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The Best Way to Explore Edinburgh: Day One

When it comes to sightseeing in Edinburgh city centre, it can be hard to know where to start. There’s so much to see and do. So if you’re spending the weekend here, we’ve lined up three perfect days in Edinburgh for you. With the best places to see, visit, eat and drink. Day one starts in New Town Edinburgh, just a short stroll from us at Parliament House Hotel.

Day 1: Sightseeing in Edinburgh City Centre’s New Town

First stop, the Portrait Gallery

Great Hall of The Portrait Gallery

After a hearty breakfast at the hotel, why not soak up some culture at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery? This red neo-gothic sandstone gallery is one of Edinburgh’s most iconic buildings, opened in 1889. Admission is free and the gallery is open daily, so you can stroll around special exhibitions like the BP Portrait Awards or see hundreds of portraits of historical and contemporary figures like Mary Queen of Scots and Robert Burns. Don’t miss the Victorian Library, where you’ll spot sculptures of the infamous Edinburgh body snatchers, Burke and Hare.

Explore Princes Street Gardens

Autumn view of Princes Street Gardens in EdinburghIf the sun’s shining, there’s no better place to stop off for lunch than Princes Street Gardens. Pick up some delicious fresh sushi at Yo! Sushi or a bite to eat from the nearby Marks & Spencer food hall and head down to these expansive gardens. We recommend taking the East Entrance near Princes Mall to see the beautiful floral clock, which was installed in 1903. Mingle with the sun-worshipping locals and tourists and enjoy your lunch or stroll around the gardens first – they run the length of Princes Street’s south side.

Stroll along George Street

George Street in the New Town of EdinburghOn rainy days, George Street is the ideal place for a spot of lunch and some shopping. The New Town’s thoroughfare is packed with designer boutiques, as well as plenty of drinking and dining establishments. For a casual bite, burgers and beers at the Hard Rock Café is a popular choice, while the Printing Press offers a sophisticated, literary-inspired menu with imaginative cocktails, or there’s always Brown’s Brasserie for a cosy, romantic meal for two. After lunch you can stroll around shops like The White Company, Anthropologie and Karen Millen to your heart’s content and you’ll find some local boutiques well worth checking out too.

Discover 18th-century Edinburgh life

Georgian House museum in Edinburgh New TownIf you prefer history to handbags, the Georgian House has to be next on your Edinburgh sightseeing itinerary. This beautiful townhouse in Charlotte Square has been painstakingly restored and is an unmissable chance to experience what life in the 18th century was like.  Enjoy a rare glimpse into the Edinburgh of old and head upstairs for a taste of Georgian luxury, while below stairs lie the servant’s room, scullery and re-created kitchen. You can even dress up in replica costumes as you explore!

Walk in the footsteps of Rebus

Rose Street sign on the wallAs you stroll back along Rose Street, you’ll find yourself walking in the footsteps of none other than Inspector Rebus, Ian Rankin’s famous detective. Do as he would have done and stop off for an afternoon refreshment at the Oxford Bar. Known locally as ‘The Ox’, it’s the ideal place for a dram, with an excellent whisky selection. If you’re lucky, you may even spot the author himself.

Dinner Belle-Epoque style

Table in restaurant with black cloth set for dinnerIf a night on the tiles is on the cards, look no further than the super-chic The Honours, Martin Wishart’s charming brasserie. With its belle-epoque interior and some of the best steak frites around (try the chateaubriand, if you’re feeling flush), it’s the perfect place for a romantic meal or catch-up with friends. Then head for a nightcap or two at Bryant and Mack, the quirky Edinburgh speakeasy that’s styled as a private detective agency. It’s tucked away round a dark corner just off Rose Street North Lane and is a well-kept secret among locals.

Parliament House Hotel is just a short walk away, so if you’re in the mood for a quiet evening after a day of sightseeing in Edinburgh city centre, head back and enjoy an informal dinner in our cosy restaurant, followed by a nightcap in the bar. On day two of our itinerary, we’ll head for the historic Old Town. Why not book your stay today and enjoy a relaxing stay close to the city’s attractions?

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