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Things to do in Edinburgh, Scotland with 24 hours

We know that feeling of being short on time and lost on where to start, so we've scoped out the ultimate things to do and see in Edinburgh if you've only got 24 hours. From historical museums to amazing views, to foodie haunts and exciting nightlife, let Skyscanner show you the best the capital of Scotland has to offer, even if you only have a day to spare.

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Start the day right in Edinburgh

1. Calton Hill

We can’t think of a better way to get acquainted with Edinburgh than with a climb up Calton Hill to soak in some of the best views of the city. On one side of the hill, feast your eyes on New Town, and on the other, enjoy enchanting panoramas of medieval Old Town and a spectacular view of Arthur’s Seat, a park that used to be a volcano. Be prepared to fall in love with this gorgeous city!

On your way down, do check out the Omni Centre. If you’re too early to catch a screening, stop by anyway and say a friendly hello to the giraffes that live outside the venue.

Omni Centre Address: Greenside Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3AA, United Kingdom Phone: +44 131 524 7770 Opening Hours: 6am – 1am daily Prices: SGD 19 (£9.29) for Adults, SGD 16 (£7.99) for Students and SGD 14 (£7.29) for Senior Citizens Visit their website here

Time for some breakfast, you reckon? Head on over to an Edinburgh institution, the luxurious Balmoral Hotel which has been around since 1902. Tuck into a full Scottish breakfast at their bar, which will provide you with all the energy you need to explore this beautiful city.

Balmoral Hotel Address: 1 Princes Street, Edinburgh EH2 2EQ, United Kingdom Phone: +44 131 556 2414 Prices: Rooms start at SGD 390 (£195) a night Visit their website here

Book a room at Balmoral Hotel

2. National Museum of Scotland

After descending Calton Hill, make your way to the Royal Mile and Old Town. Whether you’re a history buff or not, the National Museum of Scotland will fascinate you with its interactive displays on a large variety of subjects, from Dolly the sheep to ancient Roman ruins to Sir Jackie Stewart’s F1 car. We especially love the beautiful Victorian atrium located in the oldest part of the museum. With so much to see and do, you’re in danger of spending the whole day there, as the museum is open from 10am to 5pm daily. The best part? It’s 100% free!

Address: Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF, United Kingdom Phone: +44 300 123 6789 Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm daily Prices: Admission is free Visit their website here

4. Summerhall

If you’re enthusiastic about art, or simply don’t want to mix with the crowds of Royal Mile, we recommend you check out Summerhall. Previously the Royal School of Veterinary Science, it has since been transformed into a creative hub comprising of studio and workshop spaces, art exhibitions, as well as a nice, relaxing café and bar with its very own micro-brewery called Barney’s Beer. Go ahead, have a pint!

Address: 1 Summerhall Pl, Edinburgh EH9 1PL, United Kingdom Phone: +44 131 560 1580 Opening Hours: 11am – 6am daily Prices: Ticket prices vary Visit their website here

5. Old Western Set

This may come as a surprise, but you can find a little bit of the old Wild West in Edinburgh! Hidden in the trendy neighbourhood of Morningside, the Old Western Set was built in the mid-90’s for a furniture business that specialized in the Southwestern style. It has since been abandoned, and dilapidated or not, still retains its charm. It’s not on your typical tourist trail, that’s for sure!

Address: Springvalley Gardens, Morningside, Edinburgh, Scotland

6. Maison de Moggy, Cat Café

Feline fans will love this adorable little cat café near Grassmarket. Sip a warm cuppa as you enjoy the company of the teahouse’s 10 furry residents. We recommend that you book a spot before heading down, as only a limited amount of customers are allowed in the café at the same time, to make sure the cats don’t get stressed out.

