Following are tips on visiting Edinburgh from the musings of several travel bloggers. Many are places you may not find on your own, including tasty bites and historical locations. Most people only give the city a day or two to visit, but we would highly suggest adding a few more days to any itinerary.
Haggis and Whiskey
By Samantha Firth, www.travellingking.com
Start with a visit to the Albanach, located on the Royal Mile. The Albanch is a whiskey bar and restaurant, which offers one of the best haggis options in Edinburgh. I would highly recommend their “Taste of Scotland” which included:
- Starter: Wee Taste of Haggis
- Main: Bamoral Chicken
- Pudding: Cranachan
Or you can try their haggis pie that is to die for (cliché I know!). The ingredients in haggis can put off most people, but the Albanach pie does Haggis justice, it was incredibly tasty!
Whiskey Bar Recommendation:
The Whiski Bar was one of my favourite whiskey bars in Edinburgh; it’s also located on the Royal Mile, just a short walk from the Albanach. Whiski is renowned for serving over 270 different whiskies, and I found that the bartenders were always happy to provide recommendations for different whiskeys. This was helpful, as I’m not a big whiskey drinker, but thanks to the lovely bartenders, I left with a few new favorites and a bit more pep in my step!
Looking for where to stay? Take a look at Samantha’s post.
Lunch or Munchies – The Baked Potato Shop (Vegetarian)
By Wendy Werneth, www.thenomadicvegan.com
The Baked Potato Shop is a small, vegetarian eatery that specializes in baked potatoes with lots of different topping choices. It’s located on Cockburn Street in the Old Town, just a few minutes’ walk from Waverley train station and very close to the Royal Mile.
This makes it a great option for a quick lunch in the middle of a busy day of sightseeing, especially if you’re on a tight budget. The portion sizes are quite generous, making it an excellent value for money.
When ordering your baked potato, you can choose between a large or an XXL potato with one, two or three toppings. The large is more than enough for one person!
Toppings include spicy chilli, baked beans, hummus and even a veggie version of haggis. The latter is great for vegetarian and vegan visitors to Scotland who want to taste this very traditional dish! There are plenty of options for vegans as well as for people with various food allergies, including peanut and gluten allergies.
Be aware that the Baked Potato Shop is primarily a takeaway joint. There’s just one table, so if you want to eat in you’ll probably end up sharing the table with strangers. Of course, that could be a great experience in itself! I ended up making friends here who I still keep in touch with today.
The shop is open daily from 11 am to 7:30 pm and is most popular at lunchtime.
By Cindy Graham, bluebagnomads.com
Taking a free walking tour, of Edinburgh, is an excellent way for you to be introduced to lots of history and fun facts. During the tour, we were lead through many interesting back alleyways that we would never have discovered on our own.
We did get a chance to see the historic St. Giles’ Cathedral and touch the nose of Greyfriars Bobby (dog statue), which is suppose to be good luck. Bobby guarded the grave of his owner for 14 years. If you are a Harry Potter fan, there are several places on the tour that was an inspiration to J.K. Rowling writing her books. The town is hilly, so beware it may be a bit of a trek to get from here to there.
The tours are free, but please, be prepared to give your tour guide a tip.
By Crystal, wanderingcrystal.com
The Edinburgh Royal Mile is a lively, bustling and exciting place to be. During the festival, the streets overflow with people who’ve come from all over to see the incredible acts, amazing theatre, and the world-famous Military Tattoo. But while the pathways above are filled with visitors and dynamic energy, it’s the exact opposite down below in the underground vaults. Dark, damp and silent, these forgotten lower passageways patiently await your visit so you can immerse yourself in a world of ghosts, ghouls and Edinburgh’s horrific history.
Mercat Tours will take you to the Blair Street Underground Vaults for a brief moment of quiet, away from the excitement of the performers and tourists trampling the streets above. You’ll follow a cloaked tour guide through the haunted vaults while hearing tales of Edinburgh’s dark history and the unthinkably horrible events that once occurred deep within them. You might even cross paths with some of the vault’s most frightening and notorious ghosts.
If you are traveling during the festival season, it is one of the busiest times to visit Edinburgh, so be sure to book your ticket to visit the vaults as early as possible to avoid disappointment.
Want to learn more about Edinburgh’s spooky places, take a look here.
By Gemma Johnstone, A Girl & Her Dog on the Road
If you are visiting Edinburgh and want to escape the very touristy areas then I would recommend making your way down to the suburb of Stockbridge, just twenty minutes walk from Princes Street. Full of traditional cobbled streets and grand townhouses, this trendy area is also great for treating yourself, with lots of independent and unique boutique shops (including my old business Just Dogs, for the pooch lovers).
There are plenty of up-market bars and restaurants in the area, including the gastropub, the Scran and Scallie. If you are looking for something a bit more old school, then seek out Kays Bar to mingle with some locals and sample some real ale.
You are spoilt for choice with green space too. The Edinburgh Botanic Gardens are just ten minutes walk away, as is Inverleith Park, a perfect spot for a picnic on a sunny day.
