Edinburgh is Scotland's capital and one of United Kingdom's most beautiful cities. With a medieval Old Town and a particularly elegant Georgian New Town, it is easy to understand why Edinburgh lured me in with its unparalleled charm.
Although I've been living in the UK for over seven years, I've never visited Scotland before last year, when I finally decided to drive to Edinburgh, then to Loch Lomond and finally, to Fort William, so I can conquer the Ben Nevis.
Edinburgh is an amazing city, full of life and beautiful architecture. I adore gothic style buildings, so it's no surprise I found Edinburgh so incredibly breathtaking. Waking through Scotland's capital made me really want to move up north, and if it wasn't for the crazy cold weather, we would have already lived in Edinburgh by now.
It took us almost eight hours to drive from Bristol to Edinburgh. Although a very tiring drive, it is worth it. You can, of course, fly to Edinburgh from all major cities, but it's a slightly more expensive option. The car journey you can be easily done in one day, but make sure you take regular breaks and share the drive between two people. If you are a solo traveller, I recommend stopping and resting for a night somewhere in the Lake District.
When we finally arrived in Edinburgh, we parked our car outside the hotel and ventured in. We stupidly booked a room in a place called The Edinburgh House Hotel. When we saw our room had little storage, we realised we must have ended up in someone's wardrobe. With no space for the luggage, dirty sheets, disgusting floors and a super thin wall I could clearly hear the neighbours, it didn't take me more than 10 minutes to realise there's no chance in hell we're spending the night there. We had to fight a lot with the receptionist so we can check out, but luckily we managed to do so. The problem was...everything was either fully booked, or way too expensive to want to pay for it. We calmly decided to try our luck further down the road where we saw this bed and breakfast with available rooms. It was late at night, but we decided to give a go regardless. The sweetest old lady answered the door and welcomed us in. Clean, comfortable, delicious breakfast, amazing host and very reasonably priced. Scottish heaven!
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After a well deserved night sleep, lots of food and pitch black coffees, we made our way towards Edinburgh's city centre. The exploration was finally about to begin.
The first stop was the Edinburgh Castle. This impressive 11th-century building is one of the most exciting historic sites in the UK. It features amazing views over Scotland's dynamic capital and breathtaking photo opportunities. The entry is £16.50 for one adult. If you decide to go in, be prepared to be amazed by beautiful architecture, wonderful layout and Scotland's shiny Crown Jewels. Should you just wander outside the castle, make sure to visit the gift shop and buy yourself some Whiskey flavoured black tea.
After a quick wander around Edinburgh's Old Town, we made our way towards Arthur's Seat. Be prepared for a strenuous uphill walk. Be sure to bring some water and snacks with you as you will need them once you reach the top.
Follow the signs and stick to the path. Even if the weather is mild and perfectly sunny, chances are, it will be very windy. If you have a windproof jacket, this is the time to bring it with you.
So why is this place so cool? Because Arthur's Seat is the largest of the three parts of Arthur's Seat extinct volcano which is over 350 million years old and 251 metres high. The top provides amazing panoramic views of Edinburgh city. It's the perfect place for amazing photos and greatly chilled picnics.
After you descend from Arthur's Seat, spend the rest of the day wandering around the Old Town. It's easy to find all sort of interesting shops, full of Scottish wonders. Here are some examples of awesome tourist attractions. You can visit the gothic St. Giles' Cathedral, an iconic Presbyterian place.
You can check out the Scottish National Gallery which has free admission and is open daily until 5 pm. If you want even more of a cultural afternoon, visit the National Museum of Scotland.
For those of you particularly interested in arts and culture, Edinburgh is famous for its international Fringe Festival. It takes place yearly and in my personal opinion, it's the best time to visit the city since you can enjoy Edinburgh's celebration of performing arts. It usually takes place for three weeks during August. If you want to plan your visit accordingly, please find more info on this website.
Before dinner, you should allow your inner child to come out and play in Edinburgh's Camera Obscura & World of Illusions. If you want something more grown up, you can go to the Scotch Whiskey Experience which is just across the road. Enjoy the tale behind Scotland's national drink and buy yourself a spirited souvenir.
Since you are already in Edinburgh's Old Town, I would recommend going into a small bistro and enjoying a quiet dinner. If you are crazy about seafood, just like us, I suggest truing Locanda De Gusti. Already dark, we absolutely froze on our way back to the hotel. We wondered around Edinburgh's shopping street and eventually decided to buy a couple of woolly scarves which we still have and use nowadays. Scottish wool and tweed truly are of best quality.
First thing in the morning we went for a stroll on Princess Street. There are plenty of shops to be enjoyed here. When you are ready for a break, join the locals and lounge on the grass in the Princess Street Gardens. Take a look at the beautiful Floral Clock which was first planted in 1903. It looks lush during the summer months when it's all bloom time.
In the mood for more natural curiosities, we made our way towards the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh. The admission is free, however, it costs a modest £5 to explore the glass houses. I cannot stress enough how much I recommend this Botanic Garden and how much I truly loved the glass houses. Although we visited a vast number of botanic gardens, we're yet to find a better place than the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh. I wish David Attenborough would make a documentary there too.
A great way to end your Edinburgh day is by going to the port and visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia, a large liner used by the Royal family for more than 40 years.
Edinburgh is a fascinating place full of hills, cobbled streets, inviting pubs and tremendous history. Although I strongly recommend you check out all the places I mentioned above, I also encourage you to simply wander around Scotland's capital city. You will be surprised by how many beautiful things can be discovered in places you would least expect. Keep an open mind and be adventurous. Nevertheless, make sure to buy yourself some proper Scottish whiskey or at least some whiskey flavoured tea, a woolly scarf or a classy tweed jacket.