Address: 17-19 West Port, Edinburgh EH1 2JA, United Kingdom Phone: +44 131 629 5530 Opening Hours: 10:45am – 6:30am daily Prices: A one-hour booking is SGD 14 (£7), a pot of tea starts at SGD 4 (£2) Visit their website here

1. Indulge in a lovely lunchtime in Edinburgh

If by now you’re hankering for your mid-day grub, head on down to the trendy Timberyard. Housed in an authentic brick warehouse with a charming south facing yard, the establishment is committed to only using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. For the gastronomically adventurous, try their scrumptious eight-course tasting menu (SGD 140 (£70) a head, SGD 240 (£120) with paired wines), but if you prefer to keep it simple, we reckon any of their dishes would delight your taste buds.

Timberyard Address: 10 Lady Lawson St, Edinburgh EH3 9DS, United Kingdom Phone: +44 131 221 1222 Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 12pm – 2pm, 5:30pm – 9:30pm. Prices: Mains start at SGD 28++ (£14) Visit their website here

Nestled in the shadow of Calton Hill, The Gardener’s Cottage is another lovely spot for your mid-afternoon meal. Chefs Dale Mailley and Edward Murray are maestros in the kitchen, serving up the most excellent fare made strictly with the best local and seasonal produce. Looking at their menu, you will definitely be spoilt for choice!

The Gardener’s Cottage Address: 1 Royal Terrace Gardens, London Road, Edinburgh EH7 5DX, United Kingdonm Phone: +44 131 558 1221 Opening Hours: 12pm – 2:30pm, 5pm – 10pm. Closed on Tuesdays. Prices: Mains start at SGD 52++ (£26) Visit their website here

2. Harvey Nichols

Ready for some retail therapy? Harvey Nichols is the place for you. This fabulously high-end department store stocks a wide range of designer apparel and everything else you could desire to spruce up your closet. If a shopping spree is not for you, it’s still worth popping inside for a quick tipple at their rooftop Window Bar. Sip a cocktail as you enjoy the amazing view of Edinburgh!

Address: 30-34 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh EH2 2AD, United Kingdom Phone: +44 131 524 8388 Opening Hours: Sunday – Wednesday, 10am – 6pm. Thursday, 10am – 8pm. Friday – Saturday, 10am – 7pm. Prices: Prices vary Visit their website here

3. Jupiter Artland

Located just outside Edinburgh, Jupiter Artland is a haven for lovers of art and nature. Simply hop on bus 27 or X27 and be blown away by this massive sculpture park, where man’s creativity and the natural environment come together to create impressively beautiful masterpieces. Get inspired as you wander amongst the exhibitions. We also think they make a great backdrop for an impromptu photoshoot!

Address: Wilkieston, Edinburgh EH27 8BB, United Kingdom Phone: +44 150 688 9900 Opening Season: May through September. Thursday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm. Monday – Wednesday closed. Open daily in July and August. Prices: SGD 17 (£8.50) for Adults, SGD 9 (£4.50) for Children, SGD 9 (£4.50) for Students, family discounts available Visit their website here

4. Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

Both the young and the young at heart will be delighted by a quick trip to Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, where you can spend an entertaining hour amongst fascinating optical illusions, tricks and mind-boggling effects. Try to stay on your feet in the Vortex Tunnel, or see how long it takes you to find a way out of the mirror maze!

Address: 549 Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 2ND, United Kingdom Phone: +44 131 226 3709 Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday, 9:30am – 7pm. Friday – Sunday, 9:30am – 8pm. Hours change according to seasons. Prices: SGD 29 (£14.50) for Adults, SGD 21 (£10.50) for Children, group and student discounts available. Visit their website here

1. Cameo Cinema

Edinburgh is infamous for its drizzles, but fret not, here’s your chance to discover the city’s interior life. Catch a film at The Cameo cinema, one of the oldest movie theatres in Scotland still operating today – and allegedly one of Quentin Tarantino’s favourites in the world! Whether you prefer chart-topping blockbusters or foreign films, there’s bound to be something to suit your tastes. If the rain is still pouring after the screening, chill out at the cinema’s Cameo Bar amongst a collection of cool vintage film posters.

