24 Hours in Edinburgh in Autumn
Autumn has arrived in our beautiful city and the leaves are slowly starting to change their colours. Edinburgh is a great place to be in autumn, with many inviting cafes and pubs where you can get warm and cosy in between exploring the city. We think the best way to really get into the autumn spirit is to spend time outside, and hence it’s essential that you dress warmly and do invest in a stylish rain poncho for this 24 hour guide. We recommend you wear layers, as the sun might also peek out and it can get quite warm – the infamous Scottish weather will keep you on your toes! Comfortable shoes are also paramount as you will be walking a lot!
Do also check out our previous article “How to spend a day in Edinburgh – the Instagram edit” for more tips on what to see in Edinburgh when you’re only in town for a day.
Breakfast at Papii
Start your day with a delightful breakfast at this cosy café located in central Edinburgh. Why not try the waffles with bacon, maple syrup and fresh strawberries accompanied by a strong cup of excellent coffee? (You’ll need the energy for all the walking you’ll be doing!) If there is no space at Papii then give Urban Angel just a couple of doors down the street a try.
Princes street gardens
In autumn the city’s public backyard, Princes Street Gardens, is a great place to admire the colour display of the trees against the backdrop of the magnificent castle.
You can’t visit Edinburgh without seeing the castle close up, so make your way there and take the obligatory photos/selfies on the esplanade with the castle in the background. You can spend hours exploring the castle grounds, so to make sure you have time for other attractions as well we suggest you follow the “Just an hour” itinerary if you decide to go inside.
Historic Grassmarket tour
This new and completely free, self-guided tour that also includes an audio guide online will introduce you to the most infamous landmarks in the Greater Grassmarket area in Edinburgh’s Old Town. You can pick up the Historic Trail map in one of Grassmarket’s local shops, pubs and cafes and start and finish the one hour tour wherever you fancy. More info here.
The Grassmarket is full of great lunch options. Have a traditional hearty pub lunch at The Last Drop, go vegan at recently opened stylish Pumpkin Brown or enjoy a nice soup in front of an open fire in the cosy Under the Stairs.
Royal Mile & Museums
Get back onto the Royal Mile and start walking down towards Holyrood Palace. On the way you’ll pass many interesting attractions such as beautiful St Giles’ cathedral, the City Chambers, Canongate Kirk, Toolbooth Tavern and the Scottish Parliament Building. There are also several free museums you can pop into where you can learn about the history of Edinburgh and its people; including the Museum of Childhood, Museum of Edinburgh and The People’s Story Museum.
Holyrood park & Arthur’s Seat
Holyrood Park is a gorgeous place to visit all year round, but especially in autumn when the park’s dramatic hills and crags get even more charmingly rugged and you can admire an autumnal Edinburgh from above. If you’re up for it, climb all the way up to the highest point and the ancient volcano, Arthur’s Seat, for a 360 view of Edinburgh and surroundings. Make sure you have your camera with you!
Walk down Duddingston Low Road until you reach Duddingston Loch – the only natural freshwater loch in Edinburgh. It’s very rich in birdlife, so you might spot quite a few different species. It’s a peaceful place off the beaten track where you can wander around away from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh city.
Dr Neil’s Garden
Nestled in between the loch and the 12th century Duddingston Kirk is a beautiful little garden that is open to all seven days a week from 10am till dusk. Dr Neil’s Garden is a hidden gem of a garden that has won many awards over the years.
EVENING & NIGHT
Sheep’s Heid Inn
After all that brisk autumn air you more than deserve a nice warming dinner – and it’s hard to think of a more welcoming place on a nippy autumn evening than the Duddingston village pub and restaurant, Sheep’s Heid Inn. This pub is also said to be the oldest surviving licensed premises in Edinburgh, if not all of Scotland! Enjoy your meal and jump in a taxi to get back to the Old Town (enough walking for one day we think).
During the dark autumn evenings you can really sense Edinburgh’s haunted past – and there is no better time to explore it than in the lead up to Halloween…A number of companies offer several chilling evening and late night tours, including Mercat Tours, City of the Dead Tours and Auld Reekie Tours. Most ghost tours start between 8pm and 10pm.
Late night drinks
Chances are you might need a drink or two to calm your nerves after getting acquainted with Edinburgh’s dark side, so pop into the chic yet welcoming Devil’s Advocate in Advocate’s Close right opposite St Giles’ cathedral, order one of their amazing cocktails and enjoy the jolly Edinburgh night-life.
Call it a day
After a long, happening day like this you will need a comfy bed in a central location where you can relax and feel at ease. We rent out beautiful, well-presented and fully equipped self catering apartments in Edinburgh where we promise you’ll feel like you’re at home instead of in a hotel.