Arriving in Edinburgh was a nice little surprise. Sure, I had heard good things, but now a day does anyone ever speak poorly of a destination? While I was excited to explore the eastern side of Scotland and see what Edinburgh had to offer, I was leaving the quite impressive coastal town of Oban. Will Edinburgh stand up to its much smaller counterpart on the west coast of the country?
Well, like I said… Edinburgh WAS a nice little surprise. When I arrived in the city it was a dark, overcast day. A thick blanket of fog covered the city and the wind whipped at my skin, making me grateful for the extra layer I decided to throw on. The grey skies could have left me wanting to curl up inside with a good book and a big blanket. But instead, I immediately felt moved to explore this old city. The drabby, yet enchanting, buildings contrasted nicely against the grey skies. And instead of wanting to curl up, I was left wanting to see all that Edinburgh had to offer.
I spent three nights in the historic capital of Scotland. My days were full of exploring every square inch of the city on foot. And while I got to see and do a lot, there were things I simply didn’t have time for. Suffice to say, I will happily return to this hilly capital again.
Go for… “The best haggis in town!” – From a true local
Try… Beef haggis with heather honey and turnip puree
Go for… Fun and lively atmosphere plus strong margaritas
Try… Guacamole national
Go for… quick, easy, and affordable food
Try… Pulled pork
Go for… Intimate atmosphere
Try… Haggis spring rolls
The Dome – Enjoy cocktails in an elegant atmosphere. If you’re lucky enough to be in Edinburgh around Christmas, don’t miss The Dome. Famously decorated and definitely lives up to the hype.
Note: No chairs at the bar
The Bon Vivant – Located in New Town close to El Cartel, Bon Vivant boasts a dark and intimate atmosphere with great cocktails.
The Elephant House – If you’re into Harry Potter, this is where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book. But beware, this coffee shop tends to get very crowded and as seen mostly as a “tourist” spot.
Walk the Royal Mile – The Scottish mile is longer than the typical mile, spanning 109 yards more than your typical mile. Enjoy your time walking the entirety of the Royal Mile by starting at the Edinburgh Castle and ending at the Holyrood Palace.
Participate in the free walking tour – Put on by SANDEMANs, this free walking tour is worth the hype. Meeting on the Royal Mile, viewing the castle from the outside, and even landing yourself in a cemetery. This walking tour gives you the highs and lows of Scottish history.
Note: Tips expected, reserve online
Visit the Edinburgh Castle – Perched up high on Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle overlooks the entire city of Edinburgh. Open every day from 930am-5pm, you can purchase tickets online or in-person for only 17 euros.
Enjoy live music at a Scottish pub – For a truly Scottish experience find yourself in a pub late at night for live music. The locals hang out at Sandy Bell’s and Captain’s Bar among others. Don’t expect bagpipes and kilts, you’ll find those on random streets.
Hike up to Arthur’s Seat to enjoy sweeping views of Edinburgh – One of the highest viewpoints in Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat is located only one mile east of the city center.
Stroll along Water of Leith Walkway – For a more relaxing day, stroll this public pathway by bicycle or foot. The entirety of the walkway is just over 12 miles long.
Edinburgh covers approximately 102 square miles (264 km) of Scottish land. Where the North Sea meets the rugged landscape of the Scottish countryside is where you’ll find this gem of a city. This is one capital you don’t want to miss.
For more on my time in Edinburgh, check out my Instagram story highlights