72 Hours in Edinburgh

29th March 2022

Here at Away from the Ordinary, we think that as far as trips to Scotland are concerned, the longer the better. Lengthier visits allow you to see more of what the country has to offer; to relax and soak in the unique culture and stunning scenery. However, if you only have 72 hours, and would like to spend it in Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, here are our top recommendations for how to have the most sensational weekend. We hope that once you have enjoyed Edinburgh, you will continue your visit by exploring more of our beautiful country.

Friday Night

After arriving in a new city, it is always a good idea to get your bearings and enjoy an impressive panoramic view before delving into the unique neighbourhoods it has to offer. In Edinburgh, our favourite place to visit on the first evening is Calton Hill. Calton Hill is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to many of the city’s important monuments. The City Observatory also lies atop the hill. It has been well-loved by locals for hundreds of years. On warm summer evenings, you will see: couples picnicking, friends out walking, and children playing here.

We recommend a stroll around the hill for our favourite view of Edinburgh’s historic skyline followed by dinner at The Lookout which brings thoughtful tasting menus to your table. This wonderful spot offers a smorgasbord of seasonal flavours, so it is the sort of place you can return to again and again and experience something new each time. 

Saturday Morning 

National Portrait Gallery – Image Credit: National Galleries of Scotland

The National Portrait Gallery is a fantastic neo-gothic building that can be appreciated as its own entity, even before admiring the portraits. The artworks featured here range from the classics such as Botticelli and Rembrandt to the Scottish painters like Ramsay, Raeburn, and Wilkie. Scotland’s National Galleries are free and there are lots of great ones in Edinburgh.  If you prefer something more contemporary, there are two National Galleries of Modern Art.

After all that culture and art, you will be ready for some excellent food. Timberyard’s lunch menu is wonderfully created so that each dish is full of complimenting yet unique flavours. Before this was a restaurant it began its life as a timberyard, hence the name, and they have managed to tastefully keep the history of the building in harmony with the modern decor. It is the perfect place to fuel up before a walking tour in the afternoon. 

If you are interested in what these wonderful galleries have to offer, we have an article about Scotland for an Art Lover here. This article shares insight on Scottish artists, the context of their works, and where to see them. Many of the artworks featured are housed in Edinburgh’s National Galleries so there is something to see for every taste.

Saturday Afternoon

Image Credit: Fhior

Edinburgh is a very old city which has a rich and fascinating history. We recommend taking a private guided walking tour of Edinburgh’s old town to learn more about the city around you. There are many secret places of significance that you would miss without the insider knowledge that these tours provide. Away from the Ordinary works with the very best guides who are experts in various topics and we can find you the perfect match for your interests. 

For dinner, we recommend Fhior. The food is modern, full of flavour, and crafted from the finest seasonal Scottish produce. The menu is kept as an optional but recommended surprise which gives each dish an extra wow factor and keeps you dreaming of what delight might appear next. The whole dining experience is a joy and it is a must-visit for foodies when coming to Edinburgh. You can read more of our recommendations for must-eats here.

After dinner, why not let Away from the Ordinary book you a table at the Johnnie Walker 1820 Rooftop Bar? Enjoy beautifully crafted cocktails and whisky with views over the old town by night.

Image Credit: Jonnie Walker

Sunday Morning

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is a stunning classical palace, designed by Sir William Bruce, designer of many pieces of fine architecture in Scotland. Sir William Bruce was also the designer of Broomhall which is the current residence of Lord Bruce and his family. You can read our interview with Lord Bruce here. Holyrood holds a place of cultural significance in Scottish history; a visit to this stately palace is a must for anyone wishing to learn about our country’s history. Perhaps two of the most significant people to stay here are Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie. 

Afterwards, we recommend taking in the view from nearby Arthur’s Seat. As Edinburgh’s highest point, the views are incredible. You can see for miles, all the way to the Pentland Hills.

Sunday Afternoon

Image Credit: Rocco Forte Hotels

After visiting Holyroodhouse, it is only fair to treat yourself to that royal feeling with an afternoon tea at Palm Court at The Balmoral Hotel. Enjoy a spread of pastries, sandwiches and scones with tea or champagne in the most regal setting in Edinburgh.

After a sumptuous tea, head over to Leith to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia, a former floating palace in which The Queen sailed around the world. The Royal Yacht Britannia has sailed over 1 million nautical miles and now continues its life for visitors to admire in Edinburgh.

Monday Morning

Image Credit: Mini Mack Tours

Round off the trip with something a bit different; a guided trip around Edinburgh’s hidden local gems in a mini with Mini Mack Tours. Either Andy or Rowan will show you their home city in style, allowing you to see everything from bucket-list landmarks to exclusive spots. 


Image Credit: The Dunstane

To make a trip perfect, it is essential that the place where you stay provides you with a space to unwind in comfort and luxury at the end of an eventful day. Our top recommendations for hotels in Edinburgh are:

All three provide exquisite accommodation in great locations for access to the activities listed above. We look forward to organising an unforgettable Edinburgh visit for you.