Located close to the North Sea on the central, eastern shores, near the Firth of Forth, Edinburgh, Scotland is the second largest city in Scotland. Edinburgh is compiled of hills and scenic views making it a highlighted stop for many travelers, historians and tourists.
Edinburgh is the second largest city in Scotland, and also the capital which means it is filled to the brim with charm and history! It is a city of literature, housing many authors of it's time, such as the famous J.K. Rowling whose books have brought many recent tourists to the land, as well as other known authors like Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Burns. It is also a city of unique culture, food, and sights. The Capital is made up of a historic Old Town which brings with it the charm and quaintness that once housed those of native Edinburgh, as well as a New Town that both embraces and shares the rich history, royalty, and energy that has thrived this city for centuries. This vibrant, energetic city still fully reflects the cultural history of Scotland, making it a great stop for those wanting to take in some traditional Scottish fun.
How To Get There
Getting to Edinburgh, since it is in fact the capital city, is quite easy! There are daily flights to the local airport, along with regular train services from almost any major town in the area. Edinburgh is also a great stop when traveling to other smaller towns in the area since it is such a hub for various transportation options.
We were very fortunate with our timing because we were able to experience the city of Edinburgh with sunlight shining on us the whole time, something we learned was fairly rare. We went in mid July and while temperatures were cooler at times, reaching into the the mid 60's, unlike our typical hot and humid North Carolinian weather, it felt absolutely perfect. The weather, while cooler than we were used to did get quite warm. We did quite a bit of walking through the streets of Edinburgh forcing us to shed our jackets and enjoy the warmth that came with the sunshine. So, we recommend layers when traveling to Scotland! A light jacket or sweater is a must!
What To Do
I've already mentioned above that Edinburgh houses many well known literary loves. So, while visiting the town you may be able to check out a few known sites from Harry Potter or other well known books and movies. We had to personally visit the Sherlock Holmes Monument in honor of the beloved author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This was a perfect first thing to do because it wasn't far from where we were dropped off by the bus. It was a quick and easily enjoyable first stop!
Location: Edinburgh EH1 3JT, UK
We had originally added this as an optional stop if we happened to be in the area, but we were so glad that it worked into our schedule as non optional. Talk about taking a step back in time! Easily located right off the Royal Mile, The Writers Museum celebrates the lives of three well known local authors, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Not only will you see Scotts famous printing press, but you will also catch a glimpse of the beautiful Lady Stair's historical house dating all the way back to 1622.
Location: Lady Stairs House, Lawnmarket, Edinburgh, UK EH1 2PA
I'm sure you could find a more authentic place to view the traditionally beloved sound of Scottish Bagpipes, but we were lucky enough to hear them as we were walking the widely popular Royal Mile. You can't go to Scotland without hearing the tradition! So, make sure to find some bagpipes!
One of my personal FAVORITES of Edinburgh was viewing the magnificent buildings within the city. Some buildings dating back to the 1100's. Everywhere you walked in the city you could stop and take in some sort of historical ambiance flowing from the architecture surrounding you.
While the Queens official residence is on the other end of the Royal Mile, at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh Castle is a MUST if you love royal history. The oldest part, St. Margarets Chapel dates back to the 12th century and the rest of the grounds are swept with just as much historical events and memories, including the housing of the royal jewels and honours. Edinburgh Castle was obviously created for attention too because often throughout traveling around the city you will be able to spot some sight of the royal historical marking. They offer wonderfully informative tours for those interested in going inside the historical icon.
Location: Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG
School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh
This was really an accidental, but wonderful find for us! We were hot from walking, needing a seat to rest somewhere and happened to need an afternoon. So, by God's grace we ended up getting some cookies and finding this little courtyard which belonged to the College of Divinity, a section of the University of Edinburgh. the view was outstanding and architecture impressive. We spent a good thirty minutes or so just enjoying some quiet and scenery while enjoying some fresh baked treats.
