36 Hours In: Edinburgh

How to spend 36 hours in Edinburgh including where to eat/ stay & what to do! Words & pictures by Hayley F...


36 hours in edinburgh!

I visited Edinburgh at the end of 2016 and haven’t stopped going on about it since. It was my first visit to Scotland and I’m not entirely sure why it had taken me so long. I instantly fell in love with the city from the minute I stepped off the train, it’s so pretty, laid-back and everyone is just SO friendly!

If you have a trip to Edinburgh booked or are looking for some inspiration, then read on to find out how I spent 36 hours in the Scottish capital...


T H I N G S    T O    D O . . .

1.) Guerlain Spa at the Waldorf Astoria

My boyfriend and I kicked off our first morning at the UK’s only Guerlain Spa, situated inside the stunning Waldorf Astoria hotel. City breaks always tend to be jam-packed, but if you love the opportunity to relax, then I cannot recommend the spa enough. If, like me, you are short for time in Edinburgh and can’t dedicate a full day trying out the facilities, then I would 100 per cent recommend Guerlain’s Caledonian Chic Massage – which has been specially designed for the spa. The treatment begins with you picking your favourite scent, which the therapist prepares the room with, whilst you unwind in the relaxation room. You’re then guided to the room where you are treated to a foot exfoliation and massage, before transferring to the massage bed for an hour-long full body massage. Afterwards, I felt completely relaxed and ready to kick off some sightseeing.


2.) Edinburgh Castle

This is pretty much a given when you’re Edinburgh. It’s such a small city, so everything is pretty much walking distance and it’s brilliant how you can see the castle dominating the skyline. Once you head up to the castle, you could literally spend hours exploring and enjoying the breathtaking views across the city, far out to the coast. If you prefer a guided or audio tour to help take everything in, then this is on offer too.


3.) Edinburgh Zoo

Pandas are my favourite animals and I couldn’t contain my excitement when visiting Edinburgh Zoo. If you’re staying close to the Royal Mile, the zoo is approximately a 15/20 minute taxi ride (£13) away. The zoo isn’t huge and we spent about four hours exploring, which was more than enough time to see everything. The pandas are of course the main spectacle and I would definitely recommend purchasing your tickets in advance, as you will need to choose a time to view the pandas (if the zoo is quiet then they allow you to go back more than once). All the pandas tend to do is eat and sleep A LOT (my kind of animal) so we had to go back a few times before we saw the male panda, Yang Guang, wandering around outside. It’s also worth visiting the penguins, monkeys and the otters, SO cute!


F O O D    A N D    D R I N K . . . 

1.) Oink

Pay a visit to Oink for the yummiest Hog Roast rolls on the move. The most central shop is on Victoria Street, which has a few tables inside and we stopped here before visiting the castle. Oink caters for all appetites and we went for The Oink – the classic hog roast roll, but if you have a larger appetite go for The Grunter. The hog roast is served in a white or brown roll with a choice of sage & onion, apple sauce, chilli relish or haggis and crackling (while it lasts!).


2.) Jolly Judge

This gem has to be one of the cutest pubs I have ever visited. On our first day we were frozen after a visit to the castle and I was desperate to find a traditional pub with an open fire to warm up. We stumbled across a sign pointing towards the Jolly Judge and we decided to pay it a visit. I’m so glad we did; as it was exactly what you would imagine when you think of a traditional Scottish pub. With a large open fire and a great selection of beer, ales and wine, you could spend hours enjoying Scotland’s national pastime: drinking. They also offer a menu of sandwiches and soups throughout the day.


3.) The Doric

The Doric is Edinburgh’s oldest gastro pub and has such a lovely atmosphere. If like us you have never tried Haggis, then take a trip to The Doric and have the Haggis Balls for a starter, you won’t regret it! The food is tasty, service brilliant and food and drink really affordable – definitely worth a visit.


