3-day guide to Edinburgh: my favourite spots in the city

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Edinburgh has a gorgeous charm that I fell in love with straight away. Everyone said how beautiful Edinburgh was and I couldn't believe my eyes until I arrived - and I even had stunning weather, not what I expected for spring in Scotland.

With its characteristic buildings, literary history, quaint pubs and colourful streets, there are endless things to see and do and places to eat in the city. If you're new to Scotland, here's my 3-day guide to Edinburgh and my favourite spots of what to do in the city.

3-day guide to Edinburgh: my favourite spots in the city

Day one

Visit the Royal Mile

The Royal Mile is the most iconic street in Edinburgh and the first must-see sight to capture the beauty of the city. This is probably the most crowded part of the city but for good reason as the mile-long strip features wonderful historical buildings, museums, cafes, shops and the staple cobbled streets. I loved walking up and down and seeing the city's bustle, full of locals and tourists. 

Wander along Victoria Street

Just off The Royal Mile, is the colourful Victoria Street, the street you've probably seen on many Instagram posts. This curved road features many quaint and unique type shops, all painted every colour of the rainbow. Its cobbled streets add to the cute appeal and it's worth a mooch in the shops and grabbing a bite to eat if you fancy. 

Explore the old town

The Royal Mile and Victoria Street are in the heart of the old town and beyond that, it's a cobbled street paradise. Enjoy the wonders as you mooch along the various streets, grab a bite to eat, or a coffee, shop in the independent stores and experience the museum scene. It's one of those areas where you can simply enjoy how beautiful the architecture is.

See St Giles Cathedral

I adore cathedrals and St Giles in Edinburgh met my expectations as a wonderful sight. The interior and exterior matched the beauty and the architecture throughout the city. Entry to the cathedral is free unless climbing to the top.

Coffee and cake at The Milkman

The Milkman is a favourite coffee shop for many, locals and tourists and has that hipster feel about it with the array of pastries and cakes on offer. For that late-morning snack, I'd suggest grabbing one of their sweet treats and finding a place to sit taking in the city bustle.

Roam around The Writer's Museum

I'm a writer and my dream is to have my books published on the bookshelves one day. Visiting the Writer's Museum is a must for any book nerds or aspiring writers as it's so inspirational to read about the literary-historical icons in Edinburgh and beyond, and how their books have such an impact today. This museum is free too and worth a visit to learn more about the writers who shaped the literary world.

Visit Edinburgh Castle 

You can see Edinburgh Castle from many points in the city and going up there is a must to see the city from up high and to explore and learn more about the city's history. The castle is a lovely walk and also features many museums within it. Tickets cost £19.50 online and I'd recommend booking in advance to choose a time slot to save queuing up and paying more on the door.

Afternoon cake at Lovecrumbs

I adore cute coffee shops and Edinburgh was packed with them, I almost wish I was able to see more of them. I came across Lovecrumbs on Google Maps and visited as it sounded cute and up my street. They did delicious cheese toasties in there, and a variety of cakes and beverages to choose from - the ideal spot to relax after a day of walking.

Dinner at Vietnam House Restaurant

Vietnamese food is one of my favourites and I'm always up to eat the cuisine whenever I can. Edinburgh had many Vietnamese restaurants and this one was down the road from the apartment I stayed in. I kid you not, I haven't had Vietnamese food this good outside of Vietnam and I'd love to go back to this restaurant - the pho was on point.

Day two

Breakfast at Nomad

Kickstart the second day with a yummy breakfast. I'd recommend Nomad, a Scandinavian-looking place with a delicious brunch menu and homemade pastries. Nomad is in Haymarket, around 15 minutes from the city hub. A big breakfast is needed for a day of walking around the city - I chose the pancakes here and they were scrumptious.

Mooch around Dean Village

Dean Village is one of my favourite spots to experience a taste of the countryside in the city. The river area offers that natural paradise for a stroll, breathing in some fresh air and seeing more of the residential side of the city.

Visit the Stockbridge's Farmer Market

I love a local market and on Sundays in Stockbridge, there's a farmer's market where locals sell all types of goods, from fresh food to drinks and even ceramics. It's a hub of all things small business and a great place to buy fresh produce or a gift for a loved one.

Walk around Princes Street and Princes Street Gardens 

Back in the city hub, Princes Street has plenty of shops, such as classic high-street numbers and a few independents. Around that street, Princes Street Gardens is a gorgeous green space for picnics, a lovely walk or to look at the famous Scott monument.

