The Best Edinburgh 2 day itinerary for anxious travellers

Edinburgh Image by Adam Wilson
Edinburgh Image by Adam Wilson

Why Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is situated as part of Scotland’s Central belt, 2 ½ miles from the coast and just over 30 miles from the English border. Now I am a little biased because Scotland is one of my favourite countries in the world. It’s scenery, the people and lets not forget the whisky. Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland steeped in rich history, an old town and even Harry Potter inspo, you’re a fellow Potter head like myself. So there is plenty for me to give you for your Edinburgh 2 day itinerary. 

And the best bit?! 

For a capital city Edinburgh is SOOO reasonably priced. I mean like soooo reasonably priced. You can get a large house wine and a meal for less than £20! In the centre!!! There is also something to do for everyone and all year round. Now for someone who suffers from anxiety a Capital city can seem quite daunting, and yes Edinburgh can get busy particularly during August when the Fringe comes to town. But here is my guide to deal with anxiety when travelling which will help you through your trip!

When to go to Edinburgh

As I mentioned Edinburgh has something for everyone all year round therefore when you travel there may be extra things you want to prioritise in your Edinburgh 2 day itinerary. For instance:

August = The Edinburgh Fringe. 

Ahhh what can I say about the Edinburgh Fringe?! I have a love hate relationship with it. As a professional performer I love seeing new work and taking my own work. It’s a great way to meet people, and see some truly incredible work, that you may not otherwise get a chance to see. As a tourist, and an anxious one at that, it is full of ALL the people, accommodation doubles in price (at least) and good luck finding anywhere to sit and eat around the royal mile. I would say particularly if you love performance such as myself, you need to experience it at least once, happen upon street performers, feel the buzz of the crowds and learn about a whole new side to this beautiful city. 

December = Christmas Markets and Hogmany

During December you can walk around the Christmas markets with a mulled wine or whisky, getting your Christmas shopping done and soaking up the festive atmosphere. Then once Christmas is over and done with along comes New Year with Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 3 days of parties, with street parties, rides, bars and fireworks! It really is a great way to see in the New year! 

For a winter getaway I would personally go between October and the beginning of December, it’s not as busy and the city is beginning to get ready for Christmas. So you will definitely start to feel a lot like Christmas! However if you prefer it warmer I would go between April and June, it’s not the height of the tourist season yet and the weather is starting to pick up. You get those first glimpses of summer with gorgeous spring days. Also if you then head further north the midges haven’t quite come out to play yet!

How to get there

Car:

Depending where you are travelling from will depend which way is best for you to Edinburgh. Coming from England I would always recommend driving as the coastal road you drive along to get there is so beautiful. And you can also stop off at the first and last pub of Scotland once you cross the border! A lovely country pub on the coast that serves food and has bedrooms to help break up your long journey. 

Flying:

Edinburgh has an international Airport situated just out of the city centre, with flights arriving from all over the world. It is Scotland’s Largest airport and has great travel links too and from it. Here you can then hop a bus into Edinburgh,  a taxi, or get a tram and a train. All of which take less than an hour to get into the city centre. It’s super easy and quick to get there so you can begin your holiday straight away.

Train: As it is a capital city Edinburgh is really easy to get too by train. Therefore if you aren’t coming from another part of the UK but don’t fancy the drive, then getting there by train is super easy. I personally recommend ticket split when buying tickets in the UK. They are a company that finds you the cheapest way of travelling by train and then simply split your tickets for you. So you do the exact same journey just for a lot cheaper. Also you will witness some beautiful scenery, along the coast, through fields and mountains. It’s simply gorgeous.

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If like me you get nervous in a new city, country or area. If you liaise with your accommodation, they are usually more than happy to help arrange transport with you, whether they personally pick you up, arrange for a local taxi company to do so, or simply give you the transport directions you need to get to them.

