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City breaks in Edinburgh

Explore Edinburgh’s rich and varied history and soak up the culture on a weekend break. Visit the dramatic castle sitting high above the city. Or go shopping on Princes Street before dining out in Edinburgh’s world-famous restaurants.

Visit during the exciting summer period, when festival time takes over in August. See a show or two and absorb the inimitable atmosphere – whether its comedy or drama, they’ll be something for you. Or if you arrive in winter, walk up to Arthur’s Seat in the crisp, clear air and then warm up in a pub with an open fire. Don’t miss the brilliant museums and galleries, like the beautifully gothic Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Stay at one of our carefully selected hotels in Edinburgh, we have something to suit all budgets.

Add car hire to your Edinburgh holiday

Scottish countryside.

Get the most out of your Edinburgh holiday and book a fly-drive package with British Airways. Our flight + car hire packages, in partnership with Avis, include all of the mandatory charges that you'll need to drive away and explore at your leisure. With Avis you also have the added reassurance of 24-hour customer support and roadside assistance should you need it.

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My perfect day in Edinburgh

Find out how our BA expert, Elaine Fawcett, spends 24 hours in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh zoo
Edinburgh zoo.

Edinburgh zoo

I always set myself up for the day with a full Scottish breakfast – Stornoway black pudding and square sausage certainly hits the spot. If you're staying near Princes Street, try Circle Café a few streets away at Brandon Terrace. Then take the bus straight to Edinburgh zoo – buy a day ticket for Lothian Buses and Trams which allows unlimited travel across the city. Edinburgh Zoo houses the UK’s only Giant Panda pair, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, pre-book your ticket to get the best choice of viewing time.

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle

The highlight of any visit – Edinburgh Castle dominates the city, set high atop the volcanic Castle Rock. Immerse yourself in its history and traditions but don’t be frightened by the one o’clock gun salute fired daily (except Sunday) since 1861. Don’t miss the Stone of Destiny, Crown Jewels or Prisons beneath the Great Hall. I love to take a pot of tea here in the Tea Rooms, along with dainty sandwiches and homemade scones. Move on down the Royal Mile from here, past traditional tartan souvenir shops, to the Scottish Parliament building and the Palace of Holyroodhouse – the official residence of the Queen when she's in Scotland.


Scotch Whisky Experience
Scotch Whisky Experience.

Scotch Whisky Experience

Also on the Royal Mile, and great fun, is the Scotch Whisky Experience. All tours start with a swirling, bubbling barrel ride through a replica distillery and before you know it you've become part of the whisky making process. You’ll see the world’s largest whisky collection and of course have time to sample a ‘wee dram’. Guaranteed you’ll leave happier than when you went in.

Royal Yacht Britannia (and some shopping)
Royal Yacht Britannia (and some shopping).

Royal Yacht Britannia (and some shopping)

There’s always time for some retail therapy – soak up the atmosphere along Princes Street first and then use your bus ticket to take a 25-minute ride out to Leith Waterfront and the Ocean Point Shopping Centre. Moored alongside is the Royal Yacht Britannia, where an audio tour provides a glimpse into the private lives of the Royal family. Pose for a photo wearing a Royal Navy cap in the Petty Officers bar, the ‘Verge Inn’. Take afternoon tea on board, in the Royal Deck Tea room, what a lovely treat.

Arthur's Seat
Arthur's Seat.

Arthur's Seat

Board the bus back to the city and get off at either Calton Hill, easily identified by the Athenian acropolis, or Arthur's Seat – an extinct volcano. Both vantage points offer spectacular views of the city and surrounding Forth river estuary and sea beyond. A perfect spot to catch a sunset too.

Walking Tours of Witches and Ghosts
Walking Tours of Witches and Ghosts.

Walking Tours of Witches and Ghosts

Edinburgh has a dark and violent history – 100s of so-called witches were burnt or hanged in the city. Take an evening walking tour around the old town streets and dark back alleys, accompanied by Adam Lyle – a highway robber executed in 1811, as costumed characters tell ghostly stories. Great fun, but be warned – a bit scary. At the end of this fascinating day it’s time for warming food and drink in the Witchery Restaurant, in the shadow of the Castle – I loved it. Or for something more relaxed try one of the many atmospheric old pubs. Just ask Adam the way.

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