Best Things to do in Edinburgh, Scotland
Scotland is nothing short of magical. It's history is so vast and incredibly old that it's hard to wrap my American brain around. Each structure has been standing where it is for hundreds of years and everywhere you look there is a story to tell. The people are friendly and curious. The city is easy to navigate and you can reach all the attractions on foot, which is great if you are afraid of driving on the left side of the road (like me).
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Where to stay in Edinburgh
Apex City of Edinburgh Hotel
A modern hotel with knockout city views and extra amenities at a next-door sister hotel.
The Balmoral Hotel
Legendary hotel and landmark clock tower, The Balmoral Hotel is a regal and luxurious hotel that is a true love letter to Scotland.
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Things to do in Edinburgh
Edinburgh Castle: This is the most impressive and most famous stop in Edinburgh. Once you've seen this castle, you really don't need to visit more. It is right in the center of everything and high up on a hill (which is actually a volcano) spanning incredible views down below.
Palace of Holyroodhouse: This is the royal family's home in Scotland. Until her recent death, Queen Elizabeth would come and stay here at least once a year. It is a beautiful castle with an adjoining park. It makes for a lovely stroll and less than a half day's excursion.
The Royal Mile: This street starts with Holyrood Palace at one end and Edinburgh Castle at the other. There are plenty of tourist shops, busking bagpipers and fish & chip shops between the two monuments. It's a very lively place and a must see.
The Writers' Museum: This tiny house on the Royal Mile is dedicated to the famous writers of Scotland including Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson. It carries original letters and other artifacts. It will only take you about 30 minutes to see everything.
Victoria Street: Off the Royal Mile is a beautiful street that looks straight out of a Harry Potter movie winding down towards the Grassmarket.
The Grassmarket is where they used to hang criminals, but now it's a lovely strip of pubs, cafes and shops. Very lively at night!
Dean Village: Away from the tourists on Royal Mile is the picturesque town of Dean Village. A beautiful stream runs right through the center. The homes here look like a toy village from a Christmas scene.
Arthur's Seat: As mentioned before, there are dormant volcanos in Edinburgh — seven to be exact! Arthur's Seat is a nice grassy hike to the top and strangely out-of-place in this civilized metropolis. Give yourself a few hours to get up and down; the incline isn't too steep and you can take your time.
Calton Hill: Another hilltop view, this one with several monuments to explore. The walk isn't too tough and the views are worth it. Calton Hill houses a collection of historial monuments, all built at different times several hundred years apart. Bring a blanket and relax.
Princes Street Gardens: Parallel to the busy and bustling Princes Street runs a beautiful elongated garden. Locals come with picnics, toddlers and dogs. It's much nicer than walking along the trafficked road to get from one end of town to the other.
Places to eat & drink in Edinburgh
Montieth: This is the only place to try Haggis. It's a delicious cross between meatloaf and pate. The cocktail list is extensive and it's right on the Royal Mile for an after-dinner stroll.
The Salt Horse: Just off the Royal Mile, this craft beer pub has the world's greatest chips aka fries. It features a small but very delicious menu.
Commons Club: A fancy and fun fine dining experience right on the famous Victoria Street. The option to sit in the kitchen is always a wonderful way to experience the evening.
The Balmoral for afternoon tea: The Palm Court at the famous Balmoral is a must do. Give yourself about 90 minutes to relax and enjoy this elegant tradition.
Söderberg: A Swedish coffee shop carrying savory and sweet pastries, sandwiches and excellent pizza. A fast and easy stop that will lure you back.
The Fishmarket: This is the fish and chips shop to visit. It's in the hip and industrial area of Leith. And you know it's fresh because you will be on the water's edge.
The Kitchin: A Michelin-starred restaurant in Leith. Believe it or not, the chef's name is Tom Kitchin. So I suppose he had to learn to cook well. The surprise tasting menu is about $150.
Mary's Milk Bar: Located at Grassmarket, there is plenty to see and stroll past with ice cream in hand. Unusual flavors include lavender and saffron. But come wintertime, hot chocolate is what you need here!
The Lookout by Gardener's Cottage: High up on the impressive Calton Hill, partially suspended over the city with floor to ceiling windows, this spot features food and views only rivaled by the service.
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