How many days to spend in Edinburgh and Glasgow?

Scotland’s historic charm and vibrant culture are encapsulated in its two major cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Each offers a unique blend of attractions, from the cobbled streets and majestic castle of Edinburgh to the dynamic arts scene and architectural wonders of Glasgow. Deciding how many days to allocate to each city can be a challenge, as there’s much to explore. This article guides you through the highlights and helps you plan a balanced itinerary to make the most of your visit to these Scottish gems.

Key Takeaways

  • Allocate at least 2-3 days for Edinburgh to explore its historical sites, including the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle, and enjoy its cultural offerings like museums and galleries.
  • Spend 1-2 days in Glasgow to experience its lively West End, stunning Glasgow Cathedral, and rich transport history at the Riverside Museum, as well as its renowned nightlife.
  • Choose accommodation based on your budget and preferences, with a range of options from hostels to luxury hotels available in both cities.
  • Don’t miss out on the traditional Scottish cuisine in both cities, with Edinburgh boasting Michelin-starred dining and Glasgow offering a diverse food scene.
  • Plan your travel itinerary considering the length of your stay, potential day trips, seasonal events, and efficient transportation to maximise your time in both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Exploring Edinburgh: A Guide to the City’s Highlights

Exploring Edinburgh: A Guide to the City's Highlights

The Royal Mile: A Walk Through History

The Royal Mile is the beating heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, connecting two significant landmarks: Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This historic thoroughfare is lined with mediaeval tenements, quaint shops, and inviting pubs, each telling its own story of the city’s past.

Strolling down the Royal Mile, you’ll encounter a series of closes and wynds, narrow alleyways that branch off the main street, offering a glimpse into the city’s mediaeval layout. It’s easy to imagine the hustle and bustle of bygone days as you explore these hidden passages.

Edinburgh is not the only city with a rich history and vibrant present. Glasgow, just a short journey away, also offers a wealth of experiences. While Edinburgh invites you to walk through history, Glasgow promotes cycling and walking with events that improve transportation and sustainability. This approach not only enhances the visitor experience but also supports the city’s commitment to a greener future.

The Royal Mile is more than just a street; it’s a journey through time. As you walk from one end to the other, the layers of history unfold, revealing the city’s evolution from ancient times to the modern day.

When planning your visit, consider the tourist demand which can affect taxi prices, suggesting that planning ahead and considering alternatives such as public transport or walking might be beneficial. Below is a list of must-visit spots along the Royal Mile:

  • Edinburgh Castle
  • St. Giles’ Cathedral
  • The Scotch Whisky Experience
  • The Museum of Edinburgh
  • The Scottish Parliament Building

Edinburgh Castle: A Must-Visit Landmark

Perched atop an extinct volcanic crag, Edinburgh Castle is an iconic symbol of Scotland’s capital. Steeped in history, the castle has been a royal residence, military garrison, prison, and fortress. It’s no wonder that this historic site is one of the country’s most visited attractions.

Visitors can explore the castle’s many features, including the Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny, and the Royal Palace. The castle also offers panoramic views of Edinburgh, making it a perfect spot for photography enthusiasts.

The experience of visiting Edinburgh Castle is both educational and awe-inspiring, providing a deep connection to Scotland’s past.

To make the most of your visit, consider the following tips:

  • Purchase tickets in advance to avoid long queues.
  • Check the weather forecast, as the castle is exposed and can be windy.
  • Allow at least 2-3 hours for a thorough exploration of the site.

Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat: Nature in the Heart of the City

Holyrood Park offers a unique blend of history, royalty, and natural beauty, all within the heart of Edinburgh. Climb an extinct volcano at Arthur’s Seat, the park’s highest point, providing panoramic views of the city. The ascent is a must-do for any visitor seeking a memorable outdoor experience.

Holyrood Park is not just about the climb; it’s a place where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll, spot wildlife, and immerse yourself in the tranquillity away from the urban hustle. The park’s diverse landscape includes cliffs, lochs, glens, and the Salisbury Crags.

