2 days in Edinburgh: Itinerary for your weekend +my best tips


How to spend 2 Days in Edinburgh: The Best Itinerary + Where to Stay

You’re planning to spend 2 days in Edinburgh and you’re looking for the best things to do?

You’re at the right place!

In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared for you this perfectly optimized 2-day itinerary in Edinburgh that will allow you to discover the must-see attractions of the city.

In addition to the best places to visit and activities for each stage of your itinerary, I will also give you all my best tips and accommodation suggestions depending on your budget.

So, what are the best places to visit in Edinburgh in 2 days? Where to stay?

Let’s find out!

How to avoid waiting in line (and save a lot of time!) at Edinburgh’s tourist attractions

With thousands of visitors flocking to Edinburgh every day, Scotland‘s capital is undeniably one of the world’s top tourist destinations.

All year-round, thousands of tourists come to see the city’s iconic landmarks such as Edinburgh Castle or the Holyrood Palace.

You’ll quickly notice the long waiting lines in front of the city’s must-see attractions as soon as they open, and they don’t get any shorter during the day!

However, there is a good news: you can avoid this!

Yes, you actually have 2 ways to save a lot of time (and money!) during your 2 days in Edinburgh.

Here they are:

1. The Royal Edinburgh Ticket

If you want to save time and money during your 2-day trip to Edinburgh, you best option is to buy the Royal Edinburgh Ticket before you go.

You can find city passes like this one for all major European cities such as Rome, Athens and London for example. They are simply the best way to get into the most famous attractions without having to queue!

You can use it throughout your 48 hours in Edinburgh.

With the Royal Edinburgh Ticket, you will get:

  • A priority entry to Edinburgh Castle
  • A fast track ticket to the Holyrood Palace, including an audio guide
  • A ticket to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia (with an audioguide)
  • Unlimited use of the hop-on hop-off tourist bus during 2 days, perfect to discover the city without tiring yourself out or if you’re visiting Edinburgh with kids. You will have access to 3 different bus lines.

Buying your Royal Edinburgh ticket is quick and easy – you just need to click on the green button below:

Voyage Tips - Advice

Once you’ve secured your Edinburgh Ticket (by clicking the green button just above), a confirmation voucher will be sent to your email.

To collect your Royal Edinburgh Ticket, please visit the ticket office located on St Andrew Square. You will get the precise pickup location in the purchase confirmation email.

2. Fast track tickets for Edinburgh’s best places to visit and activities

The second solution to skip the line at Edinburgh’s best places to visit is to buy fast track tickets for each attractions or activities individually, depending on what you want to see during your 2 days in Edinburgh.

To make it easier for you, I’ve listed the main tickets a bit below. I will of course mention them again through the itinerary, when talking about each point of interest.

Simply click on the orange links or the green buttons throughout this guide to book your tickets.

2 Days in Edinburgh: Must-See Attractions:

Voyage Tips - Advice

You can find all the available entrance tickets, guided tours, activities and day trips from Edinburgh by clicking here: Book your tickets and guided tours in Edinburgh.

If you’re planning to visit the castle, the palace, and the Royal Yacht, I really recommend you get the Royal Edinburgh Ticket as it will save you money and then you can complement it with skip-the-line tickets and guided tours.

It’s definitely the best way to make the most of your stay!

One Last Tip for a Perfect 2-Day Stay in Edinburgh

If you already know your travel dates (or as soon as you will have them!), you should really book your accommodation.

As Edinburgh is one the most touristic city in Scotland, the hotels offering the best value for money are often fully booked months in advance.

As a seasoned traveler, I can assure you that it’s always by planning as far in advance as possible that I’ve found the best hotels or apartments deals.

You agree that it would be a shame to somewhat ruin your stay in Edinburgh by ending up in a not-so-great hotel that costed you a fortune, right? 😅

So your best bet is to take 5 minutes now to have a look at traveler’s favorite hotels in Edinburgh.

And if you like one of the hotels you find, book it!

It’s fast, it’s easy and most accommodation offer free cancellation. That’s the best way to protect yourself from the inconvenience of finding nothing but mediocre rooms at exorbitant prices.

