Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is a beautiful city of history, culture, and natural beauty. Here’s what you need to know if you want to spend a few days wandering this city stuck in time.
Location and Transport
Edinburgh is relatively small for a capital city and only has a population of approximately half a million. Personally, I stayed in an Airbnb, which was less hassle, then a hostel. If cheap is what you’re looking for, a hostel should be your go-to. However, there are many Airbnb’s whose prices rival that of the cheapest hostels. Ideally, any hotel, hostel, or Airbnb within two miles of Edinburgh Castle is a good distance to be. You should consider purchasing unlimited bus day passes. They’re only £4 a day and worth it for all the travel you’ll do around the city.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is a must see for any lover of history. A royal residence for centuries, the Palace offers audio tours and is still used as a royal residence whenever the Queen visits Scotland during Holyrood Week. The Palace has been lived in by many famous Scottish monarchs, including Mary Queen of Scots. You can also see the ruins of Holyrood Abbey, adjacent to the palace, where monarchs such as James V have been coronated. For only £11 with a student ID, the palace is a beautiful and historic way to spend a few hours wandering where kings and queens have wandered.
Next to the palace is Holyrood Park, famous for its highland landscape right in the center of Edinburgh. The highest point in the park, and in Edinburgh, is Arthur’s Seat. Romantics call it the original sight for Camelot, the legendary castle of King Arthur. And while it’s not proven, its story is pretty cool. And the views from the hill are spectacular. You can see all of Edinburgh, mountains in the distance, and the ocean.
Edinburgh Castle is probably the #1 tourist attraction in the city. It dominates the skyline, rising high above the rest of the city and full of rich history. It’s usually open from 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. and you should spend an entire day there. The official website creates separate itineraries different parts of the Castle, but everything is so interesting. You should also buy your tickets online. There’s usually a long outside, and if it’s cold it’s miserable to waste time standing there. Attractions inside the Castle include the Crown Jewels of Scotland and the Stone of Destiny, the fabled stone that was built into the thrones of kings. Filled with old chapels and museums, the Castle is a must-see for any visitor.
Walking down the Royal Mile is a fun way to pass the time in Edinburgh. On one end is Edinburgh Castle, on the other is Holyrood Palace, and in between is an array of fun sights to see. Go inside St. Giles Cathedral and see where the secret Order of the Thistle convenes annually. It’s free, but the church does ask that you pay £2 pounds for permission to take photos within the church. Or stroll down to the National Museum of Scotland, which is also free, and have an interesting look into the history of Scotland.
Edinburgh has everything from people playing bagpipes on the streets, to beautiful cathedrals, cool souvenir shops, and comfortable pubs. A beautiful mix of nature, history, architecture, and culture.