Edinburgh has been on my travel bucket list for many years but somehow it wasn’t meant to be… until two summers ago! And then, within 14 months, I visited Scotland’s capital city three times… and I’m sure I will go back again soon as this city is one of my absolute favourites and there’s still many things I want to do there that I didn’t have time for. But here is a list of things I have done and loved and you may want to experience too.
- Visit the Royal Castle. You can’t overlook the castle, from pretty much everywhere in the city you can see it as it stands high on a hill in the middle of the town. The castle is a tourist favourite and one of the only places in Edinburgh that are really crowded so you may want to go early in the morning. The visit will take you at least a couple of hours as there are quite a few things to see. Personally I’ve seen nicer castles, but it was an interesting couple of hours anyway and the view from the walls is very nice.
- Stroll along the Royal Mile, from the very top (the castle) to the very end (Holyroodhouse Palace). Also have a look at the side streets for some of them are very interesting too. I can’t even explain how magical the Royal Mile is, you really feel like you stepped back in time…
- Talking about stepping back in time, take a tour at The Real Mary King’s Close. Don’t expect too much of a show, but just walking under the Royal Mile and hearing what life in Edinburgh was like hundreds of years ago is pretty impressive.
- Visit Holyroodhouse Palace to learn more about Scotland’s history. The palace is really nice but what I liked most were the ruins of the old cathedral attached to the palace. Also the palace has a nice garden with a very nice view of Edinburgh’s own mountain, Arthur’s Seat.
- Climb Calton Hill for an amazing view of the city. I went to Calton Hill twice, the second time just after visiting Holyroodhouse Palace and while going up we walked through an interesting old cemetery.
- Visit St.Giles cathedral, especially don’t miss the Thistle Chapel for it is really unique.
- Relax in Princes Street Gardens. The huge gardens divide the older and the newer part of Edinburgh and you will walk across them quite a few times when visiting the different sights.
- Stroll along Rose Street in the evening. On this pedestrian street you will find some nice restaurants and cool pubs.
- Go shopping in Princes Street or, even better, in George Street. Shopping in Edinburgh is amazing, you will find more or less the same shops as in London but with half the people. Don’t miss White Stuff on George street, even if you don’t like their style just pick something up to try on, their changing cabins are magic! They are basically hidden behind wardrobe doors and each cabin is decorated in a different style, just wow! Another shop I really liked was Ness, a clothes and accessories shops that sells fashion with a scottish twist. I love their tartan bags!
- Visit the new town with its very interesting 18th century buildings. If you have some spare time stop by the Georgian House to see how people lived back then.
- Walk through Dean Village, another green oasis in the middle of the town. Walking along the Leith river, surrounded by old houses and the wood, you really can’t imagine that you are in the centre of a big city.
- Go for a drink in the Grassmarket area. Maybe try some whiskey, after all you’re in Scotland!
- Listen to some Scottish stories, at the Scottish Storytelling Centre or on one of the storytelling tours. I’ve seen this guy and absolutely loved it!
- Go ceilidth dancing, it’s not too difficult, really! The last time I was in Edinburgh, for a teaching course, I was lucky because we were offered the chance to participate in a ceilidth dancing class. For about two hours we (about 10 Swiss teachers and 50 Asian students) were taught different steps and choreographs, and I’m quite proud to say that I didn’t do so bad. Once you get the hang of it it’s actually quite easy. But if you don’t want to dance just go and watch other people doing it. There are some groups doing performances at Princes Gardens during summers, just watch out for the flyers.
- If you’re a Harry Potter fan you probably know that J.K.Rowling wrote the story in Edinburgh, sometimes while having coffee at the Elephant House. Go and visit the place if you love the stories of the wizard and his friends, and don’t forget to go to the toilet to see the messages of all the Harry Potter fans that visited before you. By the way, I thought the whole city of Edinburgh had a really Harry Pottery feeling about it with all the dark medieval buildings and the little towers.
Have you ever been to Edinburgh? What did you like best?