Travel Guide | Scotland

A Day In Edinburgh

A guide to one of the most historic and beautiful cities in Europe, Edinburgh, a city with charm and timelessness.!

“This was a townscape raised in the teeth of cold winds from the east; a city of winding cobbled streets and haughty pillars; a city of dark nights and candlelight, and intellect.” ~ Alexander McCall Smith

Edinburgh is a city with charm and it is hard not to fall in love with this city. It is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and has kept its beauty despite its age. It is a city that is located on many hills and is beside the ocean.Edinburgh is a very walkable city! Everything is within reasonable walking distance.  There is so much to explore in Edinburgh but if you only have so much time, here are the best things to do! 


Start your morning off with a walk to Scott Monument, a massive Gothic style monument in the city center. It was built to honor novelist, Sir Walter Scott. It is worth a visit to walk by and check out the beautiful architecture and impressive carvings of his characters. You can go inside for an exhibit and climb almost 300 steps to the top for a great view of Edinburgh! Surrounding the monument are beautiful gardens that are worth a stroll around for a bit!

An old royal residence and a military main base, this beautiful Edinburgh Castle sits above the city. You can go in and take a tour for 16 pounds to learn more about Scotland’s history. Even if you don’t go in and tour the castle, walk up to it because it offers some incredible views of the city.  

Edinburgh Castle Image

The Royal Mile connects Edinburgh Castle and Palace Holyrood. The Mile is made up of 5 different streets. Along it are various stores, pubs, bars, and attractions. I absolutely love the old buildings, architecture, and the cobblestone everywhere.

At the end of the street is the Palace Holyrood, where the Queen stays where here. This has served as the official residence of the Kings and Queens of Scotland since the 16th century. If the royal monarchs are not in residence, you can go in to explore the gardens, the apartments, and ruins.

If you are looking for some outdoor fun, at the end of the Royal Mile, not too far from Palace Holyrood, you will see a group of hills that were formed by an extinct volcano. Here you’ll find Arthur’s Seat where you can climb to the top and see magnificent views of the city. Make sure to be prepared for the hike – bring water and comfortable shoes. It is about 30-40 minutes to the top!


If you are a Harry Potter nerd like myself, I recommend you go to where it all began, at the Elephant House. This is where J.K. Rowling first penned her famous series. There’s a sign out front declaring it is the “Birthplace of Harry Potter!” It is right near the National Museum of Scotland and its address is 21 George IV Bridge. It is a great place to grab a yummy lunch!

Edinburgh Harry Potter Elephant House Image

You should visit here for an afternoon sweet treat! Mary’s Milk Bar is a homemade gelato shop and it is to die for. The gelato is made fresh every single day. Their special is hot chocolate mixed with cold gelato. This sounds like an oxymoron but it is DELISH. You choose your flavor of hot chocolate and your gelato flavor. Plus the shop is right next to the castle, so you can either sit by the window for a view of the Castle or go eat under the castle lawn.  

Edinburgh Mary's Milk bar hot chocolate gelato image

Mary’s Milk Bar Hot Chocolate Float

Calton Hill is one of the main hills in the city and is located right in the city center. It takes about 5 minutes to get to the top of the hill. Here you can find the National Monument, which is meant to be a replica of the Parthenon in Athens, that honors those who died in the Napoleonic Wars. There are various other historic buildings located here too, including the Old Observatory House, Nelson’s Monument, and the City Observatory. It is a neat place to visit and offers some great views of the city. It is also home to many festivals, so if you are in need of an afternoon rest, the lawn here is the perfect place to do so.


For dinner, take a quick bus ride over to Leith, a district of Edinburgh on the waterfront. There are various of restaurants and bars here to choose from. One restaurant that is exceptional is Cafe Tartine! It is a French cafe that is relatively cheap and has delicious food. The Compass Bar is a cozy little place to stop for after dinner drinks!  There are also plenty of seafood options to choose from as well!

End your day by doing a Ghost Tour! Ghost Tours are very popular in this city. There are many companies that you can book a tour with. With Edinburgh’s history and old buildings, it is the perfect setting for some good ghost stories.


24 Hours in Edinburgh, Scotland

Liz Domeck

Elon University | 11 stories

Cleveland born and raised. Living in the south while attending school in North Carolina working toward Strategic Communications and Public Health degrees. Has a love for Jesus Christ, all flavors of ice cream, elephants, and exploring new places. In her free time, she reads lots of books, frolics in random places, and spends time playing soccer. She's determined to fill her passport with stamps and to never stop learning.

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