4 Days in Edinburgh: Ultimate 4-Day Itinerary

Ultimate 4 Days Edinburgh Itinerary

You decided to go to Edinburgh for 4 days and you’re looking for the best things to do?

You’re in the right place.

To help you plan your stay, I have prepared the ideal itinerary to visit Edinburgh in 4 days.

You will find everything you need to optimise your visit to Edinburgh and to discover the city’s must-see attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, the Royal Mile and much more.

In addition to presenting you with the best places to visit and activities for each step of your itinerary, I also give you my advice and suggestions for hotels according to your budget.

So, what to do in Edinburgh in 4 days? Where to stay?

Our tips for avoiding queuing in Edinburgh

As Edinburgh is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, every day thousands of visitors visit Edinburgh Castle or Holyrood Palace.

Knowing how to avoid waiting in queue for hours to visit the emblematic monuments of the Scottish capital can therefore be really useful.

You will no doubt agree that there is nothing more irritating than seeing your Edinburgh visiting programme in 4 days ruined because you have lost hours to wait…

Fortunately, there are 2 ways to avoid this inconvenience and not miss any of the must-see sites during your 4-day trip to Edinburgh.

Let me explain everything to you:

1. The Royal Edinburgh Ticket

To save as much time (and money) as possible on your 4-day route to Edinburgh, your first option is to buy the Royal Edinburgh Ticket.

This type of pass is available for all major tourist cities in the world.

It will give you direct access to 3 of the most famous sites without having to queue to get your tickets.

Here’s what’s included in the Royal Edinburgh ticket:

  • Skip-the-line ticket for Edinburgh Castle
  • Priority entrance to Holyrood Palace
  • Skip-the-line ticket for the Royal Yacht Britannia
  • 48 hours of unlimited journeys on the 3 hop-on hop-off bus lines: very convenient to discover Edinburgh without hindrance, especially if you have decided to visit Edinburgh with your children or if you do not want to walk too much.

After booking your Royal Edinburgh Ticket (using the green button below), you will receive an e-mail confirmation voucher.

You will have to exchange this voucher for your Royal Edinburgh Ticket at the ticket office on St Andrew Square (the exact address will be specified in the email).

2. Skip-the-line tickets for Edinburgh tourist attractions

To visit Edinburgh in 4 days, you can also buy skip-the-line tickets individually.

Like the Royal Edinburgh Ticket, they will give you access to tourist landmarks and attractions without queuing up.

There is a long list of tickets available for the main historic sites and activities to be done in Edinburgh in 4 days.

I have listed some of them below. You will also find them mentioned throughout this article.

To book, simply click on the names of the attractions (in orange) or on the green buttons that you will find in this guide.

Visit Edinburgh in 4 days: The must-sees

Travel Tips:

You can find all the tickets, guided tours and activities available in Edinburgh by clicking here: Book your tickets and guided tours in Edinburgh.

If you plan to visit the castle, the palace and the Royal Yacht, I really recommend that you take the Royal Edinburgh Ticket, as it will save you time and money. You can then complete it with other skip-the-line tickets and guided tours according to your tastes.

This is the best way to make the most of your stay.

Last tip for a perfect 4-day stay in Edinburgh

If you already know your travel dates (or as soon as you get them), I strongly recommend you to book your accommodation.

And yes, Edinburgh is simply one of the most touristic cities in the world and the hotels offering the best performance/price ratio are very quickly complete.

To be used to traveling, I can assure you that I have found the best accommodation in the nearest possible way.

It would be a pity to waste part of your stay in Edinburgh by finding yourself in a not-too-a terrible hotel that cost you a fortune, right?

So take 5 minutes now to take a look at the list of travelers’ favorite hotels in Edinburgh..

Visit Edinburgh in 4 days: the best itinerary

It is now time to plan your 4-day journey in Edinburgh.

For each day, I will give you all the details you need to organise your tours, as well as a map showing the attractions to see.

