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How to Spend 3 Days in Edinburgh

How to Spend 3 Days in Edinburgh

With three days in Edinburgh, you have plenty of time to soak up the city’s atmosphere, see its most famous sights, and head out of town into the surrounding countryside. Here are a few ways to experience the very best of the Scottish capital in 72 memorable hours.

Day 1: Explore the Contrasting Old and New Towns

Soak in the atmosphere of the medieval Old Town, filled with cobblestone streets and winding alleys, on a private or group walking tour that leads you along and around the Royal Mile. Walking tours take you to top attractions such as Princes Street and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery while your guide tells related tales of secret Edinburgh societies and inventions of the Enlightenment period. Alternatively, a hop-on hop-off bus tour of the whole city offers more flexibility: you can get off at any point of interest along the route and spend as long as you like there. 

After your tour, admire the contrasting architecture of the elegant New Town—together the two areas form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the evening, get a taste of the local nightlife on a pub crawl through the Old Town, which includes free drinks.

Day 2: See the City’s Royal Side

Edinburgh Castle, the historic fortress perched atop an extinct volcano, dominates the city’s skyline. Save time by booking a castle tour that includes skip-the-line entry. Private and group guided castle tours provide historical insights and take you to see such sights as the Crown Jewels of Scotland, including the Stone of Destiny, which was used in the coronation of Scottish monarchs. 

Afterward head into the port of Leith for a glimpse into the lives of more recent monarchs at the Royal Yacht Britannia, the former royal yacht of Queen Elizabeth II. Explore the stately ship’s five decks, peeking into elaborately decorated rooms like the State Apartments, the State Drawing Room, and the Queen’s Bedroom. Conclude the refined experience with an elegant high tea in the Royal Deck Tea Room.

Day 3: Head for the Highlands

Scotland’s compact size means that its wild landscapes are within easy access of its capital city. A small-group day trip can take you out of the city and into some spectacular landscapes as you journey to the haunting valley of Glencoe, Cairngorms National Park, the charming Victorian town of Pitlochry, and Loch Ness, where you can embark on a cruise across the famed loch in pursuit of the Loch Ness Monster. Alternatively, you can head in the opposite direction to see the Roman-built Hadrian’s Wall (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Melrose Abbey, and the mysterious architectural gem that is Rosslyn Chapel, associated with the Knights Templar and Freemasons and brought to worldwide fame by the book “The Da Vinci Code.”

Back in Edinburgh, conclude your trip with a traditional Scottish evening spent listening to folk tales recounted by an entertaining storyteller while enjoying whisky, haggis, and cranachan, a traditional dessert of oats, berries, and cream.

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10 Tours and Activities | All Edinburgh Tours

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Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands Small-Group Day Tour from Edinburgh

Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands Small-Group Day Tour from Edinburgh

star-4.5
Take a personalized tour from Edinburgh to Loch Ness on this day trip to the Scottish Highlands. See wooded lochs and tucked-away villages as you journey through spectacular scenery en route to Glencoe and Fort Augustus. Enjoy an optional boat tour in search of the Loch Ness Monster and traverse the picturesque Cairngorms National Park. Travel in a top-of-the-range, 16-seat Mercedes mini-coach with a small group limited to 16 passengers.
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  • 12 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$64.09
From
US$64.09
Taking safety measures

Skip-the-Line Edinburgh Castle Walking Tour

Skip-the-Line Edinburgh Castle Walking Tour

star-5
Save valuable vacation time with skip-the-line access to Edinburgh Castle on this walking tour. Avoid hours of waiting in line and breeze right inside with your priority admission ticket. Then, listen to your guide's commentary about the Scottish landmark's history as you walk through one of Scotland's most famous landmarks.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$45.80
From
US$45.80
Taking safety measures

