Our visit to Edinburgh was very quick as it coincided with the end of our ultimate UK road trip. With just over 24 hours to see the sights, we planned to make the most of it. Here is our list of geeky things to do and see around Edinburgh in one day.
Marvel at Edinburgh Castle
Of course, a trip to the city wouldn’t be complete without visiting the castle. Built of epic proportions, this is a fantasy lover’s dream. The architecture and grandeur is just amazing. If you’re a castle buff, then consider paying the entrance fee and dedicating more of your day to exploring the interior. Otherwise just marvel at the outside before continuing down the road.
Window Shop Along the Royal Mile
Aptly named for the mile of connecting streets leading up to the castle, this is the perfect place to get some window shopping in. Here you can find Scottish attire, Harry Potter themed gifts, street performers and more stunning architecture.
Eat Lunch on Calton Hill
Across the valley from Edinburgh Castle is Calton Hill, home to the Nelson Monument. Built to resemble Roman columns, it commemorates Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson’s naval victory at battle of Trafalgar, which was an important win in Scottish history. Carlton Hill also has an old observatory and tower that you can climb for free for additional views of the city.
Assuming the weather is nice, grab some lunch on the way over and hold an impromptu picnic. We recommend stopping by a baked potato shop. As the name implies, all they serve are baked potatoes with a vast array of toppings to choose from. It’s the perfect cheap and carb-heavy lunch to keep you sightseeing into the evening.
ProTip: For those looking for a taste of traditional Scottish fare, opt for the Haggis topping. Being vegetarian, I didn’t eat the meat version, but did try their vegetarian variant which was absolutely delicious.
Climb to the Top of Arthur’s Seat
Arthur’s Seat is located in Holyrood Park, a large green space located an easy walk from the city center. This hike provides amazing views of the surrounding city and castle. Although it’s unknown if there’s any connection to King Arthur, it’s still fun to claim you visited his seat. We saw visitors of all ages enjoying the trail, so get your steps in for the day and don’t miss out on this scenic viewpoint.
Learn About Scottish Parliament
This wasn’t on our plans, but we happened to come across the Scottish Parliament while heading back from Holyrood Park. It’s free to visit, so if you’re interested in the workings of government, make a pit stop to learn more. They also have free restrooms which we took full advantage of.
Grab Drinks at The Pop Up Geeks
To cap off the day, head to The Pop Up Geeks for a late afternoon drink. Located in The Arches, an area of artisan shops, it’s also the perfect place to support local businesses that aren’t selling the same typical tourist gifts.
This bar is put on by geeks, for geeks, focusing on pop culture. During our visit they were running #BloodAndWine, their Game of Thrones theme. Themes rotate every three months though, so you’ll want to check their website to see what’s going while you’re in town. If you plan to visit late in the afternoon or evening, it’s recommended to make a booking as space can be limited. This can be easily done through their online form.
Participate in a Harry Potter Themed Escape Room
Considering JK Rowling took much of her inspiration from Edinburgh, it’s no surprise that there’s a themed escape room in the area. Put on by The Department of Magic you have multiple rooms to choose from. Will you join The Order and fight to stop The Dark Lord? Or do you prefer the dark arts and want to help resurrect him? Sadly we stumbled upon the advertisement at the end of our trip and didn’t have time to participate, but you can bet it’s on our to-do list for next time!