11 Apr 2021

3 Days in Edinburgh: How to Make Your 72 Hours Count!

Welcome friend to Edinburgh. We are so glad you could make it! If you’ve never visited before, it can take a good chunk of time to decide on where to go, right? Sometimes it’s easier to have a guide to go off or at least get some ideas going. So, since you’re sticking around for 3 days in Edinburgh, you’ll probably want to tour some of the city’s best sights. Ta-da roll in a 3-day itinerary.

Feel free to chop and change attractions or even days around if you would like. For swaps or inspiration for other fun things to do, take a look at our fun lists of must-sees, scenic walks, hidden gems and free museums and galleries in Edinburgh:

Well, we better get a move on! You only have 72 hours! Come on and explore this beautiful Scottish Capital.

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Day 1: Sunrise Hike and Royal Mile Adventures

Raring to go? Great! Make sure to put on some good walking shoes as we have a few stops to visit today. Day 1 of 3 days in Edinburgh, here we go!

Sunrise at Arthur’s Seat

Photograph of a man on top of Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh, overlooking the city and the stunning sky view.
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

Bright and early. Climb up this extinct volcano and watch as the day emerges over the city skyline.

Not an early riser? Even if you do not make it for sunrise, Arthur’s Seat is a super location regardless of when you visit. For this reason, it has made it onto our scenic walk post and is one of our Edinburgh Must-Sees.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse & Galleries

Photograph of the courtyard area of The Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh

Right next to Arthur’s Seat, The Palace of Holyroodhouse is a handy next stop. If you have gone on the early morning hike, keep in mind the Palace’s opening times.

About before the first admission? Then perhaps grab some breakfast or a light snack somewhere around Canongate. You could even rest up after your walk.

The attraction is rich in history and was once home to historical figure Mary, Queen of Scots. So, head inside and hear more about its past with an audio guide, or if you have a question, why not ask one of the knowledgeable room guides. Afterwards, perhaps go for a wander around the Palace gardens with the stunning crags as your backdrop.

Top Tip: Enjoying your time here? Then why not also visit The Queen’s Gallery. For tickets to the Gallery, click here.

What else do you need to know?

Top Tip: Feeling a bit peckish? Then go to the Café at the Palace for some homemade and locally sourced food. They even serve hot drinks with a fun crown stencil!

Tickets: Prices are £16.50 per adult. To book and find out more information on The Palace of Holyroodhouse tickets, click here.

Bus & Walking Tours

Enjoy someone taking you around the sights? Want to know about the history of the things you are looking at? Then consider a hop-on and hop-off bus tour.

Bus tours are not only a super easy and quick way to get around the main Edinburgh attractions, but they’re also great for discovering more about the unique history of the city.

Alternatively, if you like meeting other people on your travels, asking questions and learning the history of a place from someone who knows, try a walking tour. Click here to discover our Treasures of the Old Town Tour, including Holyroodhouse Palace, from £14.

Tours are for sure a great way to get the most out of your 3 days in Edinburgh!

Other Stops

There are plenty of places to stop off along the way, so don’t let us hold you back! Here is a quick list of other places you can pop into as you make your way up Canongate and onto The Royal Mile:

St Giles’ Cathedral

Exterior shot of St Giles' Cathedral on The Royal Mile, Edinburgh.
St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

St Giles is the crown jewel of The Royal Mile. Perhaps quite literally, as you will see from the crown-like architecture of its tower.

The Cathedral provides a beautiful space! You can have a seat and enjoy some rest here. Take time to reflect after all your walking and touring around. 

Above, you will see a stunning vaulted ceiling. Around you are lovely stain glass windows, some of which depict the stories of the Gospels.

Still, have time on your hands?

