My friends came to visit Edinburgh and this is how I created the perfect weekend itinerary
I showed my American friends around Edinburgh in 48 hours, and crafted the ultimate itinerary in the process
As an international student, I spend about half of my time complaining about Edinburgh weather and the other half complaining about how no one from home ever visits because it’s the best city ever.
So when one of my best friends told me she’d be studying abroad at Oxford for the summer, I knew I had to kidnap her and bring her to the ‘burgh for a weekend. And because I have never been relaxed ever, I sent her a pretty excessive 10 question survey and got to work on the itinerary.
We planned on taking the overnight train up from London, but it was cancelled last minute, so after walking the streets at midnight and waiting three hours for them to give us a hotel room, we finally got the train at six in the morning and set off for Edi.
Brunch: Scran on Cockburn Street
I had no idea until I moved here how elite the full Scottish breakfast is, and there was no way I was letting them leave without trying it. As a vegetarian, I went for the veggie haggis, but Ian and Kristin are more adventurous and both went for the one with haggis and black pudding. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture because I hadn’t slept.
Activity One: Royal Mile and Prince’s Street Gardens
After checking into our hotels and taking a little nap we set out to explore the Royal Mile! They wanted to see Victoria Street (nerds) so we walked down that way and then went walked down to Princes Street Gardens to grab a snack.
Activity Two: Arthur’s Seat
I thought since we were running on no sleep we would skip this, but they’d heard too many great things about the gorgeous view. It was my first time going up since Fresher’s Week, and I have to say it’s a lot easier when you aren’t hungover or down with raging Fresher’s Flu.
Alternatives: If the weather isn’t good enough or hiking isn’t your thing, check out one of the museums or sneak your visitors up to the top of 50 George Square for almost equally stunning views.
Dinner: Tuppiniquim on Middle Meadows Walk
If you haven’t tried this iconic Brazilian crepe stand yet, run don’t walk.
Drinks: The Library Bar
This is my favourite university space and the drinks are cheap! Win-win.
Breakfast/ Coffee: The Red Cockerel Cafe and Terrace
This is the most criminally underrated coffee shop in Edinburgh and I almost don’t want to post it because it’s the only place I can always find a table, but y’all deserve it.
It’s literally inside the super old cemetery in Prince’s Street Garden, so it’s spooky but also really cute! The breakfast is great but the soup is also killer if you’re ever there for lunch.
Activity Three: Farmers Market
If you know me you know I do one thing and one thing only on Saturday mornings, and that’s the farmer’s market. Check out the portion on Castle Terrace first (mostly produce/ bread) and then walk down the steps to the Grassmarket for a big selection of artisan goods and hot food.
Grab lunch from one of the stalls (the paella is unreal) and enjoy a little picnic on the hill under the castle! Kris and Ian both loaded up on souvenirs and gifts.
Activity Four: The Castle
Everyone says that Edinburgh Castle is a can’t miss sight, but we forgot to book in advance and proved that you could miss it! We ended up admiring it from afar and checking out a temporary art market on the Royal Mile before wandering around a bit.
Activity Five: Calton Hill
Grab a snack and enjoy another great view of the city! While you’re up there, check out the contemporary art museum, and maybe the fancy restaurant if you’re bougie.
Alternative: If the weather is bad, check out one of the other great art museums like the National Gallery or the Portrait Museum!
An Edinburgh classic. If you’re fancier, totally sub this out for one of Edinburgh’s many nice restaurants.
Activity Six: Ghost Tour
We did the free city explorers tour, but there are plenty of great options depending on your price range. We grabbed some tinnies to take with us as they still hadn’t had a canned G&T and I do think that’s one of the best things the UK has to offer.
Breakfast: Black Medicine
They wanted to see the Harry Potter cafe (fair enough). The National Museum also has a gorgeous cafe inside nearby!
And then they caught the train back, sad times.
Cut for Time:
More great tourist activities include…
- Whiskey Tasting
- Day trip to Loch Ness
- Holyrood Palace
- Portobello Beach
- Antique Book Shopping (McNaughtans on Leith Walk, Tills by the meadows, and Armchair books in Grassmarket are all some of my favourites)
- Exploring Stockbridge
- Any of the museums