Edinburgh is a perfect example of old and new, though I am more partial to the old. I love the cobblestoned streets, the old Victorian architecture all brimming with history. The beautiful walking trails and of course the free museums. It seems everywhere you turn in Edinburgh, there’s a story, even some Ghost Stories. Being from Scotland and living so close I forget that it’s actually a very popular tourist destination (2nd in the UK only to London). Personally I find it difficult sometimes to find good quality attractions in big touristy areas. You never know what it genuinely good and what is just in a convienent location. Hopefully I can help. Without further adue, here is my Ultimate Edinburgh Travel Guide
Situated at the bottom on the Royal Mile down by the Scottish Parliament Building, Arthur’s Seat is a nice wee hike that has absolutely spectacular views of the city. Obviously best to do on a nice sunny day, but as this is Scotland beggars can’t be choosers. It was quite overcast when I went up but it didn’t affect the views at all.
Another lovely walk with incredible views. It’s a nice escape from the busy city where you can enjoy a picnic looking out over the North Sea. Situated beyond the east side of Princes Street, it’s very central and easy to find. It’s also included in the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site
Interesting Fact: “The National Monument” was intended to be a Parthenon to commemorate Scottish Soldiers killed in the Napoleonic Wars. I say intended because they ran out of money half way through construction and just gave up! Apparently used to be known as “Scotland’s Disgrace”.
Next up on my Edinburgh travel guide is Scott Monument. I personally just think this is a really cool looking structure. In memory for Sir Walter Scott, you can climb up the 287 steps to the top for £5 a admission fee. You see the Scott Monument as you ride in on the train from Glasgow and I’ve always thought it was a nice ‘welcome to Edinburgh’
The Elephant House
If you, like me, are a massive Potterhead and love anything to do with Harry Potter then it is essential you go to The Elephant House. Famous birthplace of the stories as this is where J.K. Rowling wrote much of the early HP books. Not to mention the food is delicious. An obvious tourist trap and can get quite busy with queues out into the street, but worth the wait.
Tip: Have a wee peek in the Public Toilets (sounds weird I know) to see the thousands of messages for J.K left by fans over the years.
Edinburgh is known for being extremely haunted so how can I write an Edinburgh Travel Guide and not include a Ghost Tour? Given the popularity, there are many tours you can chose from. Daytime/ Nighttime/ Graveyard / Underground Vaults etc. This was something that I always wanted to do and finally got around to is last night and it did not disappoint. I would wrap up warm as most are at night and it can get quite chilly. Even if you’re not into ghosts, the tours take you around cool parts of the city and it’s a chance to learn more about it’s history. Most tours are around the £15 mark.
Royal Botanic Gardens
I’m a sucker for Botanic Gardens if I’m being honest. I don’t know why but I just love them. It’s a lovely walk around the gardens itself, but there are also the Glasshouses to explore (all 28 of them), Inverleith House which hosts art exhibitions and of course a little cafe for some refreshments.
Explore the Old Town
This is where you take over and become your own Edinburgh travel guide. Simply put, just walk around. Take in the city. It has a great atmosphere and the architecture is amazing. You could easily spend all day exploring the Old Town.
Tip: You could bring a guide book with you so you can also read about the history of what you are seeing.
Camera Obscura is an Illusions Museum in Edinburgh and it’s amazing. I wrote a full post about it which you can read here. Situated in the Old Town, it is floor upon floor of illusions and fun! Once you read the top there is an outdoor viewing platmorm with beautiful views of Edinburgh! Admission is £15 for Adults, £13 for Students, £11 for kids and under 5’s go free. An absolutely great day out!
The Royal Mile
The most famous street in Edinburgh full of pubs, restaurants and shops. While it’s very touristy it is still worthwhile as there is a lot of history there. It leads from the Castle down to Holyrood House (which you could then go on to climb Arthur’s Seat as it is right there)
On a Budget:
It can be quite pricey, particularly in the city center. To save money you could walk instead of public transport/taxi’s. It’s such a beautiful city so take advantage and see as much as you can. Take advantage of all the free Museums, parks and gardens. You will certainly not be disappointed.
Las Iguanas is a Latin American restaurant in George Street. Delicious food, good vibes and lovely staff.
The Elephant House as mentioned above has lovely food. It’s more of a cafe vibe but offers anything from Jacket Potatoes and Nachos to Burgers and Pizzas.
And of course the unmissable spectacle of Hogmany! One of the biggest New Years Eve celebrations in the world. I’ve never experienced it myself but I hear it’s everything you expect it to be. If interested, I would book well in advance as tens of thousands descend onto the streets for the party.
Hope this helps you decide what to do and see in Scotland’s Capital. Let me know in the comments your favourite things to do and see in Edinburgh, or what is on your list for a future trip.