I have visited the UK many times (perks of being married to a Brit!), however until recently had never been further north than the Midlands. There is just so much to see in and around London, that I never ventured much further. Well that all changed last weekend when my husband and I decided to book a weekend trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. And after three activity packed days, I was glad we decided to venture north and visit this gloomy, picturesque city.
Edinburgh is pretty amazing, featuring numerous historic sites, stunning views and a vibrant shopping and dining culture. It’s very hilly (reminded me a bit of San Francisco), yet perfectly walkable. Most major sites are close to each other. The Scots take a lot of pride in their city and it certainly shows. Plus it’s quite affordable compared to other large European cities.
Although Edinburgh isn’t very large, say in comparison to London, it definitely has enough sites to fill up a long weekend. If your planning a trip to Scotland’s capital, then make sure to add these places to your must-see list.
The Witchery: The atmosphere in this restaurant is really creepy and cool. Unfortunately it was all booked up for dinner during our trip, however we managed to reserve a table for lunch. The service was great and the food was delicious and reasonably priced. If you looking for a gothic/medieval/Harry Potter atmosphere than this is your place.
Iris: This restaurant is small, so reservations are recommended. The food was fabulous and the menu although small, had something for everyone. The decor is quite contemporary/no frills, which is pretty cool considering how ornate the city is.
Henderson’s Bistro: Although I’m not vegetarian, I LOVE dining at vegetarian restaurants (mostly because they cater so well to GF individuals). This restaurant is a bit of an institution in the city and has a great farm-to-table menu which changes nightly. The food was delicious, probably my favorite meal in the city.
Bramble Bar: Thanks to Bramble, I am now a Gin drinker. This speakeasy-style basement bar is super hip and boasts a pretty extensive craft cocktail menu. The music is old school hip-hop that will blast your ears. So if you’re looking for a lively place to end the night, Bramble is your spot. Make sure to try the cocktail named after bar. It is to DIE for.
Tour these sites:
Edinburgh Castle: Perched up on a rocky hill right in the heart of the city, Edinburgh Castle is a site you don’t want to miss. The castle is really well preserved and offers stunning views of the entire city and sea. You can even tour the room Mary Queen of Scots gave birth. The line to purchase tickets is pretty long, so I would recommend avoiding mid-day. There is so much history to take in while your touring the site, I would definitely spring for the audio guide. After you’re done, make sure to walk around the old cemeteries.
Scott Monument: Right below the castle is this towering gothic monument. If you pay £4, you can climb to top via a very small winding staircase. The views from the top are spectacular!
Calton Hill: This hilltop park features a number of historic sites, such as the National Monument, Nelson Monument and an observatory. If you want to take that iconic picture of Edinburgh, then make sure you visit this park. Although the city offers many vantage points, the view from the top of the Nelson Monument is unparalleled and totally worth the £4 fee. Plus the monument’s little museum features a fascinating history of Scottish lighthouses.
Princes Street: If you’re looking to shop at name brand stores, like H&M, TopShop, FCUK, etc. then Princes Street (and the nearby streets) is your shopping destination. There are also a number of great cafes and restaurants in this area so you can make an afternoon of it in this part of the city.
Royal Mile: If you’re looking for Scotland-made wool and cashmere souvenirs then make sure to walk down this street. Bonus, the Royal Mile also leads to Edinburgh Castle, so can spend an entire day in this part of the city.
Grassmarket: If quaint boutiques are more your scene, then make sure to spend some time shopping in Grassmarket. There are a number of really cute shops, including the Red Door Gallery (affordable art prints) and Museum Context (vintage items and unique gifts). I bought a lovely piece of artwork at the Red Door Gallery.
What to Pack:
Have you visited Edinburgh? What are some of your favorite things to do?