The route to Arthur’s Seat is well-trodden and rewarding. Start your journey near the majestic Holyrood Palace, winding your way up to the summit. The descent via the Salisbury Crags offers a different perspective and a gentler return to the cityscape.

Here’s a quick guide to making the most of your visit:

  • Begin at Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland.
  • Follow the marked paths leading to Arthur’s Seat.
  • Allocate around 2-3 hours for a relaxed hike.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and bring water, especially on sunny days.
  • Enjoy the descent and the unique geological formations along the way.

Museums and Galleries: A Cultural Journey

Edinburgh’s rich tapestry of history and culture is vividly on display in its impressive array of museums and galleries. The National Museum of Scotland stands out as a beacon of knowledge, offering insights into the natural and anthropological history of the land. Here, visitors can immerse themselves in a world of discovery, from the age of dinosaurs to the innovations of the modern era.

For those with a penchant for nostalgia, the Museum of Childhood is a treasure trove of bygone toys and games, evoking memories of youth and the passage of time. This unique institution captures the essence of childhood across generations, making it a poignant stop for visitors of all ages.

Edinburgh’s museums are not just repositories of the past; they are vibrant cultural hubs that connect visitors to the stories and heritage of Scotland.

Whether you’re an art aficionado or a history buff, Edinburgh’s galleries and museums offer a cultural journey that is both enlightening and entertaining. Each venue provides a different perspective on the Scottish narrative, ensuring that every visitor leaves with a deeper appreciation of this storied nation.

Glasgow’s Vibrant Scene: Where to Go and What to See

Glasgow's Vibrant Scene: Where to Go and What to See

The West End: A Hub of Activity

Glasgow’s West End is a bustling neighbourhood known for its vibrant atmosphere and cultural diversity. Home to the University of Glasgow, the area is always brimming with energy, thanks in part to the student population. With a plethora of cafes, boutiques, and parks, it’s a perfect spot for those looking to experience the city’s contemporary vibe.

Ashton Lane is a cobbled backstreet that epitomises the West End’s charm. Lined with quirky pubs and eateries, it’s an ideal place for an evening out. Nearby, the Botanic Gardens offer a tranquil escape with its lush greenery and Victorian glasshouses.

The West End is not just about leisure; it’s a cultural hub with venues like the Oran Mor and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum hosting a range of events from live music to art exhibitions.

For those interested in exploring the best experiences near Glasgow West End, a visit to the iconic landmarks and participating in local tours can greatly enhance your stay. The area’s connectivity to other parts of Glasgow also makes it a convenient base for wider explorations.

Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis: Architectural Splendour

Glasgow Cathedral stands as a testament to Scotland’s mediaeval past, with its imposing Gothic architecture drawing visitors from around the world. Adjacent to the cathedral, the Necropolis is a striking city of the dead, perched on a hill and offering panoramic views of Glasgow.

The Necropolis is not just a cemetery; it’s an open-air museum showcasing the city’s history through its ornate tombs and monuments. A visit here is a walk through time, where each stone tells a story of Glasgow’s rich heritage.

  • Explore the intricate carvings and stained glass windows of the cathedral.
  • Wander among the thousands of monuments in the Necropolis.
  • Take in the views of Glasgow from the hilltop vantage point.

The experience of exploring these two historic sites provides a profound sense of connection to Glasgow’s past and the people who shaped it.

The Riverside Museum and Tall Ship: Exploring Transport History

The Riverside Museum in Glasgow offers a dynamic journey through the city’s rich transport heritage. Discover a wide array of vehicles, from vintage cars to locomotives, each telling a unique story of Scotland’s industrial and social past. The museum’s interactive displays and life-sized street scenes provide an immersive experience that captivates visitors of all ages.

