You've got 24 hours to spare? Why not make friends with this ultimate guide to surviving summer in Edinburgh for a day. 
(with secrets you can't find anywhere else but here... provided by yours truly)

With just a couple days left of the Fringe, I thought it fitting to collate some of my best experiences of Edinburgh into one day, along with my wit just for you! Here's everything (well almost) about everywhere and everything that you need to know to give yourself the most jam-packed, affordable (debatable), exciting and adventurous, time-efficient stay in Edinburgh.

And if by some chance you haven’t managed to check off this list by the end of the summer then darlin' try, try again.


6:30 AM: My irrational fear of burning the equivalent of midnight oil aside (aka wasting daylight hours), it pays to be a morning person in Scotland because no matter how early you wake up the sun's always up before you. That's coming from someone who actually happens not to be a morning person, but hey-ho. That early, the body traffic and vehicle congestion is almost always near to none. Except for that wee clan of runners whose sole purpose always seems to be to motivate others in some 'fitspo' manner but ends up being pretty demoralising if you find yourself scrolling through snaps of peeps pounding pavement, from the comfort of your cosy bedroom.

I, however, limit my running groups to 1 member only except for when I'm back at uni and reunited with my jogging partner or ironically when I'm neither running nor jogging, but walking (AH revolutionary) with my cousin as seen above in the appropriately coordinated Ralph Lauren and Adidas attire. Anyways (details details). If you do like a good run then try the Meadows, the road to Arthur's Seat or the general Holyrood Palace vicinity. 

7:30 AM: Walk home and take advantage of the beauty that is our capital. Appreciate how stunning the mountains look in the distance as the sun's rays creep over them and the sunlight slips between the buildings. Pick up a coffee & croissant (optional, but not really optional), and smell some roses on the way. Black Medicine on Nicolson St. by South Bridge is the only real (and good, says a close source) coffee above Southern Cross Cafe & Edinburgh larder (which do THE most delicious scones with clotted cream and mushroom soup with truffle oil - separate of course). 

PS: My close source's favourite coffee shop is Black Medicine hence the slight bias. 

All three of those places bring something unique to Edinburgh and that's why I love 'em!

PPS: Black Medicine has the tastiest food too; their black forest ham & brie croissant is simply LUSH.

8:00 AM: Choose an outfit for the day that isn’t going to melt your skin off - oh wait - it's Scotland, so the concept of melting shouldn't particularly be a problem.

8:30 AM: Settle for breakfast – Contini's morning menu (I've heard) is infinitely more tasty than most hotels. If you’d rather not stuff yourself to the brim quite so early, grab a bite from your nearest tescos or whatever you fancy and read a book somewhere chill till brunch (see 11 AM). Nothing decent is really open yet, not before 8 anyway. Southern Cross Cafe has such a cute seating area outside, as well as the most delicious plate of poached eggs on bagel via salmon. In Winter, this would be the worst hour of your life, but let’s not think such dark thoughts.

9:30 AMis the best time to roam the city before it gets too crowded, especially if you're coming in from quite a distance or just riding the buses from a way away. I, for one, am quite attracted to the physical exhaustion that comes with weaving through a sea of tourists... 

is it too early in the morning for sarcasm?

10 AM: Get to the National Museum of Edinburgh as soon as it opens, as well as the Scottish art galleries. I make a habit of taking at least one morning/afternoon to pause and appreciate what curators from centuries ago have set in place for us to experience, fixate, ponder upon and admire. If you'd rather spend your morning outdoors entirely, street artists from everywhere set up camp and dot themselves around the city, so you might find yourself immersed in an equally aesthetically pleasing experience.

Make sure you spend some time picnicking and people-watching in Princes Street Gardens almost immediately adjacent. Princes Street Gardens is free, and the comfort of the grass is, well, comforting. The Scottish National Gallery is right across the road and has quite a lot of stunning displays. Right now, there's a Caravaggio Exhibition on until the 24th of September, which I myself have planned to view - next week as a matter of fact. If you make it there before me, let me know how it is!

