Dùn Èideann – Capital city of Scotland, situated in Lothian on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth
Sophisticated with a fairytale-like setting, Edinburgh is a cultural crossroads for all who visit the Scottish capital. The iconic World Heritage Site, Edinburgh Castle sits above Old and New Town with only Arthur’s Seat having equally impressive views. During one of Edinburgh’s 12 major festivals, a stage might appear with the castle as it’s well lit backdrop – a great way to experience some modern music and medival history all at once! Check out what festivals may be going on before you arrive! They’re often occuring!
After a view of the crown jewels, begin your journey down the infamous Royal Mile. A beautiful palace awaits at the end. First though, you can explore top rated dining at The Witchery by the Castle or sample the largest collection of whiskey at The World of Scotch. Keeps, closes, and wynds – simple, romantic detours off the Mile – will intrigue you and lead you into whiskey and lambswool shops, kirkyards, and beautiful, fragrant floral gardens. Cask ales and ciders are widely popular, so why not a pub crawl as you continue strolling onward/downward?
If you don’t know who Robert Burns is or Sir Walter Scott is – gasp – now is the time to learn. Alternatively, visit the Writer’s Museum (free) housed in The Lady’s Stairs Close to learn about their lives. Perhap’s you’ll get a glance of Scott’s Monument – built 8 years before he died. Perhaps you’ll climb it later. Perhaps you’ll attend a Burn’s Supper on January 25th.
At the opposite end of the Royal Mile, the Baroque style Palace of the Holyrood House emerges before you. It has been the primary residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 16th century, including Mary Queen of Scots.
The now ruined Holyrood Abbey was founded by David I, King of Scots, in 1128. Scotland’s monarchs stayed in a guest house on abbey property until James IV constructed a palace adjacent to the abbey in the early 16th century. Not much of that remains, thanks to Baroque architect William Bruce.
If this is your first visit to Scotland or to a living royal residence, go take a look inside. This is one of the oldest. Scottish Royals were married here, loved here, died here. In June, the Queen comes for a week and cermoniously receives the keys to the city, recognizes and celebrates Scotish achievements, and hosts a garden party – a traditon George V began. If you go, check out an assortment of the Royal Collection of art in the Queen’s Gallery! Or, go in search of a ghost!
1.) In 1603, James VI of Scotland became James I of England.
2.) In 1424, King James outlawed soccer.
3.) In 1822, George IV was the first monarch to visit Scotland since 1650.
Spent too much on booze? Ready for a break from pipers pipping along along the Mile? There are many free activities for some cheap fun. Just to name a few:
1.) Saint Giles Catherdral
2.) Dunbar’s Close Garden
3.) The Edinburgh Museum
4.) Cannongate Kirk and Kirkyard
5.) The People’s Story
6.) Greyfrier’s Bobby at Greyfrier’s Kirkyard
7.) The National Museum of Scotland
8.) The National Gallery on the Mound
9.) The National Portrait Gallery
Or, pack up at picnic at market stalls and/or hike to:
10.) Prince Street Gardens – All you have do is look up, and you’ll have a skyline view of the Castle.
11.) Arthur’s Seat – Towering over the city, this former volcano offers a glorious hike and incredible views of Old Town.
Or, chill out with some free tunes:
12.) Whistle Binkies is said to be the best place to hear up and coming artists/bands from Edinburgh. Free entry nightly.
Ready to spend more on dinner or booze?
1.) The White Hart Inn – Oldest pub in central Edinburgh, specifically in Old Town/Grassmarket + Live Music Nightly
2.) The Sheep’s Heid Inn – Reputed to be the oldest pub in all of Edinburgh, specifically in Duddingston. It is said James and his mother, Mary, Queen of Scots stopped here many times….perhaps for a game of skittles. While you’re having a drink, and because it’s still here, why a game of bowling at Scotland’s oldest surviving skittle alley?
Castle Rock Hostel – Closest hostel with a view of the castle. If you aren’t ready to try a dorm room or want more privacy, they have double and triple rooms available.
Kick Ass Hostel – If you’re dancing, drinking, and have a good time at the White Hart Inn. This hostel is right across the road/Grassmarket. Plus, it’s just a wynd away from the castle.
Hilton Grosvenor – If work travel is earning you frequent stay points, put them to good use! I can’t help it, I’m a hhonors fan!
How to get there:
US Airways 784. Departing PHL at 8:50pm. Arriving EDI at 8:40am. Seasonal.
Turas math dhut!…Bon voyage!
As always, I appreciate your feedback as a novice blogger. Please comment here, text, or facebook me with your thoughts and/or questions about Edinburgh or other places to visit in Scotland.