Edinburgh is packed with things to see and do, so any whirlwind visit will need to be carefully planned. From the city's most famous landmarks to its hidden history via some of Edinburgh's best pubs and restaurants, here's a concise guide as compiled by the Daily Mail Online to 24 hours in the Scottish capital:
1530: The Royal Mile
After exploring Edinburgh Castle, it's time for a wander along Edinburgh's most famous street. The Royal Mile links the castle at the top end with Holyrood Palace at the bottom, and as well as numerous shops, cafés and pubs along the route, you'll also be passing by some of the city's most famous buildings and attractions. Camera Obscura has been delighting visitors for over 150 years with its illusions, holograms and other visual effects that let you see the city in another light. Elsewhere on the Royal Mile, you can explore the grandeur of St Giles' Cathedral, the history of Scottish storytelling at John Knox House, and the abstract modernist architecture of the Scottish Parliament building.
1630: Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the Queen when she's in Edinburgh. You can explore the treasures to be found within the State Apartments, the dramatic ruins of Holyrood Abbey and the beautiful Palace Gardens. Other highlights of the Palace include the chambers of Mary Queen of Scots, probably the most famous of the Palace's historic residents, and the Great Gallery, lined with portraits of 95 kings and one queen, beginning with Fergus I, who founded Scotland in around about 330BCE. The wardens offer various tours including the State Apartments, gardens and abbey, so check the website for times.
1800: Dinner in the New Town
The elegant houses and planned streets of Edinburgh's New Town offer a contrast to the medieval Old Town on the opposite side of the station, and both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Take a stroll before settling down for dinner at one of the many restaurants in the neighbourhood. The Café Royal is housed in a beautiful old Victorian bar, and its menu featuring seafood, steak and venison makes the best of fine Scottish produce. A little further to the north, The Ox has built a solid reputation as one of the top gastropubs in the city.
2000: Hidden history at The Real Mary King's Close
Edinburgh is famous for its tours focusing on the hidden history of the city, from macabre body snatchers to haunted places. One of the best is the guided tour through The Real Mary King's Close , a 17th-century lane that was bricked up and hidden for years until it was brought back to life as one of Edinburgh's most popular attractions. The tour will take you along the narrow close, meeting the characters who once called it home and hearing some of its stories, myths and legends.
2100: Drinks at Grassmarket
Grassmarket is packed with bars and pubs. One of the best is The Last Drop, named after the final hanging to be held in the square and reputed to be haunted by the ghost of a small medieval girl. Beyond the spooky history, this is an atmospheric, traditional pub with a fine range of Scottish ales, a great selection of gins, and whiskies from all over Scotland.
0900: Slap-up breakfast before it's time to leave
The timing of this depends on what time you went to bed, or whether you decided to power through and watch the sun come up from the summit of Carlton Hill or Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh's extinct volcano. Carlton Hill is the easier option, with an intriguing jumble of buildings at the top, including "Edinburgh's Folly", the unfinished National Monument of Scotland.
Climbing Arthur's Seat is a more strenuous undertaking, but the views across the city to the Firth of Forth beyond will make the two-hour round trip from Holyrood Palace well worth it, and it's a fine way to bring your trip to Edinburgh to a close.
Before you go, make time for one last culinary treat: a good old Scottish fry-up. The Broughton Deli is a short walk from Carlton Hill and has a number of options, from the classic cooked breakfast with black pudding and bacon, to pancakes, vegan breakfast burritos, granola and porridge. In the Old Town, the Edinburgh Larder is also well-known for its fry-up, as well as their toast and homemade jam.