If you are arriving by train and are eager to try some traditional Scottish whisky, I highly recommend The Hebrides situated on the side of the train station towards the Royal Mile, it is a small pub, with a lovely welcoming atmosphere, live music and a great selection of scotch whisky all reasonably priced!!

Where to Stay?!

No Edinburgh 2 day itinerary would be complete without transport, as mentioned above because there are a few different options and places to stay. As you need help to get there and make sure you are staying in the best place for what you want to see as well as somewhere to suit your budget! With accommodation costing anything from £10PN to £400 PN there is something for everyone! Here are my recommendations:

The Royal Mile Backpackers

Situated in the centre of Edinburgh as part of it’s Old town this hostel is located in a beautiful part of town. If you are on a budget then this is the perfect place to begin your tour of this beautiful city. Close to the train station and spitting distance from the royal mile you can’t go wrong especially with prices starting from as little as £13 PN in the height of summer you can’t really complain! 

TOP TIP 2: it is situated close to the smallest pub in Scotland which I would highly recommend, and has a beautiful front area, where you can spill out onto, on those gorgeous summer nights.

The Ibis Edinburgh Centre, Royal Mile

Situated as part of the Royal Mile, this hotel is bang in the city centre of Edinburgh, close to all areas of interest, friendly staff and it is a great hotel to stay in. This is somewhere to stay if you want more luxury but at an affordable price as in the height of summer is around £80 PN!! It also has its own bar and restaurant should you not want to leave the hotel, and stay in a space you feel more secure.

Student accommodation

This is a particularly popular option during the summer months and is an option I have taken during Edinburgh Fringe. As it’s summer the majority of the students are at home and you basically get your own living space with a kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom at heavily discounted prices. Cons are usually further out of the centre than you might like, pros it’s between £50-£100 PN in the height of summer in a capital city. And with your own kitchen means you can make your own food and so will cost you less.

You see there are a variety of options for you to choose, all able to fit to your needs, budget and area. My best advice would be to book accommodation as soon as possible in Edinburgh if you are wanting a reasonably priced hotel. As The closer it is for you to go the more likely you will be paying closer to £200 PN. So you have all you need to get you ready for visiting Edinburgh!

Let’s get down to business

Now in order for you to prepare for your Edinburgh 2 day itinerary trip. I would make sure to prioritise everything you want to do. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts I get slightly obsessive when it comes to planning my trips to help ease my pre-travel anxiety even if it’s somewhere I have been to a million times, as there might be things I’ve missed in the past, recommendations friends have given me, a particular exhibition I want to see. The possibilities are endless. And quite often when planning a trip this can become overwhelming. 

Therefore my 2 day Edinburgh itinerary for you, will include restaurant and bar recommendations, and suggestions of things to do & see that are always there. So that you know you don’t have to go at a certain time and then miss them. As holidays are meant to be fun and relaxing. The best ways to do this is to keep your mental health at bay. 

Day one!

First things First – BREAKFAST

Now if you’ve got a busy Edinburgh Itinerary  ahead you need to make sure you have got a full stomach to prepare you for the day. Now I always tell everyone to go to The City Cafe. The food is incredible, it’s drinks are great, it’s cheap and the portions aren’t teeny tiny!!! So you get a lot for your money! Situated at the bottom of the Royal Mile on Blair Street this beauty is close to lots of tourist attractions and does an ALL DAY BREAKFAST! As well as yummy shakes (alcoholic and non) and it’s downstairs is a Karaoke bar, or during Fringe season a performance space.

The Royal Mile image by Emran Yousof
The Royal Mile image by Emran Yousof

Once you’re all set up for the day I would take a wander around the Royal Mile, soak up the beauty of this gorgeous part of town, it’s cobbled streets, see some gorgeous shops on the side streets and just be in Awe! 