One of the things we loved the MOST about Edinburgh is the great combination between city and natural landscape. You can take a walk down the cobblestoned roads of the Royal Mile and within a few minutes find yourself surrounded by lush greenery in one of their many parks. Many, if not all of the parks found in Edinburgh have a great view of some sort! It's truly breathtaking and refreshing. You can check out a list of their featured parks here.
While this is technically a park, it deserves its own category. This was another item we had put on the "if we have time" list and we were SO fortunate that we had time! It was breathtaking. The panoramic views allowed a view of just about every type of scenery you could imagine. We could have easily spent half a day, if not longer taking in the sites and exploring this park, but due to it's easily accessible location, it is also a site you can do with little amounts of time in your schedule. We highly recommend taking 10 minutes, or longer, to enjoy this magnificent spot!
Location: 2 Regent Rd. Edinburgh EH1 3DG UK
Talk the Talk
One of the best things about visiting a new place is learning their culture and normalcies. Scotland is a great land for this! It is so rich in history and culture and the language, while easier for native English speakers is still one of uniqueness. We LOVED interacting with people and hearing the various slangs. So, when in Scotland, speak Scottish! That's our motto! Cheers!
This is another outdoor to-do for those who love some nature! Arthurs Seat houses great views of the city and is easily accessible by hiking. However, I will say when we were researching our trip many of the reviews were conflicting because it seemed like something that would have been easy to do in an afternoon/evening hike for sunset. Once we got to Edinburgh it was easy to see that it was something that would have taken much longer than an hour or two. Plan accordingly because we got the impression from being there that this was a well worthwhile time commitment. If you're in Edinburgh for an extended period of time and love to take in a great view then it is something we highly recommend.
Location: Queens Drive, Edinburgh UK, EH8 8HG
Unfortunately we were not in Edinburgh long enough to enjoy the food scene for what we have heard it is, but we were fortunate enough to be there on a Monday when pizza at Kilderkin was only a Euro. There selection of pizzas was impressive! We HIGHLY RECOMMEND this as a dining choice, particularly on a Monday and especially if you are like us and spend the entire day walking around and just want a relaxing place with great food! It was one of the best choices of our day, easily!
Location: 67 Canongate, Edinburgh, UK EH8 8BT
Things were a little quieter on this end of the Royal Mile! We walked the entire length from Edinburgh Castle, the historic site for the royal family, to the current royal residency. Just as charming and worth the hike!
Location: Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DX, UK
Location: E. Princes St. Gardens, Edinburgh EH2 2EJ, UK
More Travel Tips for Edinburgh
- Wear layers! The weather can go from warm to chilly so bring at least a light jacket.
- Be prepared to walk! Ladies, leave the fancy shoes at home! Edinburgh is hilly and many of the streets are cobblestone so pack the comfy shoes and take in the city for all it's worth - which probably will require walking by foot!
- Most of the sites are within walking distance of the Royal Mile - We did a TON of walking during our time in Edinburgh but it was so easy to get from one iconic site to another by foot. There was really no need for us to take any transportation. So, if you're up for some hills and walking, and your destination is around the royal mile, we recommend walk!
- Explore! Many of the sites were tucked away behind the popularity of the Royal Mile! We would have loved to stay a tad longer so we could have found more hidden gems, but if you're there don't be afraid to explore and find some gems of your own.
- Be friendly! Everyone we met was SO helpful and friendly! It goes back to embracing the culture! The best way to do that is to talk to some locals.
We loved our time in Edinburgh and we hope you do too! Cheers!
We are the Best's! Jo and Mo. We have been immensely blessed with many opportunities to see various parts of the world. We live an average, working life in Raleigh, NC but through our many opportunities have developed a passion to see the world. Our goal is to share with other desiring travelers different tips and experiences from around the world as we begin to check them off our bucket list. If anything, we hope to provide a little sense of motivation and adventure to those wishing to embark on their own journey!
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