7 Day Edinburgh Solo Travel Itinerary
With friendly locals, sprawling castles, and breathtaking landscapes, Scotland is easily one of the best destinations for solo female travelers. If you’ve never traveled solo before, I’d highly recommend you consider Scotland for your first solo trip. You can visit this country for a week and still not scratch the surface of all the amazingness there. I recently went to Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands, discovering an otherworldly kingdom rich in history and tradition. In this post, I’m going to break down how to spend a week in Scotland, with Edinburgh as your base. This 7 day Edinburgh itinerary for female solo travelers will show you the best things to do alone in Edinburgh and beyond. Let’s get started.
This post contains affiliate links as explained in my disclosure policy
When To Visit Edinburgh
August is the best time to visit Scotland. First, the weather is the warmest you’ll find all year, although it rains occasionally. Be sure to take an umbrella. Also, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a month-long arts festival, takes place during this month. It’s one of the world’s largest arts festivals and offers something for everyone. You can catch dances, comedy shows, theatrical performances, and so much more.
Where To Stay
The Bonham Hotel
Located in the center of Edinburgh, the Bonham is a small boutique hotel in an upscale Victorian house. I walked into my room, and my jaw dropped. The decor was so luxurious and the views awe-inspiring – you could see the castle in the distance. The Bonham is a great option if you’re looking for luxury at an affordable price. Hotels in Edinburgh tend to be expensive, but prices at The Bonham are slightly below average. The customer service, though, was way above average. The staff is always at your beck and call, making you feel like royalty. I’m not exaggerating! You have the option to include a healthy, gourmet breakfast with your stay. On my next trip to Edinburgh, I’d definitely stay here again. Search The Bonham Hotel on booking.com to check the rates for your travel dates. If you book through my link, you get $25 off your stay.
Address: 35 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh EH3 7RN, UK
Pollock Halls – University of Edinburgh
During the summer months, the University of Edinburgh opens its dorms for tourists. This is where I stayed for the first part of my trip before moving into The Bonham Hotel. The campus is gorgeous! It looks like a castle. The rooms, though, are kind of small. That was the main downside. The main plus side is that this is one of the most affordable accommodations in Edinburgh. Rooms are cleaned daily and you also get fresh towels daily. When booking your stay, you can include breakfast at the cafeteria for an additional fee. You can also search rates on booking.com and get $25 off if you book through my link.
Address: 18 Holyrood Park Road, Newington, Edinburgh, EH16 5AY, United Kingdom
Get a taste of Edinburgh’s best attractions with a free walking tour
I think the best way to start any trip is to do a free walking tour. In Edinburgh, I did the Sandeman’s Free Walking Tour of Edinburgh that starts at the famous Royal Mile. My tour started at 2 pm and lasted about 3 hours. The tour guide, Ryan, walked us through the history of Edinburgh, from its early beginnings as a filthy, scrammed city to its evolution into the Athens of the North. He also talked about Scotland’s history, the impact that different monarchs had on the country, and its relationship with the United Kingdom. Given Edinburgh rich literary tradition, there was also a heavy focus on the writers that came from the city. I feverishly took notes because it was so interesting, but I don’t want to share too much. If you love history or literature, you’ll love this tour. The city of Edinburgh isn’t actually that large so you’ll get to spend time at really important historical landmarks.
Explore Edinburgh’s main street, the Royal Mile
After the tour ends, you can head back down to the Royal Mile, the starting point. This is one of the oldest and most important streets in the city. The street is only 1 mile, 107 yards, but it’s packed with history, famous architecture, shops, restaurants, and much more. The Royal Mile is normally also packed with tourists, but it’s a good place to start your exploration of Edinburgh. I would just meander down the entire street aimlessly because it’s actually quite beautiful.
Learn about medieval architecture at Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is one of the most famous and beautiful attractions in the city. It’s located on a hill called Castle Rock so it’s visible all around the city. An adult ticket is 17 pounds ($22). I’d recommend you book your ticket online to avoid the queues.
I’ve seen enough castles to last me a lifetime so I actually didn’t go inside. I just entered the gates, admired the structure from outside, and took a bunch of photos. If you’re not ‘castled-out’ like me, I think it would be a fun experience to tour the inside. You can tour the castle on your own or do a guided tour.
