Hidden Gems Camera phone picture of Edinrbugh Castle 24 hours in Edinburgh

When you only have 24 hours to spend in a city you have to prioritise. In a city like Edinburgh where there is so much to see and do, cramming it all into one day is no mean feat. We’ve put together this handy guide of 'must-do' things in what is deservingly described as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

Arrive at Edinburgh Airport

After you've touched down at Edinburgh Airport take a tram into the city centre. Hop off at the Mound and enjoy a short walk through the old town towards Edinburgh Castle.

Breakfast at Caffe Lucano

Caffe Lucano is famed locally for its delicious breakfasts. Watch the world go by as you choose from eggs benedict, breakfast rolls and an array of delicious pastries and great coffee.

Edinburgh Castle

There aren't many cities with castles right in the middle of them. A highlight of Edinburgh's tourist trail, it has been a feature of the city's landscape since the 12th century. Be prepared to be wowed by the centuries-old buildings, the views from the castle esplanade that span across the Forth Estuary and the history that awaits you around every corner.

The Royal Mile

Walking down the Royal Mile gives you a real sense of Edinburgh’s fascinating history. As you walk, take note of the stunning St Giles Cathedral, the small lanes, known locally as closes, the cobbled streets and the medieval architecture that cement Edinburgh as a historic town.

Mimi's Picnic Parlour, The Scottish Parliament, Holyrood Park and Arthur's Seat

There's too much to cram in to stop for lunch but a trip to Mimi's Picnic Parlour to pick up a gourmet sandwich will more than keep you going for an afternoon of sightseeing. Take your lunch down to Holyrood Park at the bottom of the Royal Mile where you can eat whilst taking in the modern architecture of the Scottish Parliament on one side and extinct volcano, Arthur’s Seat, on the other side. If it’s a nice day, climbing Arthur’s Seat will reward you with stunning views across the city.

Edinburgh montage

Calton Hill

Robert Louis Stevenson always said that the best views of the city could be found at the top of Calton Hill and he wasn't wrong. From one aspect you can see Fife and beyond and from another, you can see across the city to take in Arthur's Seat and Edinburgh Castle. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s home to many historic monuments and buildings, including the Nelson Monument and the Robert Burns Monument.

Afternoon tea, The Balmoral

After all that walking and climbing you’re sure to have earned a glass of champagne. The Balmoral's Champagne afternoon teas are a local institution and will help you to recharge your batteries for the rest of your busy day.

Cocktails on the Forth Floor at Harvey Nichols or wine at The Bon Vivant

Whether you choose to sip your cocktail in the bar or the restaurant, the views from the Forth Floor are spectacular, as are the cocktails. With a fantastic choice of classic and more adventurous tipples, the Forth Floor is the ideal place to relax before dinner. However, if you prefer fine wines then The Bon Vivant on Thistle Street serves up an excellent range of wines in particularly atmospheric surroundings.

Dinner at Timberyard

Since Timberyard arrived on the Edinburgh dining scene a little over a year ago it has been making culinary waves. Ethical, sustainable food is given five-star treatment in this former timberyard. This restaurant is a real highlight on the Edinburgh food scene.

Ceilidh dancing at the Ghillie Dhu

It wouldn't be a trip to Scotland without Ceilidh dancing. Head down to the Ghillie Dhu where a live band will get the crowd going with all of the Ceilidh classics. All you need to do is grab a partner and head for the dance floor.

A place to rest your head

Once you've danced the night away you’ll be in need of a good night's sleep. There are no shortage of great hotels in Edinburgh, such as the new Hilton DoubleTree, which has excellent facilities in the heart of the city centre.

To win a 2-night stay with dinner at the Hilton DoubleTree, enter our competition here.