a weekend in an other era
Is Edinburgh worth a visit ? How long should you stay in the capital of Scotland ? Which are the highlights of the city ? Read this post about Edinburgh and you'll find an answer to these questions about the Scottish capital.
17th century charm
Time in Edinburgh seems incredibly struck 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. Strolling around Edinburgh is so easy to imagine how life at that time should have been.
Thus, 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 of Edinburgh is without a doubt one of the most beautiful examples of a 17th century city, since the majority of its buildings and of its 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 looks like a true fortified city. Beyond the amazing views over Edinburgh from the walls, the castle offers different attractions including the Honours of Scotland, the royal apartments where Mary Stuart gave birth to James VI ( the first King of England and Scotland ) and St. Margaret's Chapel ( the oldest building in town, the only one of the original structure that has survived for almost 1000 years ).l
The Royal Mile
Once you exit the Castle of Edinburgh, you find yourself on the first part of 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 in Edinburgh, the road where the most important buildings are located, the place that links all the narrow alleys of this city. Nowadays, souvenir shops have replace the old 17th century workshops, but you can still find many street artists and a lot of traditional Scottish Pubs.
Mary King's Close
One of the old 17th century alleys stil exists in Edinburgh 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 the people who lived in this narrow street. Warning: you need to book online your tour in advance.
One of the main markets of Edinburgh since XV century, nowadays it is a lively place thanks to its many restaurants and pubs that are full of tourists and Scottish people sharing a tasty pint of beer. The White Hart Inn claims to have been in Grassmarket since the XVI century. In order to reach Grassmarket from the Royal Mile, take Victoria Street so that you can enjoy another nice and colorful street of Edinburgh, 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 right in this place in 1638 the National Covenant was signed by the Scottish Presbyterians leading, a fact that led to the Bishops' Wars. There are many stories of ghosts and paranormal activities linked to Greyfriars Kirkyar, but the most famous one, the story of Greyfriars Bobby, talks about loyalty and love.
There are no specific monuments or attractions in the New Town of Edinburgh, but strolling around the wide Georgian avenues is relaxing and pleasant thanks to the tranquillity of this neighborhood compares to the crowdy Old Town. Princes Street is the main street of the New Town with its nice view on the Old Town and the Castle of Edinburgh. If you want to relax then lay down on the perfect grass of Princes Street Gardens, in the shadow of The Scott Monument, listening to street artists that mix the sound of traditional bagpipes with drums and electric guitars.
There's no better place for a sunset in Edinburgh! Located at then end of New Town, you can easily walk up to the summit in order to enjoy amazing view of Edinburgh and of the green hills behind the Arthur's and of the Fife Coast.
Holyrood Palace and the climb towards Arthur's Seat are further interesting attractions, but they are more distant from Edinburgh centre than the others shown above.
Finally, the Rosslyn Chapel is surely a must for Dan Brown's fans and for anyone who's interested in the Holy Grail saga.
2 days in edinburgh
Are 2 days or a weekend enough to visit Edinburgh? We think so, because principal attractions are all located in the Old Town and in the New Town within a small distance. The period of the year in which you are visiting Edinburgh is an importante thing to consider when you're planning your visit. As a matter of fact, in Summer the sun sets around 10.30 PM giving you so much time to stroll around. For example we saw people starting their climb toward Arthur's Seat late in the afternoon. On the contrary, in Winter you few hours of daylight that you should organize very effectively.
You can find below what we consider a good organization your 2 days in Edinburgh
Day 1 - Castle of Edinburgh + Old Town ( first part )
- Castle of Edinburgh
- Grassmarket - Victoria Street
- Geryfriars Kirkyard
- Royal Mile ( St. Giles Cathedral e 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 option in Edinburgh is surely the Old Town but hotel prices are a bit high. So we turned to Airbnb where we found an entire apartment in Lauriston Gardens ( Link ). This place was nice: huge ( 2 bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom ), a bit far from the Royal Mile ( 15/20 minutes walking distance ), but closer ( almost 10 minutes walking distance ) to Grassmarket. In the neighborhood you can find a Sainsbury. Cost for two nights: € 310.
Where to eat
At Mums food is tasty and portions are huge! Sausages are the speciality of the house but you can also find traditional dishes like haggis or pies, and hamburgers or fish'n'chips. We ate here twice spending on average £ 25.
How to move around
From the airport you can reach the centre of Edinburgh in 40/45 minutes taking the tram that stops at Princes Street Gardens, paying £8.50 for the round trip, or you take the Airlink, a bus that stops at Waverly Bridge, paying £7.50 for the round trip.
Once in the city, you can easily reach all the attractions on foot.