I consider that you will spend 4 full days in Edinburgh and that you have already bought your Royal Edinburgh Ticket or your skip-the-line tickets.

Thus, you will not waste time queuing up to buy tickets and will be able to see as many places as possible during your 4-day stay.

And if you have any questions once you have read the article or if you need help planning your holiday, do not hesitate to ask me in the comments section at the end of this guide.

So what to visit in Edinburgh in 4 days?

Day 1 – Edinburgh Historic Centre

4-day itinerary in Edinburgh – Day 1
4-day itinerary in Edinburgh – Day 1

Day 1: visits

A. Edinburgh Castle
B. The Royal Mile
C. Holyroodhouse Palace
D. Arthur’s Seat
E. Grassmarket
F. Greyfriars Cemetery or Ghost Tour

A. Edinburgh Castle

The best way to start your 4-day stay in Edinburgh is undoubtedly to go and admire the most emblematic monument in the city.

Heading to the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, this historic fortress that dominates the city.

You can reach the castle by walking along Royal Mile Avenue or using the Hop-On Hop-Off bus. This is a great option if you own the Royal Edinburgh Ticket, because it allows you to borrow it for free.

Given your itinerary for the day, I advise you to arrive at the castle as soon as it opens.

This castle is a symbol of Scotland and makes it possible to understand the tumultuous past of the nation, as it was a royal residence, a military stronghold, and even a prison.

You should allow at least 2-3 hours to explore the museum, the royal apartments and the Chapel of St. Margaret.

You will also have the chance to admire the Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny, used for the coronation of Scottish monarchs for centuries.

Travel Tips:

If you want to visit the castle during your 4 days in Edinburgh, I advise you to buy your skip-the-line ticket if you do not want to queue for 2 hours at the entrance.

If you bought the Royal Edinburgh ticket, the entrance is included.

Alternatively, buy your entry directly with priority access.

4 Days in Edinburgh: Ultimate 4-Day Itinerary
Edinburgh Castle – a must on your 4 days in Edinburgh.

B. The Royal Mile

Then take a walk along the Royal Mile, the main street in the Old Town stretch from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace (the next visit to your tour).

It is a treasure trove of history, lined with medieval buildings, typical alleys and small shops.

Here are the must-see places to see by the way:

  • Milne’s Court: a picturesque courtyard that gives a glimpse of medieval Edinburgh
  • Canongate Kirk: a beautiful little church
  • Dunbar’s Close Garden: a peaceful sanctuary, perfect for a quiet break
  • Scottish Parliament House: a very unusual postmodern building in contrast to the ancient city
  • White Horse Close: a charming inner courtyard.

The St. Gilles Cathedral is also on the Royal Mile, but you should keep this tour for the third day of your itinerary, when you have more time to explore this famous street.

For now, just walk to the end of the avenue, where your next visit awaits you: Holyrood Palace.

Travel Tips:

If you prefer not to walk from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood, I recommend that you take the multi-stop bus included in your Royal Edinburgh ticket.

Alternatively, you can buy tickets for 24 hours.

Royal Mile Avenue in Edinburgh
Royal Mile Avenue in Edinburgh

C. Holyrood Palace

After visiting the Royal Mile, your next stop is Holyroodhouse Palace, the official residence of the British monarchy in Scotland.

This royal residence is another historic monument to visit in 4 days in Edinburgh.

The palace was founded as a monastery in 1128 and has served as the main residence for the kings and queens of Scotland since the 16th century.

Inside the palace, you will discover opulent apartments used by the rulers for state ceremonies and official receptions.

You will also discover the historic apartments of Marie Stuart, where you can see her bedroom and the courtroom where the brutal murder of David Rizzio, his secretary, took place.

The palace also houses an impressive collection of tapestries and paintings, offering a glimpse of the royal way of life.

The Royal Edinburgh Ticket gives you priority access to Holyrood Palace.

If you do not have this pass, you must buy your ticket by clicking here.

