48 hours in Edinburgh
I’ve always wanted to visit Edinburgh, ever since a picture of Victoria Street was randomly assigned as my work computer’s screensaver. I was immediately taken in by its history, winding roads and olde-world charm.
Over the weekend a friend and I made the trip from London to Edinburgh, and spent a little over 48 hours in the Scottish capital. The city definitely lived up to my expectations.
We packed so much into a few days and it would be so overwhelming to post all about it here. Instead I wanted to give a brief overview of what we did as well as a few recommendations on what to do and where to eat if you ever find yourself in Edinburgh.
On the first day we climbed Calton Hill; a UNESCO World Heritage Site home to iconic monuments such as the Dugald Stewart Monument, the National Monument of Scotland and the Nelson Monument. It is possibly one of the most popular places to take photos of Edinburgh – the above photo was taken from there.
The Dugald Stewart monument was built in memorial of philosopher Dugald Stewart, and can be found on Calton Hill.
We also went through Leith to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia (above is Leith). We didn’t actually get on the Royal Yacht Britannia in the end though. The yacht is just one side of a shopping centre called Ocean Terminal, and the area that surrounds the shopping centre is quite bleak as it is just industrial docklands, so I wouldn’t really recommend spending much time there apart from if you are a yacht / royal family enthusiast. Leith is a lovely place to visit though, I can imagine it really comes to life when it is sunny as there are plenty of pubs near the water with outdoor seating areas.
Above is a picture of the industrial docklands by the Ocean Terminal shopping centre, perhaps the grey clouds do not help to lighten the atmosphere!
Sorry for the lower quality Instagram photos! Here is a rare photo of me (brunette) with my friend in the Ensign Ewart pub on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Its cosy atmosphere lent itself to claiming the crown as our favourite pub in Edinburgh. On the right is Edinburgh castle,the history of which we learnt on one of the many walking tours we took of the city.
We did quite a lot in Edinburgh, you can see more of what we got up to on my instagram. Below are some of my suggestions on what to see and where to eat/drink in Edinburgh if you have limited time, based on what I enjoyed as a first time tourist in the city.
Highlights – What to do and see in Edinburgh if you have limited time
- Walking tours. These usually start on the Royal Mile, these give you such an insight into the history of the city which you may not otherwise have discovered. I will preface this by saying that before we went on the walking tour, I was the type that always thought I would prefer to see a city by myself at my own leisure, and I still enjoy that but taking time out to go on the walking tour helped me appreciate it even more. We went on this free walking tour in Edinburgh which lasted for two and a half hours and was really insightful. We learnt about the social history of the old town, the castle and visited Greyfriars Kirkyard. There were a few Harry Potter references thrown in too. The tour guides also offer advice on what they think is worth visiting in Edinburgh too.
- Free ghost tour. If you’re interested in learning about the more paranormal side of Edinburgh then definitely go on the free ghost tour. It lasts for 1 1/2 hours.
- Edinburgh Castle. You have to pay an admission fee to go inside, but it is completely worth it.
- Calton Hill. One of the best places to see all of Edinburgh and not taxing to climb.
- Greyfriars Kirkyard. I know some people enjoy touring graveyards, but I’ve never really been inclined to visit one until we did on the walking tour. There’s something really peaceful and beautiful about Greyfriars, and of course, many Harry Potter characters are inspired by the tombstones. In contrast, there is always the more sombre and sinister Covenanter’s Prison, but you learn more about that on the walking tour.
Where to eat and drink in Edinburgh
We ate out for every meal, which although was expensive meant that we were able to try the local cuisine. Here are two of our favourite places to eat and drink in Edinburgh:
- The Ensign Ewart. This pub is fairly easy to find as it is located on the Royal Mile (probably the main tourist hub in Edinburgh, full of street performers and men in kilts playing the bagpipes). It’s quieter than the surrounding pubs and offers a cosy atmosphere (the candles, cushions and low, wood-beamed ceiling helps with that I suppose).
- Makars Gourmet Mash Bar. Tucked away just behind the Royal Mile, this is another little gem. It’s a nicely decorated, light and airy cafe / restaurant offering healthy but comforting Scottish food. I recommend the steak burger, tomato, cheese and egg rosti stack, but there is also a mini haggis, neeps and tatties taster choice for those wanting to sample some well-known Scottish cuisine.
That just about rounds up my trip to Edinburgh. I’m sure we’ll meet again. Have you ever been to the beautiful city of Edinburgh?