How to take a London to Edinburgh road trip in a long weekend

[Updated 2020]

Happy St Andrew’s Day to all of my Scottish friends out there! To celebrate I’ve decided to share some travel tips on how to do a London to Edinburgh road trip in a long weekend, based on my recent adventure.

This April me and my housemates decided to make the most of the 4 day Easter weekend by going on a trip. We had a car, 4 days and not a lot of money… So what could we do?

A road trip up to Scotland of course!

Edinburgh, Scotland

A beautiful street in Edinburgh

Here are a few things I learnt from my trip…

 

Why a London to Edinburgh road trip is better than flying

Yes, you may be able to fly from London up to Scotland in only 1hr30, but once you add on travelling to the airport, arriving 2 hours early, collecting your luggage and getting from the airport on the other side, the time and price can really start to add up.

Instead, try a road trip from London to Edinburgh, which is easily doable in a long weekend!

For us, this was easy as my housemate already has his own car, but if you don’t you can always try hiring one. Check out Drivy where you can rent other people’s cars for as little as £15 a day. If there’s a few of you, driving can prove to be a relatively cheap option.

The drive from London to Edinburgh takes around 7-8 hours in total, which if you break up between a couple of you is really not that long at all.

With a group of friends, some cheesy music, a few snacks and a couple of pit stops along the way, the journey can become just as fun as the final destination.

 

The drive from London to Edinburgh

Driving also means that you can leave straight after work on Thursday or Friday evening (depending on when you’re leaving) to really make the most of your weekend.

On our trip, we decided to drive halfway on the first evening, stopping at Hollins Hall Marriott Hotel and Country Club close to Leeds, which is outside of the city centre so didn’t cost much.

Despite encountering traffic leaving London the journey took around 4h30 and we managed to arrive by 11pm, giving us enough time to grab some dinner and even have a couple of drinks delivered to our room.

Hollins Hall Marriott Hotel and Country Club, Leeds

Hollins Hall Marriott Hotel and Country Club

The next morning we woke up early and went for a lovely walk around the golf course and grounds of the hotel to enjoy some morning sun.

We then drove another couple of hours, past the Angel of the North, up to Newcastle upon Tyne where we stopped for lunch and a quick look around the centre. It’s always interesting to explore a new city in your own country.

Angel of the North, England

After lunch we drove the remaining 2h30 along the coast and up to Edinburgh, arriving mid-afternoon. Enough time to take a wander into the town centre then head out for dinner and drinks in the city.

 

Stay in an Airbnb in Edinburgh

Being a popular city, hotels in the centre can be rather pricey. We decided to check what was available on Airbnb instead. This is how we found a gorgeous little 2 bedroom flat, walking distance from all of the main attractions.

Plus, through Airbnb, you can make sure your apartment has parking so you can leave your car somewhere nearby for free.

Airbnb in Edinburgh, Scotland
Airbnb in Edinburgh, Scotland
Airbnb in Edinburgh, Scotland
Airbnb in Edinburgh, Scotland

 

Edinburgh Weekend Itinerary:

Once you’ve arrived in Edinburgh and settled into your Airbnb, you’ll have a good full couple of days to explore the city.

Here are a few of the best things to do in Edinburgh in a weekend…

Climb Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat is the peak of a group of Hills that make up Hollyrood Park in the centre of Edinburgh. The Hill is popular with walkers and gives way to amazing views over the city.

Arthurs Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland

Totally unprepared (I had packed for a city break), we headed to the hill on our first morning. The route we took up was steep and hard work to climb, however on the way down we came across a much easier route.

If you do your research beforehand you can pick which path to take. The view from the top was beautiful and spanned across the whole of the city, with landmarks such as the castle in clear sight.

Unexpectedly this turned out to be one my favourite parts of the trip, and it was free. All you need is warm clothing (it’s windy at the top!), sturdy shoes, a bottle of water and a camera, and you’re ready to go!

Arthurs Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland

The peak itself

Arthurs Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland

The view from the top

Arthurs Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland

The easier route

 

Explore Edinburgh Castle

Get away from the rainy Scottish weather by heading into the castle. Here you can learn all about the castle’s exciting history and even see the Crown Jewels. Check the dates you’re going to be there as there are often special events such as the famous Military Tattoo, live performances and concerts. I always enjoy coming back from a holiday feeling like I’ve learnt something about the place I’ve visited.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

 

Try Haggis, Neeps and Tatties

You can’t go to Scotland without trying their traditional dish of haggis, neeps and tatties – which translates as haggis, mash potato and turnips. Surprisingly tasty, just don’t ask what haggis is!

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, Edinburgh, Scotland

 

Have Dinner and Whisky at Whiski Rooms

Whiski Rooms is one of the best restaurants in Edinburgh, serving classic and modern Scottish dishes and a wide selection of local whiskies. This place came highly recommended to me by my Scottish colleague, and he was definitely right.

Every course was delicious, and the restaurant itself was elegantly decorated and had a great atmosphere. You can go here for breakfast, lunch, dinner or whisky tasting events, just remember to book in advance as it is extremely popular and usually fully booked.

Whiski Rooms, Edinburgh, Scotland

Whiski Rooms, Edinburgh, Scotland

Haggis spring rolls with plum sauce

Whiski Rooms, Edinburgh, Scotland

Steak and ale pie

 

Drink as the locals do

There are plenty of traditional pubs, modern bars and exciting clubs in Edinburgh. In the 3 days we stayed in the city we managed to head to quite a few. Here are my suggestions on where to go:

  • Grassmarket – close to the castle, Grassmarket is a historic market in the old town with plenty of restaurants, traditional pubs and bars
  • Frankenstein Bar – a gothic bar themed around the story of Frankenstein, expect an elaborate setting, loud music, fancy cocktails and a real monster show
  • George Street – this is where you’ll find many of the late-night bars and nightclubs such as the Opal Lounge, LuLu’s and Why Not Club
Bar in Edinburgh, Scotland

The Frankenstein cocktail

Planning to see more of Scotland? Check out ‘A Guide to Glasgow’s Best Street Art’!

 

From Edinburgh to London

After your weekend in Edinburgh is over, it’s time to drive back from Edinburgh to London.

Once again, this can be done in a straight 8 hour trip, however it’s far more fun to take the final day of the long weekend slowly and stop somewhere else mid-way.

Try visiting the likes of Manchester or Liverpool on your way back down south. You’ll be able to take a few hours to grab lunch and have a quick explore around another new city!

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