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what to do on a one day excursion from cruise ship in Edinburgh

We have 8 hours in edinburgh and wanted suggestions as to how to get around and what highlights to see in edinburgh - particularly from getting a locals perspective

Posted by
107 posts

Hello, rlewin8486,
If you are seeking information about getting to the city from the port, consider checking out the information on Cruise Critic's website. Depending on your port, there are a variety of options. You might be able to join up with other passengers who have similar interests.

While not a local, we did spend a week and a half in Edinburgh in November for a wedding and got some tips from our friends who like to show off the city. As for what to do in the city in 8 hours, much depends on your interests. You have a LOT to choose from! And always keep the weather the weather in mind. Plan for rain. And chilly temperatures.

Here are some things we did and enjoyed during our time in Edinburgh:
Overview of the city: Hop on the Hop On, Hop Off bus. Three routes, good narration, covers a lot of ground. Stay on the whole route or use it to visit your interests
Gardens: Check out Princes Street Gardens (free), the Royal Botanic Garden (fee to go in the conservatory), and the gardens at Holyrood (fee, might include the Palace). Hiking to the top of Arthur's Seat near Holyrood Palace rewards you with magnificent views and bracing winds.
History: Start with an Edinburgh Castle tour (book ahead), walk down the Royal Mile (stopping as needed for appropriate Scottish refreshment at just about any pub you fancy), visit Holyrood Palace (book ahead) if you've time, and stop in at the Scottish Parliament building. (That one's free.)
Museum of just about everything: National Museum of Scotland (huge and particularly nice on a dreary day)
Shopping: Explore Grassmarket to Royal Mile via Victoria Street (touristy, but fun and lively, also good pubs) for quaint shops, Princes Street in NewTown for a more modern vibe including a department store with a grocery in the basement - fun to poke around.

All the above is easy to access from the Waverly train station, which is sort of the hub of all transportation.

Have a good time!

Posted by
5678 posts

Edinburgh is one of my favorite places in the whole world. :) I've visited so many times that I've moved beyond the classic stops along the Royal Mile and over in Newtown. But, no matter how many times I go, I visit the Castle. It's a wonderful place to see the views of the city and orient yourself. It's one of the key historic places in Scotland--James VI and I was born there. The Scottish War Memorial is there. But after that in my mind, you have lots of choices. Here are some thoughts.

  • Gladstones Land--go to this site on the Royal Mile if you are interested to see how people lived in Scotland in the middle ages up to the late 1700's. These were the first "skyscrapers" as they were many stories high due to being built on the edge of the "tail" of Castle Rock's Crag and Tail.
  • The Georgian House--visit here if you want to see what it was like to live in "New Town." New Town was started in the latter half of the 1700's.
  • Dynamic Earth--If you have always liked visiting field museums such as the ones in Chicago or NYC, this Edinburgh's version. I loved how all the familiar concepts are presented with Scottish examples! The geology is particularly interesting. I loved the bit on the glaciers. And if you want locals, you see many, many Scottish children if they aren't in school!
  • Holyrood--not the palace, but the parliament! The building was opened in 2004. I enjoyed the tour very much. It gives you glimpse of Scotland today as well as the history.
  • Royal Botanic Garden--If you like Gardens these are lovely. Did you know that many of those exotic plants that you see and hear about in English gardens were brought back to the UK by Scottish explorers? There is an Explorer's Gardin in Pitlochry which interesting to visit.
  • The National Museum of Scotland--if you happen to hit a rainy day--and I mean a downpour, not misty bits--then this is a wonderful alternative. The new part was built to theoretically resemble a castle--the older part is pure Victorian. The thing to remember is to start on the ground floor where the oldest stories. The higher you go, the closer you get to the 21st century.
  • Princes Street Gardens--if it is a nice day, enjoy a sit down in the garden and people watch.

There's a start for you. I would also recommend spending wandering the streets off The Royal Mile and over in New Town.