Several years ago I spent a cold but fun weekend in Edinburgh for New Year’s Eve. This time we caught the train to Edinburgh, rather than flying from London. There was an excellent deal through Virgin Trains from London for £36 return. The sun never stopped shining and I finally got to climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat, hooray!
3 THINGS YOU REALLY CANNOT MISS:
ARTHUR’S SEAT | climbing up Arthur’s Seat was pretty much the only thing I wanted to do during this weekend in Edinburgh! I can’t recommend it enough. Start early to beat the crowds and take in the stunning 360-degree views. We were blessed with the sunshine, which in fact lasted a rare entire weekend in Edinburgh. To get there, head to Holyrood Park.
Also check out: the unexpected curves and angles of the modern Scottish Parliament Building. It’s at the opposite end of the Royal Mile to the Castle.
THE BOW BAR | aka our alternative when Edinburgh Castle turned out to shut at 4pm (in March). Having struggled to find a decent non-sports-stag-do type bar all day, this tiny local with its cask beers and single malts was exactly what we were looking for.
Also check out: this area is the heart of Edinburgh’s medieval Old Town. It’s full of fascinating side streets and curiosities, such as The Writers Museum, that are much more interesting than the tartan shops lining the main drag.
BOTANIC GARDENS | once you’ve had your fill of history, be sure to embrace some greenery too. A weekend in Edinburgh leaves plenty of time to explore these manicured 70-acre gardens. My favourite was the Palm House, which incurs a small additional fee.
Also check out: the local area of Inverleigh, full of mega houses to nosey at.
3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:
TIMBERYARD | this fantastic restaurant comes to rest in this section purely because of the punchy price tag. That said, the food and service were incredible and certainly felt like good value for a treat-dinner option.
DEAN | over this weekend in Edinburgh we were staying with a friend. Jayne lives right by Haymarket Station and a 20-minute walk from central Waveley Station. From her home, we walked down to the Water of Leith, which runs out to – well, Leith, via picturesque Dean Village and Gardens. It’s a very pretty and tranquil riverside walk.
Also check out: upmarket Stockbridge brims with lovely cafes, delis and boutique stores. It connects directly to George Street, the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town. You’ll see its distinctive elegant Georgian terraces.
LEITH | is on Edinburgh’s port edge, directly north of the city. It warrants a short afternoon of exploring or dinner at Chop House.
3 THINGS TO STEER CLEAR:
PRINCE STREET | *spoiler alert* I’m basically going to suggest you avoid all of the classic locations on an Edinburgh itinerary. Which of course you won’t, and I didn’t either. However, Prince Street – whilst undeniably attractive, with the surrounding Gardens and looming Castle – is just another UK high street home to Topshop and M&S.
Also check out: the Scott Monument is pretty cool, and the Scottish National Gallery (we didn’t go in) is located here.
ROYAL MILE | as mentioned, this historic pedestrian walkway connects Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Park. It’s rather charming and oozes with history, but for me, it’s tainted by the Whiskey Tours, Taffy shops, and dawdling tourists.
GRASSMARKET SQUARE | Yes, I’m very aware that I sound like a complete misery! Just be warned: this is a favoured haunt of the stag do. You should expect drunken men sporting Ali G green thongs or shepherdess dresses stumbling into your Instagram snap. Hard to filter that out.
1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:
EDINBURGH FRINGE | apparently the Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival, which is a pretty cool fact in itself. I’ve always wanted to organise a weekend in Edinburgh to coincide with this event, which lasted a whopping 25 days and just celebrated it’s 70th year in 2017. One year I will make it happen!
AND KNOW THIS: Edinburgh Castle is home to Scotland’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny, used in the coronation of Scottish rulers.
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