The 9 best things to do in Edinburgh (Must-do activities if you’re pressed for time)


We love Edinburgh but know that when visiting this amazing city, it can often be daunting to decide where to start - see the castle? Have a whisky? Join in a ceilidh? So many guides out there recommend the same old boring stuff, so we wanted to recommend some interesting things to do in Edinburgh which are so good that the locals will be mad that we've included them in our guide. Let's get into it:

Head up Arthur's Seat

Walking up an 800ft hill might not sound like the perfect way to start your time in Edinburgh, but we think it is probably the best thing to do as soon as you've gotten off the train/plane (and left your luggage in the hotel, you don't want to be dragging that up). To get to Arthur's Seat you firstly need to head towards Holyrood, which we don't think is worth much more than a passing glance (although the park is pretty great). It shouldn't take you much more than 2 hours to walk up and down Arthur's Seat, and we think the views from the top of the city and beyond are well worth the effort. Plus, starting your time in Edinburgh with a bit of exercise will make every subsequent pint of beer and glass of whisky taste extra sweet.


Go to the Royal Botanic Gardens

If you want to enjoy the outdoors in Edinburgh without an 800ft climb, then the Royal Botanic Gardens are definitely worth a visit. Totally free to visit and only a 20-minute walk (or 5-minute bus) from town, a walk around the gardens is a great way to spend an hour or 2 away from the hustle and bustle of the city and cars. The Chinese Hillside area of the garden is a particular highlight, with some incredibly rare plants that you won't find anywhere else in Europe. Learn more here -

Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, East Gate

Go to Cramond Beach

We included Cramond Beach in our list of the best beaches near Edinburgh, but the beach is technically actually part of Edinburgh (although it does feel a million miles away from the mayhem of the Royal Mile). The main highlight of Cramond is walking over the causeway to the island at low tide, which is not only beautiful but also quite fun. The beach is only 5 miles from the city centre but a bus is definitely recommended.


Sit in the Meadows (with a drink)

There are so many excellent pubs we could recommend to visit in Edinburgh, but if we had to recommend one thing to do when you fancy a drink it would be to buy a couple of cans from a shop and take them to the Meadows (if the weather is nice). There are benches but sitting on the grass is definitely better. You're allowed to drink in public places during your time in Edinburgh, but if the police ask you to stop then you must stop - sound fair? We think so. Enjoy yourself during your time in the Meadows but don't get told off by the police!


Go to the secret pub for a whisky

All you see is a scabby building, right? Wrong! This is one of the best-kept secrets in Edinburgh, and we actually feel a bit bad telling you about it. This secret bar is called Never Really Here and requires you to knock on the door to enter, where you'll find a cool interior and plenty of cocktails. Will it be busy? Will it even be open? We can't make it any promises, all we can say is knock firmly and hope that somebody answers.

FireShot Capture 1690 - never really here edinburgh - Google Search -

Head up the Royal Mile (all the way up)

Sorry, this bit requires more walking - we could list the castle and a number of the attractions around this area individually, but we think the best way to explore the area is to simply start at the bottom and walk all the way up to the castle. It's not quite as hard as a walk up Arthur's Seat, but if you head all the way up to the castle from Holyrood Park it's a pretty decent walk.

Get some pizza (we're scared to say which is best)

We're feeling brave so we're going to touch upon this slightly controversial topic - getting pizza in Edinburgh. We can already feel the fury of the locals jumping into the comments at the bottom of this article. One of the great things about Edinburgh is that you're spoilt for choice when it comes to pizza, and let's face it, pizza is awesome. Just don't say aloud that one pizza is better than another, otherwise, you'll quickly feel the wrath of a local (they get very precious about that). We'd recommend checking out either Civerinos, Pizza Geeks, Pizzeria 1926, Origano, or Dough. See! No favourites here.

Take a trip to East Lothian

East Lothian is a great area to head to if you're looking for something a little bit slower-paced away from Edinburgh - we've written previously about Gullane which has a great beach and some of the best golf courses in the world, but you've also got locations like North Berwick where you can visit the Scottish Seabird Centre, climb the Law hill and enjoy some freshly caught lobster at the harbour. Dirleton is also nice although much smaller than the previous 2 towns we mentioned, the castle is great and the beach there (Yellowcraig) is stunning.

Do some karaoke

For some strange reason, you're spoilt for choice when it comes to karaoke options in Edinburgh. Don't question it, just embrace it. We think singing badly is one of the best ways to spend an evening in the capital of Scotland, and you've got a number of venues to choose from. You could go for something quite professional feeling - Supercube on George St. has to be booked but allows people to have their own private room where they can sing as loudly and as badly as they like without fear of offending anyone (apart from the people you're with). If you're looking for something a little more - ahem- "authentic", then Fox's Bar in Leith is the place to head to. Fridays and Saturdays you're guaranteed to get karaoke, but it's particularly rowdy on a Saturday (and the most fun).


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