Scotland’s vibrant capital does its hard-partying reputation proud as the host for a number of important Scottish festivals and celebrations (including the legendary 4-day New Year’s celebrations, known as Hogmanay), but even the quietest days in the city offer plenty to see and do. Exploring the cobbled streets of the UNESCO World Heritage Old Town, climbing the sprawling peaks of Edinburgh’s Seven Hills and visiting the city’s many museums and galleries could easily fill up a week’s itinerary, but if you’ve only got one day in the city, here are some ideas for making the most of it.
Start your walking tour in the Old town, where the famous Royal Mile is the main thoroughfare, running from the stately Holyrood Palace, a lavish royal residence, housing part of the Queen’s Royal art collection to the imposing Edinburgh Castle, the royal fortress which presides over the city center. The majority of the city’s sights are found in the Old Town, with the Scottish Parliament building, the National Museum of Scotland, the Scotch Whisky Experience and the fascinating Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions all within walking distance.
A trip to the majestic Edinburgh Castle, perched atop the 131-meter (430 foot) Castle Rock is another one of the city’s most popular attractions, and makes the perfect spot for a picnic lunch, looking down over the city below.
Spend the afternoon in the new town, checking out the shops on Princes Street, strolling around the idyllic Princes Street Gardens and visiting the National Gallery of Scotland home to some of the country’s finest artwork. Be sure to pay a visit to the Scott Monument, a giant sandstone tower built in 1846 to commemorate the life of Sir Walter Scott and affording incredible views from its 200-foot high lookout deck.
Now’s the time to retire to one of Edinburgh’s historic pubs and the popular Grassmarket area is the best place to experience Scottish hospitality, crammed with lively bars and music venues to see you through til midnight. If you’ve still got energy to spare, take a detour on route and scale the summit of Arthur’s seat, the highest of Edinburgh’s seven hills at 251 meter (823 feet), and the perfect location for watching the sunset over the city.