Address: 38 Home St, Edinburgh EH3 9LZ, United Kingdom Phone: +44 871 902 5723 Opening Hours: 15 minutes before the start of the first film Prices: SGD 19 (£9.50) for Adults, SGD 12 (£6.00) for Children, price varies according to time. Family and student discounts available. Visit their website here

2. The Canny Man’s Pub

Not too far from the Wild West film set in Morningside resides an iconic Edinburgh watering hole, The Canny Man’s pub, which has been in operation since 1871. We love the pub’s unusual décor of antiques and paintings adorning the walls and ceiling. Settle into one of their old armchairs and sample their huge selection of whisky, or sip on their infamous Bloody Mary. We hear celebrity Chef Rick Stein dubbed it the best pub in the world!

Address: 237 Morningside Rd, Edinburgh EH10 4QU, United Kingdom Phone: +44 131 447 1484 Opening Hours: Sunday – Wednesday, 11am – 11pm. Thursday & Saturday, 11am – 12pm. Friday, 11am – 1am. Prices: Mains start at SGD 15 (£7.45) Visit their website here

3. The Scran & Scallie

There’s a gastropub on every corner in the city, but we reckon the best one has got to be The Scran & Scallie, run by Michelin star chefs Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack. The dynamic duo serves up traditional Scottish home-cooked dishes with only the highest quality seasonal and local produce – guaranteed to satisfy and warm you right up! We recommend Scottish classics like Sheep’s Heid Scotch Broth, Cottage Pie, or the seasonal crumble of the day to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Address: 1 Comely Bank Rd, Stockbridge, Edinburgh EH4 1DT, United Kingdom Phone: +44 131 332 6281 Opening Hours: 12pm – 10pm daily Prices: Mains start at SGD 19 (£9.50) on the Lunch menu Visit their website here

1. Hidden Door Festival

Edinburgh is much loved for its festivals, the most famous one being the Fringe. That aside, there are many smaller festivals all year round, held in different venues. One of the finest festivals, we reckon, is Hidden Door, an annual non-profit arts festival organized in abandoned or obscure locations around Edinburgh. Prepare to be whisked away to another world when you cross the threshold of the Hidden Door: a world of twinkling fairy lights, great local music, awe-inspiring contemporary artworks and the tantalizing aroma wafting over from food trucks! Visit their website for more details, as dates and venues vary.

Visit their website here

2. Tigerlily

Treat yourself to a tipple or two (accompanied with a light bite maybe) at Tigerlily. This boutique hotel is the epitome of cool and is much loved for its afternoon tea and classy cocktails. Get dressed in your best and head down to George Street, located in the heart of New Town, for an incredibly chic night out on the town.

Address: 125 George Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH2 4JN, United Kingdom Phone: +44 131 225 5005 Opening Hours: 11am – 1am daily Prices: Mains start at SGD 19 (£9.50) on the Lunch menu. Cocktails start at SGD 9 (£4.60) Visit their website here

Book a room at Tigerlily

3. Lulu Bar and Nightclub

You’ve scoped out incredible views, seen some amazing art and history, and sampled the city’s finest food and beverage options – but the night is still young! If you’re still pumped with energy, Lulu’s nightclub awaits you underneath Tigerlily, the perfect place to let your hair down and party it up. Bust a move on the dancefloor, taste more mouth-watering cocktails, or simply soak up the club’s super-hip vibe. You could also try to spot some celebrities. We hear the club’s famous patrons include the likes of Emeli Sande, Dizzee Rascal, Russell Brand and Girls Aloud!

Address: 125B George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4JN, United Kingdom Phone: +44 131 225 5005 Opening Hours: 1030pm – 3am daily Prices: Cocktails start at SGD 14 (£7) Visit their website here

Cheap flights to Edinburgh

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*Adapted from an article originally written by Catherine McGloin for Skyscanner