Adjacent to the museum, the Glenlee, also known as The Tall Ship, stands as a testament to Glasgow’s shipbuilding prowess. This historic vessel, launched in 1896, allows you to step back in time and explore maritime life. The Glenlee is a three-masted barque, notable for its impressive size and the role it played in global trade during its operational years.

The Riverside Museum and The Tall Ship offer a combined ticket option, making it a convenient and cost-effective way to enjoy both attractions.

Here’s a quick glance at The Tall Ship’s specifications:

Feature Specification
Type Three-masted barque
Launch Year 1896
Length 245 feet
Beam 38 feet

Visiting these iconic attractions provides a deeper understanding of Glasgow’s historical significance in transport and is a highlight for anyone interested in the city’s industrial heritage.

Glasgow’s Nightlife: From Traditional Pubs to Modern Bars

Glasgow’s nightlife offers an eclectic mix that caters to all tastes, from the warmth of traditional pubs to the electric buzz of modern bars. The city’s vibrant scene is a testament to its cultural diversity, with venues ranging from intimate whisky dens to sprawling superclubs.

  • For a taste of local flavour, explore the historic pubs that dot the city, each with its own story and selection of fine Scottish ales.
  • Those seeking a more contemporary vibe will find plenty of options, including cool and quirky bars that offer everything from creative cocktails to live music and themed nights.

Glasgow’s nightlife is not just about the drinks; it’s an immersive experience that combines the city’s rich history with its dynamic present.

Whether you’re in the mood for a laid-back evening or a night of dancing, Glasgow has a spot that will make your night unforgettable. Be sure to check out the guide to the very best quirky bars in the city, where you can enjoy unique activities like arcade games and drag bingo.

Accommodation Options: Where to Stay in Edinburgh and Glasgow

Accommodation Options: Where to Stay in Edinburgh and Glasgow

Choosing the Right Neighbourhood

Selecting the ideal neighbourhood for your stay in Edinburgh or Glasgow can greatly enhance your travel experience. Location is key, as it determines your proximity to attractions, dining options, and the overall atmosphere you’ll enjoy during your visit.

In Edinburgh, the Old Town offers a historic backdrop, with easy access to the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle. For those seeking a more modern vibe, the New Town is known for its Georgian architecture and trendy shops. Here’s a quick guide to help you decide:

  • Old Town: Historic charm, close to major attractions
  • New Town: Elegant streets, fashionable boutiques
  • Leith: Vibrant port area, renowned for dining
  • Stockbridge: Bohemian flair, weekly markets

Glasgow’s neighbourhoods each have their own unique character. The West End is popular for its bohemian atmosphere and cultural hotspots, while the City Centre is perfect for those who want to be in the heart of the action.

When choosing a neighbourhood, consider what type of environment will make your trip most memorable. Whether it’s the quiet cobbled streets of Dean Village in Edinburgh or the bustling arts scene in Glasgow’s Merchant City, your choice of locale can define your Scottish adventure.

Budget-Friendly Hostels and B&Bs

For those looking to explore Edinburgh and Glasgow without breaking the bank, a plethora of budget-friendly hostels and B&Bs offer comfortable and economical accommodation options. Hostels are particularly popular among solo travellers and backpackers, providing not only a bed but also a chance to meet fellow adventurers.

Edinburgh boasts a variety of hostels in the city centre, allowing easy access to major attractions. Glasgow’s offerings are equally diverse, with some hostels even providing themed stays or historical settings. Here’s a quick list of what to consider when choosing your budget accommodation:

  • Location and proximity to public transport
  • Availability of private or shared rooms
  • Guest reviews and ratings
  • Amenities such as free Wi-Fi, breakfast, and communal areas

Opting for a B&B can add a touch of local charm to your stay, often including a hearty Scottish breakfast to start your day right.

Remember to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure the best rates and availability. With a little research, you can find the perfect spot to rest your head after a day of exploring.

Mid-Range Hotels and Guesthouses

When visiting Edinburgh and Glasgow, mid-range hotels and guesthouses offer a comfortable stay without breaking the bank. These accommodations provide a balance between affordability and comfort, often including amenities such as en-suite bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, and breakfast options.

