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Pls. critique my Edinburgh Itinerary...


I am going to Edinburgh at the end of June. I arrive Thurs. AM on June 24th. I am taking a Rick Steves tour, which meets up on Sun. June 27th PM. Here's my plan for my time. Any comments? Changes? Thanks! I love photography, so lots of opportunities for stopping and taking pics is good:)

Day 1: THURSDAY: Arrive airport at 8:00 am approx.; Airlink to Waverley Station
-Take an Edinburgh Tour HOHO to Palace of Holyrood House
--Tour Palace and lower portion of Royal Mile, incl. lunch somewhere
--ride HOHO back to Waverley Station area (Waterloo) and take taxi to hotel (Ceilidh-Donia, off Dalkeith Rd).
--walk to Arthur's Seat ONLY if not tired and I have enough time

Day 2: FRIDAY: Rabbie's 1-Day tour to Rosslyn Chapel and Border Country

-return to Edinburgh 4:30 pm (16:30)
--walk to Arthur's Seat if didn't yesterday
-early dinner
-maybe a Movie Festival movie?

Day 3: SATURDAY: Walk Dean Village and Royal Mile

--do diff. sights Scott Monument, Camera Obscura, etc
--Basically whatever I feel like that day...

Day 4: SUNDAY: Royal Yacht Brittannia
--check out of hotel
--bus to Royal Yacht Brittannia
--lunch in Leith
--return and check into RS Tour hotel; meet up with group

A few things...I am NOT doing the Castle on my own, as this is included with the RS Tour (and I've already paid for it).

Also, depending upon the weather, I may switch Days 2 and 3, in which case I'd have to switch from Rabbie's Rosslyn Chapel tour to St. Andrews/Fife tour. Have you done either one of these? Comments?

One more thing, anyone know if it's REALLY hard to get movie tickets for the Edinburgh Film Festival?

Any info. is appreciated. :)


Posted by
432 posts

Hi Gretchen

That's different if you are going to ride the whole circuit. And the weather may lend it self better to riding the bus than to walking. Edinburgh was the first city I visited in Europe. At that time, the RS tour of England included Edinburgh. I hope to return again in a couple of years. Have a great trip.

Posted by
432 posts

Hi Gretchen

If you are really only using the HOHO bus to get to Holyrood and back, I might rethink that. It is really only about a 15 minute walk from the train station and you would be walking the lower half of the Mile. If you are looking for something fun in the evening, you might try the Literary Pub tour. It is an enjoyable walk around Edinburgh and a way to enjoy several pubs if you aren't comfortable going on your own.

Posted by
558 posts

Thanks Leslie! I will definately consider that. Originally, I thought after I did the lower portion of the Royal Mile and Holyrood, I'd ride it all the way around all the way back to where I started. I thought it would be a good way to get oriented? Maybe I'll just walk to Holyrood...

ETA: to fix a typo...

Posted by
312 posts

Hi Gretchen,

Enjoy Edinburgh! I've made two solo trips there and love it, though it seems the hills have only one direction :-) Up!

Do you know Greyfriar's Bobby? The Edinburgh Museum has a display of his effects and pictures. The Museum is free to enter and on the lower part of the Royal Mile. Almost right across from it is the People's Story, another free and terrific museum to learn Edinburgh's history.

I did the St Andrew's tour with Rabbies. Here's a video:

I also did a trip to Rosslyn and Hadrian's Wall, but with Heart of Scotland tours ..

I enjoyed both companies' tours. If that volcano stays calm, I will be trying a Rabbies multiday tour next month. Our paths will almost cross.

My HoS tour went all the way to Hadrian's Wall. There was not much time at various stops, but it made sense because of the much longer distance traveled. The St. Andrew's tour had a lot of time to visit St. Andrews, almost 3 hours I think, but geographically, of course, we stayed much closer to Edinburgh.

Comparing the maps for the two Rabbies tours, Border Country and St Andrews, even between those two it looks like the St Andrews has less bus time. It depends on what you want to see, really.