To check the best hotels deals in Edinburgh, simply click on the green button below:

After securing your dream stay, it’s time to continue reading this guide!

2 Days in Edinburgh: The ultimate itinerary

It’s now time to plan your 48h itinerary in Edinburgh!

For this itinerary, I assume that you will be spending 2 full days in Edinburgh and purchased the Royal Edinburgh Ticket or skip-the-line tickets.

That’s the best way to save time and money during your stay!

If you have any questions or need help planning your trip once you’ve read the article, just send me your questions in the comments section located at the end of this guide.

So, what should you see during your 2 days in Edinburgh?

Day 1 of this Edinburgh itinerary – The historic centre

Visit Edinburgh in 3 Days Day 1
Itinerary: 2 days in Edinburgh – Day 1

Day 1 tourist attractions:

A. Edinburgh Castle
B. The Royal Mile
C. The Palace of Holyroodhouse
D. Arthur’s Seat
E. Grassmarket and Cowgate
F. Ghost tour

A. Edinburgh Castle

You should start your 2 days in Edinburgh with one of the city’s most iconic landmark: Edinburgh Castle.

Perched on an extinct volcano, this historic fortress dominates the city’s and is a testament to Scotland’s tumultuous past.

Inside the castle, explore the Royal Palace, where Mary, Queen of Scots, gave birth to James VI. Don’t miss the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny, historically used in the coronation of Scottish rulers.

Witness the One O’Clock Gun, a tradition dating back to 1861, and explore the National War Museum.

You can also enjoy the panoramic views of Edinburgh from the castle’s viewpoint.

How to get to the castle:

  • By foot via the Royal Mile avenue
  • By the Hop-On Hop-Off bus. This is super convenient as it’s free if you’ve bought the Royal Edinburgh Ticket for your 2 days in Edinburgh.
Voyage Tips - Advice

To avoid queuing, you need to purchase your tickets online in advance. Buy your Edinburgh Castle priority tickets by clicking here!

Please note that if you have the Royal Edinburgh Ticket, the visit is included:

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle, a must-see during your 2 days in Edinburgh!

B. The Royal Mile

Next, stroll down the Royal Mile, the main street of Edinburgh’s Old Town.

This historic street is lined with medieval architecture, shops for unique souvenirs, and lively pubs.

On the way, you will pass by St. Giles’ Cathedral and its impressive Gothic architecture.

And don’t forget to explore the narrow alleys, known as “Closes”, branching off the Royal Mile!

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you don’t want to walk, you can also take the hop-on hop-off bus from the castle to Holyrood Palace.

With the Royal Edinburgh Ticket, rides are unlimited for 48 hours, or you can also get 24-hour tickets by clicking on the button below:

Royal Mile
Edinburgh’s Royal Mile Avenue

C. Holyrood Palace

After exploring the Royal Mile, the next stop of your 2-day itinerary in Edinburgh is The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the King’s official residence in Scotland.

Here, you can explore the State Apartments adorned with tapestries and portraits.

You will also visit Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots’ Chambers, where the queen lived during the most dramatic events of her reign and the Throne room, where the current English monarchs still hold their receptions.

Don’t miss the beautiful Abbey Church and the ruins of Holyrood Abbey: they are very photogenic!

The palace gardens also offers stunning views of Arthur’s Seat and the surrounding landscape.

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you don’t want to queue for hours to see Holyrood Palace, don’t forget to get the Royal Edinburgh Ticket or to purchase fast track tickets by clicking on the green button below:

Holyrood Palace Edinburgh
Visit Holyrood Palace during your weekend in Edinburgh

D. Arthur’s Seat

Let’s continue your 2-day tour of Edinburgh by heading to Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano that forms the main peak of dinburgh hills.

The climb to the summit is relatively easy and suitable for most fitness levels. The walk takes about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on your pace.

Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Edinburgh, the Firth of Forth, and the surrounding countryside.

It’s the perfect spot to take beautiful photos of the city.

Arthur's Seat
Arthur’s Seat – Edinburgh

E. Grassmarket and Cowgate

After a day full of exploration, it’s time to unwind and enjoy the lively atmosphere of Cowgate and Grassmarket.

