM: Check out the Greyfriars Kirkyard & Bobby


Address: 26A Candlemaker Row

Contact details: +44 131 664 4314

Operating hours: 

  • Open 24 hours

Greyfriars Kirkyard, a cemetery, is famous not only for its historical gravestones and as the burial site of notable Edinburgh figures but also for the legend of Greyfriars Bobby. 

This loyal dog supposedly spent 14 years guarding his owner’s grave, and there’s a heartwarming statue of him near the entrance. It’s a touching story that captures the hearts of all who hear it. 

The Kirkyard itself is fascinating, with some of the most elaborate tombstones and mausoleums you’ll see. Plus, it’s said to have inspired names and settings in the Harry Potter books, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re a fan.

Pro tip: To truly experience the rich history of Greyfriars Kirkyard, you can book a tour in advance as guide availability dictates the schedule—you don’t want to miss out and be left to mingle with the resident spirits!

6:00 PM: Experience fine dining at The Kitchin


Address: 78 Commercial Quay

Contact details: +44 131 555 1755

Operating hours: 

  • Tuesday to Saturday – 12 PM to 2:30 PM, 6 PM to 10 PM

Cost: ££-£££

Alright, you’ve been trekking around the city, and let’s face it, you’ve earned a solid meal. The Kitchin is a cut above the rest when it comes to fine dining in Edinburgh.

The chef behind it all, Tom Kitchin, brings this philosophy of ‘From Nature to Plate’, which is pretty cool because it means everything you’re about to sink your teeth into is as fresh and seasonal as it gets.

Nevertheless, expect to come across a variety of seafood here, like scallops, lobsters, halibut, turbot, and more. All these can be paired with their extensive list of whiskies or wines.

Pro tip: Definitely book in advance; this spot is popular for all the right reasons. And, if you’re feeling adventurous, go for the chef’s surprise tasting menu.

7:30 PM: Join the Underground Ghost Tour by City of Edinburgh Tours

Media credit: georgi_lvs_books


Address: Old Police Box, 124a High St.

Contact details: +44 131 220 6868

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 10 AM to 9:15 PM


  • Adult (ages 15+) – £17
  • Concession (NHS, Students, Seniors, etc.) – £16
  • Child (ages 5 to 14) – £12

For something a tad more eerie but just as fascinating, the World-Famous Underground Ghost Tour by City of Edinburgh Tours is something else. You get to explore Edinburgh’s darker side, and let me tell you, it’s not your average history lesson.

These tours take you beneath the city’s old streets to a network of hidden and haunted vaults. 

The vaults you’ll visit are genuinely dark and eerie, so it’s a good thing you’ll be in a group (because, let’s be honest, who wants to wander through centuries-old vaults alone?). This activity will take you at least an hour and 15 minutes.

Pro tip: Make sure you wear comfy shoes because you’re going to be walking on some uneven surfaces. And, a little heads up, it can get pretty chilly down there, so you might want to bring a jacket.

9:00 PM: Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

Media credit: littlegarmorys


Address: 549 Castlehill

Contact details: +44 131 226 3709

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 9 AM to 10 PM


  • Adult – £22.95
  • Student (with ID), Senior (65+) – £20.95
  • Child (ages 5 to 15) – £17.95
  • Ages under 5 – Free

After getting your fill of ghostly tales, you’re going to want something a bit lighter to lift the mood. That’s where Camera Obscura and The World of Illusions step in.

This place is an absolute blast, with five floors packed full of optical illusions, mirror mazes, and all sorts of mind-bending exhibits that will have you laughing and scratching your head in equal measure. It’s incredibly interactive, making it a hit for any age.

Plus, the Camera Obscura itself offers a captivating view of the city, projected onto a viewing table through a periscope, giving you a real-time, 360-degree tour of Edinburgh. And don’t skip out on the rooftop terrace; the views are spectacular at night.

Pro tip: Definitely leave some extra time to explore the gift shop at Camera Obscura & World of Illusions; it’s packed with unique, mind-bending games and quirky keepsakes that are perfect for remembering your visit.

10:00 PM: Catch the sunset at Edinburgh Castle


Address: Castlehill

Contact details: +44 131 225 9846

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 9:30 AM to 6 PM

Yes, it’s a bit of a crisscross back, but you can’t miss the chance to see Edinburgh Castle at sunset. The castle grounds offer one of the most majestic views of the city as the sun dips down, painting the sky in hues of pink, purple, and gold.

It’s a quieter time to visit, with most of the day crowds having dissipated. Just remember, the castle itself might be closed at this time, but the views from the esplanade are always available.

This is the moment for those breathtaking photos, so get your camera ready. And honestly, just take some time to soak it all in. There’s nowhere else in the world where the view quite compares.

Pro tip: While the esplanade is always open, double-check sunset times during your visit to ensure you don’t miss out. Timing is everything for the perfect view.

11:00 PM: Wrap up your day at The Devil’s Advocate


Address: 9 Advocate’s Cl.

Contact details: +44 131 225 4465 

Operating hours: 

  • Sunday to Thursday – 12 PM to 12 AM
  • Friday and Saturday – 12 PM to 1 AM

Cost: £-££

You’ve had a long day, seen some sights, and had some scares; now it’s time to unwind. Tucked away in a cosy alley, The Devil’s Advocate, with its rustic charm and extensive whisky selection, is the perfect spot to reflect on your epic day in Edinburgh.

The bar offers a staggering array of drinks, including some of Scotland’s finest malt whiskies and inventive cocktails, plus a great selection of craft beers and wines.

If you’ve still got room, their late-night kitchen serves up some delicious bites like platters of smoked fish, charcuterie, steaks, and more. It’s the ideal setting to cheer on a day well spent in one of the most beautiful cities on earth.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to ask the bartenders for recommendations if you’re new to whisky or want to try something different. They have a knack for picking out just the right drink to suit your tastes.

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