If there’s one place I love to visit time and time again across our country, it has to be Edinburgh. The Scottish capital is a buzzing hub of excitement and culture, and it’s a definite must visit. If you’re thinking of a trip to this northern city, then check out my guide to Edinburgh. You’ll feel like a local in no time.
Edinburgh is Scotland’s second biggest city, behind Glasgow, and has been the Scottish capital since the 15th century. Since 1999, the Scottish Parliament has sat in the city at Holyrood. The city is found in the Lowlands, and on the banks of the River Forth, and filled with alleys and old streets to explore. As Edinburgh is so full of culture and history, there’s really so much to see and do here that you will never run out of experiences. It’s a fantastic call for staycations with plenty of great restaurants, parks to chill out in, and a pretty city to just walk around in and take in the sights. Planning a trip to the city known as Auld Reekie?Then check out my Edinburgh City Guide and find out the best places to go, and the best sights to see.
This beautiful castle, one of the oldest buildings in the city, is found at the head of Edinburgh’s old town. Edinburgh Castle was a royal residence as far back as the 11th century, and when you get a glimpse of the city’s skyline from the castle you’ll know just why they settled there. The best time to visit the castle grounds is definitely around midday, as if you time it right you can be present for the One O’Clock Gun, a gun salute that takes place every day at 1pm (except Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day). But, even if you do miss the gun salute don’t write off a visit to this beautiful castle. When you’re here, you should definitely check out the Honours of Scotland, the oldest crown jewels in the UK.
Want a truly impressive view of the city? Then you really need to pay a visit to Arthur’s Seat. This beautiful mountain, one of three parts left of Arthur’s Seat Volcano, is found in the Holyrood Park that lies on the south side of the city, and it’s just short walk from the city centre to the peace and calm of this retreat. It’s not quite clear how this mountain got its name, but most people believe it relates to the famous King Arthur and was a possible location of Camelot. Wherever the name came from, be sure to climb to the summit of this wonderful landscape. As the mountain is so close to the city, the sight of the rooftops sprawling out in front of you really is breath taking. Be sure to bring your camera, or maybe pack a romantic picnic.
National Museum of Scotland
With a history as large and diverse as Scotland’s, you can bet the National Museum is worth a visit. You’ll experience Scotland’s history in terms of culture, art, nature, and even fashion. Yes, there’s a whole section dedicated to the history and the use of traditional Scottish dress such as the kilt and the tartan it’s made from and the sporran. Be sure as well that you check out the beautiful display of ancient and traditional bagpipes. Explore Scotland’s rich history from the time of the dinosaurs, and get a glimpse into the future.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
If you’re a fan of the arts, then this is definitely the one for you. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, commonly known just as the Fringe, is the world’s biggest arts festival. It was first held in 1947, and since then it has grown to the heights it reaches today. You can catch performances in comedy, theatre, circus, caberet, children’s theatre and opera alike. The biggest part of the festival is the comedy gala, where well known comedians such as Rowan Atkinson and Billy Connolly got their start. The festival prides itself on being “open access”, meaning that the acts who perform across any of the categories do not have to qualify to enter, and they will not be judged for their performance. It’s just a fantastic gathering of people sharing their love of the arts, and the annual festival really is a must do for comedy nerds and art lovers across the world.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse, as it’s officially known, is the official Scottish residence of the British Royal Family. This beautiful palace was built first in 1128 as a monastery for Augustinian monks. It became a royal residence in the 14th century and was the home of Scottish royalty before it came to the ownership of the British Royal Family. The palace is open to the public throughout the year, and the palace really comes alive during Holyrood Week, where the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh continue the tradition begun by King George V and Queen Mary by inviting around 8,000 guests from all walks of Scottish life to a magnificent garden party on the palace grounds.
If you’re going to come to Scotland, then you can’t leave without sampling some of the national drink – whiskey. As you would expect, there are plenty of opportunities to have a taste of what the Scots call “uisce beatha”, or “the water of life.” Probably the best place to drink a dram is at the Scotch Whiskey Experience Tour on Castle Hill, near to Edinburgh Castle. In this great museum tour you can learn about the history of whiskey distilling, and find out about the different styles of whiskey you can find across the country. At the end of your tour, you can even taste some to see just how good it is.
Has anything here caught your eye? Got a bit of itchy feet having read my Edinburgh travel guide? Then why not take a look below at some of my fantastic Scottish staycations, where I’m sure you’re bound to find the perfect place for your Edinburgh break.