Lunch at Zebra Coffee Co

Another great coffee shop for lunch is Zebra Coffee Co, famous for its chunky cookies with various flavours. It's not the biggest of cafes but a cute one with different sandwiches, drinks and treats. A quiet spot to have a break from walking around cobbled streets.

Go to the National Museum

One of the amazing things about Edinburgh was the free attractions, including the National Museum. This museum was HUGE with many floors of different areas of Scottish history, including a zoo-like room which blew my mind. You could easily spend hours here as there's plenty to see and do, especially if you're visiting with children.

Have a drink at The Dome

The Dome is a stunning building and the perfect place for afternoon tea, a drink or dinner. The interior blew me away as the colourful, dome-like decoration is very extravagant and posh. I felt a little underdressed considering the interior, however, many tourists were also dressed casually. I had a hot chocolate and shortbread in here and enjoyed a chat with my partner, a lovely spot to wind down.

Climb up Calton Hill

Calton Hill is a definite on your trip to Edinburgh, especially if you're unable to climb the iconic Arthur's Seat. The actual climb to Calton's Hill only takes around ten minutes and you'll experience phenomenal views of the city, especially during sunset or sunrise.

Dinner at The Magnum Bar and Restaurant

My partner and I came across this pub unexpectedly when the pub we wanted to get a roast at was full. Magnum Bar and Restaurant offered one of the best roasts I've had in a long time and I'm surprised the place isn't raved about more. Plus, the dessert I wish I could eat over and over again  - basically, a chocolate lover's dream.

Day three

Breakfast at Cafe Milk

On the last day in Edinburgh, it's about soaking up the last few sights and enjoying the joy of the city. Breakfast for me began in Cafe Milk, a yummy vegetarian breakfast in the heart of Haymarket. This coffee shop also offered a range of cakes and pastries to grab and go.

Explore the bookshop scene

As many of you know, I'm a huge bookworm and going to a city, I love to explore the bookshop scene. Edinburgh featured a dreamy selection of bookshops, just like Bath and I wish I spent longer mooching in them. My favourite few included Armchair books, Topping and Company booksellers and  Edinburgh books. There's a combination of second-hand bookshops and new bookshops, with a chance to buy vintage items or brand-new bestsellers.

Climb Arthur's Seat

Arthur's Seat is an incredible hike worth doing if you're capable. I absolutely adored this hike, although it was challenging and scary at times, reaching the top was a beautiful accomplishment and I was so proud of myself. The hike itself probably took around 30 minutes to an hour to reach the top. The first section of the hike is one steep hill with rocky steps and probably the hardest part of the hike for endurance. The second part of the hike is hard because there are many rocks and the terrain isn't as easy to walk up. 

The view of Edinburgh from the top is out of this world and makes the difficulties of the hike worth the struggle. I loved that the weather was rather mild and calm, meaning, I wasn't worried about slipping on the rocks. 

Lunch at Red Kite Cafe

The hike took it out of me more than I expected and lunch was essential to refuel my body and we discovered the lovely spot, Red Kite Cafe. This place had a family-run feel where locals spend their days, enjoying a cup of coffee or lunch. I enjoyed one of their yummy cakes and my partner, their homemade soup.

Dinner at Makars Mash Bar

I'm obsessed with mash and when I heard there was a mash bar, I had to make a reservation. Annoyingly, I had to wait until our last night because the restaurant was fully booked for the first two nights I was there. However, waiting for this restaurant as our last meal was worth it because I adored the mash - and loved the concept. A definite in the city!

Soak up the last of the city

Before you leave Edinburgh, it's time to soak up the last favourite spots. I spent my last few hours in the city wandering around the old town, catching a glimpse of The Royal Mile, the charming shops and cobbled streets. I even saw blue skies before heading back to the airport.

How to get around the city

Edinburgh is incredibly walkable and if you're fit and happy to walk about 20,000 steps a day then you can easily do this itinerary doing just that. Although, buses and trams are available throughout the city, and taxis too if you need an easy way to get around. 

From the airport, there are two cheap and easy ways into the city, the first, the tram which gets you there in about half an hour and a bus, which takes a little longer and is slightly cheaper. I used the tram as it was quick, a £9.50 return ticket and offered pretty views of the city.

Where to stay in Edinburgh

As Edinburgh is pretty easy to get around, if you're on a budget, you don't need to stay in the old town. There are many gorgeous areas to pick from including the city centre/old town, Haymarket, Stockbridge, New Town and West End. I stayed in Haymarket and loved the neighbourhood as it had many coffee shop options and restaurants and was only a 15-minute walk to the old town.

I hope you enjoyed this post. When are you planning your trip?

Thank you for reading <3

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