London may be the first stop when visiting the U.K., but Scotland’s capital Edinburgh is an absolute gem, and well worth the journey north.
As the second-most visited city in the country, Edinburgh – make sure you pronounce it “Edin-bruh” or risk the mockery of the locals – breathes history. With Edinburgh Castle looming over the city center from its hilltop perch atop the Royal Mile, the city’s original main thoroughfare, you can’t help but feel enchanted with this ancient place.
On your way up the hill from the Holyroodhouse Palace, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland, check out the Witches’ Well, an execution site dating back to the 15th century, as well as the always free Scottish National Gallery.
For more off-the-beaten-track destinations, visit the funky People’s Story Museum, or the Scottish Storytelling Museum where you can immerse yourself in ancient, interactive Scottish tradition. There are plenty of ghosts here too, starting with the Edinburgh Vaults, subterranean spaces where people once made their homes beneath the South Bridge, along with numerous ghost-related walking tours as well as the spooky Greyfriar’s Kirkyard cemetery and others.
Stroll along the Royal Mile and delight in restaurants, pubs, whiskey-tasting shops, and the ever-present tartan shops. Edinburgh is also a great place just to let yourself get lost wandering streets where famed residents like William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace, Sean Connery, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and J.K. Rowling once prowled.
And Edinburgh isn’t just about history. It’s also home to the Fringe Festival, the first celebration of all manner of weird and wonderful performance art, drawing thousands of performers and millions of visitors every August to see stand-up and sketch comedy, improv, theater, music, and more. There’s also a thriving comedy and music scene here year-round, with tons of comedy clubs and hole-in-the-wall music venues.
Edinburgh is a hilly city, and you’ll have no shortage of stairs and slopes to climb as you explore, but be sure to take a walk up Calton Hill, a redoubt topped with neo-classical architecture overlooking the city.
And an absolute must-see for lovers of the outdoors is Arthur’s Seat, a rocky set of hills centered around an extinct volcano just to the east of the city, surrounded by acres of lush green parkland that’s wide open for wandering. It’s well worth the 820-foot ascent, as your views of not only Edinburgh but the Firth of Forth and surrounding countryside are unbeatable.
Edinburgh is a 1.5-hour flight from London, or if you’re feeling adventurous and in no rush, the five-hour train ride is an excellent way to take in the countryside.
Give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you plan the perfect trip to Edinburgh.