Holyrood Palace, a must on your 4-day visit to Edinburgh
Holyrood Palace, a must on your 4-day visit to Edinburgh

D. Arthur’s Seat

Continue your 4-day journey to Edinburgh by heading to Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano and Edinburgh’s highest point.

From there, you will enjoy a magnificent panoramic view of the city.

Allow about 2 hours round trip for this moderately difficult hike.

Arthur’s Seat and its incredible view of Edinburgh
Arthur’s Seat and its incredible view of Edinburgh

E. Grassmarket

At nightfall, let’s continue your 4-day itinerary in Edinburgh by visiting the Cowgate and Grassmarket district for dinner.

This area is known for its lively atmosphere and numerous restoration options.

If you are adventurous, I advise you to taste traditional Scottish dishes such as haggis, neeps and tatties or Cullen Skink.

Otherwise, many restaurants offering international cuisine are also present in the neighborhood, so you will surely find something to your liking.

The historic district of Grassmarket is also the ideal place for a night walk or for a drink in one of the pubs.

F. Guided tour “ghosts” or Greyfriars Cemetery

For a unique evening, I advise you to join a guided ghost-themed tour, which is the best way to discover the haunted history of Edinburgh.

You can choose from several circuits, some of which take you through the dark alleys and underground cellars of the Old Town.

For booking or more information, simply click on the orange links below:

These tours offer not only a glimpse of the city’s frightening history, but also a unique way of seeing Edinburgh after dark.

But for me the best is the famous visit to the Kirkyard Greyfriars Cemetery.

It is the most haunted cemetery in the world.

Guided tours are offered every evening and last approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. I can assure you that you will have your dose of stories and anecdotes of ghosts.

As a bonus, your guide also takes you to the haunted underground cellars of Edinburgh.

You can choose to make the visits at 6 p.m. or 8 p.m., but you must book your seat in advance by clicking here.

Greyfriars Kirkyard – A haunted evening in Edinburgh
Greyfriars Kirkyard – A haunted evening in Edinburgh

Day 2: What to do and see in Edinburgh?

Itinerary: 4 days in Edinburgh – Day 2
Itinerary: 4 days in Edinburgh – Day 2

Day 2 visits:

A. Royal Bestonia Yacht
B. Calton Hill
C. Princes Street
D. Princes Street Gardens and Scott Monument
E. The Scottish National Gallery
F. Charlotte Square

A. The Royal Yacht Britannia

If you have the chance to spend 4 days in Edinburgh, you should really go to the Royal Yacht Britannia, located in the historic port of Leith in Edinburgh.

This former royal yacht of the British monarchy is now docked permanently in Edinburgh and has been turned into a museum.

For more than 40 years, the boat served as a floating royal residence, accommodating some of the most famous personalities in the world.

During your visit, you will get a glimpse of the life of the British royal family and the crew and you will discover:

  • State apartments
  • Official reception lounges
  • Crew quarters
  • The engine room
  • The tea room on the deck, the perfect place to enjoy a cup of tea or a lunch with a view of the water.

Entry to the Royal Yacht Britannia is included in the Royal Edinburgh Ticket.

If you do not have the City Pass, you must book your skip-the-line tickets by clicking here.

Travel Tips:

To get to Leith, you can take public transport or a hop-on bus if you have the Royal Edinburgh ticket, as routes are included.

The Royal Yacht Britannia – Visit Edinburgh in 4 days
The Royal Yacht Britannia – Visit Edinburgh in 4 days

B. Calton Hill

Then join the top of Calton Hill.

A pleasant walk of 10 to 15 minutes will take you to the top of one of the main hills in Edinburgh.

The reward? A magnificent panoramic view of the city’s landmarks such as Arthur’s seat, Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament.

At Calton Hill, you will also find several monuments and buildings, such as the National Monument, the Nelson Monument and the City Observatory.

They offer excellent opportunities to take beautiful pictures.

