Cobblestones, church spires, tartan draped windows, and an abundance of history. The charming streets of Edinburgh greet each visitor in waves of culture and whispers of old tales. Crossing over from Old Town to New Town is like walking through one of Dr. Strange’s portals, transporting you from the pages of Scotland’s past into its current, bright future. To say I enjoyed Edinburgh would be a massive understatement; I was enchanted. Here is my travel guide to Edinburgh; a City of Magic.
Where to Stay
Edinburgh is a place made for luxury. With 2 Castles a 10 minute walk apart, it only seems right that you too should live the life of a royal when visiting. The Balmoral Hotel is what dreams are made of; a place I would die to visit around Christmas. Located on the cusp of New Town, the hotel is in the perfect location.
Where to Eat
Edinburgh is a funny place that offers ‘Proper Hamburgers’ everywhere. Is there an un-proper hamburger out there?! What have I been missing my whole life?
Here’s some places to hit up, all differing levels of fancy pantsy:
- The Witchery
- Number One (big spender!)
- The Kitchin
- North Bridge Brasserie
- Hadrian’s Brasserie
What to Do
As I previously mentioned, there are two castles in Edinburgh. Two! TWO! There’s also a floating royal home called The Britannia and hotels to serve as your very own royal abode. It’s like every dream I had in life came true…unfortunately I forgot to pack my tiara. I digress..
The beauty of Edinburgh is found in its culture, yes, but also in its surprises. There is something to see and interact with on every corner. Whether its the Scott Monument, Greyfriars Bobby, or one of the many Churches, Edinburgh will constantly keep you engaged.
Set atop of The Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle is as much a fortress as it is a star on top of a decadent Christmas tree. It is fierce yet welcoming and strong but soft. There is a whole little village within those walls, a church, the crown jewels, and so much more. Carve out a couple of hours to explore this gem – you will be able to get some incredible city views, and of course, even better photos atop the castle.
Palace of Holyroodhouse & Holyrood Abbey
This was my favourite stop in Edinburgh, it is classic, full of history, and beyond beautiful. It is a royal home that is used for royal engagements as well as events for the Scottish people. It is also where Bonnie Prince Charlie lived for some time…tell me you’ve been as obsessed with Outlander as I have been. If not, watch it now!
When you’re done with the Palace, make your way outback and explore the gardens and Holyrood Abbey. You can see the ruins of the Abbey, stone coffins, and beautiful, yet empty, Abbey windows. I felt like I was back in time, traversing the Scottish countryside and discovering so much about history.
HMY The Britannia
The Britannia was our current Queen’s favourite royal home, and yes, its a yacht. It’s the only attraction that you’ll have to take a cab to, as its located in the water and off the beaten path. You can tour the entire ship, grab lunch on board, and learn about royal life on the water. This was one of my favourite stops in Edinburgh and something that we almost missed. Make sure you visit…and make sure you bring a hair elastic – it’s windy out there!
Greyfriars Bobby & National Museum of Scotland
These two are the perfect for a morning activity before your flight takes off and are the perfect cherry on top for a great trip. They are located VERY close to one another and have a ton of restaurants near by if you need a bite to eat. The story behind Greyfriars Bobby is heart breaking; A local policeman’s dog stood guard over his owner’s grave for 14 years, only leaving each day at the 1 o’clock gun for his lunch. He was famed and protected by the residents of Edinburgh until his own death. His collar can be found at the Museum of Edinburgh, but if you can’t manage the walk to The Royal Mile, the National Museum of Scotland has you covered (and it’s free!).
Harry Potter EVERYTHING
J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book in Edinburgh and has tied much of the series to the city. You can visit the cafe where the book was written, walk the street that inspired Diagon Alley, and so much more. There are walking tours available, or you can hit up the following places yourself:
- The Elephant House, where JK wrote Philosopher’s Stone
- Victoria Street, a street stacked on top of another street which inspired Diagon Alley
- Greyfriars Kirkyard (Cemetery), find Thomas Riddle’s tomb stone and you’ll find Voldemort
When one thinks of monuments in Edinburgh, one always stands out; The Scott Monument. It looks a a little spaceship like, soaring up from the ground to a sharp point, loops of dark stone snaking their way to the top. Although The Scott Monument is easily seen, right in the centre of town, there are other monuments to see, atop a hill, looking over the city. Check out the National Monument of Scotland and Dugald Stewart Monument.
I’ve always loved visiting churches in Europe; they are so magnificent and so much more grand than what we have in North America. I love walking into a church; being greeted by a soft silence and the smell of light incense. It’s comforting and awe inspiring all at once. Edinburgh’s many churches and cathedrals do not disappoint. Be sure to visit Canongate Kirk on your walk down to Holyrood Palace – there is a statue of Bonnie Prince Charlie out front, as this church serves as the parish for Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament. It is also the church that Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall were married in. When walking up to Edinburgh Castle, visit St. Giles Cathedral. It is incredible. It’s filled with statues, artwork, and incredible pieces of history. The sense of awe inside the cathedral is immense – you will love it.
So there you have it, one hell of a long guide to Edinburgh, but I hope its been helpful and you’ve already purchased the tickets for your flights…I can’t wait to get back on Scottish soil. Comment below and let us know your Edinburgh experiences – it’s just so dreamy!