16 Top Tips for Edinburgh ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ

Welcome to bonny Scotland! Such a pretty country with loads to offer and its capital city is no different. Here are 16 top tips for Edinburgh, the greenest city in the UK with a total of 112 parks

1. The Elephant House

This opened in 1995 and quickly established itself as one of the best cafes in Edinburgh. However, it isn’t just famous for its coffee and cake. The Elephant House is where J.K Rowling sat, overlooking the castle and created Harry Potter!

Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall-Smith also frequent this cafe. There must be something in the air!

Top Tip: Open daily from 10:00-18:00

The Elephant House, Edinburgh

2. Victoria Street

This street was first built between 1829-1834 as part of Edinburgh Old Town. Back in the witchcraft era, it was home to Major Weir who was known as ‘The Wizard of West Bow’ and was executed for his role in witchcraft in 1670. His house has since been demolished.

Nowadays it is beautiful with all its different coloured shop fronts and above the shops are restaurants and bars with plenty of outdoor seating, allowing patrons to have a drink while overlooking the lively street.

It is just around the corner from The Elephant House. All you Harry Potter fans will know about Diagon Alley. Victoria Street is where the idea for Diagon Alley was born. There are even several Harry Potter souvenir shops dotted around the street.

Top Tip: Go early to take a picture or there are too many people about

Edinburgh

3. The Grassmarket

Back in the 14th century, this area was used for cattle, horse and corn markets and lined with taverns and inns for the owners who had made the journey to see their animals. It was also used for public executions with the last one taking place in 1784. It remains one of the oldest in Edinburgh but it has changed a bit. Now it is home to shops and pubs but when I look at it I can imagine the animal market.

The oldest pub in Edinburgh, The White Hart Inn is located here and was visited in 1791 by the famous poet Robert Burns.

The Grassmarket, Edinburgh

4. The Royal Mile

This runs through the centre of the Old Town and is home to Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

As well as being home to these attractions, the historic St. Giles Cathedral is located here and it has some of the best cafes and restaurants in Edinburgh as well as some great shops! The new and modern Scottish Parliament building can also be found here.

5. The Scott Monument

This gothic monument was built in 1844 to commemorate the Scottish literary figure Sir Walter Scott. Set in Princes Street Gardens, this monument gives off an eerie feel as it towers, silent and dark, 60 metres high above the street.

It is possible to walk up to the top of the moment and tickets cost ยฃ8 for adults and ยฃ6 for children. It is open daily from 10:00-19:00 from April to September and 10:00-16:00 from October to March. You can book tours and tickets here. To find useful apps for booking tickets and tours, check out my Handy Travel Apps page.

Top Tip: There are 287 steps on a spiral staircase to reach the top!

Edinburgh

6. Edinburgh Castle viewed from the Vennel

Go to the Grassmarket and find the Fiddlers Arms Pub. Directly opposite is a stairway known as The Vennel Steps. Head up these steps, nearly to the top and then turn around. You will have a wonderful view of Edinburgh Castle! I think it is best viewed at blue hour, which is just before sunset.

Edinburgh Castle, set high above the city on volcanic rock and is one of the oldest fortified places in Europe. The castle is the most besieged place in Britain and in 1639 it was captured in just half an hour by forces led by General Alexander Leslie. Parts of it are used by the military but it is possible to visit and tickets and tours can be booked here.

Top Tip: Vennel is a Scottish word meaning a narrow urban passage, lane or alley

Blue Hour
Edinburgh Castle at blue hour
Edinburgh

7. The Kelpies

Set slightly outside Edinburgh in Helix Park, these two horses heads are the world’s largest equine sculptures.

Created by Andy Scott, they are 100 feet tall and weigh over 300 tonnes each. The Kelpies represent the lineage of horses in Scottish history and economy, such as pulling ploughs, wagons, carts and barges. The name ‘Kelpies’ comes from mythological water horses that are said to reside in Scottish lochs and rivers.

Top Tip: A trip to the Kelpies is included in most day tours from the city.

The Kelpies

8. The Forth Bridge

Set right on the outskirts of the city is the Forth Bridge. This red painted bridge that spans the Firth of Forth was opened in 1890 by the Duke of Rothesay and is 2467 metres long.

It is now a Unesco World Heritage site, one of six in Scotland.

Top Tip: It is possible to reach the bridge via public transport but a lot of day tours from the city will include a photo stop here.

