When planning our little trip around Western Europe, Tim and I knew stopping in Scotland might not make the most sense both timing- and geographically speaking. However, the more research we did on this little corner of the UK the more we knew we couldn’t pass up dropping in even for a mere day. Out of all of Scotland we chose to explore the city of Edinburgh and, my goodness!, it’s a part of our trip I look back on with such awe.

We took nearly every kind of transportation possible to get from Dublin, Ireland, over to Edinburgh, Scotland. This made for a never-ending travel day but, thankfully, the majority of this was done along the eastern coast of Scotland, making it slightly bearable;)

Though we just had a single day in Edinburgh, we packed more into it than I ever guessed we could. The city’s story book-like whimsy, mixed with its medieval structures and hidden walkways, all while knowing it’s where J.K. Rowling calls home… Yeah! It made for quite the day. You know what they say, right? Always choose quality over quantity. Below’s a little timeline of how we spent our 24 hours in Edinburgh.

Tim and I started the day off by walking from our hostel to Black Medicine for coffee and tea.

From here we puttsed along the Royal Mile. It may be ultra-touristy, but walking along this famous street is a must in Edinburgh. My favourite part of the Royal Mile was stopping into St Giles’ Cathedral (our first cathedral of the trip), where the blue ceiling and intricate stained glass made my jaw drop.

Upon reaching the end of the Royal Mile, we admired the view from Edinburgh Castle and made our way down a path along the hill it’s planted on, where yellow flowers are abundant. The panoramic of the city from here is beautiful.

Our next item on the agenda was walking to Holyrood Park, and then hiking up Arthur’s Seat. This is a great hike to take your time on, with the views only becoming more and more panoramic as you head up the hill. We had a difficult time finding an efficient way down, making us considerably hungry, so we proceeded to stop for pasta at a restaurant near Dynamic Earth.

From here we walked to The Elephant House for tea, where all my dreams came true! I literally could have spent the entire rest of the day here. (For those who don’t know, The Elephant House is where J.K. Rowling spent a considerable amount of time writing the first Harry Potter books, and it was my only must-do item on our Edinburgh agenda prior to visiting.) The café has done little to play up to its Harry Potter hype, save for some framed photos of J.K. Rowling, which oddly adds even more to its charm. But, as most people know, upon entering its washrooms, the Potterverse hits you in the face with walls and walls of HP-related graffiti. So cool! I was also amazed by the view the café has of Edinburgh Castle. No wonder J.K. Rowling could dream up a place like Hogwarts when this view was part of her writing haven.

Though I could have just spent the rest of the day at The Elephant House, we decided to pay the fee and better discover the hidden secrets of Edinburgh Castle. All in all this was a pretty cool experience, but I would recommend being part of a tour group if you went. We didn’t want to spend money on this and though the castle is amazing on its own, having the history behind every detail would have been the cherry on top of the cake. My favourite part was the epic views you get when up high in the castle, and seeing The Honours of Scotland.

To cap off the day after a brief rest at our hostel, Tim gave in to my begging and we had dinner and tea at The Elephant House. We could have gone to any pub we wanted, but look where we ended up. Because J.K. Rowling. And because it was one of the most picturesque places I’ll ever drink tea. Tim ventured out of his comfort zone here and actually had “haggis, neeps n’ tatties” for dinner (haggis, turnips and potatoes) and he really enjoyed it. I was very proud.

To end our time in Edinburgh we slowly meandered back to our hostel (lots of walking!) and admired the city’s centre for a little. How beautiful Edinburgh was when the sunset came out to play behind all its ancient, silhouetted monuments that call this place home. I feel lucky to have had such a memorable sampling of Edinburgh and highly recommend visiting if you’re able, even if it only can be for 24 hours.