24 Hours in Edinburgh

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Crime fiction writer Ian Rankin once described Edinburgh as “a city the size of a town that feels like a village”. Certainly, this UNESCO-recognised World Heritage Site offers both the cool cosmopolitan delights of a capital city – a hub for culture, education, and high-tech start-ups – alongside more low-key aspects of village life. It’s also an eminently walkable city in terms of scale – as long as you don’t mind climbing steep hills, that is!



Start your day by climbing Calton Hill; though not the highest of Edinburgh’s ‘Seven Hills’, it offers undoubtedly the most iconic views of the city centre – including the medieval Old Town and Georgian New Town.


Head down to a relatively recent (1996) Edinburgh institution, the Italian delicatessen Valvona & Crolla, on Elm Row. Here you can select ingredients for an al fresco breakfast, or eat in the café towards the rear.


Even ignoring the wonderful neo-Gothic delights of the building, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street provides a wonderful opportunity to see Scotland’s past and present. Free entry.


During its 1,100-year history, Edinburgh Castle became the most besieged place in Britain, and it remains popular with millions of visitors. Home to Scotland’s Crown Jewels, entry is free on St Andrew’s Day (November 30).


After visiting the statue of Greyfriars Bobby, the faithful 19th-century Skye terrier who sat watch over his master’s grave for 14 years, check out the numerous boutique shops and restaurants in Greater Grassmarket.


From Dean Village, a gentle walk alongside the Water of Leith – passing the mock circular Roman temple marking St Bernard’s Well – brings you to the ‘village’ of Stockbridge with small shops and restaurants.


After dark in November, the Royal Botanic Gardens are transformed into a magical 1.5km Botanic Lights trail with the illumination of plants, paths, and selected buildings. Book a 90-minute slot between 17:00 and 20:30.


In his 21212 restaurant, Michelin-starred chef Paul Kitching provides a weekly changing menu within the immaculate and elegant surroundings of a ‘listed’ Georgian townhouse restaurant. Reservations recommended.


Loved by musicians and audiences alike, Sandy Bell’s has helped keep traditional folk music alive in the capital for more than half a century, with nightly free performances by musicians from Ireland, Scotland, and elsewhere.


Edinburgh, UK
Distance: 5532 km
Flight Time: 5 hours, 15 minutes
Frequency: 5 flights a week

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