Calton Hill
Calton Hill

C. Princes Street

After enjoying the view of the city, let yourself be tempted by a little shopping (or window licking) on Princes Street, Edinburgh’s main shopping street.

You will find a mix of ready-to-wear brands, department stores and Scottish souvenir shops.

Princes Street also offers magnificent views of Edinburgh Castle, so you will certainly have the opportunity to take some pictures on the way.

Princes Street
Princes Street

D. Princes Street’s Garden and Scott Monument

Princes Street Garden is a quiet green space in the heart of the city.

It is the ideal place to relax after a shopping session. The garden consists of magnificent flower beds, monuments and a beautiful fountain.

But its main attraction is the Scott Monument, dedicated to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott.

If you like challenges, climb the 287 steps from the narrow spiral staircase to the top to enjoy the panoramic view of Edinburgh.

E. The National Gallery of Scotland

The next stage of your 4-day stay in Edinburgh is the Scottish National Gallery, located near the Princes Street Gardens.

This gallery is a haven for art lovers and all those interested in the history of Scottish and European art.

Its impressive collection from the Renaissance to the Post-Impressionist period includes works by renowned artists such as Botticelli, Van Gogh and Monet, as well as Scottish artists such as Ramsay and Raeburn.

Entry to the National Gallery of Scotland is free of charge.

National Gallery of Scotland
National Gallery of Scotland

F. Charlotte Square

End your day with a visit to Charlotte Square, one of Edinburgh’s most prestigious squares.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You can admire the elegant townhouses surrounding the square, considered one of the best examples of Georgian architecture in Edinburgh.

The square is also home to the Georgian House, run by the National Trust for Scotland, a beautifully restored 18th-century townhouse converted into a museum. The interior allows you to admire his period furniture, paintings and objects of everyday life.

Charlotte Square is also the seat of the official residence of the Prime Minister of Scotland.

Charlotte Square
Charlotte Square

Day 3 in Edinburgh – The best places to visit

4 days in Edinburgh – Day 3
4 days in Edinburgh – Day 3

Visits on the third day:

A. The National Museum of Scotland
B. Camera Obscura
C. The Scotch Whisky Experience
D. The Cathedral of Saint-Gilles
E. Other ideas for activities

A. The National Museum of Scotland

Start your day at the National Museum of Scotland, the perfect place to learn more about Scottish history and culture, as well as the natural sciences.

I particularly liked the Scottish Galleries, which recount Scotland’s history from prehistoric times to the present day. The Grand Gallery, known for its majestic architecture, is also worth visiting.

Finally, do not miss the exhibition dedicated to Dolly the ewe, a tribute to the world’s first cloned mammal, an important scientific achievement for Scotland.

Entry to the museum is free of charge.

The National Museum of Scotland – 4-day trip to Edinburgh
The National Museum of Scotland – 4-day trip to Edinburgh

B. Camera Obscura

Then head to the Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions, located near Edinburgh Castle (only 7 minutes walk from the museum).

This attraction combines historical technology and interactive exhibitions.

You will discover disconcerting illusions, holograms, as well as the famous camera obscura.

Invented in 1835, it is a unique way of seeing Edinburgh, which uses a Victorian invention to project live images of the city onto a viewing table.

The panoramic terrace also offers a spectacular 360-degree view of Edinburgh.

Travel Tips:

You must buy your Camera Obscura ticket in advance here.

Camera Obscura in Edinburgh
Camera Obscura in Edinburgh

C. The Scotch Whisky Experience

Visiting Edinburgh in 4 days also allows you to indulge in a typical Scottish activity with “The Scotch Whisky Experience”.

Located close to Camera Obscura, this activity is a must for whisky lovers and others.

You will discover the whisky-making process and the rich history behind Scotland’s national drink.

The visit includes a sensory introduction to the world of whisky, a barrel trip explaining the production process, and of course a tasting session.

You will also discover the impressive collection of more than 3 000 bottles of whisky different.

