48 Hours in Edinburgh

48 hours in Edinburgh? Here’s how I made the most of it!

  1. I made sure to book a hostel in the city centre, so that I wouldn’t have to walk long distances or take public transport to get to the top attractions.
  2. Since I only had one FULL day, and one half day, I obviously packed my schedule.
  3. I mostly ate on the go — not the best when trying to experience a new place, I know, but there was so much I wanted to see, I didn’t really have a choice!
  4. I made sure I was one of the first people in line at passport control after exiting the plane.
  5. I had no checked luggage for such a short stay, so I got to leave the airport fairly quickly!
  6. I researched the cheapest and fastest way to get to my hostel from the airport ahead of time.

Edinburgh Castle

While we were in Innsbruck this winter, I kept checking cheap flights to other European cities, so that I could explore a little. Innsbruck’s airport isn’t very big, but the city is only a few hours away from Munich, which has a much larger airport. So, I mostly looked at flights from Munich since they were often quite a bit cheaper (bigger airport normally equals cheaper flights). I ended up finding a really cheap flight from Munich to Edinburgh and jumped on the occasion to catch a glimpse of Scotland. The cheap flights, however, came with a time constraint. I only had a little less than 48 hours to explore the city. Obviously, I was up for that challenge. Here’s how I made the most of my short stay in Edinburgh.I arrived at Edinburgh airport and made sure I was one of the first people in line at passport control. I’ll admit, I had a bit of an advantage for this one — because my flight was from Munich, most of the other passengers were in the “EU Passports” line whereas I (with my lovely Canadian passport) was one of the only people in the “All Passports” line. Having no checked luggage, I headed straight for the AirLink bus, which I had researched ahead of time. This bus brought me straight to Waverley Bridge, which was about 500 meters from my hostel. So I headed straight there to drop my bag off, chatted a bit with one of the girls that worked at the hostel about what I should see in the city and what tours where available that night. I had originally booked a ghost walking tour for the evening (most tourist attractions / museums close at 5 PM and as I wanted to make the most of my time, I wanted to do a tour in the evening), but it was cancelled because there weren’t enough participants, so she helped me find something similar. I ended up going on a Ghost Bus tour, which turned out to be super entertaining. Before heading to this tour though, I made my way up to Calton Hill from where I watched the sunset with a beautiful view of the city, as well as Arthur’s Seat and Edinburgh Castle in the distance. Then, I headed to the bus tour, grabbing a bite to eat on the way. The tour was funny, with scary ghost stories and an entertaining tour guide. We got to visit graveyards and hear about Edinburgh’s haunted side. After the tour, I headed back to my hostel for the night and got ready for an early morning the next day.


Breakfast was included at my hostel (YAY), so I was the first to eat in order to leave as early as possible! I headed off towards Holyrood Palace to have a good look at the Queen’s summer residence (she stays here for one week every summer). Unfortunately, it did not open to the public until 9:30 or 10 AM, and I had MANY other things to go see, so I did not get to visit inside the palace. I then headed back towards the old town, walking along Queen’s Drive, which gives you a good view of Arthur’s Seat. Once I got to the old town, I met up with a tour guide for a free walking tour of the city. On this tour, I got to learn about the history of the city and see its most important sights. We even got to see the school which inspired J.K. Rowling while writing the Harry Potter Novels. Other main sights included in the tour were St. Giles Cathedral, Mercat Cross, Greyfriars Kirkyard, the Grassmarket and a glimpse at the Edinburgh Castle.

National Museum of Scotland

After this tour, I quickly headed to the National Museum of Scotland. This museum has a great exposition on the history of Scotland that I absolutely  wanted to see, so I crammed my visit to the museum between two tours. I then rushed off to the Edinburgh Castle tour, which I absolutely recommend if you want to learn about the history of the castle and of the Royal Mile. After this tour, I had a little free time to shop for some souvenirs and have a quick dinner. Then, I went on another evening tour, which gave me a glimpse into the darker side of Edinburgh. This tour was more historical than the Ghost Bus tour I had done the night before. On this tour, we went up to Calton Hill and we learned about Scottish folklore, including the story behind Arthur’s seat. We also learned about the Edinburgh bodysnatchers, the Witch trials and many other dark aspects of Edinburgh’s history. 

After this tour, I headed back to my hostel, exhausted from my busy day, but very content with what I had seen and learned. The next morning, I got up early, was once again the first to have breakfast, and then I headed to the airport and made my way back to Innsbruck. As you can see, I’m a big fan of tours (when I find them at the right price, obviously)! I find you learn much more about a city when someone is explaining its history to you. This said, if you’re not that into tours, you could definitely visit the Edinburgh Castle on your own – they have lots of great explanations throughout its many museums! All in all, I had an awesome stay in Edinburgh, though I obviously wish I had a little more time. I’ll definitely return to Scotland someday (hopefully soon) as there’s so much more to explore!

What do you think? Did I overpack my schedule? Also, if you would like to see more blog posts on travel tips (like “How to make the most of a 48 hour stay”), let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading!


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