The fantastic range of fare types on our coaches means that affordable travel to Scotland’s historic capital has never been easier. If you’re able to be flexible with journey times and take advantage of Coachcards, you could enjoy extra discounts, even if you’re only booking up to three days in advance.
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There’s so much to see and do in Edinburgh that it can be hard to know where to begin.
Check out our handy recommendations below to help you make the most of every minute of your trip away.
With holidays by National Express, you can combine our great value coach travel with hotels and attractions in Edinburgh. There is so much to see and do during a city break or short break in Edinburgh, here is a suggested holiday itinerary:
When the days grow shorter and the temperature drops, comfort food calls – and no place does warming grub like Teuchters. Their quirky ‘mug menu’ offers a selection of hot meals, from homely mac ‘n’ cheese to traditional Cullen Skink (smoked haddock, potato and onion soup), all for less than £10.
The Scran & Scallie
The brainchild of two Michelin-starred chefs, Edinburgh’s Scran and Scallie certainly won’t disappoint. Couple a Highland burger with a ‘Hoose Cocktail’ for a classic pub meal with a twist or, if you’re looking for a true taste of Scotland, why not tuck into a hearty portion of haggis, neeps and tatties?
A short walk from Edinburgh Castle, The Witchery’s 16th century charm is hard to beat. Hide from the Scottish chill in the warm, wood-panelled dining room as you sample the signature steak tartare or the roasted venison loin. The Witchery also has a fantastic selection of wines – but with over 800 to choose from, it’s certainly not for the indecisive.
Join in the hustle and bustle of Grassmarket
Walk through the Grassmarket area of Edinburgh’s Old Town and you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to pubs and bars. Named after its dark history of public hangings, The Last Drop is anything but chilling, so duck inside for a warming malt whisky or a foamy pint. Alternatively, if cocktails are more your thing, head to award-winning Dragonfly to sample a Sparkling Tatanka or an Espresso Martini.
Wander along the waterfront in Leith
Known for its maritime history, Leith offers a vibrant, up-and-coming harbour-side of nocturnal activity. Head to King’s Wark for a fuss-free pint of real ale or, for a little bit of modern quirk, try a Pomegranate Daiquiri or a Honey Margarita at The Lioness of Leith – and with live DJs every Friday night, you can carry the evening on well into the small hours.
Find a touch of class on George Street
Edinburgh’s George Street is a popular stomping ground for affluent students and trendy young professionals. Although its bars tend to be a little pricey, they’re perfect for a special occasion. Add a little sparkle to your evening at The Dome, famed for its glittering Christmas lights and crystal chandelier or, for something a little more affordable, step into Candy Bar & Kitchen for a good range of craft beers, wines and cocktails.
Located to the north of the city centre, Stockbridge is bursting to the seams with many of the city’s best independent shops. Browse the fantastic array of jewellers, galleries, gourmet food and second hand vendors for unique souvenirs and one-of-a-kind trinkets before taking a break in one of the area’s bohemian cafés for a bite to eat. The weekly Sunday market also draws locals and visitors from far and wide – and crammed with local produce, from Scottish smoked salmon to artisan breads and specialist cheese, it’s not hard to understand why.
Until its acquisition by House of Fraser in 2005, Jenners was the oldest independent department store in Scotland. Despite the takeover, it still retains a unique charm with its beamed ceiling and cosy décor. Home to high-end brands, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss and Jimmy Choo, Jenners is often called the Harrods of the North, making it the perfect place to find that special Christmas gift. If you visit during the winter season, you’ll also see the huge Christmas tree and thousands of twinkling fairy lights draped around the store – nothing will make you feel more festive.
One of Europe’s largest shopping and leisure centres, Ocean Terminal boasts over 70 high street favourites, including Scotland’s flagship Superdry store. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants overlooking the beautiful waterfront of Leith, as well as a beauty spa, gym, soft play area and cinema. Frequent bus services run between Ocean Terminal and the city centre, so jump on to enjoy a relaxing day of retail therapy.
Step back in time at Edinburgh Castle
Part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site, Edinburgh Castle is not to be missed. Although the oldest parts date back the 12th century, additional building work has been added throughout the ages, making it a true record of the city’s cultural past. The castle also houses the Crown Jewels (or the ‘Honours of Scotland’) – and when you need to refuel after a busy day, why not try out one of the castle’s two traditional cafés for a hearty soup or an afternoon tea?
