City Guide: Edinburgh
Scotland is a country rich in history and political struggle. It's capital, Edinburgh, is truly a fairy-tale city full of culture. Being less touristy than London, you're sure to fall in love with it.
You can take a city bus from the airport to the city center (about 30 min ride and leaves from the airport every 10 mins. £7 round trip). Know where your stop is in the city, but Edinburgh is very walkable, so you might enjoy walking from the city center to your hotel/Airbnb/hostel. For hostels, I recommend this one or this one!
Edinburgh sits on top of an extinct volcano, so the landscape is super unique! Hike King Arthur's seat for an overlook of the city.
You have to visit the literal "Castle on the Hill." Edinburgh Castle is perched on another part of the ancient volcano in the middle of the city. You'll see an amazing view, hear tales of tragedy and determination that characterizes Scottish history, and see the crown jewels. Buy tickets in advance for a cheaper price of £17.
For a unique museum experience, go to Camera Obscura: a fun museum of optical illusions with a working camera of Victorian technology on the roof. £13.50 for students.
Definitely take a free walking tour (just tip the guide!) from a local who will tell you the inside scoop on the (mostly) dark history of Edinburgh. You'll pass a lot of Harry Potter sites, too! J. K. Rowling wrote her first two Harry Potter books at The Elephant House café, which you'll get to see. She got much of her inspiration from the city, including the inspiration for Hogwarts from a local private school (George Heriot’s School) and Edinburgh Castle. There is a graveyard near that private school; you'll walk past some of the headstones and notice names like “McGonagall,” “Thomas Riddle,” and “Moodie,” which served as her inspiration for her famous characters. The graveyard is also from The Goblet of Fire. On the tour, you'll also walk through Victoria Street, which is a colorful and winding street, aka the inspiration for Diagon Alley. There are many shops there that look very Harry Potter-esque. Finally, you'll visit Grassmarket, which used to be a site of public executions, including the one of Maggie Dickson, who was the inspiration for Nearly-headless Nick.
For food, you'll find a lively pub on almost every street corner. Make sure to try some Scottish whisky (aka Scotch), haggis, and some pear cider. Trust me, pear cider is absolutely delicious! I loved the pubs in Grassmarket. Grab a pint and stay a while!
Grassmarket also has a flea and farmer's market on Saturdays. The food is divine!
If you can't get enough of the whisky, take a tour of a distillery!
Go inside St. Giles’ Cathedral on the Royal Mile. It's the only cathedral to portray angels playing the bagpipes! Fun fact (as if this place couldn’t get any cooler): the unicorn is the national animal of Scotland!
For tea and yummy breakfast/brunch, Edinburgh has a ton of cute options. Check out Loudons and the Elephant House!
I love to window shop when I travel. If you do too, check out George Street in new town.
If you're looking into your family history, go to Tartan Weaving Mill and Experience next to Edinburgh Castle and Camera Obscura. There's a guy with huge books of family names and he will help discover your family's past. I found out that my last name is English, Welsh, and Irish! If you're Scottish, you can also pick up your family tartans and other souvenirs.
Scotland is too amazing to stay in the city the whole time. I went there for three days, but took one day trip to Loch Ness, Glen Coe, and the Scottish highlands. If you get the chance, I highly recommend this trip! It's $66 per person and you get to drive through the most surreal places. Everything looked straight out of the Lord of the Rings! This trip was my favorite part about Scotland. Here are some pictures below of what I saw!
Have an amazing time in beautiful Scotland! I can hear the bagpipes already...
Try anything I suggested?
Anything I missed?
What else do you want to see?
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