Edinburgh, Scotland made my list of all-time favorites in one quick leap when we first visited in 2013.
Our first trip to Edinburgh happened mostly by chance. We wanted to spend a long weekend with my parents, who both had “important” birthdays that year, so we went looking for a destination not too far away, providing interesting sights and – hopefully – good food. After some research and some promising online reviews, we settled on Edinburgh, which turned out to be perfect!
One year later, we started our first Scotland road trip from Edinburgh, and even though we haven’t been to Edinburgh again on our second Scotland road trip in 2015, we definitely will return…
So, what’s to love about Edinburgh?
Edinburgh is steeped in history, you basically cannot turn around without seeing, touching or entering something historic.
As an avid reader of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander saga, I was thrilled to walk the Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood House, seeing the buildings left and right that mostly had been there in the 18th century, when Outlander’s protagonists roamed the city. I even manage to drag my family into The World’s End, a pub featured in Dragonfly in Amber, the second book of the Outlander saga.
Exploring all the little and sometimes positively tiny alleyways, or closes, as they are called in Scots, helps if you want to step away from the hordes of tourists that people the Royal Mile most of the time.
A great way to experience parts of Edinburgh’s rather gruesome history are the various walking tours, mostly starting from the Royal Mile. We took one of Mercat Tours’ history walks, as well as a tour of Mary King’s Close, which were both very interesting and a lot of fun – highly recommended!
Of course you cannot miss a visit to Edinburgh Castle, even if you just walk up the hill and take a look over the city without actually entering the castle. If you are interested in castles, just cough up the admission and enter already, it truly is worth the money!
In addition to all the history left and right, Edinburgh also hosts numerous festivals, for example the Fringe Festival, a ginormous art festival taking place basically all over town. It’s fun to visit, a view obviously thousands of people share, which is why it’s almost impossible to find accommodation during the festival, unless you’re prepared to give at least an arm, a leg, and your firstborn for a room…
I’m sure Edinburgh also houses lots of museums and art galleries and such, but the only museum I was really interested in happened to be the National Museum of Scotland – again, highly recommended, I could have moved in there…
Maybe food isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Scotland, apart from haggis, that is, but as I love eating, I was more than pleasantly surprised to find out that Scotland’s cuisine happens to be right up my alley. Well, apart from haggis, that is. And maybe Cullen skink.
My absolute favorites turned out to be basically pub grub (steak and ale pie) and a dessert to die for – cranachan. Cranachan consist mostly of whipped cream (whipped with whisky and honey!) and raspberries, and it’s worth each and every calory it contains!
The first thing that comes to – at least my – mind when hearing “Scotland” is whisky. While we didn’t visit The Scotch Whisky Experience on the Royal Mile, we visited quite a few whisky merchants as well as The Whiski Bar (nope, not a spelling mistake).
Whisky happens to be the main reason why we need to check a bag on the return flight each and every time we visit Scotland, even if it’s just a weekend trip…
Hiking?! Yes, hiking!
A great way to get rid of the calories we stuffed ourselves with turned out to be a
leisurly walk brisk hike up Arthur’s Seat. It’s not too far and pretty well-developped, so there’s no need for hiking equipment more specialized than, say, running shoes, but the view is truly amazing.
If I had to list my Top 10 favorite cities, Edinburgh would surely be among them!