24 Hours in Edinburgh

The Royal Mile

Part brooding Gothic beauty, part festival venue extraordinaire, the Scottish capital is awash with charming contradictions. And, whether you're looking for sparky satire or a man in a kilt, the 24 Essential Hours has got it covered.

Princes Street Gardens

Start the day right in the centre of the city. Created in 1820, the gardens lie in the shadow of the castle and afford fine views of the Scott Monument and the bagpipers of Prince's Street during tourist season.

Rose Street

Try a cafe here for a traditional fry-up - white pudding, fried haggis, potato scones and oatcakes are optional - then walk off your full Scottish breakfast with a stroll along this pretty street.

The Scott Monument

This eye-catching gothic monument to the author Walter Scott is not for the claustrophobic. The 1844 structure is a tight, awkward and spiralling climb up 287 steps. Still, those who make it to the top will get a grand morning view of Edinburgh East.

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

An informative blast of the past: Scottish history, and all the formidable faces that shaped it, can be had in palatable form here.

Chocolate Soup

Hit one of the branches of the Chocolate Soup mini-chain for a chocolate overdose - a pot of melted Belgian dipping chocolate and fresh chocolate muffin. Sinfully good stuff.

  • Address: 158-162 Rose Street
  • Tel: +44 (0)131 225 8038

The Real Mary King's Close

A spooky series of narrow underground streets that were used between the 17th and 19th centuries before the Royal Mile's City Chambers were built on top. Just be sure to wear sensible shoes...

The World's End Pub

The World's End is an Edinburgh institution, and offers one of the best pub lunches in the city. Combine whiskies with trad Scottish fare - haggis, neeps and tatties if you're feeling bold - but get there early because it is ALWAYS popular.

  • Address: 4 High Street
  • Tel: +44 (0)131 556 3628

Secrets Of The Royal Mile Tour

Uncover the secrets of Dr Jekyll, Mr Hyde and Half-Hangit Maggie on a tour of the ancient and dramatic Royal Mile, which connects the palace of Holyrood with the castle.

Victoria Street and The Grassmarket

Pretty Victoria Street is lined with T-shirt printers, joke shops, designer stores and a luxury hat shop at the bottom. Follow the road round into Grassmarket for more of the same.

The CowShed Relax Spa

The funkiest spa in town, courtesy of the Soho House group. Go for the signature massages or synchronized massage - two pairs of hands work better than one.

Edinburgh Castle

Head up the hill to the castle and explore the castle before last admissions at 5.15pm - it's one of the castle's quieter periods, and perfect for taking in the city at dusk.

The Elephant House

This cool tea and coffee house round the corner from the castle is perfect for hanging out and people watching. Try the Elephant's Treat - hot chocolate with brandy and Kahlua, topped with whipped cream.

The Stand Comedy Club

Catch a stand-up show at the legendary Stand comedy club, an intimate spit and sawdust basement venue in the New Town that attracts all the big names.

The Secret Garden at The Witchery

Almost as romantic as the castle next door, entering the Secret Garden - or any part of the Witchery - is like stepping into a Scottish gothic fantasy. If you really fall in love you can stay the night, too.

Ghost Hunter Trail

Murky, mysterious, macabre... Uncover the dark side of Edinburgh with a walk that takes you down dark alleyways, across empty graveyards... and beyond.

Ocean Terminal, Leith

Leith is where Edinburgh meets the sea at the Firth Of Forth, and is the home of the Royal Yacht Britannia. Mooch about by the waterfront; otherwise, Ocean Terminal has a host of shops, plenty of bars and restaurants and a cinema open until midnight..


Head here for pool, live music and lots of atmosphere in a bar situated in the dark caves of Cowgate, bang in the middle of the Old Town.

Fish and Chips

Stroll around the Royal Mile and the Old Town in search of that Scottish ultimate late-night delicacy - fish and chips with salt 'n' sauce. Better than a kebab any day.


This may be the coolest bar/club in the capital. Tucked beneath the equally alluring Tigerlily Hotel, Lulu's is slick, sophisticated and slightly... saucy. If there are celebs in town, you'll find them here.

Cabaret Voltaire

Dance the night away - or the last hour - at this busy Old Town club; it the place to catch bands about to be stellar - and is open until 3am.

North and Waverly Bridges

Head to the parallel North Bridge and Waverley Bridge for photos opportunities and to see this ancient, gothic city in all its glory.

Arthur's Seat

Climb the imposing Arthur's Seat - an extinct volcano that dominates the city skyline - to get an unforgettable glimpse of the sunrise.

Penny Black Pub

Is it still last night or tomorrow morning? Either way get to the pub as it opens for a refreshing pint - a lively local crowd makes this the ideal 'hair of the dog' venue.

  • Address: 17 West Register Street
  • Tel: +44 (0)131 556 1106

Greyfriars' Bobby

Dogs really are a man's best friend. Here lies the statue of Greyfriars' Bobby, a tribute to Skye terrier Bobby who refused to leave owner John Gray's grave for 14 years, despite being repeatedly chased out of the churchyard. Aaaaw.

Last Updated: September 2008