Edinburgh boasts a variety of mid-range options that cater to different tastes. The city’s historic charm is reflected in many of these establishments, which are frequently located within walking distance of major attractions. Here’s a selection to consider:

  • The Dunstane Houses: Victorian elegance with a modern twist.
  • The Inn on the Mile: Located on the Royal Mile, perfect for history enthusiasts.
  • Cityroomz: A budget-friendly option with stylish, compact rooms.

Glasgow’s mid-range accommodations are equally diverse, offering visitors a taste of the city’s vibrant culture. From traditional guesthouses to contemporary hotels, there’s something for everyone:

  • The Z Hotel: In the heart of the city, ideal for urban explorers.
  • The Alexander Thomson Hotel: A blend of classic architecture and modern facilities.
  • The Sandyford Hotel: Family-run comfort close to the West End.

Choosing the right place to stay can significantly enhance your travel experience, ensuring you have a cosy retreat after a day of exploration.

Luxury Accommodations for a Special Stay

For those seeking an indulgent retreat, Edinburgh and Glasgow offer a range of luxury accommodations. Experience opulence and exceptional service at five-star hotels that promise to make your stay memorable. From historic castles turned into lavish hotels to modern suites with stunning city views, the options are as diverse as they are grand.

  • The Balmoral, Edinburgh: A landmark of luxury with an iconic clock tower
  • Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel, Glasgow: A blend of classic architecture and contemporary comfort

Indulge in the finest amenities, including gourmet dining experiences, state-of-the-art spas, and personalised concierge services to cater to your every need.

When it’s time to explore beyond your sumptuous surroundings, discover affordable taxi options to Glasgow Airport, West End taxi numbers, private taxi services, and local transport solutions in Glasgow. These conveniences add to the seamless luxury experience, ensuring that every aspect of your journey is as refined as your accommodation choice.

Dining and Cuisine: Savouring the Flavours of Scotland

Dining and Cuisine: Savouring the Flavours of Scotland

Traditional Scottish Dishes to Try

When visiting Scotland, indulging in the local cuisine is a must. Scottish gastronomy offers a variety of hearty and flavourful dishes that reflect the country’s rich culinary heritage. One cannot leave without trying the iconic haggis, a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck, minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach.

Other traditional dishes include:

  • Cullen Skink, a thick Scottish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes, and onions.
  • Scotch pies, small double-crust meat pies filled with minced mutton or other meat.
  • Cranachan, a dessert made with whipped cream, whisky, honey, fresh raspberries, and toasted oatmeal.

While exploring the culinary scene, it’s important to consider how you’ll navigate between meals. Edinburgh, Scotland offers traditional taxis and alternative ride-sharing options like Bolt and Free Now, ensuring you can travel from one dining experience to the next with ease.

Edinburgh’s Michelin-Starred Restaurants

Edinburgh is not only Scotland’s capital but also a culinary capital, boasting an impressive array of Michelin-starred restaurants. Dining at these esteemed establishments offers an unforgettable gastronomic experience, blending traditional Scottish ingredients with innovative cooking techniques.

For those who appreciate the finer things in life, a meal at one of Edinburgh’s Michelin-starred restaurants is a must. Here’s a glimpse into the city’s fine dining scene:

  • 15 Salisbury Place, Newington: A cosy spot known for its intimate atmosphere and exquisite dishes.
  • 38 Charlotte Square: Where culinary artistry meets elegance in a historic setting.

While the prices may reflect the high quality of food and service, the experience is truly priceless, providing a taste of Scotland’s best.

Glasgow’s Diverse Food Scene

Glasgow’s culinary landscape is as varied as it is vibrant, offering a smorgasbord of flavours from around the globe. From traditional Scottish fare to exotic international cuisine, the city caters to all palates and preferences. Food enthusiasts can embark on a gastronomic journey, sampling everything from haggis to handmade sushi.