  • Camera Obscura: a popular and well-known Edinburgh attraction, provides a host of fun, like optical illusions, moving images of the city and rooftop views.
  • Writer’s Museum: seen on our Free Museums and Galleries in Edinburgh list, this is a fantastic spot for aspiring writers or those interested in Scottish writers like Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Finish at Victoria Street/Grassmarket

A shot taken of people on Victoria Street, where you can see the characteristic colourful and quirky buildings in the background.
Victoria Street, Edinburgh

What a day and what a journey! I am sure you are ready for a sit down after all that walking and exploring. The picturesque Victoria Street/ Grassmarket area is a great place to round up for the day. With a plethora of lovely restaurants and foodie eateries, this is a superb dining out option.

Day 2: Castle and Museum Wanderings

Day 2 already! Time, at last, to see the castle and have a look around some museums.

The National Museum of Scotland

Photograph of with the 'National Museum of Scotland' sign on the exterior of the building.
National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Spend the morning or perhaps an hour or so at the National Museum of Scotland. Located on Chamber’s Street, this Free Admission Museum is not far from where you were yesterday. It is one of Edinburgh’s Must-See’s and is a fab visit for everyone, including families. 

There is a lot you could see here in their galleries and exhibits. So, feel free to stay for however long or short! Also, did we mention they have a lovely café too! Although, there are some great cafes and restaurants not far from here too.

Click here for information on the museum’s opening times.

Edinburgh Castle

Photograph of part of the outside of Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

We finally made it to Edinburgh Castle! Hooray! Did you know this is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions?

Top Tip: If you want to make the most of your time at the Castle, we would recommend you set aside a decent amount of time to explore at your own pace. It is, for this reason, we reserved this stop for Day 2. So why not spend a good part of your afternoon here.

Looking for a skip-the-line entry to the Castle, or feel like you would get more out of it by going on a tour? Then why not check out our Secrets of the Royal Mile Tour with entry to the Castle from £15 (per adult). The Tour is just over two hours long, which would give you extra time to explore other places or take a rest stop.

Princes Street Gardens

Photograph of the green space in Prince's Street Gardens with the Scott's Monument and The Balmoral hotel clock in the background.
Prince’s Street Gardens, Edinburgh

Finished touring around Edinburgh Castle? Then head on down to Princes Street Gardens and onto Princes Street. There is a handy pathway from the Castle connecting down into the Gardens too.

Here you can enjoy some fresh air and some city greenery. You will find there are plenty of park benches and spots ideal for a picnic.

Still, looking for things to do?

Princes Street (An optional extra)

If you still have the time and want to get some shopping in, then this is the place to be! Princes Street has a wide variety of shops and stops where you can grab a bite to eat.

Top Tip: Princes Street is mainly home to popular UK high street stores, so if you are looking for more quirky and independent places to get some gifts, we recommend somewhere like Victoria Street or Cockburn Street.

Scottish National Gallery (An optional extra)

If you want to squeeze in as many things as possible in your 3 days in Edinburgh or still have time to spend, then hop on into The National Scottish Gallery just off Princes Street. 

It is free entry into the Gallery. You may also recognise these names… Constable? Raphael? Vermeer? Yes, the Scottish National Gallery cares for masterpieces from the likes of these well-known artists. And that’s just mentioning a few!

For information on the Gallery’s opening times, click here. 

Dinner on George Street

Photograph of plated burger on a set table.

Want to finish off the day with a meal out? If you are up for paying a little extra, go to George Street. 

A short walk from Princes Street, this is an area with an abundance of restaurant options for you to choose from. Fancy a burger? Or perhaps an Italian? Take your pick from American style restaurants such as The Hard Rock Café to Italian Restaurants like Gusto, to name a few.

You have now completed day 2 of your 3 days in Edinburgh!

Day 3: Floating Palace and Garden Strolls

Aww, it’s the last day. These past few days in Edinburgh have been great! Let’s see what we have in store for day number 3.

