During my Eurotrip, Omied, my sister Hanae, and I did a three-day weekend trip from London to Scotland. After doing a bit of research, we decided that as first-timers in Scotland with just a few days to explore, Edinburgh would make the most sense over Glasgow.
We absolutely loved Edinburgh post-London for a different side of Great Britain’s old-world charm, and we packed quite a bit of exploring into a few days. Scotland is so beautiful and completely exceeded our expectations!
If you’re planning a trip to Scotland, here’s our complete three-day Scotland itinerary to inspire you. *cue the Loch Lomond song* ?
Where to stay in Edinburgh: We stayed at the Sheraton Grand in Edinburgh. We had a view of the castle, the rooms were cute, and it was centrally located.
Scotland Itinerary: Day 1
Travel to Edinburgh: Edinburgh is perfect for a 3 – 4 day trip from London. You can drive there, but it would take about 7 hours. It’s way easier to book a train. We took Virgin Trains from London to Edinburgh (yes, Virgin has trains!), and it took about 4 hours and 45 minutes (much faster than driving). But when you compare that with the travel time of flying, getting to and from the airport, security, etc. taking the train is just so much more relaxing and convenient.
Lunch at Dishoom: When I was in London I became obsessed with the Indian restaurant Dishoom. I wanted to make sure Omied and my sister got to try it while they were in town, but it was hard to find reservations at the London locations. So when I saw they had an Edinburgh restaurant I was so excited! They have the most delicious Indian dishes and drinks, and I love that the owners donate a percentage of profit to kids in schools in India who can’t afford lunch.
Edinburgh Castle: It’s pretty incredible to just be walking around Edinburgh and look up and see this old castle up on a hill. Give yourself a couple hours to check out the castle, walk around the grounds, and see the notable areas like the Crown Jewels and old prison.
The Kitchin: For dinner, we went to Edinburgh’s Michelin star restaurant, The Kitchin. We had a delicious, if not extremely rich and decadent meal there and really enjoyed it. It was my sister’s first time at a Michelin star restaurant and I think she’s hooked now. If you’re looking for a less expensive meal, Odin was recommended to us as a good seafood restaurant.
Scotland Itinerary: Day 2
Scotland Highlands Tour: If you’re visiting Scotland, you HAVE to do a tour of the Highlands! The landscape is so beautiful and unique. Since we had a limited amount of time in Scotland, a day trip tour was perfect because we were able to sit back and relax while the guide took us to all the most picturesque spots. This was a much better idea than a rental car and making our own Scotland road trip plus the road trip itinerary. We did the Loch Ness, Glen Coe & the Highlands tour which included a boat ride on Loch Ness. While we didn’t spot Nessie, it was really surreal to be out on that famous lake up at Inverness. Along the way, we stopped for photos at some really beautiful places, including Ben Nevis.
And we got to see Hairy Coos!! They’re these adorable hairy cows with big horns that I was really hoping we’d see on our trip. We spotted some and were able to pull over and take pictures with them. I was so happy. Our tour guide was great, and as he was driving he entertained us with tons of stories about Scotland and its history. It was a very long day trip (12 hours), but it was awesome to be able to see so much of Scotland and the beautiful Highlands. Plus it was nice to be able to take a quick powernap in between sights and not have to worry about driving!
Deacon Brodie’s Tavern: After our Scottish Highlands tour we wanted to get some pub food for dinner. We were told that pretty much any of the spots in Old Town would have great pub food. Deacon Brodie’s was one of many recommendations. We had yummy fish and chips and Scotch eggs (omg, I freaking love Scotch eggs!) and ciders and it hit the spot.
Pub hopping: After dinner we went pub hopping. You can find fun spots just by walking around, but Whistle Binkies and The Castle Arms were a couple memorable spots that we went to. Whistle Binkies had live music, a local rock band called The New Schmoo. We felt like we really got a fun Scottish experience there—big Scottish dudes wearing kilts moshing to The New Schmoo.
Scotland Itinerary: Day 3
Marks & Spencer:. We stopped here to pick up picnic things for our hike, and we ended up having brunch here as well in their café.
Arthur’s Seat: This is a beautiful hike up a small mountain in Edinburgh, and on a clear day it has beautiful views of the city. It’s fairly steep and it took us about an hour to get to the top because we were stopping to take pictures. It was crazy windy up at the top, so we found a more sheltered spot on our descent to stop and enjoy our picnic.
Scotch Whisky Experience: Omied had been dying to go to the Scotch Whisky Experience ever since two of our friends went there last year and raved about it. I’m not a huge whiskey drinker but it was still really fun. They start you off in this silly little ride where you get in a “barrel” and learn about how whiskey is made. After that, you get a tour where you learn how to taste whiskey. The best part was a room that you’re brought into that holds over 3,000 unopened bottles of aged whiskey. At the end of the tour, you end up in their whiskey bar where you can drink more whiskey. I think I’ve just typed whiskey approximately twenty times. Whiskey.
Shopping: We did a little souvenir shopping in New Town (Edinburgh is divided into the Old Town up where the castle is, and the New Town where the central area is). I got some pretty cashmere scarves…and a tiny little hairy coo that now sits on my desk and makes me smile every day because I’m now obsessed with hairy coos.
So that was our three day Edinburgh Scotland itinerary! We ended up taking the Caledonian Sleeper Train overnight back to London…not by choice but because we missed our evening train. It was definitely an experience. If you’re looking to save time on your trip and can sleep on a train (you can book a teeny tiny room with a bunk bed in it), this might be the perfect option for you. We loved Scotland and we’re already talking about how we’d love to come back some day and visit The Isle of Skye!
Since my trip was only three days, I didn’t get the chance to see some of the other tourist attractions. If you find yourself in Scotland for more than three days, I would highly recommend these spots: Eilean Donan Castle, Fort William, or the Jacobite Steam Train (otherwise known as the Harry Potter Hogwarts train). If you enjoy the outdoors, I would recommend these spots: Cairngorms National Park, Trossachs National Park, and Loch Lomond which is located in Trossachs.
A one-day itinerary is not enough to tour Scotland! Three days to one week would be the ideal amount of time to spend in this historic and beautiful place.
Some of the most beautiful places in Scotland include the National Parks like Cairngorms National Park and Trossachs National Park. The Isle of Skye, Eilean Donan Castle, and Fort Williams are also beautiful places in Scotland.
The best way to get around Scotland is by renting a car, taking the public transportation via train or bus.
The best time to visit Scotland is during the Summer since it is the warmest time of year, this is between the months of June to August. The fall season is also a nice time to visit which is between the months of September to October.
Traveling to Scotland is typically safe, however, practicing road safety is important. Being aware of tourist traps will help you have a better experience.