A city guide to Edinburgh’s most beautiful places
Last week, I spent 2 days in Edinburgh and was blown away by its Scottish charm! It was exactly how I imagined it:
Big houses made out of stone, enlightened by the royal sun which breaks through the heavy clouds. Royal? Yes, everything is royal here (at least by name). There are royal hotels, royal restaurants and pubs, royal gardens and parks… Edinburgh is a big city and you could easily spend a week here and explore more of the surroundings. I made you a list with the most popular and worthy places you should see when you’re in town. We did it all in 2 days, except for the Holyrood house which was closed during our visit.
The castle is the most famous site in Edinburgh and the number one paid-for tourist attraction in Scotland. The oldest walls date back to the 12th century, which is quite impressive. You can have a close look to the Scottish crown jewels, the stone of destiny (sounds like Harry Potter, right?) and the national war museum of Scotland. There is also a canon which is fired everyday at one o’clock. The most beautiful place is probably the tea room of the castle. The tea tastes as good as the cake and you should plan at least half an hour to spend there.
Price: 17 pounds
The Royal botanical gardens
These gardens look like a paradise! They are located only a half hour foot walk from the city center and offer peace and quiet… and cute grey squirrels! The gardens origins date back 1670 and offer today one of the world largest living plant collection. The restaurant is nice too, you can enjoy some fish and chips after your walk through the park. The gardens themselves are free to enter, you only need to pay when you want to visit the glasshouses, which is absolutely worth it. You feel like entering every different climate zone on earth and see flowers and plants you have never seen before!
Price for the glasshouses: 6,50 pounds
The Holyrood palace
This palace is the official residence of the queen when she’s in Scotland. The palace stands at the end of the royal mile and really gives you the impression of this immense wealth just by looking at it. Unfortunately the palace was closed during our visit, so be sure to check here if it is open during your stay. Nevertheless a look from the outside is also worth the walk.
Price: 12,50 pounds
This has been one of my favorite spots in Edinburgh! This huuuge monument (200 feet high) has been designated to honor the writer Sir Walter Scott. It has a few platforms that can be reached by very narrow spiral staircases, so nothing for claustrophobic people. Only a few people make it to the top as the staircases get really small (I had to remove my backpack to push myself through), but be assured that you will be rewarded by the view! The monument stands in the city center and gives you a 360 degrees view over the princess street, castle, the old town, the gardens…. Be sure not to miss it!
Price: 5 pounds
The Royal mile and Princess mile
Both streets are really nice to walk with a lot of traditional and mainstream stores, street performers and pubs. The Royal mile leads you from the castle to the Holyrood palace while passing the St. Giles Cathedral and the Scottish parliament. In the Princess street, everything is about shopping while enjoying the view. There are no buildings on the South side, so you can see all the way to the old town. Princess street also crosses the Scott monument and the Princess street gardens which is a popular place for locals to hang out during the day.
St Giles cathedral
The St Giles Cathedral is a huge church, located on the royal mile. The beginnings of the church go back to the year 1120. After a fire it was rebuilt in a remarkable Gothic style. So even if you don’t like churches, you have to see the building because of its beautiful architecture.
Calton hill and the Nelson monument
Calton hill is the perfect spot for watching the sunset and drinking a few beers! Of course you won’t be alone, the spot is popular by locals and tourists. Nevertheless there is more than enough space for everybody. On the very top of the hill is the Nelson monument. It’s a tower you can climb and it gives you the best view over the city, mostly over the Princes street. The tower was built to honor the victory of Vice admiral Horatio Nelson over the French and Spanish fleets in 1805.
Price for the Nelson monument: 5 pounds
Victoria street and the grassmarket
I have one word for this street: Cute! The street full of small and creative shops which walls are painted in beautiful different colors. When you go down Victoria street you will find yourself on the grassmarket. This place has been the center of the old town and hosted lots of different markets during the middle ages. During that time people were also publicly hanged here. Today a cross stand instead of the gallows. The place is surrounded by lots of pubs were you can warm up, have drinks and a fine meal.
One of the glasshouses
View from Scott monument
View from the Nelson monument
I hope you enjoyed this post 🙂 Please share your stories about this beautiful city!