How to spend a day in Edinburgh
Today I am tackling a whole new city! I finally made my way up to Bonnie Scotland, to explore after my sister moved there!
Due to work commitments, we both realised we only had one day to explore Edinburgh. Here’s where this challenge arrived, everything you need to see in a day in Edinburgh!
I don’t suggest you spend a day in Edinburgh, I would recommend 3-4 days at least to explore everything. There are so many things to see and do, I will be back to visit my sister and see more sights – so don’t worry too much if I missed your favourite place!
How to get to Edinburgh
My sister lives in Dunfermline, so we got the first train on Sunday morning (10.39 am from Dunfermline town). There are train links from all over the UK to Edinburgh Waverley station, this is the station in the centre of town.
By coach – Megabus and national express operate services across the UK, including sleeper buses from London, complete with beds!
By plane to Edinburgh airport. I actually flew to Edinburgh as time was a higher priority to price from Birmingham. Flybe operates domestic flights all across the UK and it is also served by 30 airlines to 140 destinations.
Edinburgh Gin Distillery Tour (12 pm)
My sister and I are both massive gin fans, we both love the botanical flavours and a good gin and tonic! So when we asked if we wanted to visit, I jumped at the chance. We have been to many cognac distilleries but never been to a gin distillery.
We walked past the entrance originally but found it the second time (it is down some steps into a basement.) After we went down the steps and were greeted by a lady who checked us off the list. If you want to visit, book in advance as they had a sign explaining they were booked up for 4 weeks ahead.
They showed us into this lounge area, with different flavoured waters to wait until the 12 pm tour started. Then Connie came in and showed everyone into the main tour room. She explained the structure of the tour, which was going to be a history of Gin, a tour around the distillery and then a tasting.
This history of Gin was very interesting, it originated from a Dutch drink called Ginevra or Jenever in the 1700s. This was given to British soldiers during the 80 years war when fighting alongside the Dutch and gave them “Dutch Courage”.
The soldiers then decided to recreate it at home and the William of Orange encouraged it by lowering taxes on it and raising taxes on beer and ales. This resulted in the Gin craze year,s which were plagued with alcoholism it became unfashionable and many distilleries ceased operations (most were microdistilleries in people’s bathrooms).
Gin then became fashionable again during the Victorian era, when the distillation process was refined and law implemented over the botanicals used. She also mentioned how it became popular again since the 1980s and especially since 2009, after losing out to vodka.
Since 2009, the laws in the UK were changed to allow smaller gin distilleries with smaller batches to exist, resulting in the crazy love of Gin we are currently in.
Connie also explained how London dry gins can be made everywhere, but need to fit certain criteria in the process. We then got to smell all of the botanicals that make up all the gins. This included some interesting additions like liquorice powder (which tasted like sugar on the tongue) and orris root, as well as classic juniper berries and coriander seeds.
Edinburgh Gin and tasting
She then explained the 12 products in their range, the 6 gins (2 seasonal) and the 6 Gin based liqueurs.
The liqueurs are 20% alcohol so not as strong but are flavoured with raspberry, elderflower, rhubarb and ginger, plum and pomegranate.
We then had to leave all electronics behind as we went into the distillation room. As it was a Sunday, there was no distilling in the process but the alcohol in we the air could have caused a spark with phones or cameras.
We were both very shocked at how small the stills were. Apparently the two stills they have only produce around 120 bottles of gin per day each. Which for a company that supplies Wetherspoons and John Lewis, seemed so small. However, they do have a new still which produces 10x as many litres but mainly produces the classic London dry Edinburgh Gin. This is used as a base for the liqueurs so a lot is necessary!
We then headed into the tasting rooms, which were so cute. It was lovely and cosy inside with the whole group crammed in. We got to try the classic Gin with tonic and orange peel. It was heavy in juniper and mulberry flavours. We also tried their new 1780 Gin in a shot glass, this was much heavier in floral and fruitier flavours.
We then looked around the shop and decided to head to the next stop on our crazy day in Edinburgh.
Book the tour here and it costs £10 for this tour and £36 for the master distiller tour.
