How To Spend 12 Hours In Edinburgh

For someone who was born in the United Kingdom, I sure feel limited on my knowledge of cities there. When a domestic flight costs more than a trip abroad, can you really blame me for grabbing that plane? Thought not. However, last weekend I spontaneously visited Edinburgh. The flight timings weren’t ideal though, meaning I had less than 24 hours to explore the city. Is such a short break away worth it? Let’s find out. Come along with me whilst I reminisce on my mini trip to Scotland.

If you’re after some last-minute sun inspo, check out my guide on 3 days in Lanzarote. It’s virtually certain you’ll be looking up flights once you’re done reading.

From The Airport To The City.

Regardless of location, sorting out transport tends to be on the more stressful side of travel. Why does it create so much confusion? Luckily, Edinburgh airport majorly reduces that feeling. You literally see a bus and tram the moment you stumble out the exit. That’s what we love to see. I went with the ‘AirLink’ bus option after being advised by a chatty transport guide, instantly putting me in the best mood to start my adventures. You see, you often hear about the stereotype that Scotland is fuelled by friendlessness. It was certainly something I noticed in my handful of hours in Edinburgh. These types of interactions just put you at ease, especially when trying to navigate transport services. 30 minutes later and I was in the city centre.

Strolling Down Princes Street.

The nice, or convenient, thing about ‘Princes Street’ is that everything just seems to be located there. High-street stores, beautifully sculpted buildings, grand churches, picturesque natural spaces and the Scottish National Gallery. Therefore, a trip to Edinburgh CAN be done even if you’re pushed for time. Yup, I really gave you the simple answer within 2 paragraphs of this post. The thing is, simply walking down Princes Street distracts you, but in the best possible way. Whether that be for an unplanned photo shoot, admiring the sunrise or grabbing a bite to eat from an independent coffee shop. My distractions pleasantly led me towards a newly-renovated shopping mall just minutes away from the high-street.

Step forward ‘St. James Quarter’. If you only go to Edinburgh to shop, hey no judgments here, you won’t be disappointed. I say this because you won’t need to trek around the entire city to go from store to store. Oh, and if you get hungry you’ve got everything from fast-food to sushi to keep you satisfied. It was the latter which pulled my heartstrings. I have to say, the ramen and sushi at ‘Maki & Ramen’ was pretty good. This is coming from someone who would eat sushi every single second of the day if they could…

A Trip To The Beach, Yes Really.

After indulging in enough food to keep me going until evening, I grabbed the ’26’ bus from Princes Street to ‘Portobello’. If it wasn’t for a local’s recommendation, I would never have known Edinburgh has a beach just 20 minutes from the city centre. Seriously. It wasn’t long until I found myself perched on a wall to watch volleyball matches or gasp at the handful of brave souls going for a cold swim. Portobello beach is the perfect spot for day-dreaming. That’s what I decided to do on the seafront and ‘The Beach House’ was a great place for that. When you see a place filled with locals, it’s a good sign, right? Right. It was the various allergen-friendly pastries which truly sealed the deal for me though. I spent a while here, soaking everything in before walking off the multiple baked goods eaten to snap some photos for the blog. Any building which is pink certainly attracts attention, as you’ve probably noticed below haha.

That Evening Foodie Feel.

Now I’m a big foodie. I could happily travel to a location just for the food. That’s why I wanted something particularly flavoursome for an evening meal. I actually reached out to locals to assist with this, both in-person and via social media, but was suggested ‘Tuk Tuk Indian Street Food’ by my sister. The restaurant reminded me of ‘Mowgli’ chains across the UK, but with better food. It’s much more affordable too. As the dishes are tapas-style portions, I sampled my way around the plates. The atmosphere was incredibly chilled, the type of place where you could chat with friends for hours over good food and drinks. However, if you’re travelling solo then don’t panic. The vibe was so cosy, even the most anxious of solo-travellers would feel comfortable here. Genuinely.

A Bed For The Night.

With the day coming to an end, I checked into my room for the night. I didn’t require anything fancy so the nearest ‘Premier Inn’ served me just fine. Fast forward 8 hours and just like that, I was back at the airport. Damn I sure did have a jam-packed trip.

Domestic breaks are something which I’m going to make more of an effort with. Truly. I feel like there are various gems which I’ve missed out on in the UK, in favour of flights abroad. Edinburgh is certainly one of those. Whilst I would try push for a weekend next time, a 12 hour trip left me with enough good feelings to return in the near future. To say I loved it would be an understatement…

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  1. It’s the same in the US: often, domestic flights are just as expensive, if not more so, than international flights. I don’t blame Americans who opt to go overseas than to other states in their own home country as a result. Any case, I had a brief stay in Edinburgh in 2015, and my two nights there did not do the Scottish capital justice at all. Aside from strolling the Royal Mile and trying haggis, I did not see all that there was there to see in Edinburgh. Looks like you did the best to make it worth it, and I hope to return to check out more!

  2. Great post and wonderful photos. Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities to explore and photograph and I was fortunate enough to go back to it in November. The weather wasn’t its best, but the city was already decorated for Christmas which was wonderful to see. Thanks for sharing and have a good day ☺️ Aiva