This is a guest post from Kyle Kroeger.
There are so many reasons to visit Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Did you know that many of the Harry Potter movies were filmed here? If you are a Potterhead, you will be surprised to learn that J K Rowling found inspiration to write many chapters of her novels in Edinburgh’s coffee shops. However, this is not where the tourist attraction ends. The city is home to the world’s first and only knighted penguin, and the famous Edinburgh Castle actually sits on top of an extinct volcano!
If you are interested in travelling through the greenest city in the UK, we have provided a perfect itinerary to help you explore Edinburgh’s rich ancient history and experience its authentic culture. Keep reading our 5 day Edinburgh itinerary to make the most out of your vacation.
Since it is your very first day in this beautiful city, you might want to visit the top-most attractions to kick start your vacation. Here are a few of the places you can visit in Old Town Edinburgh, one of the busiest yet historical parts of the city.
Edinburgh Castle is a must-see for every tourist in Scotland. It is one of the most visited attractions in all of Scotland and perfect for starting your tour. The ancient castle sits on top of a 350 million year old inactive volcano on Castle Rock, with human habitation dating back 3,500 years to the Bronze Age.
To make the most of your trip, try to visit the castle as early as possible in the morning. This way, you are more likely to skip long queues and enjoy all the heritage sites with fewer people around. Make sure to visit all the top sites in the castle, including the jail, Chambers of Mary Queen of Scots, Saint Margaret’s Chapel, and the Royal Apartments. You can also explore the National War Museum of Scotland and the Prisoners of War Museum.
Right after Edinburgh Castle, you should visit the Tartan Weaving Mill down the road. It houses an exhibition on the basement floors and allows you to explore the exquisite art of tartan weaving. Here you can watch how tartan is created and learn more about the history of tartan and its evolution over the years. The best part is that the centre does not have any entry fee.
Whether you are a kid, teenager, or adult, you will surely love visiting the Camera Obscura in Edinburgh. Founded in 1835, the World of Illusion boasts five floors of 100 fun-filled and interactive exhibits, optical illusions, games, and light tricks.
Plus you can take amazing pictures of the city from the rooftop.
It is almost impossible to visit and enjoy all the attractions in the Old Town in just one day. So here are some other places to see on your second day.
The Royal Mile is known as the most famous street of Edinburgh that runs through the Old Town. It includes multiple roads connecting Edinburgh Castle in the West to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in the East. The Royal Mile is bursting with ancient history, beautiful architecture, boutiques, shops, and eye-catching cafes. It is one of the best places to stroll and enjoy your time in Edinburgh.
Palace Of Holyroodhouse
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the British Royal Family in Scotland. Here, you can take a tour to learn about the Scottish Royal history and Mary, the Queen of Scots. Besides this, you can visit the grand courtyard, the Queen’s Gallery, the staterooms, and even the chambers of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Originally, Grassmarket was a market for selling grass-eating animals. However, public hangings were also announced at the site, with a crowd of around 20,000 bystanders gathering around the gallows each week. Here you can witness the Grassmarket’s dark past and learn about its history from its various pubs and shops while enjoying authentic Scottish food and drinks.
On day 3 you can hike around the city, or even leave the city for half a day for an excursion. Here we mention some of the famous trips you could make to explore the city and its surroundings, and to photograph some scenic views.
If you want to experience all of Edinburgh at once, there is nothing better than taking a hike to Arthur’s Seat. It is located in the middle of the city on top of an extinct volcano and sits 823 feet high. Bring your favourite travel backpack along for the hike as getting to the top takes a bit longer than you’d think.
Moreover, the site is part of one of the largest urban parks in all of Europe. The hike is relatively easy, making it suitable for people of all ages. Along the way, you can explore basalt volcanic rocks and the jagged rocks of Salisbury Crags. However, the best part is the panoramic view of the city from the very top.
While the wall is not located within Edinburgh, you can take a day trip outside of the city to visit the rich history behind the Antonine Wall. Since 2008 the wall has become a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire. Here you can traverse through ramparts, the traces of forts, bathhouses, and the steep ditches surrounding the wall.
Linlithgow Palace is another place that many tourists visit outside the city. Since it is the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, people love to explore the palace, admire the architecture, and learn more about the Scottish monarchy.
The following attraction sites will surely leave you inspired, whether or not you are a Potter enthusiast. However, if you genuinely love the magical series, you can also book a Harry Potter tour to learn the history and explore the filming sites in just one day.
Even years after the release of the last Harry Potter book, people still visit Edinburgh from all over the world to explore all the possible places that inspired the author, J K Rowling. Some of the highlights in the trail include Diagon House, Victoria Street, Elephant House, Balmoral Hotel, and the Greyfriars Church.
J K Rowling wrote most of the first Harry Potter novel in Edinburgh’s very own Elephant House. Hence, the owner has added to the sentiment by placing a board for fans to write their messages on. The best part? Rowling visits the coffee house often to read these messages!
Due to multiple movies and books, everyone knows about the famous dog, Bobby, and his undying loyalty to his master. Here, you can visit the Greyfriars Bobby statue, which was constructed while the dog was still alive.
As for the Churchyard, it is reputed as one of the most haunted graveyards in the world. Harry Potter fans will also find the graves of William McGonagall and Tom Riddle in the kirkyard. (Both were real people whose names inspired characters in the books – in real life McGonagall was a famous writer of very bad poetry!)
On your last day in Edinburgh, take a trip through the city’s New Town to some of its well-known attractions.
The Scottish National Gallery dates back to 1859 and is home to one of the finest art collections in the world. You can find artwork from masters like Botticelli, Titan, Von Gogh, Monet, and some of the best Scottish art.
Meanwhile, the building itself is pretty extraordinary, with Greek columns and temples surrounding the neoclassical building.
If you are in the mood to explore Edinburgh, you are in for a treat at Princes Street. Visit shopping centres, buy souvenirs, eat delicious local food, and appreciate exquisite architecture and memorials along the way.
The Royal Botanical Garden is over 350 years old and part of the UNESCO World Heritage site. It is widely famous for its exquisite landscape and scenic views, spread over 72 acres of land. However, the best parts are the Glasshouses which grow more than 3,000 endangered plants from over ten climatic zones globally.
Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is home to some exciting pieces of history, exquisite architecture, and the inspiration behind Harry Potter. Even five days will seem less when exploring the majestic and greenest city in the UK.
If you plan to visit the historic and rich city, be sure to go through this Edinburgh itinerary to make the most out of your trip. And, if you’d like to delve into some of the less obvious sights, check out this review of Secret Edinburgh, a recent title looking beneath the surface of the city.
Finally, did you know that the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh are a UNESCO World Heritage Site? If you want to extend your holiday you could explore more of the country’s heritage on the Scotland UNESCO Trail.
Author Bio: Kyle Kroeger is a travel blogger for his site ViaTravelers.com. ViaTravelers is a modern travel blog providing the best tips, hacks, and itineraries to ensure you have an amazing adventure. Follow us on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube to get our latest travel updates in real-time.