The Forth Bridge
Edinburgh

9. Greyfriars Bobby

This is an excellent book written in 1912 by Eleanor Atkinson and set in Edinburgh, about a dog called Bobby spent nearly all of his time with his master ‘Auld Jock’. They had a very strong connection and could often be seen out and about in Edinburgh. Unfortunately, Bobby’s owner died from tuberculosis and was buried in GreyFriars Kirkyard. Bobby touched the hearts of the Edinburgh residents as he refused to leave his master’s grave and was eventually made a little shelter next to the grave. The locals would gather at the entrance of the graveyard to wait for the 13:00 gun sound, which was when Bobby would come out for his lunch. He would always receive his meal at the Coffee House where he used to go with Auld Jock. The Edinburgh inhabitants took good care of Bobby until he died 14 years later.

A fountain with a statue of Bobby on top was erected as a tribute to him along with his own head stone that reads: ‘Greyfriars Bobby – died 14th January 1872 – aged 16 years – Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all’.

There is a dog-friendly pub named (have a guess!) Greyfriars Bobby in Candlemaker Row and is one of the most photographed pubs in Scotland!

Greyfriars Bobby

10. Arthur’s Seat

The highest point of the 640 acre Holyrood Park is Arthur’s Seat that offers fantastic views over Edinburgh. It is an ancient volcano that sits 251 metres above sea level and is the site of a large and well preserved fort that is one of the four hill forts dating back over 2000 years.

Top Tip: The return trip will take approximately 1-2 hours and the climb can be quite strenuous in places.

Arthur's Seat
Arthur's Seat
Images by Kenwyn

11. Mary King’s Close

If you are interested in history then this is for you! Visit Mary King’s Close, located on the Royal Mile and step back in time 400 years! The real Mary King’s close is a maze of passages, alleys, streets and houses and is what Edinburgh used to be like. It has disappeared as houses just kept being built on top of it! This is also known as the vaults

12. Calton Hill

Calton Hill, also known as Edinburgh’s Acropolis offers beautiful views over Edinburgh, from which you can see landmarks such as Arthur’s Seat, The Scott Monument and Edinburgh Castle. The hill is also home to several historic monuments such as the National Monument, which was meant to commemorate the Scottish servicemen who died in the Napoleonic Wars but was never finished, the Nelson Monument and the City Observatory.

Top Tip: Climb the hill on Hogmanay for good views of the fireworks over the city

Calton Hill
Views over Edinburgh

13. Scottish Parliament and The Palace of Holyrood

I’ve added the Scottish Parliament to this list as it is set in a very modern and unique building that is worth seeing by itself!

The Parliament is located just by the Palace of Holyrood, also a very beautiful building and very different to the Parliament.

The Palace is at the end of the Royal Mile and is the official monarchy residence in Scotland, previously used by Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie. You are able to see the throne room, abbey, state apartments and the great gallery. a The Queens gallery is next to the palace and worth a look in here as well!

Top Tip: If you’d like to visit either, book a ticket online and skip the queues

Parliament
Parliament
Parliament
Windows at the back of Parliament
Palace
Palace

14. Edinburgh New College

Edinburgh University has some beautiful buildings but my favourite has to be Edinburgh New College, the school of divinity. It is located on Mound Place, just infront of the Royal Mile. Poke your head around the gates and look at the beautiful gothic buildings, framing the Tollbooth Church behind, on the Royal Mile.

Top Tip: Gates close at 16:30

New College

15. The Heart of Midlothian

This heart shaped mosaic, made our of bricks is well camouflaged in the pavement if you aren’t sure where to look. It is located on the Royal Mile, just after St. Giles Cathedral so keep an eye out.

The heart’s location is where the Old Tollbooth once stood in the 15th Century. The site has had a colourful previous life, going from a nasty prison to an administration centre and then an execution site! Sometimes locals will spit on this mosaic as it is said to bring good luck.

Edinburgh

16. Devil’s Advocate Close

Walk to the top of the steps of Devil’s Advocate Close for artistic views looking out over Edinburgh with the Scott Monument in the distance

Top Tip: Find the top of the steps from the Royal Mile and save your legs. They are steep!

Edinburgh

Where to stay:

  • Apex Grassmarket Hotel is wonderful hotel situated right in the heart of the city by the Grassmarket. Rooms are clean and modern and the staff are very friendly

Transport:

  • Tram. This is very accessible from all over the city and is also linked to the airport.
  • Bus. Also very easy to catch from all over the city and is slightly cheaper than the tram.

For other staycation ideas, have a look at my posts on North Wales and Cornwall.

C.King

Brit girl on a bummel. A solo female traveller accompanied by her camera, aiming to see as much of the world as possible and sharing what she's learnt along the way!

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