I recently visited Edinburgh for the first time in my life. Here are the highlights of my visit, counting down in reverse order:
5. Arthur’s Seat
Arthur’s Seat gives you towering views over Edinburgh. It’s a fair walk out of the town centre and took about an hour and fifteen minutes to walk there from the Haymarket area where we were staying,. There are easier ways to get there but we decided that as it was a 35 minute walk from Waverley station, we’d see more of Edinburgh on foot. Arthur’s Seat sits at the top of an inactive volcano. In fact much of Edinburgh is sitting on dead volcanoes that haven’t erupted in roughly 16 million years. When asking for directions to Arthur’s Seat, someone told us it was a long walk for a lot of wind and views over Edinburgh. I totally disagree – it was worth both the walk and the wind!
4. Camera Obscura
This is a highly rated TripAdvisor tourist attraction, full of the weird and wonderful with mirrors and illusions that distort your image and vision. Definitely worth a visit, it’s a big place filled with all those illusions where you try to see the elephant in a picture full of spirals.
3. Scottish National Gallery
This is free and full of beautiful art. ‘The Kiss’ by Augustine Rodin is currently on loan from the Tate in London and looks at home amongst other renaissance sculptures and artwork. The gallery sits in beautiful gardens under the gaze of Edinburgh Castle.
2. Edinburgh Castle
We booked our tickets online and I definitely recommend doing so. When you book online you get free fast track and when you get there you’ll totally appreciate this. If you’ve ever been to London, think queues outside the London Dungeons on a Saturday or the first day of half term. It was absolutely manic. You can get an audio guide for £3.50 but we decided to go on the free tour which lasts about 40 minutes and tells you a bit about the history and then leaves you to explore on your own. It gave us a lot of insight that I don’t think we could have gathered on our own. It was a really good intro to people who’d never studied Scottish history or been to Scotland before.
1. The Real Mary King’s Close
This was my highlight of the trip, again advance booking is definitely recommended as this was incredibly popular. This tour took you below the city streets and back to the time of plague. With characters in historical dress and full of factual knowledge which made this by far the best tour of Edinburgh that I experienced. I fully recommend it to anyone who wants to get an insight on historical Edinburgh.
I stayed at Tune Haymarket – a cheap Edinburgh hotel within easy reach of all our favourite attractions.