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First Time in Edinburgh and Borders

We will be heading to Scotland for the first time, stopping first Edinburgh. We are not in a rush. Want to enjoy it and also have time to relax. Is a week too long in Edinburgh? Enough to do and see in the city and nearby places? We'd also like to spend time in the Scottish Borders. Could we do day trips from Edinburgh, or better to move on to a central location in The Borders?? Any help appreciated?

Posted by
5677 posts

A week is enough time for Edinburgh and the Borders. Depending on what you want, you could easily spend 2-3 days exploring the city--The Royal Mile can easily take a day. There is a wonderful museum--The Museum of Scotland--and there are art galleries, the National Gallery right off Prince's Street, but also a gallery in Stockbridge. Newtown and the Georgian House deserve some time. I really enjoyed the Royal Yacht Britannia. I liked staying out by the Royal Botanical Gardens at the Inverleith Hotel as it gets me out of the tourist crush. And of course, it you're a hill climber there is Arthur's Seat.

I think I would recommend, staying out in smaller town for part of the time. One, you don't want to have a car in Edinburgh if you can avoid it, as it's pricier and there is nasty traffic. Not like NYC, but not pleasant and you would have to deal with it every day. There are some nice towns--Melrose, Jedburgh, Kelso. Or you could stay further west. All three of those towns are Abbey towns. There is great scenery and history throughout the borders. If you want to see St. Andrew's, do it by train, the same for Stirling. Just get the car for the Border Section. I would recommend the museum in Hexham to learn about the Rievers and Carlisle has a museum as well. Traquaire House, Sir Walter Scott's home, Abbotsford, Selkirk (another town to possibly stay in), Floors Castle, Hermitage Castle in the Debatable Lands and of course Hadrian's Wall. And I didn't mention Roslyn which appeals to many. Or if you are birders, Bass Rock.


Posted by
11 posts

Not that I'm super experienced or anything--- we just got back from our first trip there, and spent 5 days in Scotland. We reduced our time in Edinburgh and chose to go to the Isle of Iona. We stayed in Oban the night before, and took the ferry/bus/ferry route over the next day. It turned out to be our favorite part of our entire 3 week trip. We only wish we'd stayed more than one night on Iona. Next time I'd like to see more of the Highlands, too.

Posted by
16893 posts

I think Pamela has you on the right track, not to base yourself in Edinburgh for the whole week. Note that some Edinburgh Royal Mile sites are closed Sundays, but that doesn't affect the Castle or National Museums.

Posted by
484 posts

Another option - base yourself in Edinburgh and take day trips out. We did two Rabbie's day trips to break up our Edinburgh visit. Allow at least 3 nights in Edinburgh though. Plan on castle, St. Gile's, Holyrood Palace, possibly Brittania. Other options - good national art museum and a good national museum with historical artifacts (treaty of Arbroath,etc). Plus, there's other stuff to see.

Posted by
26 posts


I visited Edinburgh this July for the first time. I stayed three nights at a B&B in the Mayfield area(10-15 minute bus ride to North Bridge) and was happy with the location. I felt that 3 nights was sufficient to see the major sights in Edinburgh. I choose not to do a day tour to the Highlands as they were all day (some 12 hours) and I felt that would be too much time on a bus. If I had more time, as you do, I would have rented a car and explored more of the country on my own.

Recommendations for Edinburgh:

Edinburgh Castle(take the included tour)
If you interested in architecture visit these three sites : Georgian House/Gladstones Land/The Writer's Museum
The National Museum(take a free tour)
The Royal Yacht Britannia(worth the bus trip-have tea on board)
Stroll the Royal Mile and Old Town(walking tours abound)

Restaurants I liked:
Blonde-near my B&B, but worth the bus ride if your staying in town.
Wildest Drams- on the Royal Mile. I usually avoid tourist area eateries, but the food was fabulous, they also had an excellent selection of beer and whiskey if you just want to stop for a drink. I ate here on my last night, or I would have been back, it was that good.