Whether you are a whisky connoisseur or a complete beginner, this experience is both educational and entertaining.

To book this activity, simply click here.

Travel Tips:

For a more personalized experience, I would rather advise you to book a whisky bar evening. Here, an expert guide will be happy to share everything with you on the national drink.

You will taste four whiskies, each from a different area of Scotland. It is a must-see activity for your 4-day stay in Edinburgh.

You must reserve it here.

The Scotch Whisky Experience
The Scotch Whisky Experience

D. St. Gilles Cathedral

After your whisky-themed tour, head to St. Gilles Cathedral, another emblematic monument in Edinburgh.

This church, also known as the “High Kirk of Edinburgh”, is renowned for its magnificent stained glass and important role in the history of Scotland.

You must absolutely explore the Chapel of Chardon, the seat of the Order of the Chardon, the chivalric company of Scotland chosen by the Queen.

Entrance to the cathedral is free, but donations are welcome.

If you wish, it is possible to book a guided tour directly on site. It is an excellent way to learn more about the fascinating history and architecture of the cathedral.

St. Gallic Cathedral in Edinburgh
St. Gallic Cathedral in Edinburgh

E. Other ideas for activities

To end your third day in Edinburgh, I advise you to opt for a guided tour that fits your interests.

There are many incredible guided tours in Edinburgh.

From the magical world of Harry Potter to the mysterious catacombs of Edinburgh and The Real Mary King’s Close, each offers a unique perspective on the city and are perfect for learning more about its history and legends.

For example, the Harry Potter guided tour is perfect for fans of the series or if you travel with kids.

Edinburgh is the place where J.K. Rowling wrote the majority of books, and this visit takes you to the streets that inspired her.

You’ll see the coffee she was writing, the school that inspired Hogwarts, and other magical places.

You must reserve it here.
The second option is to visit Edinburgh, which takes you under the streets of the city to explore its catacombs.

It’s really very interesting, because you’ll get information about the darker side of Edinburgh’s past.

Book your visit to the Edinburgh Catamuses by clicking here.

And if you’re looking for something even more unique, the visit to The Real Mary King’s Close is a great choice.

It gives you a glimpse of 17th-century Edinburgh, taking you through a series of hidden alleyways, frozen in time under the Royal Mile.

Simply click here.

The Real Mary King’s Close
The Real Mary King’s Close

Day 4 – Walk in Edinburgh

4 days in Edinburgh – Day 4
4 days in Edinburgh – Day 4

Day 4 visits:

A. Royal Botanical Garden
B. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
C. Dean Village
D. Stockbridge district

A. The Royal Botanical Garden

On the last day of your 4-day itinerary in Edinburgh, continue to explore the city to discover some of its hidden treasures.

Start your day at the Royal Botanical Garden, one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world.

It is the perfect place to relax and enjoy nature.

You can explore plant collections, including the famous Rock Garden area, Chinese Hillside and Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden.

Personally, I really liked greenhouses, which are home to exotic plants from all over the world.

The Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh
The Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh

B. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Then head to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

It is divided into two buildings, Modern One and Modern Two, each offering a different perspective on the art world.

Modern One focuses on modern and contemporary art, with works by artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Warhol.

Modern Two hosts a range of temporary exhibitions and exhibits the gallery’s surrealist art collection.

You can also enjoy the sculpture park surrounding the gallery, with works by renowned artists.

C. Dean Village

After visiting the gallery, enjoy a quiet stroll to Dean Village, a picturesque and peaceful corner of Edinburgh, coiled along the Water of Leith.

There you can walk through the charming cobbled streets and admire the traditional miller houses, which recall the history of the village as a milling center for more than 800 years.

Walking in Dean Village is really like going back in time.

Don’t miss the Well Court, a beautifully restored building that is one of the most photographed in the neighborhood.

Dean Village
Dean Village

D. Evening in Stockbridge

To finish your 4-day tour in Edinburgh with class, spend your last evening in the Stockbridge area.

