A quick trip to Edinburgh
Updated: Jun 18
Every time I write about my travels I realise how little I've seen so far and how much more I want to explore. As I'm writing this, England is currently in lock-down so the idea of seeing new places, new faces seems further away than ever. Due to the on and off restrictions, my yearly trip to Scarborough had to be cancelled as well as pretty much all other trips, with one exception: managed to get to Edinburgh for a couple of days!
So far I've briefly visited this lovely city twice. The first visit was a couple of years ago and I managed to see the inside of Edinburgh Castle, I went to the local Comic-Con (by pure chance, literally walked by it and popped in) and had a wonderful Whisky Tasting Experience. I don't have too many details from my first visit, only a few pictures which you can see below.
This post is about my second visit to Edinburgh. It was in between lockdowns so the experiences have been a bit different than usual. It's also way fresher in my mind and I've taken quite a few pictures to show you what I'm talking about. Here we go!
We arrived there in the middle of the day after a few hours on the train, listening to some audiobooks (If you're looking for some inspiration, maybe check this list out). As usual, after checking in and leaving our luggage at the hotel, we needed to get some fuel for all the exploring we wanted to do.
In Edinburgh, you are definitely spoilt for choice when it comes to cafes, restaurants and bars and I'm pretty sure you can find anything to suit your needs and interests. As you can see from the images below, I didn't opt for the traditional local cuisine, instead, I had a veggie burger and a Scotch Ale.
Had some food and drinks, so it was time to explore the city a bit. The castle was closed so we couldn't get in this time, but we did walk all the way up to it, enjoyed the view and continued our stroll. Edinburgh Castle is usually open daily between 9:30 am and 5 pm and last time I checked it was £15.50 for an adult day entry ticket but given the current pandemic situation things can and will change, so if you're planning a visit there, please make sure you book in advance and check if any restrictions are in place. Give yourself at least 2-3 hours to explore the entire castle area and do take your time, as there is quite a lot of information to take in.
While walking around the city we've seen some funny stuff (see cow below) and some wonderful buildings. You can find both halves of the cow sticking out of the walls in Edinburgh Old Town, near South Bridge, on Cowgate (of course). The Scott Monument is a couple of minutes away from Waverley Station and make sure to check out Victoria Street - a tourist favourite for taking photos.
It wasn't long until it got too dark to be able to enjoy all the beautiful views Edinburgh has to offer (although some buildings look fantastic during nighttime) so we found a lovely bar where we can sample some exciting whiskies (the Bow Bar, if you happen to look for a place). If there's one thing I really love about Scottish pubs and bars (or at least the ones I've been to so far) it is definitely their extensive whisky list. So many to choose from and so little time to try them. The struggle is real, I tell you. On a serious note, I can now declare myself a fan of the Strathmill 12 as well as the use of social distancing bears. Yes, you read that right, Teddy Bears used to occupy every other table so social distancing can be put in place, consider me a fan of this as well.
On our second and final day there we decided to go for a little hike up to Arthur's Seat, an extinct volcano and the highest peak of Holyrood Park (251 meters above sea level). If you're planning on going there, please give yourself enough time to get there, enjoy the view, have a little snack (which you packed before) and get back to reality at a slow pace. It depends on your health and stamina but two-three hours would generally be ok, although, if you have the time, add an extra hour so you don't have to rush at any point. Make sure you wear appropriate clothing and footwear and check which route you want to take as some are easier to climb than others. Once you get to the top, you have an amazing view of all of Edinburgh and its surroundings, it takes a bit to get there but it is honestly worth it.
After we left Arthur's Seat behind, we went back towards the centre and train station, looked for some souvenirs (aka biscuits, chocolate and whisky), had some food and one last little stroll around. It's funny how different everything looks like when it's sunny and warm.
I had a lovely time in Edinburgh and I can't wait to go back. Next time I'm there I need to make the trip longer than two days so I can get a better idea of what this beautiful city has to offer.
From my previous visit, I can recommend The Real Mary King’s Close tour if you want to find out more about Edinburgh's history, especially the quality of life for people in the 17th century.
If you plan on exploring a lot, you can save yourself the hassle of booking everything and get an Edinburgh City Pass which gives you access to quite a few tours and attractions (see link for details).
I'm not an expert, but here are a few little ideas/tips on how to make your trip a bit better, or just to serve as a reminder for the obvious:
There is plenty of choice (usually, non-covid times) when it comes to interesting activities, escape rooms, whisky-tasting tours and so on, so please book in advance as most of them are in high demand.
You have more than enough to choose from when it comes to food and drink but don't get caught up in the 'I need to pick the best one' because you'll spend way more time than you want, scrolling through website reviews.
Wonder around. Seriously, walk around as much as your feet can take you or get a Hop-On Hop-Off City Sightseeing Bus Tour. Not everything you do needs to be booked in advance. There's so much to see and enjoy if you just have a wander around the city, you'll be surprised.
Always carry a bottle of water with you when you're out sightseeing, no matter the season and if you're going up to Arthur's Seat, maybe pack a few snacks too, they always come in handy.
If you have any places which you like and would recommend in Edinburgh, please share them in the comments below.
I hope life treats you well. Take care