Monday, 30 April 2012

Our Favourite things to do in Edinburgh

Last month when I wrote about our Edinburgh Festival Art Laura from The Butlers asked for some tips for her upcoming trip to Scotland. Telling her about all the great things to do in Edinburgh made me think about writing this post for anybody else that might be coming to our fine city.

Firstly when to come:

I have already mentioned the Edinburgh Fringe Festival which takes over the city in August.The city is buzzing and there is so much to see and do, but prices also rocket and everywhere is so busy it gets tiring. Round Christmas time we have a big wheel next to the main street and Christmas markets selling mulled wine, its a lovely time to visit but be prepared for the cold.

Just after Christmas we have the best New Years Eve celebration, Hogmanay! We have a massive street party and awesome fireworks over the castle.

If you aren't coming for a special event then personally I think May time is lovely, the cherry blossoms are out and the sun shines.

What to do when you get here:
Edinburgh is really hilly, so it is easy to get a good vantage point to view the whole city. The best place for that is our own extinct volcano, Arthurs Seat.

It only takes about 45 minutes to get to the top and the view from is really stunning. Walking up it you feel like you are in the countryside not in the middle of a capital city.

If you aren't feeling so energetic at the end of Princes Street is Carlton Hill, it is much smaller and you can get up it in under 15 minutes.

It has various buildings and structures which are fun to explore although I have to admit I don't know the story behind most of them. Apart from the tall tower which has a white ball that rises through the day and falls at 1pm, back in the day ships sailing in the Forth would be able to tell the time from where the ball was. Also at 1pm everyday they fire a canon from the castle, it's always fun watching the tourists jumping out their skin! The views from Carlton Hill are pretty awesome as well.

If the weather is too miserable to climb any of our hills I would really recommend checking out the National Museum of Scotland, it is free to get into and has just been refurbished, there are exhibits on Natural History, Scottish History, Science and biology, we have had some lovely afternoons with friends playing in the science section. It also has an awesome terrace with a great view around the old town, worth checking out if you can find it.

Other than that the best thing to do in Edinburgh is wander, explore the cobbled streets around the Grassmarket and the Royal Mile, mosy around the shops on George Street, Princes street and the New Town. It's the best way the get the feel of the city.

Oh how I love to talk about Edinburgh, I have gone on long enough for today but next time I will tell you about the best places to eat and drink.

Anyone else have some cool tips for what to see and do in Edinburgh?


  1. LOVE this post & I was completely excited about it. Please follow up with more about the city! I've never been to Edinburgh, but it's top on my travel list. This made me even more excited to daydream about a trip there.

    1. Thanks - I am glad you like it. I am planning on writing the next one about where to eat and drink in the next couple of days. Anything else you would like to hear about. Scotland and Edinburgh are so beautiful, it would be worth a visit one day, just shame you can't predict the weather xox

  2. Kristen and I visited Edinburgh for the second leg of our honeymoon back in November. We took the train up from London, and the ride along the coast in northern England and Scotland is totally worth the somewhat long ride. We visited most of the places you mention above. Our hotel (the Apex) was right next to Carlton Hill (which seems to be something of a drinking spot, lots of beer cans in addition to the awesome views). The hotel was also across the street from a cemetery, though I forget the name, which had a memorial stature for Abraham Lincoln.

    I hiked Arthur's Seat at about 6am of our second day there. The fog made it seem a bit spooky on my way up. As of halfway, the top was completely covered, so I had no idea of how much further I had to go. When I did finally make it the wet rocks forced me to crawl to what I think was the summit. From there I was greeted with more fog. I couldn't see more than 25 feet from where I stood. Coming down was even harder. I basically slid my way down until I could find some grass. I can't say I was disappointed. It was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Just a great, great memory.

    I love how the mountain just sort of sits there, right next to the city.

    Looking forward to your food post. Funny enough, I had the best paella of my life in Edinburgh.

    If we return in the near future, we'll be sure to let you know! We absolutely loved Edinburgh.

    1. It's so nice to hear what you got up to here :-) I have done a fair bit of travelling but still haven't found a city I like more than the Burgh.

      Quite a few people watch the sunset up Carlton hill with some beers, but late at night it is meant to be where people leaving the gay bars near by hook up!! So that probably explains the beer cans.

      Wow I am impressed you got up at 6am. The fog in Edinburgh can be mental, it's called the Haar (sea fog) and some mornings you can't see across the street. We are really lucky in Edinburgh to have a few big hills so you can forget you are in the middle of a Capital city.

      Can you remember where you had Paella? I will have to check it out.

      Did you just go to Edinburgh, or anywhere else in Scotland? you should totally come back and see more of the highlands/skye etc if you haven't already seen it.


    2. I second what Joe said - we had SUCH a good time in Edinburgh (easily the friendliest city I've ever been to). I didn't go to Arthur's seat (I chose to sleep) but we had a lot of fun wandering around. Mary King's Close was a fun thing to do and I loved the Scottish National Gallery and the National Museum of Scotland.

      We only made it to Edinburgh but hopefully in the future we're able to explore more of Scotland!

      PS - the Paella was from Cafe Andaluz. Soo good. You should go immediately.

    3. Oh yes Cafe Andaluz is really good, only ever had tapas there though. They have two other cafes through in Glasgow which I usually end up in when I'm there. Done Mary King's close as well when I was a student and my friend worked there, it's really well done. xox

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    1. Yeah I love the fringe and think for visitors it is probably the best time to come. As a local it starts off really exciting and fun and I look forward to it every year but by week 3 I tend to want my city back, want the queues and crowds to go and the prices to come back down. Glad you enjoyed it :-) xox

  4. Great post! A good supplement to the places you already told me about! We are on a boat to Scotland right now, and we'll be in Edinburgh on Saturday! Thanks again!!!!

    1. Oh fantastic have a great time, we are busy most of the weekend otherwise would have been awesome to meet up. I realise I never wrote to you about the other cities, but I probably don't have too much to say. Let me know if there is anything else about Edinburgh you want to know though xox


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