Things to do in 3 - 4
days in Edinburgh

Beautiful views of Edinburgh from Calton Hill

Many people think that Scotland's capital is quite small. The truth is that Edinburgh's city centre (what we call the Old Town and New Town) is like a small village on its own, that you can easily visit in 3 or 4 days. However, Edinburgh covers a much larger area than that. Since we take the airport bus till the last stop, that's Edinburgh. And the city doesn't finish there; it stretches to the shore and the other end.

We felt the need to clarify that because many people on the tours have asked us if there is something to do in Edinburgh beyond the Royal Mile. Of course it is! We actually never stop adding new activities and places to our things to do list. Edinburgh has so many exciting and fun things to do that it's impossible to cover all on a single trip.

With that said, we actually think that the best things are clustered around Edinburgh's city centre, in that "small village" we mentioned earlier. Luckily for you, on a 3 or 4 days holiday in Edinburgh, you will have enough time to do most of the very best of the Scottish capital. So here you have a list of places and activities that you absolutely must do!

Do the Edinburgh Free Tour and the Free Ghost Tour

Victoria Street from the Grassmarket in Edinbugh tour

Both guided walks complement each other perfectly, meaning that you won't walk around the same places and you will discover new stories. These tours are ideal to learn the history and anecdotes behind Edinburgh's Medieval past.

In the Old Town Tour, for example, you will walk around the colourful Victoria Street, visit Greyfriars Kirkyard and discover the incredible events that happened in the iconic Grassmarket, among other sightseeing places. The Ghost Tour, instead, focuses on the dark history of Edinburgh. You will visit graveyards and other "haunted" places while you will hear the stories of ghosts and murderers.

If you are in Edinburgh for only 3 or 4 days, the best thing would be to do both tours as soon as possible. This way, the guide could inform you about any events that might happen specifically that week or provide you with some personalised tips.

Taste Haggis

Edinburgh Pub to eat Haggis

Nobody can leave Scotland without trying the national dish. We won't tell you what haggis is made of, but we will say that you must try it! There are vegan and vegetarian options that are healthier and actually taste as good (or even better) as the regular ones.

Where should you eat Haggis in Edinburgh?

In the typical Scottish Breakfast you will typically find a (frozen) portion of haggis in the shape of mini-burgers. If you have never tried it before, maybe skip the Scottish breakfast for the next time.

For us, the best way of savouring haggis is in a traditional pub. There are a few restaurants that bring this "homemade" experience. For example, in the Royal Mile Tavern. Normally, you will see haggis served in a "tower" with mashed potato, mashed neep and haggis on the top, dressed in a delicious whisky sauce.

If you still don't want to try it, here you have a list of the best restaurants in Edinburgh. Feel free to choose from Italian, Asian, Indian and other cuisines!

Walk around the New Town

New Town street in Edinburgh

Everybody loves and is fascinated by the Old Town, with its winding alleys, gothic style and medieval feeling. Compared with its sister, it might look that the New Town lacks some personality. But in reality, it is much more interesting than it might appear.

The New Town is an architectural wonder with plenty of things to offer. In a 3 or 4 days visit to Edinburgh, it's a must-see! Not everything in the New Town is Enlightenment and Georgian architecture. For example, for those of you who like shopping, it's in the New Town where you will find all the clothes shops. Look especially for Prince Street, where Primark, Next, Zara and others are. If you prefer visiting parks, on the other side of the street you can find Princes Street Gardens, which feature a beautiful view of Edinburgh Castle.

But the New Town is not limited only to this street. The street parallel to Princes st, Rose, it's much smaller and cosy. It's worth it visiting it and checking its traditional pubs and restaurants that serve all types of food.

In addition to that, just wandering around the New Town is enjoyable by itself. You will see boulevards, magnificent squares and private gardens that introduce you to the Scottish upper class. There are some remarkable museums too, like the Portrait Gallery or the Scottish National Gallery, both of which are free to enter.

Visit Dean Village

Dean village houses along the Water of Leith, a must visit in Edinburgh

When Edinburgh locals have people visiting, they always take them to Dean Village to surprise them. Fortunately, in 3 - 4 days in Edinburgh, you have ample time to visit this place, certainly one of the best places in Edinburgh.

Dean Village is just 10 minutes away from the busy Princes St, and it really doesn't feel that way. It looks like a small town in the countryside with a nice path that follows the river. You can get to Dean Village through Queensferry Road (don't cross Dean Bridge!). Follow the left-hand side street called Miller Row.

Climb Calton Hill and Arthur Seat

Top of Arthur seat, one of the best things to do in Edinburgh

These two extinct volcanoes provide us with some astonishing views of Edinburgh. Every Edinburgh travel guide features them, and once you visit them, you will understand why. So, don't try to find any excuses, you must visit at least one of the hills, although in a 3 or 4 days visit to Edinburgh you should have enough time to visit both.

Getting to the top of Calton Hill only requires 5 minutes approximately, and you get to see the beautiful city centre of Edinburgh. On Arthur's seat, on the other hand, it takes slightly longer to get to the top, around half-hour, but the scenery is also superb. Once you go down the hill, you will be in Holyrood Park, which has an array of hills, lochs, glens, so it's also highly recommendable to visit.

Museums in Edinburgh and Scotland

Hall of the National Museum of Scotland

There are plenty of free museums in Edinburgh. The most important, and the one that features the most objects, is the National Museum of Scotland. You can see from a Tyrannosaurus Rex to belongings of Mary Queen of Scots, but probably the most famous attraction is Dolly the sheep.

The museum is perfect for family visits since it features a lot of activities to entertain the kids. The museum has so many things that no matter the interests you have, you will probably find something for yourself.

Enjoy Scottish Folklore and its Whisky

Whisky glass in Edinburgh pub

We are going to propose to you two ways of tasting Scottish folklore. The first one is going yourself to one of the traditional pubs in Edinburgh with folk music. The Royal Oak is usually a great option that appears in most tourist guides. However, we recommend The Captains Bar even more, a true hidden gem in Edinburgh.

That is a great option, but a better one is to immerse yourself in the folklore and history of Scotland, also in a traditional pub, while you enjoy a whisky tasting! The Whisky and Folklore tour provides essential history and anecdotes that will not only entertain you but will make you enjoy the whisky even more!

Day Trip from Edinburgh

Incredible Scotish castle in a lake surrounded by montains

If you are staying 3 days or 4 Edinburgh, you might have enough time to do a quick visit to another place.

  • Glasgow : It takes less than one hour by train, and the biggest city in Scotland by mark population is a hidden gem for many tourists. You can join the city tour to discover the history of the city. Or, if you have planned enough cultural activities in Edinburgh, you can join the Glasgow Pub Crawl and have a great night out.
  • Loch Ness trip: The Loch Ness is great, but the best thing about the Highlands tour is the way there. The Valley of Glencoe, the lochs and castles, along with the fascinating history of Scotland, is the actual attractiveness for this highly recommendable tour.