Finnieston has emerged as a foodie haven, with its array of trendy eateries and artisanal coffee shops. Here’s a taste of what you can expect:

  • Ox and Finch: Contemporary small plates
  • The Gannet: Seasonal Scottish ingredients
  • Mother India’s CafĂ©: Authentic Indian tapas

While exploring Glasgow’s food scene, it’s important to consider the cost of getting around the city. Fuel prices, tolls, congestion charges, and weather conditions impact Uber pricing in Glasgow. Users should consider these factors when budgeting for transportation expenses.

Glasgow’s food scene is not just about dining out; it’s an experience that reflects the city’s dynamic cultural tapestry and innovative spirit.

Cafes and Tea Rooms: A Local’s Perspective

When it comes to cafes and tea rooms, Edinburgh and Glasgow offer a delightful array of options that cater to every taste and occasion. From quaint hideaways to bustling street-side spots, these establishments are integral to the local culture, providing a warm respite and a chance to savour the flavours of Scotland.

  • The Elephant House, Edinburgh: Famous as a writing haunt for authors, including J.K. Rowling.
  • Willow Tea Rooms, Glasgow: Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, offering a taste of Glasgow’s rich artistic heritage.
  • The Georgian Tea Room at The Dome, Edinburgh: Known for its opulent decor and traditional afternoon tea service.

For an authentic experience, take the time to visit a local favourite where the charm of Scottish hospitality shines brightest. Whether it’s for a quick coffee or a leisurely afternoon tea, these spots are cherished for their unique character and friendly service.

While many guides will point you to the most popular destinations, don’t overlook the lesser-known gems that often hold the true essence of the city’s social life. Venture off the beaten path and you might just find your new favourite spot.

Planning Your Itinerary: Balancing Time Between Edinburgh and Glasgow

Planning Your Itinerary: Balancing Time Between Edinburgh and Glasgow

Determining the Length of Your Stay

Deciding how many days to spend in Edinburgh and Glasgow can be challenging, as both cities offer a wealth of attractions. A balanced itinerary typically includes at least three days in Edinburgh and two days in Glasgow, allowing you to explore the main sights without feeling rushed.

When planning your visit, consider the travel time between the cities. The train journey can take less than an hour, making it feasible to stay in one city and take day trips to the other. Here’s a basic breakdown of travel considerations:

  • Train travel: Quick and convenient
  • Taxi fare calculation: Base fare, distance, and additional fees
  • Alternative transportation: Buses and car rentals

It’s essential to factor in your interests and the pace at which you like to travel. Some may prefer a leisurely exploration of Edinburgh’s historic streets, while others might prioritise Glasgow’s dynamic arts scene.

Keep in mind that transportation can significantly affect your schedule. For example, the taxi fare calculation from Glasgow Airport to the city centre involves base fare, distance charges, additional fees, and factors like time of day, traffic, passengers, and luggage. Alternative transportation options are available, offering different price points and experiences.

Day Trips and Excursions from Each City

While both Edinburgh and Glasgow offer a wealth of attractions, venturing beyond the city limits can enrich your Scottish experience. Day trips from Edinburgh often lead to the scenic Highlands or the historic sites of the Borders. From Glasgow, the rugged beauty of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park beckons, as does the coastal charm of Ayrshire.

Edinburgh is the perfect starting point for exploring Scotland’s rich history and natural beauty. Consider these popular excursions:

  • Full-Day Hiking Tour of West Highland Way
  • Discovering Malt Whisky Day Tour with Entry
  • A visit to the enchanting Loch Lomond

Glasgow’s proximity to Scotland’s west coast offers a different flavour of Scottish culture and landscapes. Notable day trips include:

  • The vibrant seaside town of Largs
  • The historic city of Stirling, with its iconic castle
  • The picturesque Isle of Arran

When planning your excursions, factor in travel time and the seasonal weather to make the most of your Scottish adventure.

