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24 hours in Edinburgh
You've hopped on the sleeper train from London and arrived at the famous Edinburgh Waverley station. But in the ancient heart of Scotland, where do you begin? From unpacking history to exploring trendy destinations, this 24-hour itinerary will show Edinburgh in all its tartan glory.
9am // OLD TOWN TREASURES
Do a self-guided walking tour of the Old Town
Kickstart your Scottish adventure with a morning wander around Edinburgh's medieval city centre, starting on the Royal Mile. With its wide cobbled street and dark sandstone buildings, this ancient processional route stretches from Edinburgh Castle down to Holyrood Palace. Top sights include Lawnmarket, the striking St. Giles' Cathedral and the secret squares of Riddle's Court and Bakehouse Close.
Love Harry Potter? Walk down colourful Victoria Street, thought to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley, before strolling around Grassmarket, where you'll see a very different side to witchcraft. Stand on the site of the scaffold used during Edinburgh's witch trials, a bloody part of the city's history. Grab some breakfast first, or you might lose your appetite...
11AM // Royal Residences
Explore the homes of Kings and Queens
It's time to delve into Edinburgh's past as a royal city. From the Lawnmarket, walk up towards Edinburgh Castle, a fortress staring out from the clifftop. As one of the oldest fortified places in Europe, the castle is rich in history, holding tales of battle, besiegement and birth. Visit the Crown Room to see the Honours of Scotland, the oldest Crown Jewels in Britain, and don't forget to grab a souvenir from the shop!
Alternatively, head down the Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. An underrated attraction, Holyrood is the official residence of the Queen when she visits Edinburgh. You can tour the state apartments, learning about the modern Royal Family as well as Mary, Queen of Scots. Make sure to visit the gardens and the ruins of 12th century Holyrood Abbey, with Arthur's Seat towering over you.
1pm // Foodie fun
Indulge in Edinburgh's food scene
Shake off thoughts of the past with a delicious lunch in the cosmopolitan centre. From French delights like La Barantine on Victoria Street, to the affordable menu at Japanese Harajuku Kitchen, you can travel around the world in a second. Time to spare? Head out to Leith, Edinburgh's up-and-coming port, to visit The Pitt, the number one destination for street food.
2PM // Crazy Climbing
Reach for the stars on Arthur's Seat or plunge into the depths of Mary King's Close
You might not know it, but Edinburgh is a city shaped by three extinct volcanoes. You've already been exploring one at Edinburgh Castle, but it might be more obvious when you look at Arthur's Seat. At 822ft, rising to the east of the city, Arthur's Seat is a must for all outdoorsy types. It's a relatively easy climb and the views from the top are remarkable.
If you don't feel like climbing, descend into Edinburgh's past with the Real Mary King's Close experience. Hidden beneath the Royal Mile, you'll find a labyrinth of hidden streets sealed away from the rest of the city. With a one-hour guided tour with live actors, discover tales of plague, illness and murder contributing to Edinburgh's history.
Need some fresh air after the darkness? We'd recommend you head over to Calton Hill, a 338ft hill with the best city panoramas imaginable. With its collection of historical sites, including the National Monument, Nelson Monument and City Observatory, there are plenty of photo opportunities. Return here at sunset for even more magic!
6pm // Scottish Scran
Try the local cuisine
It wouldn't be a trip to Edinburgh without trying some of Scotland's most famous dishes. From haggis and black pudding to deep-fried Mars Bars, it's really time to test your taste buds. Enjoy traditional Scottish cuisine in the Old Town at beautiful Ghillie Dhu or contemporary Holyrood 9A, which offers a great selection of burgers for meat-lovers, veggies and vegans alike. Or, cross over North Bridge to the Georgian New Town, where you'll find everything from seafood at the Mussel Inn Restaurant to tapas at Café Andaluz.
8PM // Evening Entertainment
Embark on a ghost tour or watch a comedy show
With Edinburgh's history filled with murder, body-snatching and witch trials, there are plenty of ghosts lurking about the city. Join one of the popular ghost tours and wind through hidden passages and graveyards to discover the city's darker side.
Fancy a laugh instead? Check out Edinburgh's popular Stand Comedy Club, the only full-time comedy venue in the city. And, of course, if you're travelling in August, attending an Edinburgh Fringe show is a must. The largest arts festival in the world, the Fringe attracts performers from 50+ countries and visitors from all over the globe. Who knows, maybe you'll even spot the next West End star!
10pm // Cocktails and Chill
Explore Edinburgh's vibrant nightlife
After laughing or scaring yourself silly, head to one of the city's popular bars like The Devil's Advocate, hidden away in the Old Town's winding passageways. Or, just past Greyfriars Kirkyard, check out Paradise Palms, serving veggie and vegan food alongside crazy cocktails in a warm, colourful atmosphere. It's a great way to end your mini Scottish adventure, and you'll want to return very soon!
Explore the land of purple heather
Travel in Scotland
The following Interrail Passes give you access to the Scottish rail network:
Interrail Great Britain Pass
Valid in England, Scotland and Wales
Interrail Global Pass
Valid in 33 countries, including Scotland