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2 1/2 days in Edinburgh or add day trip?

We will be staying in Edinburgh in September for 2 1/2 days arriving on a Monday and leaving on a Thursday. Originally, we were planning to spend the whole time in Edinburgh. However, after reading some of the posts on this site, it sounds like some just recommend 1 day in Edinburgh.

Would it be better to use one of those days as a bus tour to the Highlands or stick with our original itinerary of 2 1/2 days just in Edinburgh?

Thanks for your suggestions.

Posted by
7979 posts

My daughter and I just spent 4 days in Edinburgh and I don't think we saw everything we wanted to see. We roamed around a lot, went to several museums, went into the Scottish Parliament, took a Mercat tour of the Underground Vaults, and one day took the bus out to Portobello.

Have seen the insides of enough castles, so didn't go into the one in Edinburgh, but would have liked to go into Holyrood, but it was closed while we were there. Walking up to the top of Arthurs Seat was planned, but we had quite a bit of rain, so didn't get to that sadly. Our B&B looked directly out onto it, so that was tempting.

It kind of depends on what else you are seeing or doing on your trip. I am the type of person who wants to stroll around a city, pop into places, discover restaurants and chat with people instead of rushing around from one tourist site to the next. There are some good tours in the city, a couple of which I wish we had taken. The Literary tour and one of the Mercat Ghost tours. We did go on the Sandemanns free tour and it was the biggest waste of time. Truly awful in my opinion.

Posted by
571 posts

My wife and I had just about the same amount of time and we managed to see only about 2/3 of our list, and we were pushing hard to fit things in. I can't understand how anyone says you can see Edinburgh in one day. I guess it depends on what you want to see. We never anticipated wanting to spend 5 hours at the Castle, but we did (and happily). The art exhibit that happened to be at the Queen's Gallery was so fascinating that our "quick stop" to see Holyrood Palace turned into a 2 1/2 hour visit. Make a list of things you'd like to see in Edinburgh and you'll get a better sense of how much time you'll need. Personally I wish I had had at least a third full day there and probably more.

Posted by
2155 posts

I once spent an entire week in Edinburgh and didn't think it was too much. It's my favorite city! However, I will say that you can see the highlights in a day and a half, and a bus tour of the highlands sounds like fun. If you don't mind a lot of bus time, and it's your only chance to see the Highlands, it's not a bad idea.

Posted by
79 posts

Let see, I spent a weekend in Edinburgh once. I spent quite a lot of time wandering, Princes Street after I checked into my b&b. I wandered up to Calton (sp?) Hill but was too late to go up into the tower. I saw "a craig and a big hill" to the south and found out whether or not people were allowed to climb it. The next morning I climbed the craig and up to Arthur's Seat. Once I got to the top, I saw the stairs to the carpark on the other side. (Feel free to have a good laugh at that.) From the top I saw Holyroodhouse Palace and decided it would be a good idea to see what that was. (Clearly, I did NO research prior to my arrival.) So I toured that and the ruined abbey, then wandered up the Royal Mile to the castle and stayed there until it closed. The next morning was bright and sunny and I had a stroll through the Princes Street Gardens, did a bit more shopping on the Royal Mile and headed for the train station.

In short, I had a ball.

Posted by
655 posts

I like your original plan. Edinburgh has a lot to offer. Take your time and enjoy a university city.

Posted by
5577 posts

Yikes, Jo, no visit to Edinburgh Castle? I love that Castle. It's worth it for the views alone and the history is fascinating. St. Margaret's Chapel is really lovely. Go early though so that you can dodge the crowds. I'm going to second the suggestion that you stick with you original itinerary. There is plenty to see in Edinburgh and to see the highlands at all properly you want more than a day. I think that the one day flying bus tours must be exceedingly frustrating. If you find yourself desperate to get out of Edinburgh, you can do quick half day trip to Linlithgow and see the Royal Castle there. Or you can go to Stirling to see that Castle and the gateway to the highlands. ; ) But all in all, the best thing is to stay in Edinburgh and start planning your second trip to Scotland now. ; )


Posted by
7979 posts

Pamela, we went up to the castle and walked all around it, just didn't feel like paying 13 GBP apiece to go inside. Reading a lot of reviews on various websites, many people thought it was a lot of money for what was there. I guess we just don't get that excited about castles when there are so many near us, a quick train trip away.

Would like to go to Tattoo some time though.