Calton Hill

Scenic shot of Calton Hill with the view of Prince's Street and the rest of the city.
Calton Hill, Edinburgh

Seen on our scenic walk list, Calton Hill is, without a doubt, a classic Edinburgh spot. Take a short walk to the top to enjoy the views of the Edinburgh skyline below. Make sure you get your camera ready! Time to take the obligatory photo by the columns aka, The National Monument of Scotland.

The Royal Yacht Britannia

Maritime photograph of a close up with some rope and a blurred sea blue background.

Ever imagined walking around a floating palace? Well, here is your chance. Yes, it is time to embark on The Royal Yacht Britannia, one of Edinburgh’s top and well-loved tourist attractions. 

Uncover the stories of this former Royal residence, and since you are here, see if you can spot some cuddly corgis that have managed to sneak their way on deck.

If you could do with a snack after your Royal escapades, take a break at The Royal Deck Tea Room and tuck into a yummy scone or what about a slice of cake?

Tickets are £17.00 per adult, £8.75 for a child (5-17yrs) and under 5s are FREE. 

So, let us head on over to Leith! You can catch a bus by Calton Hill. The journey should take a little over 30 minutes if you are travelling via Lothian Buses. 

The buses you can get near Calton Hill are as follows. The 11 from York Place or the 34 and 22 from Leopold Place, the closer options.

Top Tip:  Remember it is best, if possible, to use contactless or advance tickets when using buses in Edinburgh. Be warned if you use change, you will need to use the exact amount as you will not get your surplus back!

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

A photograph inside The Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh Glasshouses, displaying some lovely palm branches.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh

Now time for an afternoon stroll. Phew! We have done a lot already, right? After visiting the sights and being in the city for a while, let’s do something a bit more restful. The Royal Botanic Gardens is a green oasis not super far away from the city centre.

Take your time walking around and simply enjoying the beautiful scenery. If the weather is good, why not pick a spot to stop and sit down? And hey, if you love to draw, why don’t you spend time sketching or journaling about your adventures?

The Gardens are Free Admission, but you are welcome to donate. For the opening hours, click here.

A breakfast food fan? Love going out for brunch? If you are here a bit earlier in the afternoon and looking for a place to get some food check out Blue Bear Café. It’s just a short walk away from the Botanics. From ‘Build Your Own Bear Breakfast’ to Waffles or even the Scottish classic porridge, this is the place for big breakfast fans! Click here to check out the cafe opening times.

Still have time… The National Portrait Gallery

Wow, you are fast! Still, have a little bit of extra time that you want to spend? Do you want to head back into town? If so, you could catch the bus from the East Gate, or if you still have some walking energy, why not walk? The walking option is ideal if you want to go at your own pace and perhaps stop off at a cafe or shop on your way up. You are heading to York Place.

The National Portrait Gallery is a fantastic place to visit. Not only can you enjoy its beautiful and gothic style architecture, but it has some great artwork too. 

What is so great about The National Portrait Gallery is that there is something for everyone, whether you like older and more historical artwork or want to be amazed by something more hyper-realistic. It has a spectacular café too that does incredible salads and lots of other delicious homemade treats. Plus, entry into the Gallery is free!

Top Tip: Are you heading back to the airport? Then you can catch the tram from York Place.

There you have it, our 3 days in Edinburgh is complete!

Now it is home time. We hope you enjoyed your adventure and whistle-stop tour of all of Edinburgh best sights and made some fun memories. Until next time. Goodbye!

Enjoyed your 3 days in Edinburgh and wondering where to go next? Why not check out more of our easyGuide blog for fun posts on different travel destinations.

Ready to book your long weekend or short stay in Edinburgh? Want your flights and hotel included? Then check out easyJet’s Edinburgh holiday packages.

Thank You From easyGuide

We hope you found our guide to 3 Days in Edinburgh: How to Make Your 72 Hours Count! useful. Don’t forget you can find tickets to the top attractions, activities, experiences and tours in Edinburgh here.

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