We recently had the pleasure to spend two days (well, two and a half to be honest) in the Scottish capital city. Edinburgh is what I like to call a 360-degree-city. From nice restaurants to green parks, from abandoned castles to crowded and bubbling bars, it is a city that can offer anything to anyone. Here you can read what we did, and since I am pretty happy with our “tour”, I have decided to walk you through it (and I highly recommend you doing the same 😊)
Day 1: Morning
So first morning in Edinburgh, and we started the day out right. The Arthur’s Seat is the highest peak of the group of hills overseeing the city. The name might derive from the legendary King Arthur, people say. Truth is, you kind of feel like a king once you are on top of it, watching Edinburgh on the left and the gulf on the right. So let’s climb it up! Though we could have gotten to the feet of the hill by bus, we walked all the way there from the city center, and so should you, since you’ll encounter historic buildings, cafes and parks on your way there. After some 25 minutes, we arrived at the feet of the gigantic hill and we started to climb it up. The view over the city is fantastic already after 10 minute. Surrounded by vegetation and rocks, the path gets steeper – and more fun. After 30-40 minutes we reached the peak, and the vista left us speechless. The city in front of us, seaside and harbor on the right, cliffs and gulf behind and just green on the left. We spent another hour there, just breathing in the fresh air and contemplating the panorama.
Time estimated: 3 hours
We dedicated the afternoon to visiting the magnificent city center. We started walking along the Princes Street, full with shops, but most importantly with the Scott Monument, which you can either love or hate (I personally love it). The buildings alongside, especially the ones opposite of the street, look enormous but that’s because they have been built on a hillock. At the end of the Princes Street, we walked up the Calton Hill (yes, another hill!) where a small mausoleum towers the city. On our way up there, we also found a small cemetery on the right – definitely worth seeing.
After all this walking we were starving, so we looked for a comfy place with good food. A couple of people suggested heading to Victoria Street and looking for Oink, a small restaurant set up by a Scottish family selling hog roast rolls, and so we did. We ordered the big portion which was less than 5 pounds, but there are also portions for smaller appetites. Needless to say, it was delicious!
“Perfect time for a beer”, we thought. But after the long day we decided to head back home and relax. Anyway, if you have energy left, there are lots of bars and pubs around there for you to check out – like Salt Horse for example!
Day 2 : Morning
For me Scotland is about steep cliffs and medieval castles. So we decided to do something controversial and take the train direction North Berwick, a small town 35 minutes from Edinburgh. Why? Well, steep cliffs and a semi-ruined medieval castle, the Tantallon Castle. From the train station, we walked all the way to the castle (5 km), passing through a golf pitch, walking on the beach and through the woods. The castle looks fantastic, perfect for Game of Thrones´ fans. And though no kick-ass dragon flew out of the blue spitting fire, it offers a stunning view over the shore and the green lawns behind. We hung out there for a while, climbing up the castle and picturing how it used to look like before being partially destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s troops in 1639.
Time to get back! Again, we decided to hit the road but cabs can be easily reachable too.
Not feeling like walking the New York marathon all over again, we thought of spending a hour or so at the National Museum of Scotland – and we couldn’t have made a better choice! From old clothes to dinosaurs, interactive technological games, history of phones, Dolly the Sheep, and even a human running wheel. We ended up spending more than two hours there!
Being a tea fan, I convinced my travel buddy to come along and sip with me some warm tea at Anteaques – a traditional tea house located in the city center. It’s very small so if you want to check it out make sure to book first (and try the matcha green tea cake, please).
(Shout-out to Harry Potter fans: the creator of the little magician, Joanne Rowling, started writing her first books right here in Edinburgh, at the Elephant House!)
Last but not least, the Edinburgh Castle. The view from up there is icing on the cake. Stupidly, we went there when it was already closed (open until 17.00) – but we got nevertheless a great vista over the city!
I was kidding – whiskey is the real cherry on top. Again, we asked some locals where to go to taste whiskey in a real Scottish pub and we ended up at Whiski Rooms, located in the city center. There are more than 300 malts to choose from…watch out. They also have a shop, so should you fall in love with one of those 300 varieties, you can bring one home. A little touristy, I would say, but the atmosphere is relaxed and calm nevertheless. Thumbs up!
That’s a wrap!
And remember, if London is made out of marble, Edinburgh is made out of granite.
(Maybe it doesn’t make much sense now, but, at the Whiski Rooms, it did.)
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