Ah, Edinburgh. Land of thick accents, kilts, and green — I wrote in my journal that “you haven’t seen green until you’ve been to Scotland!” It’s true — and I grew up in another city known for its green. (They didn’t call us the Emerald City for nothing.) Make a point of visiting Edinburgh — at least for a weekend — on your next European adventure. Find my recommendations below for the perfect 48-hour vacation in this vibrant city!

48 Hours in Edinburgh: The Must-See List


Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle dates to the 12th century (and archaeologists estimate human occupation of the rock since at least as early as the 2nd century AD — wow!). St. Margaret’s Chapel onsite is believed to be the oldest building in the city.

The castle and grounds make for a fascinating history lesson, as well as provide amazing views of the city.

Learn more about Edinburgh Castle and buy tickets here.


The Royal Mile and Holyrood Palace

Edinburgh's Royal Mile. Image via exploraescocia.com and TravelDigg.com.

Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Image via exploraescocia.com and TravelDigg.com.

The Royal Mile connects the Castle at one end, and Holyrood Palace at the other. With a plethora of shops and the gorgeous St. Giles’ Cathedral (mentioned below), everyone can find something to enjoy!

Window-shop and stop for tea (or a pint) at your leisure on an afternoon in Edinburgh.

Learn more about the Royal Mile here and Holyrood Palace here.


St. Giles’ Cathedral

St. Giles' Cathedral

St. Giles’ Cathedral dates from ~1124 and sits on the Royal Mile, between the Castle and Holyrood Palace. Be sure to check out the Robert Burns window! Designed in a semi-abstract style and dating to 1985, it commemorates the poetry of this beloved Scottish poet.

John Knox, a Protestant reformer, is buried under parking spot #23. True story!

Learn more about St. Giles’ Cathedral on their website here.


Sir Walter Scott Monument and the Princes Street Gardens

Sir Walter Scott Memorial

Speaking of Scottish poets — you can’t go to the capital city without paying a visit to its Sir Walter Scott monument, the world’s largest monument to a writer. It stands at 200 feet, 6 inches (yes, you can climb it!) and features 68 figurative statues.

The surrounding Princes Street Gardens make for a relaxing walk, as well as a fantastic spot for a picnic lunch. Perhaps before wrapping up your whirlwind Edinburgh tour?

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