I recently found old footage from a vlog I made a year ago from a trip to Edinburgh. It inspired me to write about some of the incomparable spots I ventured to on my visit. I was lucky enough to spend a weekend in Edinburgh city, March of 2017, followed by a 5 day break in June. Both experiences were exceptionally unique, and after two visits, I fell in love. The city is divided on the landscape of an old Medieval town and a new Georgian town. The hills of Edinburgh sweep incredible views from the top of Arthur’s seat and Holyrood Park, which are within walking distance on a sunny day. I recommend a week to vacate Edinburgh and visit the greatest landmarks, as it’s easy to miss out on some of the best benchmarks on a short weekend away! I’ve listed some of the top spots to visit below, including some divine restaurants and brunch café’s which I fell madly in love for!
Where I stayed
On my first trip to Edinburgh, I was lucky enough to find one of the prettiest aparthotel rooms to stay in at a really moderate price. The room, which accommodated two, was located 10 minutes away from Princes Street, which is considered as Edinburgh’s city center. We were provided with a kitchen and seating area, which was convenient for two students living off a scanty budget. With Tesco only two minutes down the road, we saved money and ate from home (most days!!). I loved the apartment, it felt really homely. We had access to our own personal kitchen with utensils, a dishwasher and even a little espresso machine. I really do appreciate the little things!
Link to booking: Distillers House, Destiny Scotland
Due to the popularity of Distillers House, I was unable to book it on my second trip to Edinburgh, but the apartment we stayed in was just as price friendly. We stayed in Staycity apartments, which was a 20 minute walk into the city center. This apartment had greater space, but was in a remote area beside Edinburghs harbor. For the first 2 days, we wasted a lot of taxi money getting from A to B, until we familiarized ourselves with our surroundings. Otherwise, it was a cosy stay and I’d recommend it to those going for a long weekend break with friends or family!
Link to Staycity Apartments: StayCity Apartments, Edinburgh
Top Places To Visit:
1. Edinburgh Castle
On both trips to Edinburgh, I ventured to the giant castle on the hill. You can’t miss it. Edinburgh is known as Scotland’s ‘hilly’ capital for a reason. The castle is built on a mountainous- like hilltop, surrounded by a fortress which protects the interior. The walk to the castle is a little challenging (if you’re as unfit as I am), so prepare in advance and wear appropriate walking shoes. On arrival, a payment is made to gain full access of the castle. We had the option to pay an extra sum for temporary use of headphones to learn about the history of the castle. I loved the interior of the castle, but what I loved more was the beautiful café located on the castle grounds. Another aesthetic amenity located within the grounds was a little whiskey brewery which carried the juicy scent of malt throughout the air. We picked up miniature samples which could be gifted for family and friends. The castle was my favorite tourist attraction, I highly recommend it.
2. Camera Obscura
One of my favorite tourist attractions which is suited for all ages, was Camera Obscura, which is only a five minute walk away from Edinburgh Castle. Located en route to The Royal Mile, this museum is one you shouldn’t give a miss! This experience gives you an insight into the world of optical illusions. Your senses will be heightened to a new level as you step into the world of illusion. This experience was not only educational, but really fun! If you have any interest in the history of photography and reflective imagery, take the opportunity to visit this place. The staff are extremely helpful, and perform an Obscura show each hour in which you’re taught about the power of lenses and reflection!
3. The Elephant house Café
Calling to all Harry Potter fans! The excitement soared through me as we arrived to the infamous spot were J.K Rowling wrote Harry Potter. Not only is the food delish, but the restaurant is famous for all the history it carries. Rowling was inspired by Edinburgh Castle which can be seen from the window at the café, which inspired her to create Hogwarts. Glass monuments stood tall around the café with signatures and first editions of her first Harry Potter novel. The bathrooms were filled with hundreds of signatures from crazed fans! We treated ourselves to lunch and cakes as we overlooked the scenery in the same spot in which Rowling found her inspiration. If you love Harry Potter, visit here! A graveyard nearby displays some of the colorful character names Rowling used to get inspiration. (Tom Riddle did exist!)
4. Loudons Café
For those of you who are looking for a tranquil spot to get a quality brunch at a relatively cheap price, I can not recommend Loudons enough. Located just outside the city square, Loudons have the nicest breakfast imaginable! Honestly! I took it upon myself to visit this brunch spot twice, as their breakfasts were of high standard. Not only is the food remarkable, but the interior is beautiful. The staff were extremely helpful and friendly. On my first trip, I tried their Egg Benedict dish which was covered in pesto sauce and shredded spinach. On the second visit, I tried the unhealthier option, pancakes! For the price you pay, you’re truly given a plateful! Definitely a spot to visit for a late brunch.
5. Hop On- Hop Off Bus Tour
During my stay in Edinburgh, my family and I decided to do the 24 hour Hop on Hop Off bus tour. Although these tours can be deemed as a little boring, I loved every second of it! Instead of listening to headphones in hope to find a spokesperson speaking in your language, we had a live guide who entertained us for most of the trip! He engaged with his party and made us laugh throughout. We drove through the hills of Edinburgh, and although I never got to climb Arthur’s seat, I got to see it up close, which was magic! These Hop On Hop Off buses are extremely handy for those who wish to get off and explore their surroundings at different bus stops, and can later return and continue exploring the city. You can pick up your tickets at a stall located in Princes Gardens (which is also a must see in the Summer). The bus tickets come at a reasonable price and you generally have 24 hours to make use of your ticket! I really enjoyed it and got to see different parts of the city which were non existent to me beforehand! Although we got caught in the rain on the double decker, I loved every second of it.
6. Princes Street and Gardens
Note to self: a must see! Although you cannot miss Princes Gardens, located beside Edinburgh Castle, make sure you visit it properly. During the Summer, these gardens are breathtaking. The beautiful green landscape overlooks Waverley Station and covers nearly 29 acres of land! There’s a beautiful art museum, at no cost, beside Waverley which is worth a visit. If you’re visiting Princes Gardens during sunnier times, buy an ice cream and sit on their little benches and overlook the beautiful scenes of young people playing sports and children playing. It’s a charming sight! Above Princes Gardens is Princes Streets, the capital street of fashion and shopping! If you’re a mad shopper like me, you’ll find all of your high street shops along this wide street, alongside some sweet cafés and pubs!
I cannot begin to list the rest of the wonderful spots I came across on my adventures in Edinburgh! My number one tip is, get lost. The city is small so don’t fear losing yourself on the map. Throughout my time spent, I found myself on streets that I didn’t know existed and discovered a coastline with an incredible view.
If you’re looking for somewhere to book for a short Spring or Summer break, I recommend a short venture to the Scottish Isles. You’ll never want to come home!