It is possible to visit Rosslyn Chapel using a bus from Edinburgh, directions are on its web site, so you could possibly visit it on your own and use the St. Andrew's tour to hear your fill of stories from a tour guide. Other than "There's the door," you'd unlikely to hear from the Rabbies guide while at Rosslyn. You'd more likely hear information from the Rosslyn docents.


Posted by
5675 posts

If you have a rainy day think about exploring the Museum of Scotland. It doesn't look like Rick's tour takes you to that museum and it is quite good. Also, the Georgian House in New Town is also quite good. It's fun to explore New Town a bit. It you are an art enthusiast, the National Gallery is quite good. Check to see what the temporary exhibits are. I once so a wonderful Monet exhibit there.


Posted by
3428 posts

If Rick's tour doesn't include the Whisky museum/experience, I'd recommend it. It is a fun (Disneyesque) tour through the history of whisky making in Scotland. At the end you get to taste a "wee dram" of that day's featured Scotch Whisky. It is located near the top of the Royal Mile near the castle. Mary's Kings Close is also supposed to be excellent with lots of great history included.

Posted by
571 posts

On your arrival on Thursday, are you leaving your bag somewhere (Waverley Station?) while you take the HOHO bus or are you carrying it with you? I ask because of Holyrood House. I don't recall if they allowed bags or had a coat check, but given it is still a functioning Royal residence, you may want to be sure you can carry your bag with you there.

PS I'm another person who recommends the literary pub tour. It was great fun.

Posted by
558 posts

Thanks Matt. I was thinking of leaving my backpack at Waverley Station. However, I found out it costs 8 pounds, even for a 1/2 day ($12.00) seems like a LOT to me just to leave my bag.

Any other ideas of where to put it?

Posted by
809 posts

$12 does seem like a lot of money... until you compare it to the cost of the whole trip! You can probably check online to see if the Palace of Holyroodhouse has some form of coat/bag check. But I'd probably spring for the Waverley Station bag check just so you don't have to lug it around all day after your overnight flight. Alternatively, you could taxi out to your hotel and leave it there, then catch the bus back in to town and start your sightseeing. Daughter and I hiked a bit round the Crags on our first full day in Edinburgh; it was beautiful! And easy to get to from our busride home to our B&B off Dalkeith Road, following RS's directions.

I'm not sure what's on the RS itinerary; the things we especially enjoyed were Real Mary King's Close, Gladstone's Land, and Georgian House. Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
5675 posts

Check with your hotel. You likely can leave your bag with them. Also, sometimes the room is even ready. Ask. The worst that can happen is that they'll say no. Pam

Posted by
20 posts

I'll second (or third maybe) the recommendations for Mary King's Close and the Literary Pub Tour.

Also, as you mentioned that you enjoy photography, remember that "golden hour" is fairly late/early that time of year (sunset will probably be around 10 and sunrise at 4:30). So if you aren't doing other activities in the evening or you are a (very) early riser, this can be a good time to stroll around and take photos if you're comfortable doing so.

In addition to Arthur's Seat you may want to climb Calton Hill. You can get some great views from there as well, I had it to myself at 6:30 AM one day when I got up early.

Posted by
571 posts

I agree the Waverley bag storage fee is a lot of money, but if it is your most efficient way to see Holyrood House, I say do it. It's not the worst fee in the country (that would be the baggage storage fee at Central Station, Glasgow, which bankrupted me!).

Holyrood has some small rooms, some items exhibited in glass cases, and a number of tight stairwells. Not exactly the place you want to tote a bag around. I recommend the house's grounds and the Queen's Gallery (if the exhibit there interests you at all) if you can spare the additional time.

Posted by
1878 posts

I would highly recommend going to the National Museum of Scotland. We were there for a couple of hours back in 2002, and I would like to have had more time (and to go back some day). They had original cultural artifacts dating back to Robert the Bruce and earlier.

