Is Edinburgh worth a visit? How many days do you need? Which are the highlights? Read this post and you'll find an answer to these and more questions about Edinburgh!
17th century charm
Time in Edinburgh seems incredibly stuck to the moment in which, two centuries ago, the New Town, with its wide avenues, was added to the Old Town that had become too small to host the growing number of citizens with its narrow and overcrowded alleys and buildings, and strolling around the city it's easy to imagine how life at that time should have been.
The fact that the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh are rightly included among the Unesco World Heritage sites is not a surprise.
The Old Town is without a doubt one of the most beautiful examples of 17th century cities, since the majority of its buildings and streets dates back to that period.
The city highlight is the Edinburgh Castle, that has dominated Castle Hill and the whole city since 1130. Spend at least two hours in order to properly visit the castle that is a true fortified city. Beyond the amazing vies from the walls, the castle offers different attractions such as the Honours of Scotland, the royal apartments where Mary Stuart gave birth to James VI ( first King of Scotland and England ) and St. Margaret's Chapel ( the oldest building in town, the only one of the original structure that have survived for almost 1000 years ).
The Royal Mile
Once you exit the castle you find yourself on the first part ore the Royal Mile, a long road that links the castle to Holyrood Palace ( the Queen's summer residence ). The Royal Mile is the heart of the Old Town, the road where the most important building are located, the place that links all the narrow alleys of this city. Nowadays souvenir shops have replaced the old 17th centuries workshop, but there are many street artist and many typical old style British pubs.
Mary King's Close
One of the old alleys exists under the City Chambers foundations and looks very similar to its 17th century aspect. A very interesting one hour guided tour will bring you back to the 17th century making you discover the history of this narrow street. Warning: you need to book online the tour.
One of the main markets of Edinburgh since XV century, nowdays it is a lively place thanks to its many restaurants and pubs that are full of tourists and Scottish sharing a tasty pint of beer. The White Hart Inn claims to have been there since the XVI century. In order to reach Grassmarket from the Royal Mile, take Victoria Street, very nice and colorful street full of restaurants too.
This is the most famous and most important cemetery of Edinburgh, located not far from Grassmarket. It has been used since the XVI century and here the National Covenant was signed by the Scottish Presbyterians leading to the Bishops' Wars. There are many stories of ghosts and paranormal activities linked to this place... but the most famous one, the Greyfriars Bobby, is a story of loyalty and love.
There are no specific monuments in the New Town, but it's quite relaxing and pleasant strolling around the wide Georgian avenues in a quieter environment than the one of the Old Town. Princes Street is the main street with its nice view over the Old Town and the Edinburgh Castle. If you want to relax than lay down in Princes Street Gardens in the shadow of The Scott Monument, listening to street artists that mix the traditional bagpipe to drums and guitars.
The perfect place for sunset in Edinburgh. Located at the end of the New Town, You can easily walk up to summit to enjoy amazing views not only of the city, but also of the hills behind Arthur's Seat and of Fife coast.
Holyrood Palace and the climb towards Arthur's Seat are further interesting attractions, but they're more distant than the others shown above.
Finally Dan Brown's fans and people interested in the Holy Grail would want to visit the Rossylin Chapel, located just outside Edinburgh.
2 day itinerary
Day 1 - Edinburgh Castle + Old Town ( first part )
- Edinburgh Castle
- Grassmarket - Victoria Street
- Geryfriars Kirkyard
- Royal Mile ( St. Giles Cathedral and Mary King's Close )
Day 2 - New Town + Old Town ( second part )
- Princes Street
- Princes Street Gardens
- Calton Hill
- Holyrood Palace
- Arhur's Seat
Where to sleep
The best would be to sleep in the Old Town or close to it... but prices are quite high. We tried Airbnb and we found a full apartment in Lauriston Gardens ( Link ). The place is quite good, very big ( 2 bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom ) but its quite distant from the Royal Mile ( 15/20 mins on foot ) while its closer to Grassmarket ( 10 mins on foot ). If you want to buy something, In the neighborhood you can find a Sainsbury. Total price for 2 nights: € 310.
Where to eat
If you want to eat well and to eat a lot without spending too much than Mums ( Link ) is the place for you. Sausages is the specialty of the house, but also pies, haggis, burgers and fish'n'chips are very good. We ate there twice spending £25 on avarage.
How to move around
From the airport to the city centre you can take a tram ( link ) that brings you close to Princes Street Gardens ( £8.50 round trip ) in 40/45 mins, otherwise you can take the Airlink ( link - £7.50 ), a bus that stops in Waverley Bridge Station.
Once in Edinburgh you can easily use your own legs, since the main attractions are alla within walking distance.
We hope you enjoyed this post and you found it useful... if you have more questions or if you want to add more... leave a comment!