The great thing about travelling to Scotland is you have a couple of super-efficient travel options. Of course, you can book a flight with a budget airline for next to nothing (when I looked about a month ago, a return flight was less that £50!) but I have always been desperate to go on a “long-haul” train journey. After looking into the possibility of travelling to Edinburgh by train, I realised you can travel with Virgin East Coast Trains much quicker than I originally thought (my train was 4 hours 22 minutes from Kings Cross, direct to Edinburgh Waverley) which also saves the stress of everything involved with airports.

I travelled in the First Class coach on Virgin Trains East Coast and it is like nothing else I have ever experienced. The team are so welcoming and you are never without an alcoholic drink or snack. Chef James Martin provides the menu, so as you can imagine the food is super tasty and depending on what time you’re travelling you’ll be treated to breakfast, lunch or dinner. To add to the excitement of travelling via train, Virgin has a new Netflix-style app called BEAM, which allows you to stream a selection of films and TV shows through the on-board wifi. I got carried away and watched Home Alone II, Bridesmaids and Wolf of Wall Street.

The best thing about the train was you literally arrive bang in the centre of Edinburgh and are only a maximum 15 minute walk from all the central hotels – which is totally manageable when you have a small wheelie case!

Have you ever visited Edinburgh? Did you love it? Feel free to share your tips with us - we'd love to hear them!


  1. Laura 6th January 2017 / 10:34 am

    I love Edinburgh SO much but haven’t been in years! This post just reminded how awesome of a city it is – I need to start planning to go back <3 I love the sound of that massage too, especially the fact that you can choose your own scent. So cool! x

    Laura // <a href="http://www.middleofadventureMiddle of Adventure

    • Hayley F 8th January 2017 / 11:15 am

      I absolutely fell in love with the city – definitely plan to go back! The massage was great, just wish I had more time to use the facilities!
      HF xo

  2. Immy May 6th January 2017 / 11:16 am

    Uh I LOVE Edinburgh! As a half Scot lass I have been up a whole bunch of times since I was a nipper. We actually have a little home right in the north of Scotland, but I feel like I really haven’t spent as much time in Edinburgh as I perhaps should! Definitely going tot try and make a trip throughout this year. Thank you for the beaut recommendations! Immy x


    • Hayley F 8th January 2017 / 11:18 am

      No worries – definitely plan another visit. All the locals say it’s great for The Fringe, I would love to go back for that!
      HF xo

  3. Sophie 6th January 2017 / 12:25 pm

    Oooooh I SO want to go to Edinburgh this year so will be saving this post! xxx
    Sophie Cliff

    • Hayley F 8th January 2017 / 11:20 am

      You won’t regret it – I hope you love it as much as I did!
      HF xo

  4. Lucy 6th January 2017 / 12:37 pm

    4 and a half hours from London on the train?! That’s insane!! I went to Edinburgh for a day about 8 years ago, I can’t remember much but I do remember that it was lovely and beautiful! Would love to go back and explore properly xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua | Life, Travel, Italy

    • Hayley F 8th January 2017 / 11:22 am

      The train journey was SO much fun! Would definitely recommend visiting again – there’s so many cool restaurants and bars to visit that I didn’t get time to (so secretly planning another visit myself!)
      HF xo

  5. Erin 6th January 2017 / 7:58 pm

    oh my goodness you have actually gone somewhere I go all the time lol, I’m about an hour from Edinburgh, the Sun Bears are 100% my favourite in Edinburgh Zoo! They are so flipping cute! I also love the Museum, it is beautiful, the big entrance, I love it! Next time come up a bit further and go to St Andrew’s, it is so beautiful, oh or Stobo Castle, that place is HEAVEN! 🙂


    • Hayley F 10th January 2017 / 6:34 pm

      I’m definitely keen to explore Scotland more, so will definitely look into Dt Andrews’s and Stobo Castle!
      HF xo

