Having visited Edinburgh frequently, this is my recommended itinerary if you only have one day.
My Edinburgh tour starts and ends at Waverley station, so is easy to do wherever you are coming from.
Starting at Waverley station, you may want to take one of the open-top bus tours that run from here and bring you back afterwards.
We then head North up onto Princes Street, passing the Scott Monument and walk along the length of Princes Street before crossing the road and dropping back into Princes Street Gardens.
It’s an interesting contrast between the modern shops along Princes Street on one side, and the castle and old buildings on the other side of the gardens.
If you are visiting around Christmas time then you may find attractions in the Gardens, they have tended to be around the Scott Monument:
From there we talk a stroll through the gardens, heading towards the Royal Scottish Academy and Scottish National Gallery.
We then climb The Mound and join the Royal Mile by the Camera Obscura to head up to Edinburgh Castle.
It’s a fairly steep walk up to the Camera Obscura – there are actually hand railings along the side of the pavement!
At the Castle there is a cafe overlooking Princes Street, as well as guided tours that leave regularly and take you around various parts of the castle.
After visiting the Castle, we head down the Royal Mile and off to visit the National Museum of Scotland.
At the museum you might be surprised to find items that are fairly modern, such as cassette walkmans and playstations, but have now fallen out of use and are only seen in museums.
Make sure to visit the rooftop terrace at the National Museum, for excellent views of the Castle and city.
Following the museum visit we head back to Princes Street for a visit to Calton Hill:
Afterwards we head back down onto Princes Street for the short walk to Waverley Station.
The total distance travelled is around 3.5 miles and walking time of around an hour and twenty minutes between the locations.
Edinburgh and the attractions are also well served by taxis for those that would like to reduce their walking distance.