A Weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland: Best Things to do for Solo Travelers
Edinburgh is a city that embodies the phrase “oldie but goodie.” It’s a place where you can stroll through medieval alleys one minute and marvel at a modern, design-forward building the next.
There’s a reason why Edinburgh is often referred to as the ‘Athens of the North.’ It’s got history, romance, and sophistication in spades. And as a solo female traveler, it’s the perfect place to spend a weekend on your own terms.
How to Spend a Perfect Weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland
When it comes to exploring Edinburgh, you have two options: the Old Town and the New Town. One’s filled with battles and religious wars, while the other boasts social and literary debates. It’s like choosing between a sword fight or a book club meeting. Sure, both can be entertaining in their own right, but it really depends on your mood and interests. Of course, you could always venture out to the city’s charming outskirts or check out the old port of Leith. Just make sure to keep an eye on the time as daylight seems to have a mind of its own in these parts.
Edinburgh is the city that puts the ‘new’ in ‘kilted and booted.’ With staircases that could leave you gasping for air, it’s no wonder that the Scottish Parliament is the symbol of new Scotland – the politicians probably needed a rest after climbing all those steps! If sweating your way up hills isn’t your thing, don’t worry, the city is also home to some seriously cool design-forward buildings.
Old Town and New Town : Rediscover the Magic of Medieval Streets and Modern Architecture
With the railway dividing its two sides, the Old Town and the New Town, Edinburgh offers its visitors a true blend of history and modernity. On one side, the Old Town is home to medieval alleyways and half-timbered houses, all under the watchful eye of the iconic Edinburgh Castle. Not to be outdone by its older half, the New Town is pretty in its own right, with its grand neo-Classical buildings and public baths that are more than 200-years-old.
Edinburgh Itinerary : Day One
Royal Mile in the Old Town
For first-time visitors, the Royal Mile in the Old Town is your royal entrance into this magical city. Stretching from the bottom — the Palace of Holyroodhouse — all the way up to Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile is like a time capsule.
From a once unruly slum to a now posh pathway of endless restaurants and shops.
There are plenty of things to do in Edinburgh as a solo traveler, but one can’t miss the Royal Mile in the Old Town. Picture yourself strolling down a street that was once a slum, but is now home to upscale restaurants, coffeehouses, and bars fit for a king. And the shops – oh, the shops! You’ll find tourist goodies and the finest woolens to keep you cozy during your Scottish adventures.
If you’re traveling solo in Edinburgh, there’s no better way to spend a day than strolling through the historic streets of the city. And there’s no better way to end that stroll than at Edinburgh Castle, perched atop Castle Rock and offering stunning views of the city. For a small fee of £16, you can explore the castle’s Great Hall, Royal Palace, and St. Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh. And for a truly unique experience, head to the Camera Obscura, where live images of the city are projected onto a screen using just a few simple tools and principles of refraction.
Inside Edinburgh Castle
Inside Edinburgh Castle you’ll find the Stone of Destiny where Scottish kings used to get their crowns. The Honours of Scotland (AKA the crown jewels) are also housed here, complete with a scepter and sword.
Just down the hill from the Castle is the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where the Queen used to stay. And not only that, it was also the former home of Mary, Queen of Scots. You can even visit her chambers and see her Bed Chamber for yourself.
If you’re traveling solo and looking for things to do in Edinburgh, make sure to add a pub stop to your list! The Doric is a must-visit for anyone who loves whiskies or ales. As one of the city’s oldest pubs, it has a fascinating history. Once a linen shop in the 17th century, it now boasts an impressive selection of 50 single-malt whiskies. But even if you’re not a whisky fan, you can enjoy a pint of Edinburgh-brewed ale on tap.
Mary King’s Close
Take an Unforgettable History Tour to 17th Century Edinburgh and Beyond
Edinburgh is full of narrow cobbled streets known as closes and they are packed with history. Mary King’s close is undoubtedly the most popular of these streets and for good reason – it’s fascinating. To visit it, you’ll need to take a guided tour but trust me, it’s worth it. If you’re looking for a unique and historical experience in Edinburgh, you must visit Mary King’s Close.The demonstrations and stories you’ll hear will give you a real understanding of what life was like in Edinburgh’s less-than-sanitary past. If you’re looking for things to do in Edinburgh, this should definitely be on your list.
take a guided tour of Mary King’s Close and step back in time to experience the cramped, less-than-sanitary conditions of 17th-century Edinburgh. As you wind through the narrow streets and climb up to seven-story high tenement buildings, your guide will regale you with tales of the city’s history.
Edinburgh Itinerary : Day Two
Traditional Scottish Breakfast
Indulge in Edinburgh’s Delicious and Hearty Scottish Fried Breakfast
When it comes to traveling solo in Edinburgh, there is no shortage of amazing experiences to be had. But let’s be real, no trip to Scotland’s capital is complete without indulging in the legendary Scottish fried breakfast. This hearty meal is not only delicious but also rumored to be the world’s best hangover cure. And let’s face it, after a night out on the town, you may need it. The Scottish breakfast comes with all of the essential components like sausages, bacon, and eggs, but it’s the addition of haggis and black pudding that sets it apart. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Lorne sausage, which locals affectionally call “square sausage.”