City of the dead tour

You may also come across a few people advertising ghost tours! I love them, and Edinburgh has so many gruesome and fascinating histories it’s well worth a check.This is the company I used and I chose the – City of the dead haunted graveyard tour. It was amazing. The guides were so informative, they looked after you and you are able to do things that no other tours offer you! I highly recommend them. I can’t wait to go back and do the Underground city of the dead! I even bought a book afterwards called ‘The Ghost That Haunted itself’ a really great read! I’d book this for your second day in Edinburgh to ensure you have enough time.

St Giles Cathedral

As you’re walking up the Royal Mile taking in all of its beauty, on your left you will see St GIles Cathedral about half way up. This Cathedral is absolutely stunning, no need to book and there is a suggested donation of £3 when you go in. The architecture is just beautiful. GIve yourself a good 30 minutes to fully soak it up!

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There are often mini market stalls around it with local sellers. So you can pick up some really nice souvenirs.

Edinburgh Castle 

At the top of the Royal Mile where you get a beautiful view of the entire city, I would book tickets ahead of time as queues can be long and you want to ensure you can get in. This will roughly take you around 2 hours, so not to feel rushed and really explore its grounds. As well as take some stunning photos.

This should take you too around dinner time (I’m northern so I mean lunch 🙂 ). Now if you walk just a little down from the castle you will come across George the IV bridge.  

The Cellar Door

Now if you walk along here you will see some amazing restaurants, cafes and bars. My favorite is  The Cellar Door, a beautiful Scottish restaurant  with a set lunch menu  2 courses for £12 or 3 courses for £15. You can’t really go wrong! You can try some amazing Haggis, both vegetarian and meat, an Angus Beef Burger and sticky toffee pudding! YUM!

Now you’re refueled for the rest of your day. You can pop just 2 minutes down the road, look to your right at the top of Candlemaker row and you will spot Greyfriars Bobby. Now this cute little statue has a beautiful backstory so make sure you check it out and get a photo. 

The GreyFriar Bobbys Bar

And just behind GreyFriars Bobby is the GreyFriar Bobbys Bar. Where you can relax, get a drink and  amazing pies! If you fancy something later in your itinerary. 

Then head down Candlemakers row where you will come to Grassmarket, a beautiful part of Edinburgh’s Old Town, and again is stepped in so much Scottishd13870  history. With its cobbled streets, old buildings and big open space. This was the city’s main place of execution, yet now is filled with lively pubs and great shops. 

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You can wander down Cowgate which is the main hub for Edinburgh’s nightlife 

Now once you have walked around GrassMarket if you head back towards the Royal Mile you will walk up Victoria Street! Now for all us Potter heads, this is Edinburgh’s Diagon Alley! With its beautifully coloured shops, stunning architecture and good for a few IG pictures!

DemiJohn

Diagon Alley Image by Fabio Traina - Edinburgh 2 day itinerary
Diagon Alley Image by Fabio Traina

Now if you are to go in any shop along here please let it be Demijohns! They are such a wonderful shop that will immediately invoke that childlike wonder in you. It’s like your very own potion shop. You pick what you want, the type of bottle you want it in and can even have a message written on it. I get excited just thinking about, and the owners are so friendly and welcoming. 

To end your day I would take a slow and steady wander up Nicholson’s street. Refresh yourselves amongst the great Coffee shops, rest your feet in the different bars and just as it’s getting towards sunset head to Arthurs Seat.

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If you have some spare time and are interested in visiting a museum which depicts Edinburgh’s very own Burke and Hare Lives at the Surgeons Museum. One of the more unusual and lesser known museums in Edinburgh. I stumbled upon it completely by accident and had a wonderful time. I would allow at least an hour.

Arthurs Seat

The huge hill just out of Edinburgh’s city centre. You can’t miss this off of your itinerary. This isn’t a particularly difficult walk, and will take less than an hour to get to the top. Now I would highly recommend doing this when it’s nearly sunset. So you can watch it happen over this gorgeous city. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale feel all your worries drift away as you have one of the best seats in the world. 

Now Arthurs seat does get pretty busy, so be prepared for areas of the walk where there will be a few people. But there is a clear pathway for you to get up and down. Also make sure you have a drink with you so that you can take time out at the top and re-hydrate yourself. 

