Scotland's breath-taking capital is an abundance of history, art, literature and beautiful architecture. You will be enchanted while steeping in its history and mystery.
My sister and I went to visit Edinburgh during a weekend off from work, it was February and we stayed there for two nights. We rushed a bit but we managed to visit all of the beautiful attractions that the city has to offer.
I suggest you have a walking tour around the city to discover more about the appealing history, myths and legends of this captivating city.
St Giles' Cathedral
St Giles' Cathedral is located in the Old Town in Edinburgh's Royal Mile, it was founded in 1124 and dedicated to St Giles. Stories say that he lived a quiet life of meditation in the woods, and his only friend was a deer, sent by God. One day, the king’s men tried to shoot his deer but they missed and the arrow struck Giles's leg. To compensate him, the king built him a monastery where he lived there until his death.
Due his injury he become Saint of disability, lepers and at a later time Saint of Edinburgh.
For thousand years St Giles' has been the physical and spiritual heart of Scotland's capital city and many key moments in history have been played around it.
This strategic position overlooking neighbouring lands meant that the site was used as a fortress. It is stunning and you get a taste of Scottish history with the brilliant audio guide.
Better if you buy a ticket online to avoid the extremely long queue.
The view is awe-inspiring. Altogheter is such a majestic site!
The top of Calton Hill is the Edinburgh main hill situated right in the city center. It is a quiet peaceful place and a stunning panoramic view of the city.
Calton Hill is easy to reach with a 5 minutes hike. We went in the afternoon to cherish the beauty of this place with sunlight and stayed until the magical sunset. Just a little note: it is super windy up there.
The Queen's official residence in Edinburgh and the home of Scottish royal history. The building is an architectural gem with impressive Baroque decoration. Also it is a beautiful walk to get to the Palace as you can stroll down from the old town, appreciating the stunning architecture of the buildings and passing lots of souvenir shops.
The Edinburgh City Chambers it's worth to check out its beautiful architecture. We just visited the building from outside looking from the square where lies the statue of Alexander the Greater.
Old Town & New Town
Old Town is a labyrinth of enchanting cobbled small streets, while the New Town provides an opulent contrast with its broad streets boasting a spectacular neoclassical architecture. Just having a walk in the two size of the city you will find yourself like entering in a different era.
Edinburgh Underground Vaults
The Edinburgh vaults were built in 1788 and have a gloom history. When you enter the vaults you find yourself in a soggy place where obscurity takes over. There are tunnels and nooks, from time to time opening up into cavernous areas, but often leading into claustrophobic corners. We had a guide who was telling the story and legend about that site: it was first used by merchants to store food, before becoming worthless caused by damp seeping in from the snow and rain above. The city’s poorest residents moved into these vaults, lots of them getting sick for the humidity and others dying for the extreme high temperature of the volcano. Eventually, authorities caught on and evicted the illegal tenants, filling the vaults with rubbish and rubble. This is a very sinister place, there is no doubt that the Edinburgh vaults are creepy and the history of this place is sad and dark, but I believe this is as well a side of Edinburgh to discover.
Where to chill
The Jolly Judge
This is one of the oldest bar in town. They have plenty of scotch whisky and they have a delicious soup of the day. It has a beautiful atmosphere, cosy and warm.
I recommend to go to Stramash for the night: it is a spacious old church reinvented as a bar where they play live music. We found good vibes, perfect for a casual night out.
From the airport to the city
The Airlink 100 Express Bus runs 24/7, takes just 30 minutes to reach Waverly Station in the city centre and costs £4.50 one-way.
Where to stay
We booked at Ibis City Centre which it does really have an excellent location. My suggestion is to get an accommodation in the Old Town as from there you can get to visit the major attraction just by walking.
If you decide to go during winter make sure you take a good jacket as it is freezing! For the rest enjoy the beautiful capital, get lost in the extraordinary centre exploring the World Heritage Sites of the Old Town and New Town and roam around the mysterious feeling of history of the city.