Budget tip: Sandamans do free walking tours around Edinburgh that give a glimpse into some of the inspirations for J.K Rowlings Harry Potter world.
Navigating the cityThe city is divided into two sides; the old town and new town. The new town was constructed in the Georgian period, featuring beautiful facades of neo-classical architecture. The old town dates back to the medieval period, featuring a wonderful landscape of reformation and medieval area buildings. Both sides are a sight to explore on foot.
Where to visitEdinburgh Castle The Castle is located in the old town, overlooking the Princes Street Park. For a great capture of Edinburgh Castle the bank of the new town is the perfect spot. Entry to the castle gives way to a marvellous collection of historic Scottish artefacts. The opening times are from 9:30 to 6pm with last entry at 5pm. Entry cost £17 per person with a free audio guide. Grassmarket Located just below the Castle is the Grassmarket. Traditionally this street was used for trading of cattle and other goods; however on a more sinister note, it was also the site of public executions. Now neither trading, nor executions take place on this historic street, but you can an excellent display of traditional pubs dating back to the 16th century, featuring the tasty delights of Haggis. Royal mile Located in the old town, the royal mile connects two major historic Scottish sites; Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. It’s the busiest street in the Old Town, and features charming little stores, cobbled streets and Tron Kirk. The church is a wonderful display of the city’s gothic landscape of architecture, however it also houses a charming market. At the market you can find wonderful prints and paintings, unique jewellery and hand crafted goods.
Historic footnotesLast drop Located on the Grassmarket is the legend of the Last drop pub. Mary King was publically executed in the Grassmarket, lucky for her the execution was not successful. When the public attempted to carry out her punishment again, a lawyer proclaimed that since they declared her dead, justice had been served. Mary King opened a pub called the Last Drop where victims of the rope could drink their last beer. Visiting the pub is a haunting and historic experience in the Old Town. Writers Museum The Writers Museum is located just off the royal mile. It’s a fascinating museum featuring exhibits of Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. The life of each writer is on display in the exhibits; their work, influence on Scotland and their time in Edinburgh. The museum is a wonderful opportunity to understand the creatives that have lived and thrived in the city. For more information on pricing and exhibits, see the link below.
Quality eatsDeacons House Café Deacons is a fantastic option for a simple and tasty lunch. The café has a somewhat tavern like feel inside, complementing the culture of the city. The café offers a range of toasted and fresh sandwiches and a range of local craft beer. Dough For a dinner option, slightly less traditional, I found a tasty stone-baked pizza shop. They serve delicious pizza, with plenty of outdoor seating to soak up the Edinburgh atmosphere and architecture.
Budget tip: For a cheap delicious ice cream after a long walk around Edinburgh, try Mary’s Milk Bar.
Coffee hitThe Milkman Located near the central train station, Milkman is a pokey, unique café with quality coffee. They serve piccolos (a rarity in Britain) and use Dear Green speciality coffee based in Glasgow. The café is a great stop off before heading to the train station, or a relaxing atmosphere to enjoy a morning coffee. Opening hours are from 8am-6pm Mon-Fri and 9am-6pm Sat-Sun. Edinburgh is certainly one of my favourite all time cities. Its fantastic culture, beautiful architecture and quirky shopping and history will make your visit complete. To immerse yourself further in Scottish culture and beauty, I did a day trip to the Highlands. It’s not cheap, but I would certainly recommend it if you don’t have long to explore Scotland.
AUTHOR: Hannah Tate Images courtesy of Hannah Tate