Wild and spontaneous, Scotland is a great place to shed that quarter-life crisis and start living. Taste that whisky, dance like you do in front of the bathroom mirror, unleash that inner spirit animal and usher in that sense of adventure (it’s longing to break free) with 20 things to do in Edinburgh in your 20s. Cue Forever Young.
Take a mid-week whisky tour
Whether solo or with a gaggle of friends, nothing screams Scotland than taking a mid-week whisky tour at The Scotch Whisky Experience. Smooth and sweet, enjoy the virtual distillery barrel ride and sample every kind in sight. It’s five o’clock somewhere.
See a string of spontaneous late-night shows at The Fringe
The Fringe Festival lends itself to any age. However, it is especially a playground of creativity for those in their 20s. Make a point of seeing as many shows as possible and prepare for a trippy time. Some may be unexpected, others downright bizarre, but that’s the fun of it. What’s more, you can make the most of all the shows going on in the wee hours of the night and enjoy the cobbled-street walk home as the Scottish sun is coming up.
Spit on the Heart of Midlothian
Yes, that’s right — spit on that mosaic granite stone heart (located on the Royal Mile by the West Door of St Giles Cathedral) and make sure loads of people are watching! After all, what are they going to do…fire you? For years, this tradition has tickled the funny bone of those in the know, although many Scots are unfazed and take it ever so seriously. Long story short, it is said to bring luck but actually stems from the times of public executions when those opposed would spit to show disdain.
Take a morning tour of the Edinburgh Gin Distillery
Schedule a cheeky wee tour of the Edinburgh Gin Distillery and embrace the festivities that ensue. Consider the tour ‘educational’ and spread your newfound knowledge with anyone who will listen at the bar after. Why not book it for the morning? Gin is just as good a wakeup call as coffee.
Have an exceptionally boozy brunch at Badger & Co.
Forget ladies who lunch. Grab a bunch of pals and embark upon the booziest brunch of all brunches. Badger & Co. is a grand place, with its suave interior, craft cocktails and ridiculously tasty breakfast and lunch menus. Although you can’t go wrong with the full set, the smashed avocados on toast is a winner. Those pies though…#yabeauty
Get a piercing on Cockburn Street
An almost obligatory rite of passage for any Edinburgh native, relive your rebellious teenage glory days and get a new piercing, preferably somewhere near Cockburn Street or the Canongate.
Use the Edinburgh Tour Bus as your mode of transport for the day
Preferably wearing a See-You-Jimmy-Hat, because why not? In all seriousness, the tour bus trips around Edinburgh are second to none and overflowing with random yet cool facts. Landmark spotting aside, it makes for a cracking mode of public transport. Hop on and off as you please. You have 24 hours. Go.
Rub the David Hume statue’s big toe
Seriously. For wisdom. It’s tradition for philosophy students and thinkers alike to rub good old Humey’s big toe, with the hope that this will somehow bring a sense of enlightenment. A must-see landmark, this Sandy Stoddart crafted sculpture is a local legend.
Take a vintage shop tour of the city
Start at Armstrongs and try on all the pre-loved treasures from the most memorable decades (this will keep you entertained for at least an hour) and work your way through the rest of the best vintage shops in the city. Go on — get that 1970s mini skirt or Dolly Parton-style white cowboy boots and dress to impress for a night out on the skite.
Indulge in a deep fried Mars Bar for lunch
Yes, for lunch! Consider it a Scottish salad of sorts. Step over to the dark side and embrace the silky sumptuous melted chocolate encased in an equally as tasty chippy batter. There are plenty of chippies to choose from.
Test the tides and walk the Cramond causeway
When the tide permits, traverse the paved Cramond causeway (it reveals itself only for short spurts when the tide is low) for about a mile until you reach Cramond Island. Enjoy the liberating feeling of being alone on an island then head back to avoid getting stranded! The striking causeway pylons were created during World War II as a submarine defence boom.
Swim at The Sheraton’s rooftop hydro pool
For the perfect blend of unrivalled views and relaxation, book into the One Spa at the Sheraton and enjoy a dip in their famous rooftop hydro pool — it’s infused with healing qualities. Then, allow the fresh Scottish air to repair.
Give rock climbing a shot
Your 20s are the time to experiment with new hobbies. Pick from Alien Rock or Edinburgh International Climbing Arena and give bouldering a go. You may discover a newfound love for heights!
Head to Hillend and hit the Scottish slopes
Set in the resplendent backdrop of The Pentland Hills, grab a group of pals and give snow sports a shot at Hillend. The artificial slopes are open year round, creating endless banter for both snowboarders and avid ski enthusiasts.
Enjoy a wacky wonderful trip around Camera Obscura
A maze of mirrors, trippy tunnel of triumphant dreams, one of the largest hologram exhibits in Europe, morph machine, magic gallery and the camera obscura herself. What’s not to love with Edinburgh’s oldest purpose built visitor attraction?
Eat every pastry in sight at Valvona & Crolla
After spending your teens drooling over the plenitude of pastries at Valvona & Crolla (we’ve all done it), your 20s are the time to stock up on every delight in sight. And no one can stop you!
Dive off the top board at the Commie Pool
Tackle those fears and take a leap of faith. Whether early, mid or late 20s, there’s no better time than the present to dive off the top diving board at the legendary Commonwealth Pool. One for the bucket list.
Indulge in a daytime cheese-infused feast at Pickles
Tucked away in a subterranean snug, Pickles is the perfect place for groups of 20-somethings to drink the day away (yes, day) while snacking on insanely delicious cheese and meat boards. The atmosphere lends itself to life-altering riveting conversations.
Have a fancy picnic at the top of Arthur’s Seat
Romantic and breathtaking, the time has come to act like a half adult and take a picnic to the top of Arthur’s Seat. After a brisk walk, the scran and panoramic views of Edinburgh will make it all worthwhile. Following a shot or two, roly-poly down that hill. Or get your mate to run like their life depends on it. At least for the laughs!
Enjoy an impromptu ‘staycation’ in North Berwick
North Berwick, the perfect seaside day trip destination and impromptu staycation location, is just a 20-minute train journey away from the city centre. Explore the picturesque town, swing by Steampunk for lunch and class cakes, make a pit stop in all the pubs, splurge in all the charming shops and stroll along the beach barefoot while enjoying an ice cream from the S.Luca ice cream van. What quarter-life crisis?
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.