Three Days in Edinburgh:
Edinburgh is the perfect destinations for travelers that want to dip their toes in some history. Structures and relics that are centuries old still stand, weathered, but proud and magnificent. Palaces and Queens, castles and cathedrals. If you have about three days in Edinburgh and you want to indulge your inner history buff then this mini travel guide will help you make the most of your time there.
When To Go
Summer: June – August
Daytime Temps: 63F – 65F (17C-18C)
Nighttime Temps: 47F– 50F (9C-10C)
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What To Wear
Edinburgh is cold. It’s always cold even in the ‘summer’. So, I suggest pants, sweaters, jackets, scarves, and a cute pair of boots. If you subscribe to the minimalist style of packing and traveling then dressing for Edinburgh weather shouldn’t be an issue as long as you wear your heaviest clothes (the boots, jacket, warm sweater) on the plane. Take a sweater, jacket, long-sleeve top, and a scarf and layer up.
What To Spend
100 USD/ 130 AUD/ 130 CAD/ 80 EUR/ 70 GBP
*Assuming you’re on a backpacker’s budget. Making use of public transportation, staying in hostels or other budget accommodations and eating out about once a day. For the daily budgets of other destinations check out Round The World Trip Budget next.*
Hostels: Prices range from 12GBP to 30GBP per night.
**Note: These are the prices for hostels with a rating of 8.0 or higher on Hostelworld.com**
Hotels: Prices for budget hotels run about 48GBP to 66GBP per night.
How To Get Around
Edinburgh is a very walkable city. I kid you not, the entire time I was in Edinburgh’s Old Town I did not hop on a bus or tram once. I walked everywhere because lucky for us tourists the main attractions are all close together. If you want to save your coins and be apart of life on the streets then explore Edinburgh on foot.
A single bus ticket cost £1.60. Be sure to have exact change.
If you plan on riding the bus pretty regularly throughout your trip then a DAYticket might be a better option then a mass of single tickets. A Dayticket will grant you unlimited travel on the Edinburgh day buses and Edinburgh Trams (within the City Fare zone) for one day.
DAYtickets cost £4.00. These tickets can be bought from the bus driver on the first bus you board. Be sure to have exact change. Or DAYtickets can be pre-purchased from the Lothian bus Travelshops, and from the online shop. DAYtickets can also be bought from ticket machines at tram stops.
A NIGHTticket costs £3.00. The tickets can be bought from the bus driver when you board and make sure you have exact change.
If you will be staying in Edinburgh for a week or more you may want to look into buying a Ridacard. The pre-purchase price for one-week Ridacard is £18. The pre-purchase price for a four-week card is £54. With a Ridacard you will have unlimited travel on Lothian day buses and on Night buses. You will have unlimited travel on Edinburgh Trams. Unlimited travel on Airlink and Skylink services to Edinburgh Airport. Unlimited travel on East Coast buses within zones A and B. As well as unlimited travel on Lothian country services.
The Edinburgh tram has one line that stretches from York Place in the city center to Edinburgh Airport. A single ticket within the City Zone (all stops except for Edinburgh Airport are within the City Zone) costs £1.60.
A single ticket for the Airport Zone is £5.50. The Airport Zone includes every stop on the tram line.
What To Do In Edinburgh
Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official Scottish residence of Queen Elizabeth II. The current British monarch isn’t the only Queen to have called this palace home. It was also the palace of Mary, Queen of Scots. The Queen known throughout history to have ascended to the throne when she was less than a week old. Her life was interesting, to say the least. She was married three times. Her first husband left her a widow at only eighteen. Her second husband viciously murdered her secretary right in front of her. And her marriage to her third husband ultimately led to her being imprisoned and executed by her own cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.
The tour of the Palace of Holyroodhouse is the perfect tourist activity for those who have ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of royalty and learn more about Scotland’s tumultuous past. After your self-guided tour through the palace, be sure to visit the palace gardens.
Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s crown jewel, it also has Scotland’s crown jewels so I guess that fits. The oldest part of the castle dates all the way back to the 12th century and while you explore the castle grounds you are given the opportunity to learn of the people who lived and died there, the battles that were fought and the celebrations that were had. Don’t forget to stop by the Redcoat Café for a bite. They have yummy shortbread cookies and an incredible view of Edinburgh city.
If you fancy a hike, then you should head on up to Arthur’s Seat. This site is a 2,000-year-old hill fort within Holyrood Park. The hike itself is challenging but still doable for beginners. On your way up, you will have amazing views of Edinburgh city and a complete 360 view at the top. Wear good shoes and be warned that just like the rest of Scotland, it’s chilly up there.
National Museum of Scotland
The National Museum is a bit of an eclectic space but still a fascinating one. The history, art, innovations and scientific advancements of many different countries and cultures are all gathered in the museum. This a great place to learn a little more about Scotland, and a little more about a few other cultures too.
The Royal Mile is one long street that connects the Palace of Holyroodhouse on one end and Edinburgh Castle on the other. Dotted along the street are a mess of restaurants, pubs, touristy shops and buildings that have survived longer than anyone alive today. Dress warm, have your camera in hand, and put on your comfy shoes. Enjoy a few hours walking along this famous street.
Underground Ghost Tour
Looking for something to do besides visiting all the standard tourist destinations? Well, consider this. Walking through the alleys of Edinburgh after dark, creeping around graveyards and tiptoeing through underground tunnels in the heart of the City. Interested? Then while you are in Edinburgh you should join one of the cities underground ghost tours. You will meet your guide after sundown and they will share with you a Scottish history of death, murder, and mayhem.
St. Giles Cathedral
St. Giles Cathedral is located along the Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Cathedral is known for its crown spire, its magnificent stained-glass windows and for being the mother church of Presbyterianism.
In general, Scotland is a pretty safe place for solo female travelers but you should be on alert for scammers. People begging or people who are being overly friendly and persistent on the street. Just trust your instincts and walk away from anyone who is making you uncomfortable. For more safety tips, see this post on solo female travel. Then check out Solo Female Travel Safety Items for what to pack to protect yourself out on the road.
Good Luck and Happy Travels!