2 days in Edinburgh: Haggis, Hills & Hilarity

I did a Britney. As in, I did it again. I nearly missed my flight. There is something about airports where time doesn’t really exist, one minute you’re chilling with a glass of bubbly with hours to spare, and the next the gates closed, and you have to make like an egg and scramble across the terminal. Putting yourself at the mercy of airport security…

Touch down in Edi and I was feeling the weight of a 4:30am alarm. My head was saying nap, but my itinerary was saying bag drop and skedaddle.

2 days in edinburgh city guide

Suite dreams are made of these: Where to stay

Edinburgh is packed full of gorgeous places to stay but after extensive research The Balmoral stood head and shoulders above its counterparts. It’s also where J.K. Rowling wrote some of the Harry Potter novels, if it’s good enough for JK, it’s good enough for me. If you’re looking for unparalleled luxury, stunning views over the city, a bed you won’t want to leave, a sumptuous spa and top-notch service, this is the hotel for you.

The Balmoral hotel edinburgh

Let’s talk robe life at The Balmoral. Picture this: you’re nestled in a cloud-like bathrobe, a frosty margarita in hand, nibbling on decadent chocolate truffles. Who needs sightseeing when you’ve got 3 knockout restaurants, one boasting 4 AA Rosettes, and 3 bars all under one roof? Don’t blame me if you never want to leave.

Stay here: https://www.roccofortehotels.com/hotels-and-resorts/the-balmoral-hotel/

the balmoral edinburgh2 days in edinburgh the balmoral

Scott Monument

This iconic monument is visible from pretty much everywhere in Edinburgh. The Victorian gothic style structure took 8 years to build and is the second largest monument to a writer in the world. Visitors can climb the 287 steps to reach the viewing platform, you can also take a tour to delve further into the history of its origins. Fuelled by questionable life choices (aka minimal sleep) I was slightly more interested in diving headfirst into a bowl of coffee, which brings me nicely to my next must-see spot…

Coffee @The Milkman

With a nod to its namesake, The Milkman’s history dates back to the last milkman selling from a horse-drawn cart in the north of Scotland. An independent coffee shop in the heart of Edinburgh’s old town, The Milkman offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Nestled in a converted candy shop, this cosy spot is a must visit for coffee and snacks before a full day of exploring, I can also personally vouch for the matcha. The hardest decision you’ll need to make here is picking which pastry to eat first!

The Milkman EdinburghVictoria street: 2 days in edinburgh

2 days in Edinburgh: Historic Royal Mile

Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is the heart of Scotland’s historic capital. The Royal mile: history squeezed tighter than a kilt on a bagpipe player! You’ll find everything here – bagpipes that’ll deafen dragons, kilts more colourful than a highland parrot’s breakfast, and enough whisky shops to make your liver break into song.

Marvel at buildings older than your grandma’s knitting needles and try not to trip over ghosts (rumoured to be more plentiful than haggis).

Fun fact: The royal mile is not quite a mile: Despite its name, the Royal Mile stretches only 1,107 yards. Tbh it was probably just easier to say “Royal Mile” than “Royal 1,107 Yards.”

Dean Village

A half an hour stroll away from the old town, Dean Village is a blend of cobbled streets, artisan shops and cosy cafes, bathed in the soft glow of gas lamps. The gentle murmur of the water mingles with the chatter of locals, creating a tranquil haven in comparison to the excitement of the city. We didn’t spend too long there as my stomach started to send out distress signals, so lunch was required immediately.

circus lane edinburghDean village - 2 days in edinburgh

2 days in Edinburgh: Where to eat

Grab lunch: Whiski bar and restaurant – think local eats, live music, cocktails, craft beers and more haggis inspired dishes than you can shake a kilt at. Thoroughly recommend the haggis tower, the whisky sauce is worth writing home about

Make dinner reservations: The Spence, located inside the iconic Gleneagles Townhouse offers a laid back luxury vibe, think dramatic domed ceilings, twinkly piano notes, tasty sharing dishes and an indulgent dessert trolley. The chateaubriand for two is a sensibly delicious choice, you heard it here first

