Edinburgh holds a special place in my heart, and that was before I’d even been. The first and last words of the Harry Potter series were penned in this magnificent city, and that was enough to make me see the delights it had to hold.
Though it is Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh is smaller than Glasgow. We arrived to a heavily overcast city and in the middle of a freezing February day! My hat and thick coat came in very useful.
We decided that the best way to see Edinburgh was through the city sightseeing tour. We added Edinburgh castle tickets which came to around £35, with the bus included.
This allowed us to see the sights that we wanted to, and get off at specific spots.
Edinburgh has a multitude of levels, so be prepared for the cold. Especially if you go in winter.
The bus departs from Waverley Place, conveniently next to the train station. We showed our tickets and headed upstairs (silly mistake!). It was ridiculously cold however, it gave us good views of the sights.
We stayed on the bus as it maxed its way through the sites. From Haymarket to the cafe where JK Rowling first penned Harry Potter, there’s plenty to see. Our first stop was at the bottom of the Royal Mile. Here, Holyrood Palace, Holyrood Park and Holyrood (Scottish parliament) are within touching distance. Useless fact number one. Holyrood means Holy Cross.
Trailing Arthur’s Seat
We hadn’t bought tickets to Holyrood Palace, but you can get fairly good views from the gates. You can easily get good photos as well if you stick your phone through the bars. The Parliament building was also not in session, so it wasn’t open, but it was still cool to see where the powers that be try to officiate. It’s a quirky building, which isn’t hard to miss!
From here, we (or more I) wanted to see Arthur’s Seat which meant a short walk to Holyrood Park.
From the entrance to Holyrood Park, we ascended up the dirt path to Arthur’s Seat. In my eagerness, I followed Google’s advice. Silly mistake. Not only did that take us up the path with cobbled stones, and mud, but the drop grew as you walked up. Nicole decided after 10 minutes, she’d gone far enough and wasn’t proceeding further. I promised to come back one I’d reached the top. The views as you go up we’re pretty amazing, and I’m sure they’d be even nicer in the sunshine! Glasgow 1-0 Edinburgh. As it so happened the pathway only led up to halfway, and Arthur’s Seat summit was another long trek. I started to climb up the trail but decided after ten minutes or so it was way too slippery and I didn’t fancy a trip to Edinburgh hospital. I followed the road back to city level where some helpful Americans had helped my sister down. Next time, there’s a road (my bad!).
We decided it would be fun to do more some walking, and walked up the Royal Mile. There are numerous bars, shops and traditional Scottish shops to get lost in. We even managed to catch a Scotsman in full kilt, playing the bagpipes. The tourists’ dream! Not so great when everyone is stopped to take photos, whilst you are trying to get to the castle. At the top of the Royal Mile, you’ll find Edinburgh Castle. Useless fact number two. The residents of Edinburgh used to be crammed into houses along the Royal Mile, until the World’s End, where the city gates ended.
Edinburgh Castle sits high above the city, giving excellent views across the city in a number of directions.
We spent around an hour and a half in the castle. It’s a huge castle with various vantage points of the city, where you can numerous landmarks and take pretty pictures. Inside, you can visit a multitude of rooms and buildings.
From the Scottish war memorial to the Royal Palace, there’s plenty to see. There are also numerous guns pointing towards the city, that make for amusing pictures.
Once we had left the castle it was getting later on in the day. We headed inside St. Margaret’s cathedral (you have to pay to take photos inside – don’t)!) We had a brief wander around before heading into the Thistle Chapel. I hadn’t a clue what it was, but my sister was more intrigued. I now know it’s a hugely high honour for Scots who have given exceptional service. The Queen appoints all the members. Useless fact number three. Naturally, the queen has the most powerful seat. To either side are two chairs. One for Anne/Charles and one for Phillip/William. Basically, there’s only room for one on each chair, so only one of each pair is supposed come at any time.
After the cathedral we headed back into the bus, to go back to the remains of the city. We wanted our (my sister’s) monies worth!
Before departing at Waverley Place, we managed to glimpse the final landmark from the to-do list, Calton Hill, home to a fancy looking column (Dugald Stewart Monument).
Edinburgh is a beautiful, historic city that is definitely one for the bucket list. I’ll be back, hopefully, to see England destroy Scotland in next years six nations match at Murrayfield.