As a solo traveler in Edinburgh, there’s no shortage of things to do and see. But if you’re looking for a truly captivating experience that will leave you in awe, then make sure to take a stroll down Princes Street. Sure, one side might be filled with department stores and fast-food joints, but don’t let that deter you. On the opposite side of the street is a breathtaking view that showcases the best of what Edinburgh has to offer. Picture this: elegantly landscaped gardens, inviting park benches, and massive trees that frame a picturesque view of the Edinburgh Castle in the distance. And the best part? You can come back in the evening to see the castle softly illuminated against the beautiful sunset.
The Scott Monument
If you’re looking for an adventure while traveling solo in Edinburgh, why not try the stair climb at the Scott Monument? It’s a Gothic tower that was built in the 1840s to honor the writer Sir Walter Scott. The climb consists of 287 steps that lead to the top of the monument. The stone staircase narrows as you ascend, but don’t worry, the breathtaking views of the city from the top are well worth it. Afterward, take a break on a bench in the peaceful Princes Street Gardens. It’s a formerly a flooded valley that once protected Edinburgh Castle. Don’t forget to check out the Scottish National Gallery nearby, where you can admire works by artists like Gauguin and Bernini.
Though the climb may be steep, the panoramic views from the top make it more than worth it. From Leith to the Firth and even Arthur’s Seat (an ancient volcano), the vistas are nothing short of stunning. And as you wander the park, keep an eye out for the various monuments that dot the landscape.
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is not for the faint of heart, as evidenced by the large painting of Charles I’s execution where the king’s head is clearly visible below the block. But don’t worry, the gallery is not all doom and gloom. Amongst the tragic portraits of Mary Stuart, Lord Darnley, and the Pretenders, we come across the plump and amiable Anne, the last Stuart monarch. And if tragedy is not your cup of tea, the 18th- and 19th-century galleries offer a refreshing dose of Scotland’s inventors, scientists, philosophers, and statesmen.
Scottish Poetry Library
Scottish Poetry Library – trust me, it’s a hidden gem. You can even listen to some amazing poetry while you’re there, headphones and all. If you’re a literature lover like I am, you won’t be able to resist picking up some cute postcards with Robert Burns poetry and anthologies of Scottish verse.
Edinburgh Ghost Tour
Get ready for an eerie adventure – explore Edinburgh’s dark side with a ghost tour
Are museums not your thing? Or is the weather just too good to pass up the opportunity to be outside? Then a ghost tour may be perfect for you in Edinburgh. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, Edinburgh is notorious for being one of the most haunted cities in the world. The tour could take you to the infamous Edinburgh cemetery, where the MacKenzie Poltergeist is said to reside and be one of the most active paranormal entities. Another spooky stop could be the Blair Street Underground Vaults, a complex network of chambers with a disturbing past hiding beneath Edinburgh’s South Bridge. Don’t forget to stop by the Greyfriars Bobby statue and learn about the beloved dog’s legacy.
Edinburgh Itinerary: Day 3
While Edinburgh Castle may be the city’s biggest draw, the crowds can be overwhelming. Instead, head southeast to Craigmillar Castle where you can explore a beautifully preserved castle without the hordes of tourists. From its ramparts and arrow-slit windows, you’ll enjoy stunning views of Edinburgh Castle in the distance. This castle is not only great for history buffs, but also a peaceful escape from the busy city center. After your castle visit, take a leisurely stroll along the edge of Holyrood Park to the Sheep Heid Inn, a cozy pub that has been serving guests for over six centuries. Indulge in their sloe gin-smoked salmon or their delicious chicken and ham pie. And don’t forget to check out their antiquated skittles alley in the back. Edinburgh has so much to offer, and these are just a few of the best things to do as a solo traveler.
If you’re a solo traveler looking for fun and engaging things to do in Edinburgh, Summerhall should be on your list. This former veterinary college has been transformed into an incredible arts and performance space. And it’s perfect for wandering around for a few hours. You’ll find exhibitions, theater, dance, and music events happening throughout the year. Even the hallways and elevators are transformed into performance venues during the Fringe Festival. Take some time to peruse the artwork in the shop and stop by the tiny distillery where rows of gin bottles await. End your exploration at the bar, formerly the Small Animal Hospital, where you can enjoy a pint of Summerhall Pale Ale, brewed right on-site.
As a solo traveler in Edinburgh, there’s no doubt that trying some of Scotland’s famous whiskies should be at the top of your to-do list. However, with so many small-batch and lesser-known options, it can be overwhelming to choose just one. Thankfully, the Whiski Rooms have you covered, offering whisky flights that showcase a selection of four different options sorted by region and style. From Highland malts to extra-peaty vintages from Islay, and sherried single malts, there’s something to suit every taste. Plus, after you’ve found your favorite, you can stock up on bottles from the shop next door or take part in one of their guided tastings during the day.
