Edinburgh is a fascinating place, so much so I have been twice already this year. It’s one of those cities which I feel has the excitement and bustle of London without it being too crowded, but with the quaint lovability of a smaller town like Bath or York. There is so much to do in the city and even after two separate visits I still have loads left that I want to do in the city. Here are 12 things which you need to do should you visit the Scottish capital:
Visit Edinburgh Castle
This might seem like an obvious one to include but it is one of the most interesting spots in Edinburgh with so much history to explore alongside seeing the crown jewels (can you believe I’ve seen the one’s in Edinburgh twice but never the one’s in London?!) As the castle is atop a hill you get some amazing views over the city and on a clear day you can see for miles including over to Murrayfield Stadium. There are guided tours which can take you around the outside of the castle which I can’t recommend enough but check times beforehand as they take a long lunch break and even then they only run every hour or so.
Walk Up To Arthurs Seat
Arthur’s Seat is perched up on an inactive volcano and sits way above the general level of the city of Edinburgh but if you fancy a stiff walk or scramble depending on your route the views make up for the slightly strenuous walk. There are various ways you can reach the top of Arthur’s Seat and there’s even some guides who provide guided walks but make sure you plan this beforehand depending on your fitness levels.
Walk The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile runs from the Castle on one end to Holyrood House on the other and is a lovely walk through cobblestone central Edinburgh. The streets are lined with Spirit of Edinburgh shops, so many Whisky stores and a year round Christmas shop which just made me feel so festive when I went inside even though it was only August at the time. You can take your time to explore the boutique shops and cafes along the way as you make your way from site to site.
Explore Holyrood Palace
Holyrood house is the Queens’ residence when she is in Edinburgh and despite not being a ‘royalist’ I found the Palace thoroughly enjoyable. The audio guide which takes you around the palace is really interesting and not just bogged down with boring history. Once you have visited once you can get your ticket stamped meaning you can go back within the next year for free which is great if you’re planning to revisit and perhaps explore the city with different people.
Have A Daytime Tipple at The Edinburgh Gin Distillery
The Edinburgh Gin Distillery is located along Princes’ Street (the main shopping street) and houses two working stills which help to make the famous Edinburgh Gin. Before I visited for the first time I never really noticed the gin but I see it in all manor of shops now (including John Lewis in their Christmas gifts). Their normal gin is fragrent, slightly citrus’y and just so smooth but they also do some flavoured gin liquors (Raspberry and Elderflower) which are both nice alongside prosecco, and some experimental flavours including their Christmas Gin. For just £10 you can enjoy a talk about the history, a guide around the distillery and a gin and tonic which I think is a great price.
Visit Edinburgh Zoo
Edinburgh Zoo is raved about and rightfully so with it’s huge expanse of animals to see and the great thing is none of them look trapped as all the enclosures are large and well laid out. The zoo houses the only Panda’s within the UK although sadly they were during mating season when I was there so I didn’t get to see them, next time for sure! You can easily spend a good 4 hours or so exploring the area and catching all the animals. As usual the penguins and tigers were my personal favourites there.
Explore Places Which Inspired Harry Potter
J K Rowling wrote at least a proportion of the Harry Potter novels in Edinburgh and just looking at the architecture and buildings you can see where her vision for Hogwarts came from. There’s a small cafe called The Elephant House where Rowling penned some of the novels, there’s a real life grave from a Tom Riddle at Greyfriars Kirkyard, you can visit George Heriot’s School with it’s four houses and towers which sourced as inspiration for Hogwarts and of course The Balmoral hotel where Rowling completed the sixth book.
Explore The Royal Britannia Yacht
The Royal Britannia Yacht was once a working boat which took the royal family and many special guests around the globe alongside hosting special events and even some honeymoon trips from previous royals. During your trip you’ll get an audio guide which I think is great as it means you and your party will all go at the same pace as opposed to when you have to read as I am a really quick reader. Guided over numerous floors you’ll get a really good sense of what the yacht was like when it was in use.
While You’re There Enjoy Food On The Yacht
While on the yacht make sure you grab some food in the tea rooms from their incredible smoked salmon sandwiches through to massive slices of cake or scones. You’ll get world-class service and an incredibly regal feeling environment in which to sip your tea in.
Take On The Scotch Whisky Experience
Whisky is one of the biggest exports of Scotland so rightfully so everywhere sells whisky (even the castle has it’s own whisky!) While the Scotch Whisky Experience isn’t a distillery you learn a lot about the history of Whisky alongside what differentiates between the five types of Scotch Whisky (Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside, Campbeltown and Islay) which is very interesting. With the basic tour which is £12 you get to taste one whisky but pay a little extra and you’ll have a chance to try them all.
Eat Loads of Fudge
Every shop in Edinburgh seems to be full of fudge which you can get in so many flavours you’ll struggle to decide. I almost always opt for a traditional clotted cream as you can’t go wrong with this and then add alongside it either mint, orange or peanut butter because I’m such a creative of habit.
Visit The Camera Obscura And Get Amazing Views Of The Castle
Camera Obscura is an optical illusion museum which has all manner of tricks and images which are truly fascinating. The museum is split over a few levels with the roof being the perfect spot to look out over the city and get some of the best high views of the castle which resides next door.
Have you been to Edinburgh? What are your top recommendations?