So you’ve travelled all the way to Scotland and you only have one day in Edinburgh? What to see? What to do? And most importantly, what to scoff? Edinburgh may be small, but she sure is mighty and there’s a heck of a lot going on from markets, to art galleries, and the oh-so-famous Fringe. There’s no need to get overwhelmed though cos we’ve put together a list of all the things you should do if you just have one day in Edinburgh. So let’s begin with…
If you’ve never had Thai for breakfast, Chaophraya are here to educate you. Featuring breakfast classics with a Thai twist, this venue is widely regarded as having some of the best views in the city. Perfect for filling your belly while pondering the rest of the day. (Or reading this article…)
It doesn’t get much more charming than eating brunch in the actual gardener’s cottage of the Royal Terrace Gardens does it? With dishes like kipper with poached eggs and greens, and bacon, black pudding, sausage, egg, and all the trimmings, you won’t be hungry again ’til lunch
Contini George Street
Situated on George Street, a quintessential Edinburgh spot, this beautiful restaurant will make you feel like royalty before you’ve even caught sight of the castle. With high ceilings, gold trimmings, and an imposing bar, we’d suggest heading for the decor even if the food wasn’t equally as lovely. (It’s delicious by the way, so don’t worry.)
You can’t come to the city and not visit the famous castle. Thankfully, you’ll be pretty close if you’ve just eaten at any of our recommended breakfast spots so you won’t have far to walk. Sitting proudly on Castle Rock, it dominates the skyline. There’s been a castle on the rock since at least the 12th century, so it’s a paradise for history buffs. Check out the siege gun, Mons Meg, displayed in front of St Margaret’s Chapel, and wander around the Royal Palace and Great Hall, admiring the impressive decor.
The Royal Mile
Quite literally a mile long, the Royal Mile is a succession of streets leading from the gates of the Castle, to the gates of the palace. If you’re visiting in August, you’re in for a sight, with multiple performers and hundreds of tourists that appear for the festival. It’s a great way to while away an hour or so people watching and checking out the great architecture.
Wedgwood the Restaurant
For Michelin-star food without the Michelin star price-tag, aim for Wedgwood the Restaurant, run by chef Paul Wedgwood and his wife Lisa. Right on the Royal Mile, you don’t need to head far to taste dishes like mackerel pate, haggis stuffed venison, and crisp confit pork belly. Oh, and a two course lunch starts at just £15.95. Bargain!
If seafood is more your jam, then Ondine will be your new favourite place. Describing themselves as the kind of venue that you can dine out in style on lobsters and oysters, or just roll up your sleeves and get a fish and chips, there’s an experience here for everyone. We recommend the roasted shellfish platter, with oysters, scallops, langoustines, mussels, and loads more, to really get a taste of the place.
If you’re not a native of Scotland, Howies is the place to go to really get a feel for our food. (It’s not all deep fried pizza and Irn Bru, we promise.) This Scottish restaurant serves up the absolute best local produce, with everything you’d expect on the menu from Cullen Skink to haggis. Round it all off with a “wee dram” to kick start your afternoon.
Probably Edinburgh’s most famous restaurant, The Witchery is hidden in a collection of historic buildings right at the gates to the Castle. The Michelin-starred restaurant is located in a 16th century merchant’s house, meaning it’s atmospheric and cosy; the perfect place for lunch. For just £22, you can enjoy a two course light lunch, featuring dishes like fish pie, duck leg and wing, and dark chocolate tart. Go on. Treat yourself.
National Museum of Scotland
Exploring Scottish history, art, design, technology, and the natural world, this is a place that will have something to interest everyone in your party. Like all Scottish museums, it doesn’t cost a thing to get in so it’s perfect if you’ve just went overboard on lunch. A light stroll around, admiring the artefacts will help with digesting your food before you head to…
When else will you be able to say you climbed a volcano?? It’s the highest point in the whole of Edinburgh, and is well worth the climb for the gorgeous views. This 2000 year old hill fort is popular with tourists, yet quiet enough that it makes a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh. Remember and wrap up warm, you’ll still be in Scotland and it gets a bit blustery!
The Edinburgh Gin Distillery
What better way to warm up after climbing a hill than knocking back some gin? Producing some of Scotland’s finest tipples, The Edinburgh Gin Distillery is situated in the West End of the city and offers tours from 10am to 4.45pm daily. Remember to book in advance as they don’t offer walk ins.
Cosy, cool, and sophisticated, New Chapter is a fine dining restaurant in the centre of Edinburgh. Cooking with only the finest of local ingredients and hiring only the loveliest staff, these guys really take hospitality to a new level. There’s plenty of veggie options on the menu so the non-meat eaters don’t need to miss out. We’re obsessed with the ricotta dumplings, try them and you will be too.
Meaning “the realisation that every passerby is living a life as complex as your own”, Sonder is a new addition to the Edinburgh foodie scene. Serving up medium sized plates that are perfect for sharing with a group (or keeping to yourself) these guys have travelled the world cooking and brought that expertise back to the capital. If you only have one day in Edinburgh, it’s definitely one for your list.
This Michelin-starred gem by Scottish foodie star Tom Kitchin is situated down by the docks in Leith, meaning you get a great meal and to see a bit more of the city. Focusing on seasonal cooking, from nature to plate, their menu takes Scottish produce and elevates it. Expect treats like rockpools of local seafood, rabbit with lemon polenta, olive, and kidney sauce, and desserts of bitter chocolate mousse with candied pistachios.
Do a tour!
Edinburgh is known as one of the most haunted place in the UK so it’s a prime place to do a spooky tour. There are loads to choose from, but Mercat tours are one of the best. They uncover the murky secrets of Edinburgh’s Old Town, taking you metaphorically and physically underground, and quite frankly scaring the bejesus out of you.
One of the most exciting nightlife venues in Edinburgh, Brewhemia offers up entertainment and tasty drinks all round. With multiple rooms and a range of entertainment, this bier-halle themed spot is the perfect place to chill out and regroup before continuing your adventure.
If beer ain’t really your thing, may we suggest some cocktails at Bar Soba? This Glaswegian import is a pan-Asian bar and restaurant and serves up some of the most inventive cocktails in the city. Try out drinks like the Drumstick caipirovska, a coconut and chilli daiquiri, or go for a classic Singapore Sling. You won’t regret it.