See the giant pandas at Edinburgh Zoo
Given its exotic array of animals from across the globe, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that Edinburgh Zoo is in fact in Scotland. Come face to face with the Sumatran tigers in the visitor viewing tunnel, or meet the friendly koalas after venturing through the eucalyptus gardens. The zoo’s biggest attraction is the giant panda exhibit, home to Tian Tian and Yang Guang – the only ones of their kind in the UK. Viewing spaces are limited, so be sure to book in advance if you don’t want to miss out.
Soak up the atmosphere of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile
Running through the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, the Royal Mile is bursting full of things to see and do. Observe the city from a new perspective through the Camera Obscura, try a traditional tipple at the Scotch Whisky Experience or, if you really want to delve into Scotland’s historical past, visit the Scottish Storytelling Centre for immersive narrative events that bring Edinburgh’s rich bygone heritage back to life.
Hunt for clues on the Edinburgh Treasure Trail
Starting on Market Street, Edinburgh’s self-guided Treasure Trail will lead you through the must-see spots of the city’s scenic Old Town. Keep your eyes peeled as you search for clues on existing buildings and monuments, working your way towards the hidden treasure.
Take a trip down memory lane at The Museum of Childhood
Displaying everything from dolls to school uniforms, this museum offers a fantastic day out for the whole family. The recreated Victorian street and the 1930s sound clips will immerse the little ones in a pre-internet world of wonder – and when they tire of looking at teddy bears and train sets, the dressing up area and puppet theatre are sure to keep them out of mischief.
Get creative at Doodles
Let the kids unleash their artistic side at Edinburgh’s first informal ‘do it yourself’ ceramic workshop. Make a rainy day colourful as you paint, splash, doodle and dab on your choice of mugs, bowls, teapots and more. It’s worth noting that the glazing process can take up to 4-5 days, so it’s best to plan this for the start of your trip.
See the sights of Edinburgh by bus
When you’re a little short on time, guided bus tours are a great way to see the best of what Edinburgh has to offer. The various hop-on, hop-off routes take you past all of the top tourist spots, including Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Grassmarket and much more, all in just one hour – and with well-informed guides or audiobooks on hand along the way, you’ll become an Edinburgh expert in no time.
Take in the city from Arthur’s Seat
Sitting 251m above sea level, Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park boasts the best views in Edinburgh. Play a quick game of Eye Spy as you spot the famous landmarks across the city’s spectacular skyline, or take a picnic for some much needed refreshment when you reach the summit. Some areas of the park are steep and rocky, so make sure you pack your walking shoes.
Get cultural in the National Museum of Scotland
Housing over 20,000 pieces, the National Museum of Scotland has something for everyone to enjoy. Discover the nation’s fascinating past, from its prehistory to the present day, through the museum’s diverse collections of art, technology and natural artefacts. Entry is free – however, some temporary exhibitions may require tickets.
Dunbar’s Close Garden
Just moments away from the bustling Royal Mile, this oasis of calm is one of the city’s most peaceful spots. The perfect place to rest your feet after a busy day of sightseeing, the secret 17th century gardens are beautifully maintained, boasting seasonal plants and leafy hedges to enjoy all year round.
Tom Riddle’s grave
For Harry Potter fans, the grave of Thomas Riddell in Greyfriars Kirkyard should not be missed. Although the spelling is slightly different, the two hundred year old memorial is widely rumoured to have inspired the name of JK Rowling’s notorious Lord Voldemort – just don’t say his name out loud.
Dr Knox’s Enigma
Finding the front door is the first puzzle to solve at Edinburgh’s live escape game – and once you’re inside, it only gets trickier. Unravel the murderous mystery of infamous duo Burke and Hyde, and crack the codes of the city’s dark underbelly as you race the clock to escape in just 60 minutes. Are you up for the challenge?
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Travel blogger, Rose, of WhereGoesRose.com fame recently went on her first Scottish adventure by coach. Find out why she loves to travel this way and what she thought of Scotland in her blog.
Thinking of travelling to Edinburgh with the little ones? Kirsty from LifeWithTheBoys.co.uk was surprised to find there was plenty to keep her family busy, as well as how simple travelling with a child on the coach was. Find out more below.
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