Edinburgh is positioned as the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. But don’t discount what the City itself has to offer. Aside from the obvious tourist attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile and St. Giles cathedral, there are many other things to do and places to see in Edinburgh. If you are planning a trip to Scotland, starting in Edinburgh is a great vacation idea.
When you arrive in Edinburgh at the airport, there is a local bus which will take you directly to the centre of the city. It is about a 40-minute ride, but it will give you an idea of the culture and lifestyle of such a historic place. You will pass by one of the very active football (soccer) stadiums.
During my visit to Edinburgh, I chose an accommodation that was both walking distance from where the bus from the airport would stop as well as walking distance from the train station. This made it more convenient when I chose to depart Edinburgh by train.
The City of Edinburgh is divided between the Old Town (with centuries old medieval street layout) and the New Town (with a more modern street plan of the 18th century) and as such it has become a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Edinburgh Castle is the most recognized landmark within the city. It stands perched high on top of a rocky dormant volcano and overlooks the city and the countryside. On a clear day, the shoreline of the Firth of Forth is visible. Be forewarned, the City of Edinburgh is VERY hilly and good walking shoes are a must!
From the castle, the Nelson Monument is visible towards the sea.
Once you have completed your tour of the Castle, a downhill stroll along the Royal Mile is a must. Here you will find the historic core of the city with its granite buildings containing many symbols of Scotland including tartan whisky and shortbread. Local pubs and restaurants are also plentiful and are worth a pop inside for a pint or dram. Many have local entertainers out to entice the tourists.
Towards the end of the Royal Mile, you will find St. Giles Cathedral, the official Church of Scotland with a history of more than 900 years. It is known for its beautiful stained-glass windows and ornate Thistle Chapel which is home to an active concert calendar.
In the centre of town is the awe-inspiring Scott Monument which celebrates Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. The gothic tower is 200 feet high and is available to climb if you so desire.
If you are looking for a rainy-day activity, look no further than the National Museum of Scotland. Five floors of beautiful displays and interactive activities. Plan on spending most of the day here.
If you are looking for some interested day tours outside of Edinburgh, pay a visit to Linlithgow Palace, a short train ride west,
or Rosslyn Chapel, a short bus ride to the north.
Whatever you decide to do in Edinburgh, a glass of chardonnay or Guiness is always welcome.
And remember to review your travel insurance requirements.