Visiting Scotland feels like you are being transported into a storybook. A Harry Potter book, specifically. Complete with rolling hills, castles and medieval buildings. Walking through the streets, it’s easy to understand how this city is so inspiring! Below is an itinerary for 2 days in Edinburgh as a solo female traveler.
Where to Stay for 2 days in Edinburgh
During my 2 days in Edinburgh, I stayed at the Safestay Edinburgh Hostel. This was on a side street off of the Royal Mile, so it was a perfect location for sightseeing! As a solo female traveler, I also felt very safe there.
Suggested Reading: A 7 day itinerary for Scotland and Ireland
How to get to and from the Airport in Edinburgh
It is very easy to get to and from the airport in Edinburgh. There is an Airlink 100 bus that frequently runs to and from the airport with multiple drop off points in Edinburgh. Tickets can be purchased in advance, at the bus stop, or from the driver. I bought mine in advance.
I got dropped off at the Train Station (the last stop on the route), which was only a 10 minute walk away from my hostel.
Tips for 2 days in Edinburgh
Get ready for hills!
Edinburgh has lots and lots of hills, and stairs. And more hills, and more stairs. It is a small, walk-able city that is best explored on foot – and you will get super fit doing it too!
Go on a walking tour.
When you arrive, the best thing to do first is to go on a walking tour! I love going on a walking tours, because it gives me a good introduction to the city. I get lost very easily, so a walking tour helps reduce that risk! I arrived in Edinburgh late in the afternoon, so I took an evening walking tour the same day I arrived.
There are lots of other walking tours available at all times of the day, and for any preference. If you walk along the Royal Mile, you will see the guides holding umbrellas. They will offer various walking tours, so you can pick and choose.
The walking tour I chose was a Harry Potter one (of course!). The walking tour started at 5pm, and was 1.5 hours long. We went to Greyfriars Kirkyard, walked by the Elephant house (where JK Rowling wrote the majority of the first Harry Potter book!), saw Victoria Street (aka: Diagon Alley), and a few other Harry Potter related locations.
Day 1 in Edinburgh
So I will admit, in the morning I walked to all of the Harry Potter locations AGAIN! It was much more quiet in the morning, and so lovely to take my time at each spot. Since I had gone there the day before, I already knew where to go!
This is where JK Rowling wrote the majority of the first Harry Potter book, so for any fans this is a must! I had the best latte of my life there and an incredible Victorian Sponge cake.
Go early in the morning to beat the rush. I arrived at 9:30am. As I was sitting there, a line quickly start to form at around 10am.
Also, make sure to see the bathrooms while you are there! People visiting the cafe have completely covered the walls with their names, quotes, and drawings about Harry Potter. I made sure to write something on the wall while I was there too 🙂
At the top of the Royal Mile is Edinburgh Castle. This is a very busy place, so go early in the day to avoid the crowds. I purchased an audio guide and spent 2 hours there. It was a very interesting place – I saw the crown jewels, where prisoners were kept, the royal rooms and so much more.
Since it was a Sunday, I decided that to have a Sunday Roast. I went to Greyfriar’s Bobby Bar. This is near the Elephant house, and it’s very easy to find. The atmosphere is very nice in there – and the Sunday Roast was delicious!
To order food, you need to first take a table number sign from the bar. Then, find a table and claim it as yours, and put your table number sign on it. After that, you can then go up to the bar and order your food. They won’t let you order without first claiming a table.
As a solo traveler, I didn’t want to leave anything valuable unattended at the table while I ordered, so I used my jacket to claim a table. Everyone else had their partner sit at the table and wait while the other person ordered.
Princes Street Gardens
In the afternoon, I wandered though Princes Street Gardens and along Princes Street (which is right next to the Gardens). The Gardens aren’t too large, and it’s quite a scenic and peaceful walk. Princes Street is quite busy, and has lots of places to go shopping!
Hop on Hop off Bus Tour
Edinburgh is a very walkable city. But after awhile, my legs and feet were feeling a bit tired from all of the hills in Edinburgh (seriously, there’s so many hills and steps in Edinburgh!). So I spontaneously decided to buy a 24 hour Hop-on-Hop-off ticket. You can buy them from one of the workers at the first stop on the tour, which is right by Waverley Train Station.
The bus tour did a 1 hour loop around Edinburgh and stopped at all of the major sights. There was a guide on board who did live commentary while we drove around. Was is really touristy? yes…but it was quite enjoyable to listen to the commentary, see the city in a relaxed way, and save my feet!
I had planned to go to Calton Hill during my 2 days in Edinburgh. Since one of the stops for the Hop-on-Hop-off tour is at the bottom of Calton Hill, it made the decision to buy a pass that much easier!
There are a few walking paths to get to the top, and there are incredible views of Edinburgh. There are lots of monuments and statues, information rooms, a restaurant, and a viewpoint tower at the top. The paths are groomed, and it’s not a long way up. Don’t worry about going there as a solo female traveler – it’s busy, and very safe!
Day 2 in Edinburgh
Deans Village & Scenic Walk around Edinburgh
I spent the entire morning going on a scenic walk around Deans Village and other photogenic areas. Read where I went here.
Along my scenic walk, I had afternoon tea at Eteaket. This afternoon tea was so lovely. There were so many teas to choose from, and the afternoon tea was so filling! It was eclectic and cozy atmosphere with a relaxed vibe.
Walk Down the Royal Mile
My scenic walk ended near the top of the Royal Mile, so I spent the afternoon walking from one end to the other! At the top is Edinburgh Castle, and at the bottom is Holyrood Palace. In the middle there are lots of touristy shops to look around, and the Childhood Museum and Edinburgh Museum. Both are free admission.
I highly recommend going into at least the Edinburgh Museum. It offers a very interesting history about what life was like in Edinburgh and how they used to live. I did the Real Mary’s Close Underground tour of Edinburgh later in the day, and since I had gone to the Edinburgh Museum already, it gave me a better understanding and appreciation.
At this point, my feet were pretty sore. But, I had reached the end of the Royal Mile and the path to get to Arthur’s Seat is right next to Holyrood Palace! How could I resist?! Also, my feet didn’t hurt hiking up Arthur’s Seat (probably because it was on a grassy surface, and not cobblestones and concrete).
Hiking up Arthur’s Seat was fantastic, and I would highly recommend doing it if you have 2 days in Edinburgh! Read about my experience hiking up Arthur’s Seat.
In the evening, I went on the Real Mary’s Kings Close Underground Tour. During this tour, you go underground and see how they used to live. It’s a little bit eerie to be so far underground and seeing what their conditions were like 300 years old. It was one of my favourite activities!
This tour was 1 hour long with a guide. You need to book in advance and pick a time slot. I went at 6:30pm, and had plenty of time to eat at a restaurant along the Royal Mile beforehand, and rest a bit at my hostel (which was only a 5 minute walk away).
Two days in Edinburgh I personally feel was a good amount of time to see what I had wanted to see, with the opportunity to add in a few other activities spontaneously. Of course, the more time in ANY new place – the better!
After I had spent two days in Edinburgh I went on a group tour to the Isle of Skye to ride the Jacobite Steam Train (aka the Hogwarts Express!). Going to the Isle of Skye while you are in Scotland is highly recommended! Whether it is with a group tour, or you explore Scotland for two days by car.
Have you been to Edinburgh, Scotland before? Let me know in the comments below what would you recommend to do during 2 days in Edinburgh.