You are right on the Water of Leith Walkway too. If you head out in the direction of Balerno, after less than half an hour, you will find Dean Village. A wonderfully preserved old grain milling site. Wander the narrow streets and stop to get some photos of this extremely picturesque area right on the river’s edge. Find a little Oasis in the middle of a busy city
By Alex Harford, https://alexharford.uk/photos/travel/scotland
Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano with great views that’s an easy walk from Edinburgh’s centre. If the name sounds familiar, Arthur’s Seat featured in novels including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and many by Scottish crime writer, Ian Rankin. No one knows where Arthur’s Seat got its name. Some historians believe it’s one of many possible locations for Camelot, the legendary King Arthur’s castle.
There are a few routes to the top; the easiest a 10-15 minute walk from Dunsapie Loch (the opposite side of Arthur’s Seat to the city centre) on Queen’s Drive. I enjoyed walking from the car park to the north of Arthur’s Seat, over the Salisbury Crags, which offer great views themselves. The Salisbury Crags are pictured with Edinburgh Castle and the Scott Monument, viewed from near the top of Arthur’s Seat. The views from Arthur’s Seat are panoramic and include Calton Hill, another of Edinburgh’s hills worth climbing.
There’s very little chance of getting lost – all trails are well worn, often busy, and the city itself is right there. The paths can get muddy during wet weather; so proper footwear is recommended. The top can get windy, too!
Escape the City to Cramond Village and Tidal Island
By Beata Szewczyk, https://stunningoutdoors.com
When you visit a city, you may look for an afternoon escape from the crowds, especially in summer. I can’t think of a better way of spending an afternoon than walking along a beach and 3-mile promenade topped off with a visit to a tidal island!
Cramond Village, which lies just five miles from Edinburgh city centre, is an up-market residential area with old houses and historic kirk (church). A traditional Scottish pub with good selection of local beers is located near the harbor, just at Cramond Island causeway. You’ll also find two cafes – Cramond Gallery Bistro, right at the sea, and Cramond Falls – a bit further along the river Almond (sells fantastic homemade cakes and scones)!
From Cramond Village take a walk along the three-mile promenade following waters of Firth of Forth, or visit the island. Cramond Island is only accessible at low tide and connected with harbor by ¾ mile causeway. Ensure to check tide times before venturing to the island, and safe crossing timetable is available at the causeway.
The island is currently un-habituated, but in the past, it used to be a holiday destination for Edinburgers’. Nowadays, the only buildings remaining are post-WWII fortifications. Cramond Island certainly is an interesting viewpoint; from its top, you can see as far as Leith and Arthur’s Seat, even Forth Rail Bridge! If you’re lucky, you may spot seals resting on the island’s rocky shores or be greeted by Oystercatchers, small red-beaked seabirds.
Cramond is a great escape any time of the day, but my favorite time to visit is early evening or sunset.
To get to Cramond village from Edinburgh city centre, take bus number 41 from Hanover Street to Cramond, get off on last bus stop, and then follow signposts to Cramond Village.
Edinburgh is world renown for the many festivals they host each year. During July and August, the city blooms with visitors from around the world. In July, is the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival.
There are several that overlap in August and are well attended – Edinburgh Art Festival, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tatto, Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. There is something for everyone, with thousands of performances and hundreds of venues, over several weeks. Be sure to do some research before you go and get your tickets and accommodations early. Many websites cover the festivals, but this one, maybe a place to start – festival.
Glasgow and More
Glasgow is about an hour train ride from Edinburgh, so why not visit them both! Other areas that are off the beaten path that we visited in Scotland included Loch Doon Castle (an 11 sided castle ruin) and the elegant Culzean Castle. You will need a car to get to these destinations, but each is uniquely different, and we enjoyed seeing them.
Read more about Culzean Castle here.
Read more about Loch Doon Castle here.
Travel by Train
From London, it is quicker to get to Edinburgh by train than by car. The train takes about 5 hours and driving, well let’s say, it is closer to 8 hours. We found that we did not need a car in Edinburgh, so sit back and enjoy the scenery with less stress by riding the train.
There are several train stations in Edinburgh so be sure you know where you want to go before you head out. For us, since we had limited time, we focused on Edinburgh’s old town; thus we used the Edinburgh Waverley station. Waverley is considered to be the main station. You may also see Edinburgh Gateway and Haymarket.
From Waverley train station to the Edinburgh castle is around a .6 mile walk, which will take about 15 minutes, if you are not too distracted by the many other things to see along the way.
Many considered a visit to Edinburgh is incomplete without visiting the caste. Take a look at the castle’s website and get tickets in advance. If you get tickets online, you will save £2 per person too. Plan to spend at least half a day there if you can.
Scotland is a fantastic place to visit. Most people do not give themselves enough time to see Edinburgh properly. Add an extra day or two to any visit. You will be glad that you do.
Thank you to fellow travel bloggers Samantha, Wendy, Crystal, Gemma, Alex, and Beata, for your contribution to this post. It was fun to write and work with you!