2 days in edinburgh - gleneagle townhousegleneagle townhouse

Sharing plates: The Pipers Rest – traditional Scottish sharing plates, live music in a traditional setting. Order a selection of “wee plates” to share, the mac n cheese and haggis lollies were scene stealers

For the ultimate romantic: We didn’t make it to The Witchery because they only had tables at 10pm and I’m way too hangry to hang around that late for a dinner reservation but if I was in Edinburgh again this would be top of my list for the dramatic romantic factor

Cocktails and views: Cold Town House – rooftop cocktails with uninterrupted views over Edinburgh castle. This was initially planned for after the castle but as I like to add a sprinkle of chaos to my trips we had margaritas and then attempted a steep climb, which I’m fully blaming for the number of times I tripped over my feet en route to the castle

cold town house

Edinburgh Castle

A stroll up to the most famous castle in the city must be done when you’re spending 2 days in Edinburgh. Edinburgh Castle isn’t just another European relic – it’s a battle-scarred veteran. Stand on Castle Hill, and you’ll be retracing the steps of history, from the gilded halls of kings to the damp cells of prisoners. This fortress has witnessed centuries of drama, offering a glimpse into Scotland’s turbulent past.

This fortress promises a view over the city that will leave you breathless. Mainly due to the number of steps required to reach it.

Travel tip: You can take a guided tour which can take up to 2 hours, we didn’t as I have the attention span of a fruit fly at a disco.

Victoria Street: The Diagon alley of Edinburgh

Diagon Alley meets Willy Wonka, with a soundtrack of bagpipes! Victoria Street – shops overflowing with kilts and magic wands, where tourists wield selfie sticks like confused wizards. Victoria Street is the place where J.K Rowling got her inspiration for Diagon Alley and it’s easy to see why, we headed here mid-morning and it was already teeming with tourists so if you want the iconic Victoria Street snap sans peeps I’d recommend heading here early.

Travel tip: I’ve always related to shortbread because I’m sweet but crumble under pressure – make sure you pop into one of the many gift shops to pick up a buttery souvenir.

Victoria street edinburgh

Calton Hill

Home to the Collective contemporary art gallery and the unfinished National Monument. Calton Hill is a bit of a climb but a worthwhile one, with picturesque views over the city and the inspiration behind the art form “panorama”. I think I was done with hills and climbs by this point, but the Athenian inspired monuments are well worth a visit, also mildly amusing that the national monument was never finished, the perfect example that procrastination has always been a key part of human nature.

Below I’ve included an itinerary for 2 days in Edinburgh, as always if you have any specific questions about sites, stays or snacks ping me a message. Arrivederci amigos xo

Edinburghedinburgh city guide

Suggested itinerary for 2 days in Edinburgh

Day 1

  • Check in @ The Balmoral
  • Scott Monument
  • Coffee @ The Milkman
  • St Giles Cathedral
  • Historic Royal Mile
  • The Writers Museum
  • Edinburgh Castle
  • National Galleries of Scotland
  • Ross Fountain
  • Dean Village
  • Cold Town House
  • Grassmarket
  • The Vennel viewpoint
  • Victoria street
  • Gladstone’s land (old town)
  • Lunch @ Whiski Bar and restaurant
  • Cocktails @ Gleneagle Townhouse
  • Dinner @ The Spence

Day 2

  • Brekkie @ The Balmoral
  • Calton Hill
  • Jenners “Scottish Harrods” permanently closed but worth a peep at the architecture
  • Camera Obscura & World of illusions
  • Stockbridge (area for brunch) bohemian/artisan vibes
  • Circus lane
  • Palace of Holyroodhouse
  • Stockbridge (area for brunch) bohemian/artisan vibes
  • Leith – waterside neighbourhood
  • Lunch @ The Pipers Rest

More city guide inspo:

2 Comments

  1. Sarah February 19, 2024 / 7:35 pm

    Why is it, I’ve just got back from Edinburgh and I feel I now need to go back!

    • misshldolan
      Author
      February 19, 2024 / 7:36 pm

      Haha well I’m up for a return journey if you are…

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