London might be the most popular destination in the United Kingdom, attracting around 20 million visitors each year, but another UK city stole my heart recently.

Edinburgh, Scotland has quickly become one of my all-time favorite destinations for solo travel.

I’ve been to London countless times over the years, as well as other destinations in England, but somehow I had never ventured further north to Scotland.

So on a recent trip, I decided to change that and I took the train up to Edinburgh from London.

Here’s why the Scottish capital is the perfect city for your next solo trip:

It’s Small And Easy To Get Around

After the hustle and bustle of sprawling London, I was shocked when I arrived at Waverley train station in Edinburgh and realized I was right in the heart of the city.

The compact nature of Edinburgh makes it perfect for solo travelers.

You can get almost anywhere on foot, or if you’re tired of walking, you can hop on a bus across the city.

Edinburgh Castle Seen From Princes Street Gardens With Ross Fountain In The Frame, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom, North Western Europe

On my trip to Edinburgh, I was hosted by hotels in both the Old Town and the New Town. These are the most central neighborhoods I would recommend for first-time visitors.

Old Town is a bit closer to many of the most popular tourist attractions, but there’s not a huge difference between the two.

In the Old Town, I stayed at House of Gods, which was literally just steps away from the Royal Mile, the main street in Edinburgh.

Although this hotel is well-suited for a romantic getaway with its decadent atmosphere and moody decor, its cozy rooms and central location also make it perfect for solo travelers.

One of my favorite things about this hotel? There’s literally a button you can press to have milk and warm cookies delivered directly to your room!

House of Gods
Photo courtesy of House of Gods

In the New Town, I stayed at RÌGH Residences, luxury serviced apartments in an amazing location.

This property is also great for solo travelers who want some extra space and all the comforts of home — every apartment is fully equipped with a kitchen and living area.

I loved staying at RÌGH Residences because I felt like I was living like a local in Edinburgh.

The location was extremely convenient, just a few minutes from the Old Town.

Righ Residences
Photo courtesy of RÌGH Residences

Fun Things To Do For Solo Travelers

Edinburgh is truly a fairytale city. As I strolled around the Old Town on my first afternoon, I couldn’t stop snapping photos of the charming streets, each more picturesque than the last.

There’s plenty to do in Edinburgh for solo travelers, and I didn’t get bored once during my trip there.

Edinburgh is full of amazing museums. My favorites were:

  • Scottish National Gallery: A great art museum with a collection of European and Scottish art
  • Scottish National Portrait Gallery: A smaller art museum focused on portraits, located in a stunning historic building
  • The Writer’s Museum: A cool little museum dedicated to famous Scottish writers
  • National Museum of Scotland: A large museum about Scottish history and culture with an amazing rooftop terrace

And best of all, each of these museums is completely free to visit.

Scottish National Gallery

You also can’t miss visiting Edinburgh Castle, the iconic hilltop castle that was used as a royal residence beginning in the 11th century.

And one of my favorite things to do in Edinburgh was simply strolling around the city.

Two of my favorite areas were Circus Lane (an extremely photogenic street) and Dean Village (a picturesque little neighborhood with a waterfront footpath you can follow.)

The scenic Dean Village in a sunny afternoon, in Edinburgh, Scotland

Easy To Meet Others

Even if you’re traveling solo, you can leave Edinburgh with new friends.

Scottish people as a whole are very friendly and welcoming — more so than the English, at least according to many Scots!

It’s also easy to meet other travelers in Edinburgh. There are several popular walking tours in Edinburgh where you can meet other people, some of whom might also be solo travelers.

Victoria Street In Edinburgh Old Town, Scotland, United Kingdom

One of those is a Harry Potter walking tour (a must for any Potterhead!), which will show you the exact spots that inspired J.K. Rowling when she was writing the series. This is the free tip-based tour I did.

The same tour company also offers a free ghost tour that’s very popular (Edinburgh has a lot of haunted history!) as well as a fun weekend pub crawl.

It’s Extremely Safe

One thing that really struck me about Edinburgh is how safe it felt.

Woman in Edinburgh

Not that other cities in the UK feel dangerous, but Edinburgh just felt very safe to me as a solo female traveler, especially the Old Town and New Town.

The one “dodgy” area of Edinburgh used to be the waterfront port neighborhood of Leith, but even this area has been revitalized and is now a hip and trendy hotspot.

Of course, you should always take basic precautions to stay safe wherever you travel, especially as a solo traveler, but Edinburgh is not a place where you have to worry!

Royal Mile, A Busy Street In Old Town Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

It’s also a great introduction to travel in Scotland.

Since Edinburgh is so small and easy to get around, it’s perfect for a quick solo trip.

I would love to explore more of Scotland in the future, but many places further north require renting a car to get to, and that’s not something I’m comfortable with as a solo traveler.

Getting To Edinburgh

While getting to London is easy for American travelers since there are nonstop flights from so many cities in the U.S., getting to Edinburgh can be a little trickier.

Edinburgh skyline, Scotland

There aren’t as many nonstop flights from the U.S. to Edinburgh (New York, Boston, Washington, Chicago, Atlanta, and Orlando all have seasonal flights), and sometimes they can be significantly more expensive than nonstop flights to London.

Your best bet might be flying to London, then taking a short 1 hour and 15 minute flight from London to Edinburgh.

You can also take the train from London to Edinburgh, which is what I did.

This takes approximately 4.5 hours and is a great option if you want to combine these two UK cities in one trip.

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