The city of Edinburgh in the UK, is one of the best cities to visiting. When making a list of things to do when visiting the United Kingdom, I definitely would add it to the perfect two week itinerary of the UK. But if you’re only in Edinburgh for 2 days, we have a great list of thing to do in the city.
Check out below for some of my favorite things to do in 48 hours in Edinburgh. Perhaps the best amount of time to see and do all of the things in the city is two days. It can be a great addition to a longer trip that you might be taking of the surrounding areas. While you could spend much more time in the city, it is the perfect amount of time to see all the best spots while in Edinburgh for 48 hours.
Best Time To Visit Edinburgh
Similar to the rest of the United Kingdom, the weather in Edinburgh is always changing. One minute it can be sunny and the next it can be rainy. Therefore, it is important to be prepared with the proper clothing. Make sure to wear layers so that you are ready for whatever comes. In addition, remember that the city is quite far north so that it can get colder than other cities in the UK; however, it does not rain as much as Glasgow.
While there is not bad period to visit the city during the year, if you are looking for warmer weather and more daylight hours, the best time to visit Edinburgh is during the summer months.
If you don’t visit during the summer, it will be less crowded. Also, if you do not want to go to the fringe festival, make sure to avoid the month of August as it can be much more difficult and expensive to find a place to stay in the city. For those of you who are going to come to visit the city in the winter, check out the following guide of what to pack for Edinburgh and Hogmanay.
Getting To Edinburgh And Getting Out
Getting to Edinburgh is not difficult at all. There are many international and national flights which operate to Edinburgh. The airport is also close to downtown. There are many options, such as airport bus or taxi, that can easily get you there.
Two Days In Edinburgh
The following trip schedule gives a great concise view of the whole city of Edinburgh in 2 days. Obviously, there are a lot more things to do and if you would like to do more, make sure to check out the resources at the end of this guide.
Day 1 In Edinburgh
Check Out St. Gile’s Cathedral
Along the Royal mile and near Edinburgh castle is St Giles’ Cathedral. The cathedral is a magnificent site to see from both the outside and the inside. However, perhaps the best thing to see is the Thistle Chapel, home of the Order of the Thistle.
The Order of the Thistle started in 1687 by James II and consisted of 16 Ladies and Knights as well as the Royal Family of Britain.
Check Out Edinburgh Castle
Any trip to Edinburgh must start at the iconic Edinburgh Castle. The castle sites above the rest of the city and offers great views of the surrounding area.
The castle offers visitors many things to do and see. You can see some historic antiques such as the royal jewelry and learn some history about the place. In addition, make sure to come and watch the firing of the guns. It happens every day at one in the afternoon.
In order to avoid any lines, make sure to purchase your tickets for Edinburgh Castle in advance here. In addition, check out the end of the article to see other ways to save time and money when visiting other attractions in the city.
To finish off your first day in Edinburgh, make sure to go to Calton Hill as it offers a great spot to see the whole city. You can easily find it by going to Princes Street and following to its end. On this hill, you will be able to find many different famous monuments. The most famous, probably due to the fact that it was designed to like the Greek Parthenon is the National Monument of Scotland.
The Camera Obscura In Edinburgh
Near the whisky tour, you can visit Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions. They both are in the same building. Both of these attractions are a fun and interesting to visit.
The World of Illusions is 4 flours in the building. It contains many different presentations that use optical illusions. For example, it includes a tunnel that can induce vertigo, a maze made of mirrors, and many other different types of similar interactive things. You will definitely spend a lot of time in this exhibit!
If you are looking for the Camera Obscura exhibit, it is at the top of the building. However, make sure to go on a day that is sunny, as you will get the best use of all of the exhibit’s features. However, even without a lot of light, it is still a very interesting place to visit. You get to see how light prisms function as well as have a great view of the surrounding area.
Museums That Are Free
While walking along the Royal Mile, make sure to take advantage of the several museums that are free on this road. Some of the nice ones to consider include the Museum of Childhood, the Writers Museum, and the Edinburgh Museum. If you want to know more about these places, make sure to check out this post with the highlights of Edinburgh.
Try Some Local Whisky
When visiting Scotland, you need to try the local whisky. However, remember, that in Scotland it is “whisky” not “whiskey”, which is the way that it is spelt in Ireland.
My favorite hard liquor to drink is whisky. When I am visiting the city, I always make sure to have some. This is easy to do as it is readily available in any pub in Edinburgh. However, if you are looking to learn a little bit about the history of how it is made, make sure to check out the Scotch Whisky Experience.
During the tour, you will learn how whisky is make as well as about the different flavors of whisky that come from the different parts of the country. At the end, you will be able to try some different types of whisky as well as see the largest whisky collection in the entire world.
The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile consists of the streets between Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle. As you might have noticed, all of the previous recommendations are all on this street. However, the name for this street is a little bit of a misnomer, as the street does not measure a mile long precisely. In addition, the previously mentioned things, the road also include many places to eat, drink, and buy souvenirs.
Day 2 In Edinburgh
If you are fortunate to be in Edinburgh during one of its official 12 festivals, make sure to take some time to go and visit.
The city is one of the best cities to be in for a festival. Perhaps the best one that the city holds is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This performing arts festival takes place for 3 weeks in the month of August. It has a heavy emphasis on comedy. During the whole festival there are literally 1,000s of acts performing ranging from well-known comedians to new up and comers.
The second place on this day’s itinerary is the Scottish Parliament. It is right next to the Holyrood Palace. While this building is relatively new, it still serves as the center of Scottish government. There are two different ways to tour the building. You can either take a tour with a local guide or go by yourself. Fortunately, both are free, so it is up to you. However, if you want to watch the government in action, you will need to get a ticket ahead of time; however, this is also free.
Edinburgh is a great place to visit. There are very few places that you can do so many diverse things is one area. From walking the Royal mile to visiting palaces, government buildings, and museums, it really has it all. However, one of the best things to see is right next to all of these famous attractions, the volcano Arthur’s Seat, which is in the large 640 acre Holyrood Park.
The Royal mile in Edinburgh is bookended by both the Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. For our 2nd day in Edinbourgh, we will start at the Palace. The Palace is the formal home of the Royal family when they are visiting Scotland. However, they do not spend that much time in it. When the Queen of England visits, she typically only spends around 1 week per year in this place as she prefers to spend most of her time in Balmoral.
For those interested in science, make sure to visit Dynamic Earth. This building is located next to the Parliament and near Crags and Arthur’s Seat. It provides great hands on exhibits that describe how our earth was made.