This area is known for its dynamic blend of historic charm and modern nightlife.

In Grassmarket, you’ll find numerous traditional Scottish pubs and restaurants, offering local ales and Scottish traditional meals like haggis (if you’re feeling adventurous!).

After a good meal, you can head to Cowgate street, where bars and clubs are located. it’s really the place to be if you’re looking for live music evening!

F. Ghost tour

During your 2-day visit to Edinburgh, you should dedicated some time to delve into the darker, more mysterious side of the city.

A ghost tour is a thrilling way to explore Edinburgh’s infamous haunted locations and hear about the city’s eerie past.

These tours often include visits to ancient vaults, cemeteries, and the old city’s hidden corners, known for their chilling tales and legends.

You can choose from several tours, some focusing on history and others on the paranormal. Many tours start in the evening, adding an extra layer of spookiness to the experience.

Here is my selection of the best ghost tour in Edinburgh:

  • The Geyfriars Kirkyard’s tour will take you to the most haunted cemetery in the world! For me, it’s definitely the best option!

You need to book it in advance by clicking on the button below.

Greyfriars Kirkyard
Greyfriars Kirkyard – A haunted evening in Edinburgh

Day 2 of your weekend in Edinburgh: Things to see and do

visiting Edinburgh in 3 days Day 2
2 days in Edinburgh – Day 2 itinerary

Day 2 tourist attractions:

A. The Royal Yacht Britannia
B. Calton Hill
C. Princes Street
D. Princes Street Gardens and the Scott Monument
E. The Scottish National Gallery
F. Charlotte Square

A. The Royal Yacht Britannia

Start your second day in Edinburgh with a visit to the Royal Yacht Britannia, a floating piece of history.

This former royal yacht served the British Royal Family for over 40 years, sailing over a million miles around the world.

Now permanently moored at Ocean Terminal, Leith (it will take around 30 minutes to get there by bus), the Britannia offers a glimpse into the royal life at sea.

Tour the 5 main decks, including the State Apartments, Crew’s Quarters, and the Engine Room.

Audio guides are available in multiple languages, providing a detailed narrative of the yacht’s fascinating history.

Don’t miss the Sun Lounge, the Queen’s favorite spot on the yacht, and the Royal Deck Tea Room, where you can enjoy a cup of tea and scones with a royal touch.

It’s really a must see during your two-day itinerary in Edinburgh!

Entry to the Royal Yacht Britannia is included in the Royal Edinburgh Ticket. 

If you don’t have the city pass, you need to book your fast track tickets here:

Royal Yacht Britannia
The Royal Yacht Britannia, a great visit for your 48h in Edinburgh!

B. Calton Hill

After your royal tour, head to Calton Hill, one of Edinburgh’s main hills and part of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage site.

To get up there, you will have to take an easy 10-20 minutes walk and you will be rewarded with some of the best views of Edinburgh.

At the top, you’ll find iconic monuments such as the National Monument and the Nelson Monument.

The hill is also home to the City Observatory, a key site in Edinburgh’s scientific history.

Calton Hill
Calton Hill

C. Princes Street

Next, you should go to Princes Street, Edinburgh’s main shopping street.

This bustling area is a paradise for shoppers, offering a mix of high-street brands, luxury stores, and Scottish souvenirs.

While shopping, enjoy the view over Edinburgh Castle and the Old Town in the background.

Don’t forget to explore the adjacent streets, like George Street and Rose Street, known for their independent boutiques and nice cafes.

Princes Street
Princes Street

D. Princes Street gardens and the Scott Monument

Adjacent to Princes Street, you’ll find the Princes Street Gardens, a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city.

These beautifully landscaped gardens are perfect for a leisurely stroll during your 2-day itinerary in Edinburgh.

In the gardens, you should check the Scott Monument, a Victorian Gothic monument dedicated to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. If you’re up for it, climb the 287 steps to the top for incredible views of Edinburgh and beyond.

The gardens also host several statues and monuments, including the Ross Bandstand, often used for concerts and events.

E. The Scottish National Gallery

After enjoying the fresh air in the gardens, you should go to the Scottish National Gallery, located at The Mound.

