Answers from Our Experts (1)
Edinburgh has far too many sights to pack into a single day — but you’ll be surprised how much you can do with just a little forward planning and some topsy-turvy thinking. For example, the best place to start a long day in the Scottish capital is at its most famous attraction: the Edinburgh Castle.
If you don’t want to pay the admission fee, you can simply enjoy the site from the outside, taking in the view of the city before starting the long walk down the collection of streets on the Royal Mile. On your way down, keep an eye out for the Heart of Midlothian outside St. Giles’ Cathedral — the decorative heart-shaped mosaic marks the spot where a public execution site once stood (so don’t be surprised if you see passing locals spitting on it). However, what you’re really looking for is Chocolate Soup, where you can pick up a pastry and hot chocolate for breakfast.
Next, continue in the same direction — beyond John Knox House, the Storytelling Centre and the People’s Story Museum — until you reach the Palace of Holyroodhouse, one of Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite royal residences. Walk around the manicured gardens and then, if Her Majesty isn’t in residence, take a long look around the grand interior, too.
After you have visited the palace, take a quick peek at the love-it-or-hate-it Parliament Building (its design and location have been the subject of debates across Scotland), then head along Calton Road into the valley and back up the other side to Princes Street. Home to the city’s best shopping, Princes Street is most famous for the historic Jenners Department Store, as well as other attractions like the Princes Street Gardens and the Sir Walter Scott Monument.
If you still have some, you can enjoy an easy hike up Calton Hill to see an incomplete replica of the Parthenon, and watch the sun go down over the city and into the Firth of Forth. Head down the hill to enjoy a traditional Scottish dinner at Stac Polly, then finally head across to Old Town for a pint of ale in one of the city’s many time-honored taverns (we like Maggie Dickson’s).
Then, if you still have the energy or inclination, party the night away in the famous Liquid Room on Victoria Street.