Edinburgh was the final stop on our two week road trip around Scotland. We spent 3 days in the capital, enjoying the luxury of our airbnb (having camped for majority of the two weeks), and exploring this beautiful city.
Having both never visited Scotland before, we were super excited to finally spend some time in Edinburgh. It is a favourite city with many of our friends and family, and it’s easy to see why. No sooner had we set our bags down in our apartment, we were walking up the Royal Mile, climbing to the top of Arthur’s Seat, and doing our best at spotting scenes from Train Spotting. I’m not over exaggerating when I say that we fell in love with Edinburgh. Our entire stay felt incredibly dreamlike – wandering around the old city, admiring the beautiful Victorian houses and cobbled streets. We both agreed that we could see ourselves living there… If only it wasn’t so far away! That’s really the only thing that would put us off, not that we seriously considered it, but it was lovely to dream for a moment. It’s truly a beautiful city – even when it rains, which it did for most of our trip!
With that, I thought I’d share my top 5 things to do in Edinburgh. Now, I’m not an expert. As I said, this was our first trip to Scotland and therefore, our first visit to the capital, but we enjoyed our trip so much, I wanted to share our highlights.
Top 5 things to do in Edinburgh:
- Arthurs Seat
- National Museum of Scotland
- Edinburgh Castle
- Royal Mile
- Cocktails at Panda & Sons
When we arrived in Edinburgh, the sun was shining and the temperature was mild, perfect conditions to climb up to the top of Arthur’s Seat immediately! We were unsure if we would have time to do it, but it was top of our list of attractions, and with weather so perfect, we decided to go for it. Located fairly close to the city centre, the initial walk up isn’t too bad, but it soon gets a lot steeper. I don’t know if we took a short cut, but we ended up climbing up a lot of steps, having to stop every so often to take a break! To get to the very top, you will need to climb over a few rocks, and up some very precarious steps/stones. So suitable walking shoes or trainers would be best – not heeled boots like I had on! However, the views are well worth the strenuous climb! You can see all over the city, right out towards the surrounding countryside and sea.
National Museum of Scotland
You may have seen this museum before on Instagram, its beautiful atrium is often snapped and is perfect for a rainy day. We had one of these on our final day in the city, and it was a great way to spend the morning. The museum’s collections are vast and lots of the exhibitions are child friendly. A great day, or half day, out for everyone.
The castle is a must! Other than Arthurs Seat, it’s probably one of (if not, the), most famous attraction of Edinburgh. It dominates the city and dates back to the the 12th Century. It’s steeped in history and is beautiful to look around. We tagged along on a free tour, which I’d highly recommend. The tour guides are extremely knowledgable and are happy to answer any questions. They keep the tours to small groups, so it’s easy to hear, and each tour lasts no more than 30 minutes, so you have plenty of time to explore for yourself too.
The Royal Mile is one of those ‘picture postcard’ streets of Edinburgh. Meander your way up this beautiful street, from the Palace of Holyroodhouse, right up to the castle. On your way up, you will find quaint pubs, souvenir shops and cute cafes. Stop off for a coffee, browse the shops and take photos at every opportunity!
Panda & Sons
Finally, after all that exploring, it’s time to settle in for the night, in a cosy bar with a cocktail or two! There’s no better place for this than Panda & Sons, a (not so) secret bar, in the heart of Edinburgh. You can find this bar on the other side of Princes Street Gardens, but be warned, you may walk past it a couple of times before spotting it! Serving up a wide selection of delicious cocktails, sit back and relax in their barber shop seats and snack on the free popcorn, before grabbing dinner nearby.
Have you been to Scotland? Do you agree with my recommendations? Do you have any others? If so, I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment below! (And apologies for it taking me so long to get around to posting this!). Please catch up on my other Scottish posts, including Loch Lomond and Isle of Skye.