Over the summer, in the month of August, I and a friend from university went to Edinburgh for a long weekend, since we’d both been longing to be reunited and to travel after months in lockdown. We decided on Edinburgh since neither of us had ever been, we’d heard good things and we’d become big fans of the show Outlander together. We spent a few days in the city and one day doing an Outlander tour – you check out my post all about that here! All this and the fact it wasn’t too expensive meant it was the perfect choice!
We went on a Thursday afternoon and headed back promptly on the Monday morning, meaning we had 3 full days in Edinburgh and an afternoon and evening on the Thursday.
There are obviously a massive selection of hotels, hostels and AirBnBs available in Edinburgh but we just wanted one that was fairly central and not too expensive as well having some good and clear COVID-19 safety policy. We decided on the Holiday Inn Express in the City Centre since it was around 10 minutes walk from the station and less than 20 minutes walk to Edinburgh Castle. On top of that, a double room for the two of us to share ended up working out as just under £100 each for the four nights. And, as an added bonus, free breakfast was included, which when you’re a student is always a win!
After taking a moment to breathe and relax from out train journey and ditch our bags, we headed straight over to Calton Hill. Calton Hill is a UNESCO world heritage site that offers panoramic views of the city as well as being home to some famous Scottish monuments and buildings including the National Monument, Nelson’s Monument. the Robert Burns Monument and City Observatory.
Once we’d admired the views at Calton Hill, we walked over to the Old Town Beer House. The friend that I travelled with is an absolute genius at finding the best photo spots. hidden gems and places to eat. So after her research, she’d found the Old Town Beer House and I just happily followed her lead. Since neither of us actually drink beer, we mainly went for the pizzas and they were well worth the hype! You had to book in advance, due to the popularity and COVID restrictions but I’d definitely recommend! The only flaw in our plan was that after dinner we’d planned to walk up Arthur’s Seat for sunset and we were both pretty stuffed!
Despite being pretty full of our delicious pizza and the climb being more intense that I’d anticipated, it was definitely worth it! Arthur’s Seat at sunset was so beautiful! You got a view of the whole city and the colours of the sunset was so pretty! It was quite busy at that time, with a fair few other tourists who also wanted to watch the sun set but I didn’t feel like that ruined the experience at all since there were plenty of places for people to sit/stand and admire the view. The only regret was the fact that we had to head back down Arthur’s Seat before it got dark because let’s be real, I’m not the most coordinated of people and I didn’t want to fall or slip on my way back down.
Since my friend is at a history student at uni, she was keen to visit Palace of Holyrood House so we headed there first thing on the Friday morning. It wouldn’t have been my first choice but she’s a big fan of Royal history and it was actually really interesting and good to visit.
After our visit to Holyrood Palace, we wandered at a more leisurely pace back up the Royal Mile and towards the Castle. The Royal Mile is the street between Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle – two important locations in Scottish history and is exactly a mile long, hence the creative name! It’s the busiest tourist street in the Old Town and is a mix of shops, restaurants, pubs and tourist attractions.
Built in the first half of the 19th century, Victoria Lane is famous for its colourful buildings and architectural quirk. Most well known for being the inspiration behind J.K Rowling’s magical Diagon Alley, this beautiful street is a tourist hotspot and a must visit (and photograph) for anyone in the city. The street itself is full of independent shops and cute little cafes and restaurants so do leave yourself time to actually peruse the shops as well as taking that classic pic!
Despite not actually buying a ticket to go inside and visit Edinburgh Castle, we knew we had to wander up and at least have a look at the outside. So after fuelling up on delicious ice cream from Mary’s Milk Bar for lunch (healthy I know!), we headed up the many steps to the castle.
We then just had a bit of a wander around Edinburgh before eventually walking over to Princes Street Garden (via a very long queue for the Apple store since my headphones had tragically broken). Princes Street Garden was pretty busy but we managed to find a quiet patch of grass to just chill on for a bit before we headed back to our hotel.
Since we were both feeling pretty lazy, we headed to Tony Macaroni which was literally 2 minutes walk away from our hotel! We shared a pizza and a pasta between us as well as a cocktail each and all in all it was a great choice. The restaurant itself was pretty quiet and didn’t seem to have many tourists there which was a nice change. I’d never heard of Tony Macaroni before we went but apparently it’s a Scottish/Welsh/Irish chain. I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you’re near one!
Maybe my favourite spot in all of Edinburgh was the Royal Botanic Garden. Due to COVID-19 regulations you had to book a ticket for a specific time slot and we booked our ticket for the first slot of the day. This meant that the gardens were so lovely and quiet and we could just wander around at our pace and admire the garden. After a couple of days being busy in the city, it was actually really nice to feel like you’d escaped completely into the countryside despite still being in the heart of the city.
The next stop we headed to was Dean Village, another of those hidden gems of Edinburgh, a beautiful oasis of calm, can be found only five minutes walk away from the bustling city street of Princes Street. Arriving here, you could easily believe you’ve been whisked away into a sleepy rural town or even time travelled back into the 19th century. It’s worth a visit for the moment of calm and a pretty photo or two.
After’s Dean’s Village, we had what might have been the best bagel of my entire life. Again, this is credit to my friend who is great at searching at the best spots to eat in any city. Bross Bagels has multiple shops in Edinburgh and none of them were particularly on our route but my friend had seen such good things on their Instagram, we went out of our way to hunt a shop down and buy our bagels. Because I’m basic (and a bit boring/picky when it comes to sandwiches) I just had a pretzel bagel filled with cream cheese but it was so delicious! I cannot recommend these bagels enough if you’re ever in Edinburgh and need a quick but tasty lunch, this is the one. Sadly I don’t even have a photo of these bagels because they were so tasty we didn’t pause for a pic but just dove straight in!
We then headed over to the Camera Obscura museum, close to Edinburgh Castle on the Royal Mile. It’s a museum of five floors of illusions and I wasn’t particularly overwhelmed by it to be honest. My favourite part of the museum had to be look out point at the top where you got an awesome view of Edinburgh. If you’ve read any of my posts you know how much I love a view of a city from whatever high place you can find it!
Then to celebrate our final evening in the fabulous city of Edinburgh we headed out for a meal and cocktails! The restaurant we went to was The Newsroom and it was so good! Again it was really close to our hotel and we’d walked past it everyday as we headed into the centre each morning so we decided to give it a go! I had the most delicious fajitas and we shared a great pitcher of cocktails before we headed on to the Slug and Lettuce for some more cocktails!
So that’s it for our long weekend in Edinburgh! All in all I had an absolutely fabulous time and would 100% recommend a visit! Edinburgh is a beautiful