Last week I went to Edinburgh for the first time. I wanted to get this blog up sooner but I have found it very difficult to begin to summarise my experience. Me and my travelling companions fitted a lot of sightseeing and activities into the three days we had and if I tried to detail everything this post would be more like an essay! So instead I’m going to pick some of my personal best bits and some recommendations for anyone travelling up that way and then add a few more photos of my trip.
So getting stuck straight in with my personal Edinburgh favourites/ must dos!
1) Get a good view!
The first day we arrived we saw a big pointy looking building that looked interesting so went to investigate. It turned out to be the Scott Monument, commemorating the life and works of the writer Sir Walter Scott.
You pay £4 to go in and climb it, and it really is a climb with its 287 steps – I counted. It has a small museum on the first level about Scott’s life and works but what makes it really worth it (if you can face the increasingly narrow spiral staircase) is the views from right at the top. This was the first panoramic I got of the city and it was, even on that cloudy day, pretty magnificent. It is slap bang in the centre of town but the view stretches out for miles and miles and miles and … you get the idea.
There are loads of ways to get a good view of the city including inside the Castle and on top of Calton Hill (coming up in number 2) but the Scott Monument really stuck with me as the first impressive view I got.
2) The Dark Side Tour
We found this gem on the back of an Edinburgh tourist map. Its a two hour walking tour with a guide who tells you all about the city’s dark history of serial killers, live burials, witchcraft and vampires. Its £10 per person or £8 if you are a student and we unanimously agreed it was worth the money. Our guide was great, a brilliant storyteller and really gave us the gritty underside to the beautiful city. We walked from the Royal Mile and reached the top of Calton Hill just as the sun was setting. The photos speak for themselves rather than me trying to describe the view…
We were then led through the cemetery to learn all about grave robbing etiquette. Apparently, back in the day, a dead body didn’t belong to anyone, so it was perfectly legal to take them as long as you leave the clothes and jewellery behind. So people used to steal them to sell to the school of medicine for a little extra income. Family members used to take shifts guarding the grave for the first two weeks after a death until the body had started to decompose and was no longer of use.. and that’s where we get the saying ‘working the graveyard shift’ – grim and interesting in equal measure!
Oh and that’s just us locked in a mausoleum.
The tour was a great alternative way to be shown around Edinburgh and is brilliant for any fans of a good horror story.
3) A pretty little place
There are some beautiful outdoor places, perfect for any budding photographers out there. The one that I loved, which is a little more obscure, was Dean Village.
Its an English Heritage site 10 minutes walk from the main city centre and right opposite the hostel we stayed in which was called the Belford Hostel (it is an old converted church, very quirky and good value for money if you are on a budget).
You can walk along the river and admire nature at its best. I couldn’t believe this stunning little treasure was hidden within Scotland’s capital city!
4) Hit the night life!
We had a birthday in the group while we were up in Edinburgh and through a friend of a friend we were put on the guest list for a nightclub on George Street called Shanghai (it’s under the La Monde Hotel).
It cost us £4 entry and the £1.50 shots went down a treat!
However the best point of all was the music. The DJ was incredible and played tune after tune which kept us busting some serious shapes on the dance floor. A truly top night and one I will definitely remember!
That’s right, I’ve got the moves.
5) Walk the Royal Mile
The Royal Mile is the road that leads right up to Edinburgh Castle.
It’s a great shopping street where you can get your hands on many traditional Scottish wares but its also sprinkled with beautiful buildings. I’d particularly recommend St Giles Cathedral.
6) Go whisky tasting
When in Rome as they say. Seriously, it would be rude not to. I myself am not a big whisky drinker but it as my first venture to Scotland I thought I might as well give it a whirl.
We went to The Scotch Whisky Experience on the Royal Mile. The experience lasts a couple of hours. First thing you get into a ride that moves you through the history of whisky and an explanation on how its made.
You then walk through a room containing the largest collection of Whisky IN THE WORLD. True fact.
You then taken into a “classroom” for want of a better word and get to try a variety of whiskys from different regions around Scotland (and you get to pick to have a glass of your favourite at the end!). You also get to take home your own whisky glass, which is a nice little gesture.
As any good tourist attraction does, they send you out through the gift shop.
So they are my top recommendations.
If I had had more time to spend I would have liked to do the climb up to Arthur’s Seat and if I’d had more money to spend I definitely would have gone into the castle but our three days were amazing.
So I shall leave you with a super attractive photo in a our favourite place to eat in Edinburgh – WannaBurger.
So make sure you give Edinburgh a visit, you won’t regret it, K?