Seasonal Considerations and Events

When planning your visit to Edinburgh and Glasgow, seasonal considerations and local events can significantly influence your itinerary. Both cities boast a rich calendar of festivities, with summer and winter being particularly eventful.

Edinburgh is world-renowned for its summer festivals, including the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival. These events can mean the city is bustling and accommodation is at a premium. Conversely, winter brings its own charm with the Edinburgh’s Christmas markets and Hogmanay celebrations, a must-experience Scottish New Year festival.

Glasgow shines with cultural events like the Glasgow Film Festival in February and the West End Festival in June. The city’s vibrant music scene is year-round, but peaks during the Celtic Connections music festival in January. If you’re visiting during these peak times, it’s wise to book your stay well in advance.

While the availability of taxis at Glasgow Airport varies during peak and off-peak hours, booking in advance with services like Airport Taxi Booking can ensure a smooth journey to your accommodation.

Remember to check the event schedules and book your tickets early, as popular events sell out quickly. Adjusting your travel dates around these events can also help you avoid the crowds and enjoy a more relaxed visit.

Transportation Tips for Efficient Travel

Navigating between Edinburgh and Glasgow can be seamless with the right transportation tips. Plan your journey in advance, especially when travelling to the airport from Glasgow. Traffic congestion can significantly affect travel times, so considering alternative transportation options is wise.

Trains are a reliable and frequent choice for inter-city travel. Below is a quick reference for average journey times and costs:

Mode of Transport Edinburgh to Glasgow Glasgow to Edinburgh
Train 50 mins 50 mins
Bus 1 hr 20 mins 1 hr 20 mins
Car 1 hr 10 mins 1 hr 10 mins

For a stress-free trip, always account for potential delays and peak travel times. If you’re driving, choose the best route to avoid traffic hotspots.

When using public transport, purchasing tickets in advance can often secure you a better deal and quicker boarding.

When planning your Scottish adventure, striking the right balance between the historic allure of Edinburgh and the dynamic vibrancy of Glasgow can be quite the challenge. Our comprehensive guide on ‘Planning Your Itinerary: Balancing Time Between Edinburgh and Glasgow’ offers invaluable insights to help you make the most of your visit. For a seamless experience, don’t forget to explore our range of reliable and affordable taxi services in Glasgow, ensuring comfort and convenience throughout your journey. Visit our website now to tailor your perfect Scottish getaway!


In sum, the ideal number of days to spend in Edinburgh and Glasgow varies depending on individual interests and pace. However, a combined total of 5 to 7 days allows for a comprehensive exploration of both cities’ rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture. Edinburgh, with its enchanting Old Town and iconic landmarks, warrants at least 2 to 3 days. Glasgow’s dynamic arts scene, impressive museums, and lively nightlife merit a similar allocation of time. By balancing your itinerary between these two Scottish gems, you can immerse yourself in the unique character and charm that each city has to offer, creating a memorable and well-rounded Scottish experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many days should I allocate to visit Edinburgh?

For a comprehensive experience, it is recommended to spend at least 2-3 full days in Edinburgh to explore its historic sites, museums, and cultural attractions.

What are the must-see attractions in Glasgow?

Don’t miss the vibrant West End, the stunning Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis, the Riverside Museum and Tall Ship, and experience the city’s dynamic nightlife.

Can I visit both Edinburgh and Glasgow in one trip?

Absolutely, both cities are well-connected by train and you can easily split your time between them, depending on your interests and the duration of your trip.

What type of accommodation is best for a budget traveller in Scotland?

Budget-friendly hostels and B&Bs are widely available in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, offering comfortable stays without breaking the bank.

What traditional Scottish dishes should I try during my visit?

Be sure to try haggis, neeps and tatties, Cullen skink, and for a sweet treat, shortbread or a cranachan dessert.

What is the best way to travel between Edinburgh and Glasgow?

The most efficient way to travel between the two cities is by train, with frequent services running daily and a journey time of around an hour.