  6. Alexandra 7th January 2017 / 9:41 am

    I used to live in Edinburgh for two years and you should definitely go to The Witchery next time you’re there (make sure to book ahead) it’s a great restaurant right next to the castle and the interior is so interesting !! xx


    • Hayley F 10th January 2017 / 6:35 pm

      Someone recommended that to me and I really regret not going now. Although I did walk past it whilst I was in Edinburgh and it looked SO cool!
      HF xo

  7. Gabrielle 7th January 2017 / 5:27 pm

    An afternoon at Waldorf Astoria’s Guerlain Spa would certainly be on my hit-list. I stayed at the hotel last Spring and now I’m massively disappointed in myself for not finding out more about the hotel so I could enjoy the spa! Great excuse for a return visit though, right?! 😉


    • Hayley F 10th January 2017 / 6:37 pm

      That’s definitely an excuse the treatment was fabulous, I would love to go back and try some more!
      HF xo

  8. Ela 8th January 2017 / 4:45 pm

    I only visited Edinburgh once and it was a day trip, I definitely want to visit there again! I really like the view from the castle, it is simply beautiful and there are so many nice places to eat. Next time I go there, I’ll make sure to visit some of your suggestions! x

    Ela BellaWorld

    • Hayley F 10th January 2017 / 6:39 pm

      Yes, you must try and visit again! I loved spending my afternoon’s in the Jolly Judge – I wish there were pubs as cosy as that closer to home. Definitely one to visit!
      HF xo

  9. Lauren 9th January 2017 / 4:48 pm

    *Opens up Google searches for Edinburgh trips*
    Great post, love the variety! Happy birthday to Ben 🙂 xx

    • Hayley F 10th January 2017 / 6:40 pm

      Haha, thank you! Definitely get a trip booked in, I’ve heard it’s brilliant for the Fringe festival!
      HF xo

  10. Lloyd & Yaya 10th January 2017 / 2:34 pm

    LOVE this post, Hayley… 🙂

    … We used to live in Edinburgh for 5 years or so and it’s such a great place! Always used to go to the zoo on a sunny afternoon (with picnic in hand)! So glad you had a great time too!

    It’s really bad but we didn’t get to try The Doric! That’s the mission for a next trip now!

    Lloyd & Yaya xx

    • Hayley F 10th January 2017 / 6:41 pm

      Ah thank you! You must try The Doric, it was one of the highlights of my trip – such great food and service!
      HF xo

  11. bee 11th January 2017 / 12:22 pm

    You’ve reminded me that I have two first class tickets to use with Virgin East Coast, so need to get my trip booked here asap. Will be looking at your “where to stay” section for some undoubtedly amazing recommendation!

    • Hayley F 17th January 2017 / 2:57 pm

      Can’t recommend the first class service enough! You’ll have a great time!

      HF xo

    • Hayley F 17th January 2017 / 2:57 pm

      Thank you! 🙂

      HF xo

    • Hayley F 17th January 2017 / 2:58 pm

      Thanks so much. When you visit you’ll have the BEST time!

      HF xo

    • Hayley F 17th January 2017 / 3:01 pm

      Thank you – I hope you have a brilliant time!

      HF xo

  12. dominica 20th January 2017 / 4:24 pm

    Omg I love the photos and the cute animals I’m such an animal freak! Really wanna visit Edinburgh it’s been on my list for a while now! Thank you so much for sharing this with us! Happy New Year to you and your family!! Dominica from http://www.its-dominica.blogspot.co.uk

  13. Paige 23rd January 2017 / 11:45 am

    Ah this really is one city I’m dying to visit! It’s so close to home and still I haven’t done it. These photos are really great, thank you for sharing!


  14. Tilly-Jayne Kidman 23rd January 2017 / 6:49 pm

    Ooh I headed to Edinburgh last month and absolutely LOVED it! I’m itching to go back. Looks like you had a great time too.

    P.s I’ve been loving your articles recently FMIF has become my daily morning read xxx

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