Rosslyn Chapel and Hadrian's Wall Small Group Day Tour from Edinburgh

Rosslyn Chapel and Hadrian's Wall Small Group Day Tour from Edinburgh

star-5
Journey to the frontier of ancient Rome on this full-day tour of Hadrian’s Wall and the Scottish borders from Edinburgh. First up is a tour of the 15th-century Rosslyn Chapel, famously featured in ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and renowned for its mysterious stone carvings and unique architecture. After lunch (not included), stop at Melrose Abbey, the burial site of King Robert the Bruce’s heart, and look out over the English border from Cheviot Hills, before walking along the UNESCO-listed Hadrian’s Wall.
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  • 10 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$51.37
From
US$51.37
Taking safety measures

City Sightseeing Edinburgh Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

City Sightseeing Edinburgh Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

star-4
An Edinburgh bus tour is the perfect way to hear commentary on city sights and get a panoramic overview. This City Sightseeing tour of Edinburgh lets you hop on and off at several strategically placed stops as many times as you like. Board the open-top double-decker bus and travel the entire route, or stop at Edinburgh Castle, the National Museum and many more. Buses depart regularly and tickets are valid for 24 hours from first use.
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  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$21.08
From
US$21.08
Taking safety measures

Historical Walking Tour with Optional Skip the Line Entry to Edinburgh Castle

Historical Walking Tour with Optional Skip the Line Entry to Edinburgh Castle

star-4.5
See the best of medieval yet modern Edinburgh on this walking tour with optional skip-the-line access to Edinburgh Castle. As you walk, listen as your guide shares the history of this formidable city with ancient Roman roots and UNESCO-listed pockets. Explore atmospheric cobbled walkways along the Royal Mile, breeze into Edinburgh Castle to witness royal opulence (if option selected), and pass iconic locations like St. Giles Cathedral, Parliament Square, and John Knox House.
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  • 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$21.37
From
US$21.37
Taking safety measures

The Royal Yacht Britannia Admission Ticket

The Royal Yacht Britannia Admission Ticket

star-4.5
Glimpse into the lifestyle of the Royals with an audio tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia – the floating palace of Her Majesty the Queen for more than 40 years. Independently explore the stately ship’s five decks, peeking into elaborately decorated rooms like the State Apartments, the State Drawing Room, the Queen’s Bedroom and more. Add to the unique experience with some refreshment in the Royal Deck Tea Room (additional expense).
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$22.39
From
US$22.39
Taking safety measures

Royal Mile Guided Walking Tour in Edinburgh

Royal Mile Guided Walking Tour in Edinburgh

star-5
Explore famous landmarks and hidden secrets in Edinburgh on this walking tour. Explore Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile with a guide, and gain insight into famous writers and inventors who have called the city home. Hear tales of Scotland's national bard—Robert Burns—and discover top landmarks such as St. Giles’ Cathedral and the National Galleries of Scotland. Capture Edinburgh through the eye of your camera as you go, and find out what makes this ancient city tick.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$32.05
From
US$32.05
Taking safety measures

Edinburgh Old Town Pub Crawl

Edinburgh Old Town Pub Crawl

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Experience the nightlife of Edinburgh Old Town, and discover the backstreet pubs, cocktail lounges, and underground nightclubs that are loved by the locals. On this tour of the city’s hot spots, meet other travelers, enjoy well-priced drinks, and even some free shots. The experience is for anyone aged 18 years old or older with valid photo ID.
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  • 4 to 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$17.10
From
US$17.10
Taking safety measures

Edinburgh Private Walking Tour

Edinburgh Private Walking Tour

star-5
Learn about Edinburgh past and present on a private walking tour with an insider guide, who shares information about the city’s royal history and colorful characters, some of whom have inspired books and well-known stories. Get tips on where to eat and drink around the city, and see sights on and off the Royal Mile and near Greyfriars Kirk. You’ll enjoy one-on-one attention from a private guide on this tour that caters to couples, families and small groups looking for a more personal experience.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$42.73
From
US$42.73
Taking safety measures


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