Capital Culture: Your London and Edinburgh Travel Itinerary

A UK multi-centre holiday should at least include stops in London and Edinburgh. The capitals of England and Scotland are packed full of historic, culture and cosmopolitan spots to eat and drink. You’ll find it all when you book a stay at Apex Hotels in each city.

We’ve put together some itineraries to use during your trip, from the moment you arrive to hitting all the hot spots and your travel in between it’s covered here. We can’t wait to welcome you to the UK.

48 hours in London

Hop off the plane, and head for the City of London. Each London airport is conveniently linked to the city by train and our hotels are located near train stations and Underground stops to make your travel quick. Whether you stay at Apex Temple Court near Buckingham Palace, Apex London Wall next to St Paul’s Cathedral or Apex City of London just a few moments from Tower of London, we’ll be waiting to welcome you. Check-in is from 2.30pm, but if you arrive early we can store your luggage and you’ll be out exploring the city in no time.

Day 1 Morning

Once you arrive, hop on one of the city’s open top bus tours. You won’t go far from the beaten track, but it’s a great way to whizz around the city before you set off the explore further.

We love the City Sightseeing company which has six routes and 70 stops including Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, London Eye, Trafalgar Square and Tower of London.

If you’re feeling peckish, The Lampery restaurant is just a five-minute walk from Tower of London. This vibrant restaurant provides tasty lunches and light bites using the best seasonal produce through good, honest cooking.

Day 1 Afternoon

After a refuelling lunch, you can explore all the places you passed on the bus earlier. From Tower Bridge, you can take in the city from the water on a Thames River cruise, travelling down to Westminster and nearby Buckingham Palace.

During the summer you can go in to Buckingham Palace, sneaking through the lavishly furnished state rooms and gazing at the Royal Collection’s greatest treasures. Just make sure to check opening times before you visit.

If luxury fashion, beauty and boutiques are your love, then head to Covent Garden for the afternoon instead. You’ll find some of the best luxury stores in London including British designers and global brands, maybe a celeb or two in the fine restaurants and bars too.

And the fun doesn’t stop there. In the summer, the sun doesn’t set until after 9pm so you’ll have plenty of time to kick back enjoying an al fresco dinner and drinks. Discover one of London’s rooftop bars for the ultimate summer experience.

Day 2 Morning

After a stay in an Apex Hotel, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed. Save time being hungry and strolling around looking for a café and time fuelling up and planning for a big day ahead – book breakfast when you make your reservation.

Waking up at Apex City of London means you’ll be just a few minutes’ walk from Tower of London. A tour will keep kids occupied for hours. Full of history and heritage, London’s castle includes a fortress and even a prison.

For a morning of culture a visit to some of London’s famous churches and art galleries might suit you. St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most recognisable sights in the city, sitting at the highest point in the City of London it’s dominated the skylight for over 300 years. You can go inside this building famed for ceremonies including the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer.

International and contemporary art can be found at Tate Modern which is Britain’s national gallery of modern art. Admission is free to most of the galleries, except for special exhibitions, so you can spend as much or as little time as you have here.

Day 2 Afternoon

During a stroll along the South Bank you won’t be short of somewhere to stop and eat. There are lots of cafes, restaurants and even pop-up food trucks topped off by an obligatory ice cream in the sun, it’s a great place for people-watching.

As your London city break comes to an end a visit to the London Eye will leave a lasting impression. At 135m tall, you’ll get views all over London from this giant Ferris Wheel.

Now it’s time to jump in your rental car, catch the train or head to the airport for the short flight: next stop Edinburgh.

48 hours in Edinburgh

Goodbye London, Hello Edinburgh. Welcome to Scotland’s capital city! A few hills – 7 in fact – but compact and full of personality, this intriguing city is best seen on foot. The medieval Old Town sits on Castle Rock, home to Edinburgh Castle and looms over the New Town and beyond.

You’re most likely to arrive at Edinburgh Airport, but don’t expect the transport options here to be as ancient as the buildings. The city is forward thinking and full of innovation. You can catch the sleek and reliable tram straight in to the city centre or the AirLink 24/7 bus where Apex Haymarket and Apex Waterloo Place can be spotted just a few minutes’ walk from the stop. Apex Grassmarket and Apex City of Edinburgh are just a further short walk away tucked down in the Grassmarket.

Day 1 Morning

Drop your luggage off at your hotel if you arrive before check-in at 2.30pm. A short walk from any of our Edinburgh hotels, you’ll find the beautiful Princes Street Gardens. Nestled in the shadows of Edinburgh Castle, this park was created in the 1700’s following the draining of the Nor Loch. It’s an iconic picnic spot, and place to rest after a morning spent at the nearby shops of Princes Street or George Street.

Tempted by a challenge? You can climb The Scott Monument, a Victorian Gothic monument to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott and it’s the second largest monument to a writer in the world. Your efforts are rewarded at the top with bird’s eye views of the city and beyond.

Day 1 Afternoon

If you visit during peak times, you might be lucky enough to catch one of Edinburgh’s famous festivals. From the International Film Festival in June to The International Festival and Festival Fringe throughout August – the city comes alive with street performers and pop up venues.

During quieter times, the city is a little more relaxed, but there’s still plenty to entertain and it’s never quiet. Edinburgh Playhouse is the city’s best venue for theatre shows with gigs and comedians also filling the calendar year-round.

Pop in to Elliot’s Restaurant & Bar for a pre-theatre meal or some cocktails and a night cap after the show, just a five-minute walk away before dropping in to bed for a good night’s sleep.

Day 2 Morning

Start your day the right way with breakfast at your Apex Hotel then first on everyone’s list is Edinburgh Castle. You’ve admired it from afar, and now it’s time to get inside.

The Castle sits perched on a base of volcanic rock in the heart of this UNESCO World Heritage site. From The Royal Palace, Crown Jewels, The Great Hall and the One O’clock Gun there’s plenty to impress.

From here you can wander down the Royal Mile passing St Giles’s Cathedral. Pop in to the Real Mary King’s Close to learn about Edinburgh’s more sinister past or continue down the mile to the palace of Holyrood.

Day 2 Afternoon

Edinburgh’s full of traditional pubs whether you find one with a cosy fire for the cold winter months or an alfresco dining menu full of canapés and cocktails, you’ll always get a friendly Scottish welcome. Rose Street is a good place to start, or George Street for sophisticated cocktails.

From here you could climb nearby Calton Hill, a gradual climb with some steps located just moments from Apex Waterloo Place. Or for a laid-back afternoon try the tasty Afternoon Tea at Elliot’s full of British tradition.

Evenings in Edinburgh are as lively as you make them. There’s the bustling Grassmarket area which includes Scotland’s smallest bar – squeezing in just 20 people but surrounded by others all serving local beers and gins.

Of course, a trip to Edinburgh wouldn’t be complete without a whisky tasting. Most bars offer some local knowledge. If you’d like an expert guide though then the Scotch Whisky Experience on The Royal Mile is recommended. Take a tour, sample a dram and step back in amazement when you see a rare collection of nearly 4,000 bottles.

And that’s it! You’ve completed your bucket list trip to London and Edinburgh, but wishing you were everywhere; where’s next?

Explore our hotels in Bath, Glasgow and Dundee.