This impressive gallery houses Scotland’s national collection of fine art, spanning centuries and styles.

From Renaissance masterpieces to modern Scottish art, the gallery’s extensive collection is a treat for art lovers.

Notable works include pieces by Botticelli, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh, alongside Scottish artists like Raeburn and Ramsay.

The gallery also hosts temporary exhibitions, workshops, and lectures.

Admission to the Scottish National Gallery is free, but donations are welcomed.

Scottish National Gallery
Scottish National Gallery

F. Charlotte Square

Conclude your 2-day tour of Edinburgh with a visit to Charlotte Square, located at the west end of George Street.

This historic square is considered one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in the city.

Here, you can admire the elegant facades and the harmonious symmetry of the buildings.

The square is also home to the Georgian House, a fully restored 18th-century townhouse that offers a glimpse into the life of the wealthy during that era.

charlotte square
Charlotte Square

Where to Stay in Edinburgh

So there you are, you have everything you need to get the best out of your 2 days in Edinburgh!

There’s just one last thing to address: where to stay in Edinburgh?

To be honest, it’s really not easy to find budget accommodation in Edinburgh. As you’d expect in a city that attracts so many tourists, the hotels have no hesitation in charging high prices.

As good deals vanish pretty quickly, you should book your accommodation in Edinburgh as early as possible to get the best prices!

Here’s my selection of the best hotels for your 2 days in Edinburgh:

  • Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel: Youth hostel located only 800 meters from the train station and Princes Street. Bed in a dormitory from 30€ per night, breakfast at 6€. Strong points: cleanliness, great location, friendly staff.
  • Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh Haymarket: Located in the city centre, 10 minutes walk from the castle. Contemporary and elegant double room from 90€, breakfast included. Strong points: the very helpful staff, the spacious rooms, the very comfortable bed. It’s my favorite for its amazing value for money!
  • Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh: Located on the historic Royal Mile Street, 10 minutes from the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Chic and refined double room from 200€ per night, breakfast at 14€. Strong points: central location, spa, heated indoor swimming pool, gym, and the excellent breakfast!
  • Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile Edinburgh: 5 star hotel located on the Royal Mile, 600 meters away from the castle. This luxury hotel offers comfortable and elegant double rooms starting at 300€ per night, breakfast at 18€. Strong points: located in the heart of Edinburgh’s historic centre, the interior design, very helpful staff, absolute comfort. This is the best hotel for a luxury stay in Edinburgh!
5-star hotel in Edinburgh - The Radisson Collection Hotel
5-star hotel in Edinburgh – The Radisson Collection Hotel

Edinburgh in 2 days with kids

If you’re going to visit Edinburgh in 2 days with your family, here are a few suggestions to make the most of your stay:

Other places to visit during your 2 days in Edinburgh

If you’ve done everything I am talking about in this itinerary for 2 days in Edinburgh and still have time to explore more, you should read my guide of Edinburgh.

It’s packed with ideas for an amazing two-day trip to Edinburgh!

You can read it by clicking on the following link: The 20 Best Things to Do in Edinburgh.

It might even make you want to stay longer, so why not spend 3 days in the city? (or even 4!)

Map of your 2-day itinerary in Edinburgh

To help you visualize your daily itineraries during your 2 days in Edinburgh, I have created this map with all the places to visit day by day. You can view the map’s legend by clicking on the top left button, the one with a little arrow.

You can thus see the suggested itineraries for each day.

2 days in Edinburgh: flight prices

Since the price of flights to Edinburgh can vary a lot, it’s a good idea to compare them as early as possible.

For this, you can use our flight comparison tool, in partnership with Skyscanner. It’s the guarantee of getting the best fare.

You need help to plan your 2-day trip to Edinburgh? Don’t hesitate to ask me in the comment section located below!

Book your trip now and save money!

Scotland travel Guides

You’re traveling to Scotland? These articles will help you!

Discover all my articles about Scotland: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Scotland are listed there.
The 15 Best Things to Do in Scotland: The ultimate bucket list!

The 20 Best Things to Do in the Highlands: All the best places to visit

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Best places to visit in Edinburgh in 2 days
Best places to visit in Edinburgh in 2 days

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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