Summerhall

No what better way to end your day than in Summerhall. In Fringe time Summerhall is the unofficial artist hub. Where people are sitting in its beautiful courtyard and winding down with a couple of drinks. It is open all year around and is a great venue with something for everyone. It has a great bar, serves wonderful food, and is the perfect place to end the first day of your Edinburgh 2 day itinerary.

Day two!

Urban Angel

Now this place has amazing breakfasts and brunches! It’s not the place for a traditional fry up. Urban angel is the place to get food that when you leave you know you’ve eaten well. With Avocado on toast, Acai bowls but still has the option to add some yummy haggis or black pudding! The perfect place to start the second of your Edinburgh 2 day itinerary!

Now having been up Arthur’s Seat you will have caught a glimpse of the coast. So that is where we are going to start our day.

Royal Yacht Britannia

Now I’m going to be honest here. I honestly didn’t think this was for me. I’m not the biggest royalist in the world, and given the option may have gone somewhere else. But honestly I CANNOT recommend this attraction enough. It was SOOO good. You really get a sense of how it was to live onboard the royal yacht, for all those who were there. The royal family and the workers. It’s been kept perfectly. I left wanting to go back again. It was such a beautiful surprise for me and I cannot wait to return.

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If you are getting the bus to the Royal Yacht Britannia make sure you have the exact money, as you won’t get any change.

Musselburgh 

Now 20 minutes down the road you will be at Musselburgh, a beautiful coastal town. Here you can replenish ready for the afternoon. Grab some fish and chips from The Frying Scotsman and enjoy them as you look out to the beautiful ocean.

I find being by the water incredibly calming. And so when I’m on a city break I will always plan in time to be by some body of water so that I can replenish my mental state and ensure I’m feeling well.

Princess Gardens - Image by Julia Solonina
Princess Gardens – Image by Julia Solonina

I would then head towards Princess street gardens. Here you can walk through the most beautiful gardens in Edinburgh. Take  a leisurely stroll after lunch and see the beautiful flowers that have been planted. Once you get to the end of the Princess street gardens you will come to the Scottish National Gallery.

Scottish National Gallery

This is a wonderful gallery to visit and right in the centre of Edinburgh. Allow yourself around an hour to fully experience all of it’s exhibitions. It has some beautiful exhibitions that change throughout the year and make sure you check their website to see what is on when you visit. There are benches throughout should you need to sit and take some time out. As I for one know what it’s like when you’ve been on your feet all day.

Princes Street

Now what better way to end your Edinburgh 2 day itinerary than with a lil retail therapy. Now when you come out of the Scottish National Gallery you come onto Princes Street. And here is Edinburgh’s shopping hub. With different malls, huge superstores, designer shops and the obligatory tourist tat shops. 

Whiski Rooms

Now you can’t go to Edinburgh without having a proper Scotch whisky experience. And there’s no better place to go than the Whiski Rooms. Open from 10am to 1am there really is no excuse for you to miss it! With a variety of whisky experiences, including pairings with cheese and chocolate, there really is something for everyone. 

Remember

Short breaks can be overwhelming, you can feel like there is so much to do and so little time. I know sometimes my anxiety can go overboard with them, and I often feel FOMO When you are doing a short break, please remember to take regular rests, eat well, and make sure you look after your physical and mental wellbeing. These things will be there to visit once you’ve taken a break.

I really hope you fall in love with Edinburgh just as much as I do every time I visit. It really is a beautiful city in a beautiful country. And should you want to visit more of Scotland here is an incredible Scottish Travel blogger The Chaotic Scot who will happily create the best itinerary for the places you want to visit.

#Enjoy your Edinburgh 2 day itinerary. You are going to have an amazing time!

Princess Gardens - Image by Julia Solonina - Edinburgh 2 day itinerary
Princess Gardens – Image by Julia Solonina

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