The City Sightseeing Tour (1.30pm)
We went to the city sightseeing bus stop and got our tickets, the driver gave us headphones which we could plug into the tour in different languages. I decided it was a lot better to see the main sights of the city as it meant we didn’t need to think about getting from A to B.
The tickets are are £15 adult, £14 Student/OAP and £7.50 for a child.
We looked at the church near the Edinburgh Gin Distillery and then got onto the bus. We saw Prince’s Street and Usher Hill before we got off at Edinburgh Castle.
Edinburgh Castle (1.45pm)
A week before we arrived, it was Edinburgh Tattoo so the seating was still up at the castle. We got our tickets, you need to book a ticket time to avoid the queues but apparently, it was quiet when we were there.
You could easily spend the whole day at Edinburgh Castle. We joined a free guided tour which took about 30 minutes and Laura explained to us about each building and its history. This gave us an idea of what we wanted to see for ourselves and prioritise the places that were important to us.
We both wanted to see the crown jewels, so we walked up and thankfully there was a short queue. We also looked at the Great hall, the prisoner of war prisons and the oldest part of the Castle which is the little chapel.
There was 4 museum’s that we didn’t explore and so many other parts to look at. We enjoyed the castle and will definitely come back for a whole day experience here.
The views from the castle were amazing.
We were also gutted that the guns don’t fire at 1 pm on Sundays, however, next time I will see the gunfire. (Laura also explained that most guns are fired at 12 pm around the world, but the Scots thought that 12 was too many shells to waste so they decided to fire them at 1 pm instead.)
|Category||On-site price||Advance purchase price|
|Adult (16 – 59 yrs)||£18.50||£17.00|
|Child (5 – 15 yrs)||£11.50||£10.20|
|Concession (60 yrs+ and unemployed)*||£15.00||£13.60|
Royal Mile (2.45pm)
It is impossible to visit Edinburgh without at least a small walk down Royal Mile. It is the name for the almost exactly a mile long street between the Castle and Holyrood Palace. We decided to go on the downhill direction and admire the shops and the buildings of Edinburgh Old Town.
We walked down some of the royal mile, it had a lovely atmosphere and we saw the classic bagpiper in a kilt and absorbed it all. However, I found the shops very touristy (not really sure what I expected) and it was very crowded at that time of day.
So we headed back to the bus stop.
City sightseeing bus tours (again) (3 pm)
We got back on the bus and heard more of the tour. I found it crazy how Edinburgh is a lot of bridges which don’t feel like bridges over other roads. It is very beautiful, and the buildings are stunning but very dark in colour. This is due to the building blocks being sandstone and being covered in a layer of coal dust from the Victorian era. (This explains why some are much cleaner and have been cleaned or blasted since)
We liked the stories about Burke and Hare and about the history of Holyrood. It was great having the horrible histories commentary option, reminding us of our childhood!
Edinburgh Dungeons (3.45pm)
After the story of Burke and Hare, I had a massive urge to go and visit the Edinburgh Dungeons. We went to the ticket office and bought our tickets.
If you have never been to one of the Dungeons run by the Merlin group, they are an immersive experience based around the history of the city.
They hire lots of actors to play roles and it involves going on a boat and a drop ride as well. The actors are hilarious, it is basically a scare maze/haunted house set up but funnier with a history lesson too.
We went through a courtroom, experienced a witch but a spell on us (the whole room moved). We then ‘experienced’ a torture room, they didn’t touch anyone though. The boat was plunged into darkness after and cloth touched us, causing the jumpy members of the group of 16 to scream a lot! There was also a William Wallace room, seats that moved and finally the drop ride. The whole experience was good fun and we laughed a lot especially when people jumped out at us all the time.
I realised after collecting our tickets, that my sister used to jump at the smallest thing and gets scared very easily by just noises. And I had signed her up for this experience, she wasn’t picked on by the actors but she did very well and wasn’t very scared! She even said it was really good and wanted to take her boyfriend back there!
That was everything we saw and did in our 6 hours in Edinburgh, it was very action packed and I would love to head back one day!
We were lucky enough to partner with Visit Scotland for this trip, who gave us a pass to the exhibits we visited during this trip in exchange for a review. They have the best website, that gives you all the information you need to know ever about Scotland, so please check them out!
Thank you for reading this guide,
Until next time
The Great Ambini
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