I spent just two full days in Edinburgh and I was pleasantly surprised with how much of the city I saw. Although you could definitely stay longer, two days is plenty to see the best of the city if you're happy to have a packed itinerary. My Village Hotel room was the perfect base for my stay and they've quickly shot to the top of my favourite UK hotel chains - so make sure you check them out! The rooms are impeccably designed, the beds are totally dreamy - and did I mention their January sale meant my room cost just £25 a night?
On the first day, I got up bright and early and headed straight to Edinburgh Castle. Castles are perfect for exploring on your own and Edinburgh's is huge and fascinating. The views of the city are incredible and I easily whiled away a couple of hours exploring the nooks and crannies of this gigantic building. My old History lessons soon came back to me as I remembered Mary Queen of Scots and it was fascinating to see this familiar story told from the Scottish perspective.
After Edinburgh Castle, I headed to the Harry Potter attractions of the city which I detailed in my Harry Potter guide to Edinburgh (with a quick stop off at the famous Greyfriars Bobby to rub his nose for good luck). After this, I headed to the Real Mary Kings Close, an absolutely fascinating tour of the underground hidden streets of Edinburgh. If you go on any paid tour whilst in Edinburgh, you should make it this - it was a amazing insight into the history of Edinburgh. Finally, I trekked over to Calton Hill for sunset and Nelson's Monument. I love finding a vantage point in any city which lets me see the place I'm in from a panoramic viewpoint and sunset is the perfect time to stand and look out over the city you are exploring - and this is certainly true of Calton Hill (plus it's a much easier and shorter climb than the famous Arthur's Seat if you're tight of time!)
For the second day in the city, I visited the Botanic Gardens which were located close to my Village Hotel. These were beautiful and a great alternative if, like me, you aren't a fan of zoos - and if you're on a budget, they're free! I had a wonderful time wandering around the grounds listening to podcasts and photographing the beautiful snowdrops.
I then headed into the city centre to the Treehouse Cafe. This cafe is well known for its incredible pancakes and it was packed full of university students - which meant it was perfect to eat in alone as nobody batted an eyelid as I munched on my pancakes whilst writing a blog post. Finally, I headed over to the National Museum of Scotland. This museum is huge, packed full of history and science and, best of all, free! You could easily spend a whole day here but I spent just a couple of hours exploring the many floors before I had to catch my train home.
Edinburgh is a fantastic city which you can see so much of in just a couple of hours. The Scottish capital is a simple train ride from down South and it's perfect for a weekend break. I can't wait to head back with some company, but it was a brilliant first city for me to visit solo!
You might have spotted my challenge on Instagram to visit 12 countries in 12 months. Edinburgh was my second trip of the year after my trip to Reykjavik and I've since visited Prague and Rome. I've already got Dubrovnik and Barcelona booked - where else should I add to my list?