11 AM: As far as I’m concerned, in most every city the brunchish-lunchish game is hella strong and Edinburgh is no exception. Find a friend, find your fill and philosophise until you're satisfied.  

A few favourites new and old (but neither borrowed, nor blue):

Le Cafe Bleu (... ok this is blue)
Hendersons (for my veggilicious vegan friends) 
Urban Angel 
Hemma (which means 'home' in Swedish) 
The Ship on the Shore

12 PM: Cameraaaa Obscuuuura... the wooorrrlllddd of optical illUUUuuUuusions. Often referred to (by me) as one of the sickest, most insanely insane, incredible places known to man. Honestly, if you've got 24 hours to spare in Edinburgh there's no better way to spend your time than gawking at virtually everything inside that place. The gift shop is pretty sick too, so make sure to stop down there and get your hands one some one-of-a-kind merch.

PM: It's 1PM and you're already hungry again. Go figure. Whoever invented brunch falls into the category: nothing short of genius. An all you can eat buffet always seems like a good idea until it turns into a more-than-you-can-imagine-eating buffet. So I don't blame you. For whatever reason you were held over or not by it, brunch is always a good idea. In the same way, making a pit stop for some fuel is always looked upon favourably in my books.

2 PM: If you can handle the crowds, go exploring through the city. Take in the scenery, the music and lively atmosphere. Go and see a Fringe show or two. Don't worry if you haven't booked or bought tickets for something, there are so many free shows and people giving out free tickets to shows you'll be spoilt for choice! With that being said, not every show will leave you speechless... in a good way. I myself have had my fair share of odd, weird and wonderful Fringe show experiences and they've not been due to lack of decent options; perhaps just spur of the moment acts of spontaneous choice or deliberate self-sabotage paired with search for a laugh!

3 PM: By this time, most of Edinburgh's young and beautiful are well and truly awake, kicking around being painfully cool. My favourite people-watching spot has to be Caffè Nero on South Bridge. It's sooo chill and they have to comfiest couch on the left-hand side of the cafe, round the corner by the large window (you're welcome). To be fair, you could people watch anywhere in Edinburgh; anywhere on Princes Street is a given. 

If that's not your thing, or you'd rather do something more physically demanding (like pressing capture on your iPhone) you can find a pretty gal & a pretty wall and take candids to pass the time.

PM: If you’ve a good pair of legs, or a bike, do the Royal Mile/Castle side walk at least once. Stroll up The Mound towards the Royal Mile

Below I've listed a few other cool places you might wanna check out:

  • The Elephant House
    - aka "the birthplace of Harry Potter", roughly 10 min walk from the castle
  • Greyfriar's Bobby
    - where you can snap a photo with our beloved gold nose canine whose heartwarming story will leave you with the sudden (if not already realised) realisation that dogs are entirely and wholly pure
  • Malones 
    - an outdoor pub with live music and all the good vibes/craic; if you enjoy tanning pints in the sun or, similarly, sipping ros
    é under blue skies you'll love this place... it's been pretty popular since it opened, so don't be surprised if you can't find a seat. Just give it 5 and a handful of people will all at once jump up and start singing their hearts out & dancing along to YMCA (that's your cue to nab a bench)

5 PM: Now it's somewhere in-between lunch, strolling, and dinner - you've got time to kill! So check out the following:

Take a bus to the sighthill area and keep your eyes peeled for the Krispy Kreme drive-thru! Hop off at your nearest stop and make your way inside (they have a dine-in seating area). If their sign is red that means they're serving fresh hot donuts !

Dean Village which sits right by the Water of Leith is one of the most enchanting parts of Edinburgh, you can't miss out on this one!