Posted by
8495 posts

The Royal Mile is really just a mile plus a tad more, so you can walk up and down a few times a day if you want. Go off on the side streets to get restaurants offering a bit cheaper food. Try going down Cockburn street or to Grass Market for lots of little restaurants.

Waverly station is easily reachable by foot from the Royal Mile, and Holyrood Palace is just at the end of this street. This will take you about 30 min. walk from the palace to Waverly and less going there as it is downhill that direction.

Check your dates to see if the palace is open. It was closed last week when we were there.

The walk to Arthurs Seat will take you several hours at least, just to get to the top.

There are buses that will take you to Rosslyn or Portobello, which might be cheaper than the Rabbies tour.

We also did the Mercat tour of the underground vaults and really enjoyed this totally different tour that was pretty much all underground. Presented a fascinating history of Edinburgh. We thought about doing one of the many ghost tours, but at the end, we were so exhausted from walking all over the city each day, that we never made it.

Posted by
208 posts

I would have to throw in my vote for Calton Hill - it offers a lovely view of the city at sunset. I waited there for the sun to go down in August and spent about 3 hours. Take some gloves. I realize its June, but sitting up there (or for that matter being at Arthur's Seat) it can be chilly. I also had to use my ear warmers as well.

For HMY Britannia - if you can book your tickets online in advance (even if it costs a few extra $$) DO IT!!! We went (in August) and had to queue for an hour and a half in line - to buy our tickets. Then, because they only let so many people in at a time, we had to wait again. It is really neat - I quite enjoyed it.

***just looked online to see if you can purchase tickets ahead. It doesn't look like you can, but a "Royal Edinburgh Ticket" will get you in. Here's a link:

Looks like it gets you into: Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, HMY and two days of bus tours for 40 pound. May not be worth it once you factor in prices. Bummer.

Posted by
1776 posts

I have been researching Edinburgh a lot this year---we are going in a few weeks. Two bits of info that I have seen repeatedly that you might want to consider: Calton Hill is probably not a good place to be after dark---supposedly it is a "cruising" area. Arthur's Seat is supposed to be a two hour hike if you use the "tourist route" which goes up from Dunsapie Loch. Also, when we visited before we really liked the Museum of Scotland.

Posted by
37 posts

Just got back from Edinburgh/Glasgow two days ago. There is A LOT to do on the Royal Mile. A small museum there of great interest to me is the Writer's Museum, on Lady Stair's Close, charming and informative about Scotland's famous writers (R.L. Stevenson, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott). I highly recommend the Whisky Experience Tour as well; well worth the time. There is a very good restaurant, The Witchery, along the Royal Mile, one street down from the Castle, although probably considered on the expensive side, but wonderful ambience. I also highly recommend the Underground City tour. I took one that originated out front of Tron Kirk, and it was upsetting, scary, and interesting, all at once. At any rate, there's a lot to do along the Royal Mile, and my biggest suggestion is to make sure you spend enough time investigating all the tiny closes. They contain lots that is interesting. One of my favorite pictures I took was from inside a close, with pretty flats, colorfully-painted doors, and people just simply living their lives.

Posted by
993 posts

Lots of good ideas here. Ditto to The Georgian House & the Former Royal Yacht Britannia. Grayfriers Cemetery is very interesting if you like that sort of thing. Day 1 lunch somewhere: I like Clarindas Tea Room and Deacon Brodys. Both are on the Royal Mile

Posted by
8495 posts

We ate at Clarindas also. Sweet little place.

If you like Indian food, try Mother India, which is off the South Bridge. Great curries and you can mix and match small portions. Good prices and super service.

We enjoyed the free museums along the Royal Mile, and went into Scottish Parliament for a while, to watch a debate. Cool architecture.

Many people in Edinburgh recommended the Fish and Chips on the Portobello Beach and I have to say, it was delicious. Lovely to sit there and watch the water, dining on fresh haddock.

The one thing that surprised me and that I didn't know about, was how everything seemed to shut down at 18:00. I thought I was back in Germany in the 80's. If you need to shop, do it early!