You could argue my rights to write about Edinburgh as a tourist/traveller are long gone. After all, it has been my home for over 10 years now! What is truly amazing is that after all these years the city still stays as exciting as it was for me when I first got here in 2007. From the New Year’s celebration through the Six Nations Rugby tournament and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, to the Christmas Market; the Scottish capital is an “all year round” destination.
Where to stay and getting around
Even though the only time I had to book a hotel stay in Edinburgh was for my parents, when they were visiting a few years back, I’m still fairly confident I can be more helpful than most in this area. If you’re a solo traveller, hostels in Edinburgh will offer a good value all year round and who knows!? You may meet some like minded travellers. For those of you for who an inconvenience of not having a private bathroom is too much, I recommend Airbnb of which the city is plentiful. This is likely to be the best option for larger groups as well. During quiet periods in the year, hotels outside of the city centre will often offer great value.
As long as they are near a bus route or tram tracks, I can recommend that option too. An unlimited day travel ticket (excluding trip to airport) will cost £4 and our transportation system is truly great. You can even plan trips outside of the city; with few spots well worth a visit (I’ll cover that later in the article). Always have an exact amount you need for the ticket, as the drivers can’t give you change. Visit Lothian Buses website to plan getting around the city. For those of you who plan to be here during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, one of the best options is an accommodation, which normally caters for students. Destiny student accommodation offer particularly good deals, with double room with private bathroom starting at £60 per night. There’s also added convenience of a 15-20 minutes’ walk to city centre. For best hotel and B&B deals, head to Trivago.
How long to stay
You could see most important of Edinburgh’s attractions in just 1 day, but my recommendation is to stay 5.
Top tourist points
Sitting at the top of the Royal Mile, in the heart of old city, is the castle and you can reach Edinburgh’s top attractions within walking distance.
Towards the bottom of the mile, you’ll pass St. Gillies cathedral and infinite amount of souvenirs shops, pubs and restaurants. When you reach the bottom you’ll see Scottish Parliament, Queens Gallery and Holyrood Palace, where the queen stays on her visits to Scotland.
From here you’ll also access Holyrood Park and city’s top peak, Arthur’s seat, one of the best spots for admiring the city from atop.
Branching out of the Royal Mile is George IV Bridge with few “must see” spots for Harry Potter fans. Victoria Street was the inspiration for the famous Diagon Alley and The Elephant House is claiming to be the birth place of the books series. Greyfriars Kirkyard is where JK Rowling took inspiration for some of the characters’ names from the book and sitting in front of the graveyard is the statue of Bobby. His story is heart-warming and hear-breaking at the same time.
Still within walking distance you’ll find the National Museum of Scotland and George Herriot School – the inspiration for Hogwarts School of Witchery and Wizardry. Just around the corner is lively Grassmarket.
Princess Street is where you’ll find some of the key attractions with Sir Walter Scott monument seating proudly in the street’s gardens. At one end the Balmoral hotel (where JK Rowling finished the last of Harry Potter books) and a little further Calton Hill with its monuments. This is another great place to see the city from atop.
Worth visiting (and a short bus trip away) are also Royal Botanic Gardens and a little further, Cramond village. For a half-day trip I suggest South Queensferry and Roslyn Chapel; both, accessible by Lothian buses.
Where to eat/drink
If you’re on a budget, there are few spots in the city where you’ll still eat a decent meal, but won’t get broke. For me, you’ll find the most value and quality for a pound spent in the Wetherspoon chain pubs. There are 6 in Edinburgh, with 5 in the strict city centre. You’ll find typical British and Scottish pub classic dishes, like fish & chips or beef and ale pie.
For a real Scottish beer drinking sessions go to Brew Dog or The Hanging Bat, both in Lothian Road and both serving lovely craft beers.
If you get fed up with Scottish food, go to Tupiniquim in Lauriston place to try some amazing Brazilian crepes.
…I almost forgot! Try Irn Bru, the Scottish fizzy drink.
So, all tips are based on my own experience and there’s a lot more to Edinburgh that what I mentioned. Get in touch if you’d like more specific information.