Travel Diary: A Festive 24 Hours in Edinburgh

Trust me 24 hours in Edinburgh isn’t enough to get a feel for this city. Not even 48 hours. I would recommend at least 3-5 days in the city – at least you can tick off a lot of the essential things to do that way! Plus you’ll have more time to wander without feeling rushed!

24 Hours in Edinburgh

My sister and I were staying in Durham (where lies the famous castle in which some of the Harry Potter scenes were filmed!). We planned to visit Edinburgh, stay the night, and then return to Durham the following day.

We booked our train tickets to Edinburgh online via Virgin Trains East Coast and then picked them up at the train station on the day of.

It was a 3-hour ride; naturally, we brought some snacks for the road (after having our beloved Costa of the day).

Cost Coffee Christmas Cup

Side note: Throughout the whole UK trip, I was probably living on Costa and Pret a Manger. This was indeed strange for me because I always like to try new things. On this trip, however, they were just so convenient since they were everywhere!

24 Hours in Edinburgh Costa
She likes to make faces. You get used to it.
Back to our 24 hours in Edinburgh

We arrived at around noon and checked in at the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton Hotel. Our room was ready, so we were able to check in earlier than 3pm, which was a bonus!

Now, for the bad news. No trip is complete without a few mishaps here and there! My camera’s battery had run out and I forgot my charger – not in Durham, but in London! This meant that I had to wait an additional 2 days before using my camera again. Perfect. We tried to find a spare battery or charger at the shops on the main shopping street of Edinburgh, but with my luck, they had run out! Oh well, pixely phone pictures it is 🙂 I will invest in a new phone for Christmas.

I’m really getting sidetracked.

Stop #1: Edinburgh Castle

After accepting the fact that I have no camera to capture this beautiful city, we made our way through Princes Gardens toward Scotland’s world famous icon, Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Princes Gardens Sunshine

Edinburgh Princes Street Gardens

Edinburgh Castle also happens to be a part of Old and New Towns of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site and Scotland’s most paid-for tourist attraction.

24 Hours in Edinburgh Castle

Unfortunately, we missed the daily traditional 1 o’clock (very real) gun fire, but we did see the canons and the view from there.

24 Hours in Edinburgh Castle View

Edinburgh Castle Birdseye View

We also toured the National War Museum of Scotland and the Honours of Scotland (i.e. the shiny Crown Jewels), and saw where the prisoners were kept back in the day.

Edinburgh Castle War Museum

Edinburgh Castle Prisoners Area

Edinburgh Castle Tour

24 Hours Edinburgh View Castle

Stop #2: Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

Camera Obscura & World of Illusions is literally a 2-minute walk away from the castle. I would recommend this major tourist attraction to anyone visiting Edinburgh if you’re into gadgets, interactive hands-on exhibits, etc.

Edinburgh Camera Obscura Tourist Attraction

First, we watched a fun and enlightening presentation given by a very passionate and enthusiastic lady. It was a very unique and informative introduction to Edinburgh. Inside the dark rooftop chamber, you can see live moving pictures of the city projected onto the viewing table in front of you. You can even pick people up and throw them back :’) Is it bad that I enjoyed that?

Edinburgh Camera Obscura

Once the presentation was over, we made our way back down the building stopping to see interesting exhibitions and cool illusions at every floor.

Edinburgh Illusions Camera Obscura

Edinburgh Illusions Camera Obscura Head

Stop #3: Hot Chocolate Anyone?

We stopped at Mary’s Milk Bar for some hot chocolate. No trip will be complete without hot chocolate in every city. I think my travel companions are starting to hate me.

Edinburgh Victoria Street

Edinburgh Marys Milk Bar Shop

Stop #4: Edinburgh’s Christmas Market!

Visiting Edinburgh’s Christmas Market was number 1 on my 15 things to do in Edinburgh this Christmas!

24 Hours in Edinburgh Christmas Market

There is just so much to do in Edinburgh’s Christmas Market including food, drink, games, rides, and more!

First things first. Food.

We got pretzels from the market and then made our way to the Ferris Wheel.

Edinburgh Christmas Market Pretzel

Edinburgh Christmas Ferris Wheel

Edinburgh Big Wheel

I then released my inner child on the Double Carousel. Surprisingly, it wasn’t a slow ride – thank God! We skipped the Star Flyer, because we’re cool (not really).

Edinburgh Carousel Fun Christmas 2

We stopped by another one of the food stalls to get a traditional sausage in a soft fluffy bun with sweet pickles, mustard, and ketchup. Wow.

Edinburgh Christmas Market Sausage

Here are a few more photos of the market:

Edinburgh Christmas Market Shopping

Edinburgh Christmas Market Nutcrackers

Edinburgh Christmas Market Bulgarian Dolls

Edinburgh Christmas Market Chocolate

Edinburgh Christmas Market Chocolate Shop

Edinburgh Christmas Market Fudge

Stop #5: the Street of Light

We ran to catch the Street of Light (about 10-minute walk from the market) show on time. The choir really gave me goosebumps and it was such a delight to see all these light bulbs (60,000 of them!) light up in harmony with the music.

Edinburgh Street of Light Christmas

Stop #6: To the Theatre!

We had tickets to see Five Guys Named Moe, a jazz musical show which features hits of Louis Jordan. It took about 20-minute walk (in the freezing cold) to get there. I’m not usually a huge fan of musicals, let alone jazz, but I really enjoyed this colourful and uplifting spectacle!

Edinburgh Five Guys Named Moe Theatre

Stop #7: Back at the Hotel to…

…Sleep. I have never been more grateful for a warm bed.

The next morning, we were supposed to go on a Whisky Tour with Edinburgh’s award-winning Scotch Whisky Experience. Yes, in the morning. However, I was feeling too much under the weather that we decided to postpone it until the next time we visit (which will hopefully be in summer weather). Instead we wandered about until it was time to catch our train!

Edinburgh Marker

Edinburgh Marker Browsing Shopping

24 Hours in Edinburgh Cowgate
I found this to be pretty hilarious :’)

It was my first time visiting Edinburgh and surely not my last! I’ve already made a mental note of all the places I couldn’t see and properly experience. Nevertheless, we did enjoy our 24 hours in Edinburgh around the festive season.

Now that you’ve seen my 24 hours in Edinburgh, don’t miss my post on 15 things to do in Edinburgh this Christmas! I’m sure you’ll find something to add to your Travel Bucket List.

24 Hours in Edinburgh Castle


Unless otherwise noted, all posted content and photographs are owned exclusively by me. None of the content / photographs may be reproduced, modified, recirculated, commercially exploited or reused in any form whatsoever without my prior written consent.

Thank you Visit Scotland for helping plan my itinerary and hosting some of the activities on my trip to Edinburgh. As always, all opinions are my own!

For further information regarding permission to use content or photographs, please contact me.

2 comments Add yours
  1. Such a beautifully described adventure! Surely no one can cover Edinburgh in a day but you did a great job in such a limited time…..

Tell me what you think!