From Old town’s romantic streets to Georgian elegant quarters, Edinburgh is an idyllic destination with a unique charm. Intriguing castles, historic museums and gourmet restaurants, you certainly won’t be bored in the Scottish capital. Here’s our 10 suggestions of activities to do during your next getaway in the sublime city of Edinburgh.
1. Visit Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is an iconic spot in the city where you can learn about Scotland’s fascinating history, from Robert The Bruce to Mary, Queen of Scots. We recommend booking your tickets in advance to make sure you can visit at your desired time slot. By being inside the castle’s walls around 1 p.m., you can also hear the famous cannon shot of the One O’clock Salute.
While strolling on the premise, take the opportunity to admire the Crown Jewels as well as the Stone of Destiny, an artifact once used for the coronation of Scottish kings, stolen by King Edward I of England. It was only returned to Edinburgh Castle in 1996, more than 700 years later.
For the most beautiful view of Edinburgh Castle, you definitely have to go to the Vennel Steps! Very close to Grassmarket, you’ll have to take the small alley next to Mary’s Milk Bar to find them and enjoy this perfect panorama!
2. Discover Victoria Street
If you’re a Harry Potter fan like us, you’ll probably recognize the street that inspired J.K. Rowling’s famous Diagon Alley. Built between 1829 and 1834 and located just off the Grassmarket, Victoria Street is one of Edinburgh’s most photographed spots thanks to its narrow and colorful buildings.
At the heart of this two-level street, you will find several shops and bars, including the Museum Context, an official retailer for all your essentials for your trip to Hogwarts.
3. Relax in Dean Village
Looking straight out of an Agatha Christie novel, Dean Village is also one of Edinburgh’s prettiest and most peaceful neighborhoods. Once a place for milling, a nice walk in the woods along the river Water of Leith will lead you directly there.
4. Taking a walk on Circus Lane
Housed in historic Stockbridge behind the Royal Circus, not far from Dean Village, Circus Lane is one of the most charming cobbled streets in the city. If you’re into photography, this is a very popular spot to capture Edinburgh. However, it’s a residential area, so don’t forget to be respectful of the area and the people who live there.
5. Climb Arthur’s Seat
At 251 meters above sea level, Arthur’s Seat is Edinburgh’s highest peak. This ancient volcano, dating back over 300 million years, is also the highest point in Holyrood Park. Offering an exceptional panoramic view of the city, you can also visit the remains of St Anthony’s medieval chapel after your ascent.
6. Dine at The Witchery by the Castle
For a romantic date night or a special event to celebrate, we strongly recommend that you book at The Witchery by the Castle, one of the most gorgeous restaurants in Scotland. Housed in a historic Gothic-style building, its decor filled with elegant chandeliers, baroque fittings and oak paneling gives the impression of dining in another era.
During our visit, we opted for an evening in their secret garden, where a magical atmosphere goes hand in hand with a gourmet and copious menu. We strongly recommend their creamy risotto and their absolutely delicious beef tartare!
7. Stroll down the Royal Mile
Stretching from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace, a stroll down the Royal Mile is a must during any Edinburgh getaway. You’ll find, among other things, the famous St Giles Cathedral where Queen Elizabeth II was exhibited before returning to England, as well as many charming shops, kilt manufacturers and pubs where Scottish music can be enjoyed.
Hidden in a small alley, you’ll also come across the Writer’s Museum, mainly centered on writers Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.
8. Visit Holyrood Palace
Official residence of the King of England in Scotland, Holyrood Palace has also hosted many important figures over the years, including Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie. Open to the public 51 weeks a year, you can visit the State Apartments and the Grand Gallery as well as the ruins of the magnificent medieval abbey outside.
9. Admire the city at Calton Hill
For a sunset picnic or just to get a spectacular view of the city, there’s no better place than Calton Hill! From the Scott Monument to Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh’s landscape will hold no secrets for you.
As you walk up the hill, you may also notice a few Greek-inspired historical monuments, adding an even more mythical vibe to this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
10. Discover the best cafes and tea rooms in the city
Through its pretty streets worthy of a movie scene, you’ll also find many cozy cafes where you can stock up on tasty drinks in Edinburgh. Among our favorite addresses, we recommend Cairngorm Coffee, The Milkman & Lovecrumbs.
And if you want to experience a typical afternoon tea during your trip to Scotland, don’t miss the Honeycomb Tea Room (they also serve incredible brunches) or The Witchery by the Castle which we told you about earlier.
We hope that all of our recommendations will help you create your ideal itinerary! We wish you an amazing time in Edinburgh and if you also want to visit the Highlands during your trip to Scotland, consult our complete article right here!
Turas math dhuibh!
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