This cold, Scottish city is well worth a visit. Best perhaps on a hot summer’s day or even better when the Edinburgh Festival is on.
We drove in and enjoyed the drive over the moors to the south of Edinburgh. Easy alternatives are to fly or go by train.
The first outing will be the castle. It looks impressive up high on the rocks and is a good walk up. Inside the castle, in some ways it is a little disappointing if you expect to see an old, traditional castle. This is a castle that has been used over the years and, therefore, has a range of styles. One of the best things is the view over Edinburgh and the countryside beyond.
Walk down the Royal Mile and at the bottom is the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the Royal Family in Scotland. It was originally the home of Mary, Queen of Scots in the 16th century. The Royal Apartments can be visited when the Royal Family is not in residence.
Another excellent Royal connection is the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was decommissioned in 1973 but had been in use since 1953. Docked in Leith, a short bus ride from the city centre, entry to the yacht via a shopping mall. All areas of the ship are open and provide an intimate look into the Royal lifestyle.
There are various walks in Edinburgh. Climb up Archer’s Seat, which starts behind the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and be rewarded with more good views. A more level walk is the Water of Leigh Walkway, which goes from the city centre to the Pentland Hills. The full distance is about 18 kilometres, but it can be done in parts.
The main shopping is on Princes Street, at the western end of which is Charlotte Square. Designed by Robert Adam in 1791, Charlotte Square has some splendid, Georgian architecture. The Georgian House has been restored and is open to the public. At the eastern end of Princes Street, the Scott Monument has an exhibition of Sir Walter Scott’s life, together with a spire that can be climbed. A little further to the east is the St James Centre, an ugly shopping mall designed by Ian Burke and Martin in 1964, which houses a wide choice of retail outlets and eateries. As at 2011, a full reconstruction of this eyesore is proposed and due for completion in 2015.
The Royal Mile is the main tourist area and a good place to linger. Here are a number of commercial attractions, many souvenir shops and pubs serving traditional Scottish fare, including haggis. Pipers move around and will provide you with typical images of Scotland.
For whisky fans the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre is a must visit. Here, you can take the Scotch Whisky Experience Tour, dine at the Amber Restaurant, undertake a whisky course or simply purchase a wee dram from a huge selection of whiskies at the Whisky Shop.
We enjoyed the trip underground to see the original city of Edinburgh at Mary King’s Close. This is below the Royal Mile and shows what the original city was like.
From Princes Street are some of the best views of Edinburgh Castle and great for capturing photographs of your visit. A little out of the city is the Royal Botanical Gardens, with its inviting glasshouse.
Do read more about Edinburgh on Edinburgh eGuide, where you will find full Edinburgh tourist information.
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