During our time in Scotland, we spent 3.5 days in Edinburgh (2.5 before we headed north and 1 additional day at the end of our trip). It is a great city and I’ll share some of our highlights.
Edinburg is Scotland’s most sophisticated city and for nearly a thousand years, it has been home to Kings and Scottish Parliament, as well as cultural and economic leaders.
We arrived by train to Waverley Station and decided that we needed some exercise so we would walk to the bed & breakfast accommodations that we had reserved. Google maps said it was a 30 minute walk and mostly flat. Well, in Edinburgh, flat is relative. There were a couple of uphill stretches, but overall it wasn’t too bad and it was a nice walk.
The 94DR bed & breakfast was a wonderful choice!! It is a lovely house and while our room was not extremely spacious, it had plenty of space and had a nice charm to it. Our hosts, Paul & John, were fabulous – welcoming, entertaining and informative. Paul is a chef and the breakfasts he created were amazing!! I would highly recommend their b&b to anyone visiting Edinburgh.
On our second visit, we returned our rental car to the airport and caught the express bus to Waverley Bridge. This was a very efficient way to reach the city centre. Unfortunately the 94DR was booked for the two nights so we booked at a Courtyard Marriott. This hotel was very nice, with a good sized room and great amenities. Sadly it lacked Paul’s breakfasts – we considered calling him and telling him we would be stopping in 🙂 .
The Royal Mile is the broad main boulevard in the Old Town of Edinburgh. At the top of the mile is Edinburgh Castle and the street runs down to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It is lined by souvenir shops selling everything Scottish, interspersed with restaurants, pubs and small tourist attractions.
Edinburgh Castle is the symbol of the city, sitting proudly on a rock high above the city. For centuries, it was the home of Scotland’s kings and queens and has seen medieval pageantry and bloody sieges.
The Scottish Crown Jewels are housed at the castle and are quite impressive (no photos allowed). An interesting item is the Stone of Scone. It is a rough slab of stone upon which British monarchs have been crowned for centuries. It was last used at the current Queen’s coronation and will travel to Westminster Abbey when her successor is crowned.
The oldest building in Edinburgh is the castle’s tiny St Margaret’s Chapel, dating from around 1120. King David I built the chapel in honour of his mother, Margaret, wife of King Malcolm III. Margaret was sainted in 1250. The church is Romanesque and the interior is simple and unadorned. The day we were there, a wedding was taking place in the chapel.
Holyrood Palace was the true home of Scotland’s Stuart royal family. Mary Queen of Scots led her dramatic short reign from Holyrood. Today, the palace is one of Queen Elizabeth II’s official residences and she generally spends time here in late June / early July. An excellent audio guide leads you through the elegantly furnished public rooms.
The palace was built on the site of the abbey founded by King David I in 1128. The ruins of the abbey still stand next to the palace.
The palace gardens are quite beautiful and are the gathering spot for 8000 people for the Queen’s garden tea party.
One evening, we took in the Real Mary King’s Close tour. This is an hour long tour of an excavated underground street. Although a bit kitschy, the tour does provide an interesting look at life in plague-infested Edinburgh.
The National Museum of Scotland is a few blocks from the Royal Mile. This is a fabulous museum (of course, free admission) with a vast array of exhibits covering history, science (including Dolly the cloned sheep stuffed for viewing), technology and and the natural world. We spent a couple of hours and weren’t able to see nearly everything. We would certainly return if we were to go back to Edinburgh.
Across the river from Old Town sits New Town. The Princes Street Garden sits next to the river with the castle looming above it. We enjoyed strolling through the park and enjoying a takeout lunch on a couple of occasions.
The Edinburgh Gin Distillery offers a great one hour tour. We enjoyed the history and information, not to mention the sample of their new Rhubarb & Ginger gin and a lovely gin & tonic with their signature gin.
We walked to Dean’s Village one afternoon. It was a delightful little area.
Rising high above Edinburgh are the Salisbury Crags and Arthur’s Seat. A popular activity is to hike up to the top – we chose not to take this on.
We did however climb up Calton Hill, which also offered great views of the city and surrounding area.
As well as Paul’s breakfasts, we had some excellent meals in Edinburgh. We had fun dinners at Brody Milligan’s Pub, the Salisbury Arms and the Theatre Royal. Drinks at Dirty Dicks on Rose Street were enjoyable on a sunny afternoon.
But the most wonderful evening was at Aizle. This small unpretentious restaurant offers a set tasting menu (allegedly 6 courses, but we counted 9). We accompanied the meal with the wine pairing. It was an excellent evening. Rumour has it that Aizle is being considered for a Michelin star and we would certainly agree that it deserves it!
The architecture in Edinburgh is a wonderful blend of architectural styles. Here are just a few more of our pictures.
We loved Edinburgh and would like to return some day to revisit the sights we took in and see some of the many that we haven’t seen yet.
Bev & Harv