An ideal weekend escape, Edinburgh boasts a gorgeous cobbled Old Town and hub of activities and culture. Home to the famous Edinburgh Festival, the city has a wealth of museums and galleries – so there is plenty to fill your visit with. Below I have included some of my favourite attractions and places to see in the bustling Scottish capital.
If you can manage an early morning start, the sunrise views from Arthur’s seat (pictured above) are second to none. Although we opted for sunrise as we were unhappy with the idea of losing our way at night, if you were more confident the walk is popular for sunset too. Head to Holyrood Park and find the starting point for multiple routes on Queen’s Drive
This was something we booked as an extra that ended up being a highlight of the trip! Found on Airbnb experiences, a local guide took us on a walking tour of Leith – the area where Welsh based the novel Trainspotting. At a reasonable price of £13 per person, this experience is well worth your money and time. Our guide walked us through the characters of the book whilst also sharing relative details from his own life. The best part about this tour is the fact it is run by the organisation Invisible Cities – who train individuals who have experienced homelessness to become tour guides of their own cities.
Again, we stumbled upon Chez Jules completely by accident. However, it remains the best restaurant we ate at in Edinburgh. Heading down into the basement style dining area, the atmosphere is immediately warm – perfectly complimented by the liveliness of popularity. The restaurant’s classic French menu is incredible. Additionally, the value for money is not to be matched; the prices were reasonable enough for two students to dine there. It is located on Hanover Street close to the Queen Street Gardens… I highly recommend a visit.
Not for the scared of heights, the 287 steps leading to the top of The Scott Monument sent my head spinning. The dizzying climb up the narrow spiral staircase to four different levels rewards you with magnificent views of Edinburgh at the summit. A full adult ticket will set you back a mere £8. The gothic structure should have a definite place on your ‘to see’ list when visiting Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Castle is something that is recommended on every list of suggested attractions. For those with an interest in warfare and history, it is a firm top place suggestion of how to spend a day. However, since I lacked that interest I opted out of paying extra for certain exhibits inside and instead spent around 2 hours in the Castle as opposed to a full day. The views from the Castle regardless are breath-taking, and I enjoyed exploring the Castle structure itself. Edinburgh Castle is an ideal attraction in that you can truly adapt the experience to best suit you and your interests.
Calton Hill is an excellent alternative to Arthur’s Seat for those who wish to get great views of Edinburgh but are short on time or fitness! Calton Hill is additionally home to an acropolis which makes for good photos and is definitely worth seeing. There is also an observatory and Nelson’s Monument – which costs £6 to climb to the top for views over Edinburgh.
Scotch Whisky Experience
Despite myself being underage upon visiting, the Scotch Whisky Experience is a great attraction in Edinburgh. We opted for the silver tour – which cost £16 for an adult and £8 for a child. The tour commenced with an interactive ride in a whisky barrel through the process of the brewing itself. This was a great touch and allowed the tour to cater for families as well as adult visitors. Scented scratch sheets offered an introduction to the aromas before a taste of a whisky itself (Irn Bru is provided for those under 18). Following this, comes a view of the impressive World’s largest collection of Scotch Whisky. For adults, there is also a gift of a crystal whisky tasting glass at the end of the tour.