As far as unique cities go, Edinburgh, Scotland is up there — way up there.
Moody, full of medieval and Victorian architecture and thick Scottish accents, this city has a feel that is unparalleled. The stark contrast of the Old Town and that of the modern and elegant Georgian New Town is like experiencing two completely different cities in one. Walk the famous Royal Mile that separates Edinburgh Castle from The Palace of Holyrood House. Full of shops, restaurants, pubs and many more attractions, this street is a bustling stretch through Old Town. A unique quality of Edinburgh is that the wild landscapes of Scotland can be reached with just a short walk out of the city.
Don’t miss out on these activities:
1. Arthur’s Seat
Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano that overlooks the city and the North Sea. Situate yourself up there among the vibrant landscape and watch the clouds pass right before your eyes. Don’t forget your rain jacket, the last thing you want is to reach the top and be rushing down because you’re getting a bit rained on. The hike up is not a rigorous one, but certainly wear sensible shoes if you’re planning on heading up. Catch the bustling city from the top of this mountain and experience the city in a unique way!
2. Visit the Scottish National Galleries
There are three of these art galleries spread across Edinburgh, and if you have the time, hit all three! Home to world-class collections of art, including masterpieces from Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, and many more. The three galleries include; The Scottish National Gallery, The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Pop into each of them for a different experience — all three have free admission and are open daily!
3. Climb the Scott Monument
This Victorian Gothic monument right in the middle of town is dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, the Scottish author. Make your way up all 287 steps of the monument and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the city.
4. Holyrood Park
This park has been a Royal Park since the 12th Century and is part of the view from Arthur’s Seat. With several nice paths cutting through the five mile radius of the park, a walk through Holyrood is a wonderful activity if you’re graced with a relatively sunny day. As the park also encompasses the extinct volcano of Arthur’s Seat, the terrain has volcanic cliff faces and is a great way to experience the wildness of Scottish nature, right inside the city!
5. Catch a show at The Cameo
This picture house is said to be a favorite of Quentin Tarantino’s. With a bustling bar and mainstream and indie shows, this is a must for any movie lover. Enjoy the plush seating and quaint environment and here’s a pro tip…all day Monday the tickets are discounted!
6. Live music at The Queen’s Hall
This sweet little venue is chock full of amazing live music just about every day of the year. Whether you’re a Blues fan, Orchestra fanatic, or looking for some Jazz — there is a night of the week for you! An while the tickets may vary in price, they are certainly reasonably priced, typically ranging between 10 GPB and 30 GPB.
7. Check out the Foodie Scene
With a modern Scottish menu and rustic decor, The Scran & Scallie gastropub deserves your attention. At the helm is a Michelin starred chef crafting up home-cooked meals with fresh ingredients. Enjoy the cozy & quaint setting while you tuck into some world class pub food and a wide variety of whisky.
8. Coffee Shops, Coffee Shops, Coffee Shops
If you’re into the coffee scene, or simply enjoy a good cuppa — check out Artisan Roast Coffee Roasters. Located in the center of Edinburgh on Broughton Street, stop in for a quick cup before your full day of exploring or have a sit and watch the morning go by in the chic, modern decorated roastery.
9. Shop on Victoria Street
How many places in the world can you find world class shopping and medieval castles on the same street? Victoria Street is a blend of old and new, with picturesque cobblestone streets, colorful building fronts and medieval structures. With a great variety of high end shops and quirky stores, there is something for everyone. When you get tired of shopping, pop into one of the many restaurants and bars — The Bow Bar is a long-standing favorite in the city and a perfect place to try one of their house cask ales and a traditional haggis dish. Or, if you just want to sneak in a quick snack and get back to shopping and exploring, wander inside Oink, a little pink shop front serving up Scottish hog roasts with various sauces. The store front window features the whole roast hog — order up and you’ll see exactly where your meat is coming from!
10. Elephant House
If you’re a literary fan or traveling with any, a stop at The Elephant House is a must! This cafe is the spot where J.K. Rowling penned the first Potter book and on a moody Edinburgh day, it’s a perfect spot to catch some gourmet tea or coffee! There’s generally quite a few tourists here during the summer months, so if you’re not interested in getting inside the cafe, a quick stop for a photo of the outside will do just fine. Or, get up a bit earlier than the crowds and enjoy coffee and cake in this historic spot!
Edinburgh is an essential stop in when visiting Scotland. Regardless of your travel style, we have itineraries with overnight stay’s in this iconic Scottish city.
If these 10 Tips for Edinburgh have inspired you, download the itinerary below for an idea of the many ways to experience Scotland and the surrounding islands!
Download here: Scottish Highlands & Islands