Known for its bohemian atmosphere, Stockbridge is full of independent shops, cafes and pubs.

Take time to stroll through antique shops, craftsmen’s shops and galleries.

For dinner, you will be spoilt for choice. From the warm bistros to the upscale restaurants, you will certainly find something to your liking.

After dinner, relax in one of the many pubs, where you can enjoy a local beer or whisky, to end the day as a true Edinburgh.

You now have all the information and advice you need to visit Edinburgh in 4 days.

Accommodation in Edinburgh

Now that you know what to do in Edinburgh in 4 days, there is still a crucial question: where to stay during these few days?

I am not going to lie to you, the cost of accommodation in Edinburgh is rather high and it is not obvious to find economic hotels, especially in the centre. The best offers are always booked months in advance.

That is why it is really necessary to book as soon as possible in order to obtain the best fares.

If you already know your travel dates, you really should book your accommodation now.

Here is my selection of the best hotels in Edinburgh, depending on your budget:

  • Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel: Youth Hostel located only 800 metres from the railway station and Princes Street. Bed in a dormitory from 30 degrees, breakfast at 6 degrees. The most: cleanliness, location, pleasant staff.
  • Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh Haymarket: Located in the city centre, a 10-minute walk from the castle. Contemporary and elegant double room from 90 degrees, breakfast included. The most: the very helpful staff, the spacious rooms, the very comfortable bed. This is our crush on his benefit/price ratio.
  • Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh: Located on the historic Royal Mile Street, 10 minutes from Holyrood Palace. Double room chic and refined from 200 euros per night, breakfast at 14 degrees. The most: the central location, the spa, the heated indoor pool, the gym, the excellent breakfast.
  • Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile Edinburgh: 5-star hotel located in Royal Mile, 600 metres from the castle. This luxury hotel offers design, comfortable and elegant rooms, starting at 300 euros per night, breakfast at 18 degrees. The most: in the historic centre of Edinburgh, the interior decoration, the adorable staff, absolute comfort. This is our recommendation for a luxury stay in Edinburgh.
5-star hotel in Edinburgh – Le Radisson Collection Hotel
5-star hotel in Edinburgh – Le Radisson Collection Hotel

Visit Edinburgh in 4 days with family

If you plan to spend four days in Edinburgh with your children, rest assured that they will not get bored and that they will really like most of the attractions.

You may, however, need to adjust the itinerary a little to match their age and interests. For example, they are not allowed to participate in the whisky activity.

And for younger people, visiting ghosts is not really recommended.

Here are some ideas for a four-day stay in Edinburgh with children:

More things to do and see in Edinburgh in 4 days?

If you have followed my 4-day itinerary in Edinburgh and wish to explore even more, I advise you to read my guide to the 20 best places to visit in the Scottish capital.

You can consult it here: The 20 best things to do in Edinburgh.

It might even make you want to extend your stay in the city. Why not consider spending 5 days in Edinburgh, or even a full week?

Map of your 4-day itinerary in Edinburgh

To help you view your itineraries during these 4 days in Edinburgh, I made you a map listing the places to visit on a day-to-day basis.

You can display the caption of the map by clicking on the button at the top left with a small arrow. You can then see the routes for each day.

If, after reading this guide you still need help planning your 4-day stay in Edinburgh, please feel free to ask me your questions in the comments section below.

Are you going to Scotland? Read also

Discover all our articles on Scotland: All tips about Scotland are listed here.

  • Visit Edinburgh in 2 days – The ultimate 48-hour itinerary
  • Visit Edinburgh in 3 days – The best 72-hour itinerary in the Scottish capital.

Steve Batides

I am passionate about travel, writing and music. I like writing books, landing in an unknown country, brassens, beer, cats, jazz and shells. I put a point of honor to seek for you the best information to sublimate your travels. A question about a destination, a visit, a good plan? I'll answer in the comments.

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