How to Spend the Perfect Weekend in Edinburgh

Blackness Castle is a hidden gem on the outskirts of Edinburgh, Scotland
Blackness Castle is a hidden gem on the outskirts of Edinburgh, Scotland | © DGB / Alamy Stock Photo
Callum Davies

At once ancient and brimming with culture, Edinburgh is worthy of a weekend trip at any time of year. The Scottish capital is rightly lauded as one of Europe’s cultural hotspots, as evidenced by the world-famous Fringe Festival, which lands in the city every August. Here’s an itinerary for the perfect weekend in Auld Reekie.

1. Climb Arthur's Seat

Park

View of Edinburgh from the Arthurs seat
© DTR Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
What better way to get to know Edinburgh in the first instance than climb to its highest point? Arthur’s Seat is far from just a patch of green in the city centre – it’s a full-blown hike, offering a stunning vista, which feels well and truly earned. Arthur’s Seat is what remains of an ancient volcano; it rises 250 metres (820ft) above sea level, and, on a clear day, you can easily see the whole city from the summit. Once you’re done, the surrounding Holyrood Park provides a gorgeously expansive green space to potter around in.

2. Learn about the history of scotch whisky

Activities

Of the many things Scotland is known for, whisky tends to rank pretty high. So, why not take advantage of your time in Edinburgh to get a bit more educated? The Scotch Whisky Experience offers tours around the city’s Royal Mile, stopping off at bars and distilleries along the way. You’ll learn (and taste) how the whisky is brought to life, as well as the history underpinning it, and, in the process, you’ll get the chance to get your bearings around one of the most picturesque areas in Edinburgh.

3. Explore the Scottish National Gallery

Art Gallery

Interior of the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
© Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
Sitting just near the Mound on Princes Street, the National Gallery is a hulking structure, walled by Greek-style columns and looking every bit as impressive as any large gallery should. Inside, you’ll find the entire history of Scottish art unravelled from the Renaissance up to the early 20th century, as well as art from all over the world. Exhibitions take place on a rolling basis, and you can easily while away hours there, exploring the gallery’s sprawling space or even just taking some time to relax at the cafe.

5. Have a few laughs at The Stand

Theatre

The Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh; Scotland; Europe
© Kevin George / Alamy Stock Photo

Twinned with another club of the same name in Glasgow, The Stand encapsulates Scotland’s cultural pedigree in comedy and live performance. Depending on the night, you’re as likely to find a local up-and-comer as you are to find a famous comic brushing up on their material, and, during Fringe season, the bill is alive with special performances. Fringe nights and special appearances sell out quickly, so it’s worth keeping an eye on their website if you’re planning on visiting, but, if you take the time to book in advance, you’ll be in for a real treat.

6. Discover Blackness Castle

Historical Landmark

While it might sound like the setting of a Gothic horror novel, Blackness Castle is actually a hidden gem sitting on the outskirts of Scotland’s capital. It takes around 35 minutes to reach from the city centre, either by car or bus, but it’s well worth the extra mileage. Built in the 15th century, it was a prison for a time before becoming an artillery fortification against English invaders and finally falling to Oliver Cromwell in 1650. Today, all this history can be learned about as you explore the castle and take in the stunning views over the Firth of Forth.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

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.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article