I.J Mellis sells some of the tastiest farmhouse and artisan cheeses I've ever tasted - if not to buy, highly recommended as a MUST SEE 

Travel a wee bit further, follow the roads past the shop of frrromage /fʁɔ.maʒ/, take a right just before the football-pitch looking area and you'll soon stumble upon a beautiful park which extends beyond its lake, with a pretty good view of the town.

6 PM: Be open to brand new experiences, meet new people, network and socialise! Find an evening tour. Tours and excursions are a definite guarantee that you'll meet someone new. Not to sound too hippy or bohemian (take it for what you will) but walking around and doing your own thing with a massive smile is one of the best feelings, especially when you're in an unknown land (I'm assuming a lot of you reading this don't live in Edinburgh - but if you do, let me know some cool spots that aren't on here).

If you are in fact from Scotland or, indeed, you do live in Edinburgh or nearby then maybe you know some people in the area. Take a leaf out of your travel book and make time to hang out with friends old and new. Bring someone along on your adventure and make more memories out of your "Caledonian" experience.


7 PM: This is not an optional activity. On my first trip to Edinburgh since moving down south to the land of Eng, I accidentally ended up on Calton Hill at sunset whilst roaming the city, killing time before my private date with good friends sushi and tempura (see below). In that moment I was truly breathless. Few things compare to watching the sun go down and the city light up. In that moment, you really are surrounded by a city of stars.


9 PM: Once you’ve stopped bawling your eyes out at the beautiful sight of God's pure creation meeting man's talented architectural craft, it's what we Scots call TEA TIME. Yes, yes... it's 9pm, but if you're anything like me, you adore dining underneath the starry skies (provided it ain't cloudy) so 9 o'clock is most definitely a decent time for some good food (not to be confused with good good). Plus, if you're planning a night out on the 'toon - late night scran is absolutely necessary. So if you missed out on I.J M, don't fret, you still have time to wander through the peaceful streets of Stockbridge and walk your way over to my favourite zen sushi haven - Kenji Sushi. If you're looking for something else, Spanish cuisine is in my top top top faves, so, naturally, Cafe Andaluz has to be in my top places to dine. Try the tinto del verano or vino tinto if you're feeling particularly classy - their tinto never disappoints! Or why not treat yourself to some Italian goodness *cue heart eye emojis* - CIAO ROMA !!! This place has to be my fave fave fave and I hear the pizza chef is particularly dreamy. 

If you do find room in your elbow for dessert (and you're seated, cause boyyy do those queues get long) try the gelato! It's actually mouth-watering and oh so creamy. Cappuccino and Belgian Chocolate are the yummiest flavours I've tried so far. Thank me later.


11 PM: DRINKS (hold the pre or don't) are mandatory.

99 Hanover Street - One of my favourite bars I'd say, definitely at the top of the list. The vibes in 99 are always vibey. 

Bar Tonic - If you travel a few blocks further, you'll soon find yourself standing in front of a sign with which you will be immediately hooked at the first mention of COCKTAILS and I highly recommend the Pornstar Martini. It's the most delicious of its kind.

The Last World Cocktail Saloon - An underworld hidden beneath Beauty Boutique by Victoria, on the same street as Kenji Sushi. This is definitely a place you go to meet someone late night and exchange secrets in candle light over some devilishly delicious liqueur, whiskey, wine or whichever be your so-called 'drug of choice'. Oooh *chills*

Caley Picture House - the most coolest SPOONS I've ever been to in my life. It's an auditorium, turned cinema, turnediscothèque, turned PUB. You wouldn't necessarily think it on first impressions, but the decor is freaking gorgeous inside.

LATE O'Clock: Time to get yourself to bed or dance the night away... still and all, keep wishing there were more hours in a day.

I'll hopefully be adding to this list from time to time as I tend to frequent Edinburgh whenever I get the chance. Otherwise, there'll be plenty of opportunities in the future to post all sorts of things about all sorts of places here on my blog. And anyway, some things you just have to discover for yourself and explore this big ol' planet we call home, your way.

Adieu et bisou x

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