Operating hours are different during the summer and winter
March 26 – September 30
9:30 am – 6 pm (last entry is 5 pm)
October 1st – March 31st 5pm 4pm
9:30 am – 5 pm (last entry is 4 pm)
Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, UK
Experience the Scottish Highlands with Rabbie’s Tours
You can’t visit Scotland without going to the Highlands! They are the most beautiful areas of the country. I booked a tour with a company called Rabbie’s and had an incredible time. The tour guide, Grant, came dressed in a kilt. He told us that it’s tradition for men who wear kilts to go command. So basically he showed up for the tour in a kilt and nothing underneath. Oh, Scotland!
The specific tour I chose was the Loch Ness, Glencoe, and the Highlands 1 Day Tour. The Mercedes tour bus departs from the Rabbie’s office at 8 am and returns at 8 pm. That’s a full 12 hours so make sure you get lots of rest the night before. Also, pack some water and snack bars. The bus makes a stop at a bakery along the way so you’ll have a chance to buy food and coffee. I’d highly recommend you try a savory treat called a bridie. So delicious! It’s like an English patsy but softer and more flavorful. If you’ve never tried a pasty, you can get some in Scotland too.
This tour was definitely the highlight of the trip. Glencoe is like a scene from the Lord of the Rings – rolling hills and lush greenery for miles. The James Bond movie, Skyfall, was partly filmed here. Then, there’s Loch Ness, where the legend of Nessie the Loch Ness monster comes from. You’ll learn more about the origins of that legend and also get a chance to look for Nessie during a 45-minute boat ride across the water. The tour costs 43 pounds ($55).
Rabbie’s offers plenty of tours to the Scottish Highlands and around Scotland. Take a look at their listing to see which one interests you the most. Just make sure you get out of Edinburgh during your trip! There’s so much more to see in Scotland.
Indulge in food and beer at Grassmarket
During the walking tour, we stopped at an area called Grassmarket. It’s a popular hangout spot for locals at the heart of Edinburgh’s historic Old Town. The area is known for its pubs, vintage shops, and traditional Scottish food. Ryan, my tour guide, recommended a pub called The Last Drop. One of the unusual things about the bar is that it’s located next to a former execution site, where thousands of prisoners were killed. I skipped it to get some fish and chips, but other travelers I met later had great things to say about it. If you like beer, you might want to make a stop there.
The Last Drop (Traditional Scottish Pub)
Address: 74-78 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2JR, UK
Get a 360 view of Edinburgh at Calton Hill
After a long trip on day 3, you can slow things down on day 4. I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things to do in a new destination is to climb to the highest points. I like to get a bird’s eye view of the place and take photos of myself staring off into the distance. Besides Edinburgh Castle, Calton Hill is a high point in the city where you can get amazing photos. For some dumb reason I can’t remember, I actually didn’t make it to Calton Hill. It’s the first thing on my list when I return to Edinburgh. The 360 view of Edinburgh from up there is just gorgeous. Climbing up the hill will take you no more than 10 minutes.
Admire the horticulture at Princes Street Gardens
Princes Street is Edinburgh’s answer to Rodeo Drive. The selection of shops is alright, but the gardens that run along the south side of the street are above average. If you love flowers like me, then a visit to these Princes Street Gardens is a must. Located inside a public park down the street from the Old Town, the gardens are home to monuments, fountains, of course, During the Fringe Festival and the Christmas seasons, the entrance to the gardens is transformed into a mini theme park.
Unwind and take in the scenery at Arthur’s Seat
After an amazing week in Scotland, Arthur’s Seat is the perfect place to relax and take it all in. This 2,000-year-old fort is located within Holyrood Park, which is very close to the University of Edinburgh. Like Calton Hill, it offers a panoramic view of Edinburgh. You can go for a walk, reflect on the trip, and snap some photos. Getting to the top of the hill takes about 30 minutes, but the views are well worth it.
Thanks to The Bonham Hotel for sponsoring my stay in Edinburgh. All opinions and images are my own.