24 Hours in Edinburgh: A perfect day in Scotland's cool capital
Short breaks in the UK
From big hits to lesser-known gin and whisky bars, Nicola Brady pieces together a choice 24 hours in Edinburgh.
10am: Edinburgh Castle
Yes, it’s where all the tourists go. And yes, you’ll likely be bumping elbows and dodging selfie-sticks. But there’s a reason — the castle (£16.50/€22) is a hodgepodge of tiny, fascinating museums boasting a killer view of the city. Afterwards, make your way to West Port, a meandering street with old bookshops, vintage stores and Lovecrumbs, a cute café that serves only exquisite, delicious cakes.
How: edinburghcastle.gov.uk, lovecrumbs.co.uk
2pm: Surgeons’ Hall Museums
This isn’t one for the squeamish. But if you have nerves of steel and a morbid interest in surgery, you will adore Surgeons’ Hall. Ancient surgical tools are on show, as well as an entire hall displaying preserved body parts, all riddled with ailments. Afterwards, pop into Spoon for a homemade ginger beer and a little slice of literary history — it’s one of the spots where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter.
How: Entrance to Surgeons’ Hall costs £6/€8. See museum.rcsed.ac.uk and spoonedinburgh.co.uk for more.
5pm: The real Mary King’s Close
It’s hard to believe, but beneath Edinburgh’s streets lies a perfectly preserved warren of 17th-century houses and pathways, which were covered up when the town was modernised. Walking down into the underbelly of the city is a haunting and bizarre experience, home to tales of murder, disease and despair. Oh, and the spookiest collection of children’s toys you’re ever likely to see.
How: Entrance costs £14.50/€19. See realmarykingsclose.com .
8pm: Whisky & Gin
Whisky fans will be in heaven at The Dining Room — each of the courses on the Taster Menu (£75/€99) is paired with a unique, single cask whisky. If gin is your tipple, check out Heads and Tales, which has a huge array of brands, and a divine in-house blend, too. Grab a seat overlooking their copper stills, or hide away in a plush alcove.
How: thediningroomedinburgh.co.uk, headsandtalesbar.com.
Nicola travelled with Flybe (flybe.com), which flies six times weekly to Edinburgh from Ireland West Airport (Knock), from €35 one-way.
See also thisisedinburgh.com and visitscotland.com.