Royal Botanic Garden
As a solo traveler, it’s important to take breaks and appreciate the beauty around you. If you happen to catch a spectacularly sunny day in Edinburgh, make sure to celebrate at the Royal Botanic Garden. With 70 acres of greenery, herbaceous borders, and tropical plants in the Glasshouses, there’s plenty to explore and admire. The Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden and Scottish Heath Garden provide an additional sense of wonder with plant life typically found in the Scottish highlands. And don’t forget to take a pit stop at the Terrace Cafe for a refreshing cup of tea. So if you’re wondering about things to do in Edinburgh, the Royal Botanic Garden is a perfect spot to visit for a relaxing afternoon.
If you’re traveling solo and find yourself in the beautiful city of Edinburgh on a stunningly sunny day, you simply must make your way to the Royal Botanic Garden.
As a solo traveler in Edinburgh, there’s no shortage of things to do, but if you’re looking for a laid-back Sunday experience, make your way to Leith. This historic port neighborhood offers a fascinating mix of old and new, from centuries-old pubs to trendy cocktail bars. Take a stroll along the waterfront, where you’ll find colorful murals by the local organization LeithLate. Stop in at the Lioness of Leith for a hair-of-the-dog cocktail, or grab a pint at the bicycle-themed Tourmalet. For lunch, head to the King’s Wark, a 15th-century pub with mismatched chairs and unbeatable Shetland mussels in garlicky broth. Whether you’re in search of art, food, or just a relaxing atmosphere, Leith is the place to be on a Sunday.
National Gallery of Scotland
For solo travelers looking for a culturally rich experience, the National Gallery of Scotland is a must-see when in Edinburgh. There’s no shortage of famous old masters from van Dyke to van Gogh, but what makes this museum truly unique is its impressive collection of Scottish artists. Don’t miss out on the chance to discover names like Raeburn and McTaggart, whose paintings rival any of their more famous contemporaries. Whether you’re a seasoned art aficionado or a casual admirer, the National Gallery of Scotland is one of the best things to do as a solo traveler in Edinburgh.
Other museums in Edinburgh
As a solo traveler in Edinburgh, you’re in for a treat when it comes to exploring Scotland’s artistic offerings. Instead of sticking solely to the past, why not head a few blocks north and immerse yourself in the contemporary art scene? The Dundas Street area is chock-full of galleries waiting to be explored, from Open Eye Gallery to Bourne Fine Art, and even the tiny Randolph Gallery. Throughout Festival month, many galleries have special exhibits, but you’re bound to discover something fascinating any time of year.
Here is the sum up of your perfect weekend Edinburgh itinerary
- Day 1
- Explore the Royal Mile in the Old Town, where what was once a slum has now become home to upscale restaurants and stores.
- Visit Edinburgh Castle for stunning views of the city, as well as to explore its Great Hall, Royal Palace, and St. Margaret’s Chapel.
- A trip to Edinburgh is not complete without a pub stop- head to The Doric for an impressive selection of 50 single-malt whiskies or other choices like Ale on Tap.
- Take a guided tour of Mary King’s Close and learn about cramped conditions from 17th century Edinburgh through demonstrations and stories.
- Start the day off with a traditional Scottish breakfast, featuring haggis and black pudding for a unique twist.
- Take a stroll down Princes Street for breathtaking views of Edinburgh Castle in the distance. Come back at night to experience it illuminated against the beautiful sunset.
- Climb 287 steps up the Scott Monument for panoramic views of Leith, Firth and even Arthur’s Seat. Wander the park and explore its monuments afterwards.
- Visit the Scottish National Portrait Gallery filled with portraits of Mary Stuart, Lord Darnley, and other historic figures.
- For an outdoor adventure exploring Edinburgh’s dark side, take a ghost tour at Edinburgh cemetery or underground chambers. Don’t forget to visit Greyfriars Bobby statue too!
• Explore Craigmillar Castle, renowned for its breathtaking views of Edinburgh Castle. Enjoy a visit to the nearby Sheep Heid Inn and play a few games of skittles afterwards.
- Check out Summerhall for an incredible arts and performance space, including exhibitions, theatre, dance and music events.
- Indulge your inner connoisseur with a whisky flight at the Whiski Rooms. Sample various styles from Highland malts to Islay vintages and sherried single.
- Take advantage of a sunny day by visiting the Royal Botanic Garden, with 70 acres of greenery, herbaceous borders and exotic plants in the Glasshouses including Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden.
- For a laid-back Sunday experience, make your way to Leith, where you can explore colorful murals and grab a pint at one of the historic pubs.
When is the best time to visit Edinburgh
Are you wondering when is the best time to visit Edinburgh? August is the month to aim for.
if you prefer a quieter pace, the historic sites and winding walks of Edinburgh are sure to enchant any time of year. This historic Scottish city is at its most regal during this month, offering long days and balmy temperatures that make strolling through its streets a real treat. But that’s not all – August is also when the famous Edinburgh International Festival takes place, bringing thousands of visitors to experience the city’s world-class theater, music, opera, and dance performances.