Up next in our “What to do, Where to eat” posts is what immediately felt like my “home away from home”, Edinburgh, Scotland!
Our trip in 2016 had us in Edinburgh for 4 days and we enjoyed our time so much that we increased our time in Edinburgh on the tail end of our trip through Scotland. Edinburgh is so much more than The Royal Mile, however this area of Edinburgh is probably the most popular part for most tourists. It was for this reason that we chose to stay at The Castle Rock Hostel, which is situated just after the side street forks off of the Royal Mile with a view of the Castle. There are just so many options for amazing food and historical sites to see.
Where to eat:
Civerinos – 5 Hunter Square, Edinburgh EH1 1QW, UK – Some of the best pizza we have ever had in our lives. Their traditional New York style sourdough crust is heavenly, the ingredients are fresh and perfectly balanced to each other and the staff makes you feel like an old friend. They are open late, and when we arrived late in the evening on a cold November night, it was perfect! (I think we ate here 3 times during our stay.)
Deacon Brodie’s Tavern – 435 Lawnmarket,Edinburgh, EH1 2NT – Located on the Royal mile, this Tavern and Restaurant offers a traditional pub setting downstairs and a dining room upstairs. Steeped in history, Deacon Brodies is named for William Brodie who was one of the inspirations for Stevenson’s Jekyll & Hyde! The atmosphere is warm and welcoming and the food was exceptional. We ended our night here several times, always opting for a pot of hot tea at the end before making the way back to our hostel.
Castle Arms Bistro – 6 Johnston Terrace, Edinburgh, EH1 2PW – Traditional Scottish cuisine in a unique and welcoming atmosphere. It was here that we got Moriah to try haggis for the first time. The staff was friendly and the food was really good! They have quite the selection of drinks to pair with their menu! A great find and really close to the castle!
Saint Giles’ Cafe & Bar – 8 St Giles’ St, Edinburgh EH1 1PT, UK – This cozy spot is perfect for a coffee or tea and a small lunch. Which is what we opted to do on one of our shopping days along the Royal Mile. The service is friendly and the cappuccinos we had were wonderfully made.
The Jolly Judge – 7 James Court, Lawnmarket, Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 2PB – This adorable and cozy little spot is located at the foot of a vennel, just a short way away from the Castle. The food is simple but hearty and the hot toddy is a great fix on a cold day!
What to do:
Edinburgh Castle – Located at one of the Royal Mile stands the beautifully imposing castle. We spent hours walking all over the grounds, in and out of different exhibits and tasting whisky at the shops. We loved The Whisky and Finest Food Shop where we found some amazing gifts and whisky to take home!
Palace of Holyroodhouse – Located at the end of The Royal Mile, opposite Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood carries a rich history. Tied to Mary Queen of Scots (1561 – 1567) and Bonnie Prince Charlie (1745 -1746), the site is still used today by The Queen (HRH Queen Elizabeth II) when she is attending to business in Scotland. Beside the palace stands the remains of Holyrood Abbey.
Arthur’s Seat – A gorgeous 3 mile walk with a 279m ascent, this 2.5 hour walk results in some truly breathtaking views of Edinburgh. Some believe the site to be the true site of Camelot and therefore the site of the ancient King Arthur’s kingdom.
Writer’s Museum – The Writers’ Museum is in Lady Stair’s Close, just off the Lawnmarket section of the Royal Mile. A small entry with a simple iron marker hanging outside, this treasure is a highly informative and interesting stop on a walking trip around Edinburgh. Entry is free and you can see some original documents of Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson! The walls are adorned with portraits, rare books and personal artifacts as well!
St. Giles Cathedral – On The Royal Mile, between Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle – Founded around 1124, this church has an extensive and rich history. We took some time to stroll the sanctuary and visited the small but welcoming gift shop. Visit their website for an extensive history lesson!
Day Tours – There are a lot of tour companies you can use to take a day trip outside of Edinburgh. We used Highland Experience Tours and even with the miscommunication, misinformation and lack of email regarding confirmation other than payment received, I think we would use them again. The tour guide we had was fun, knowledgeable and friendly. He gave us choices on which sites to see, as we didn’t have enough time to hike the large hill (I believe he said was about 2 miles) and then the other 246 steps to the top of the Wallace Monument as well as visit Stirling Castle (our group chose the castle), as well as offered us the option of going to the Glengoyne Whisky Distillery or to Doune Castle (a site that was used in Monty Python & The Holy Grail as well as Outlander).
Greyfriar’s Kirk – Greyfriars Kirk, Greyfriars Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2QQ – Take a walk along these quiet grounds and visit the graves of the poet William McGonagall, chemist Joseph Black and philanthropist Mary Erskine, and more. The same paths were walked by J.K Rowling when looking for inspiration for her novels as well. Greyfriars has a long history and built on the site of a pre-Reformation Franciscan Monastery.
Elephant House Cafe – 21 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EN – An adorable little spot to grab a snack and a coffee or tea and enjoy the beautiful view. A bit of a hot spot now that is known as one of the places that J.K Rowling frequented when writing her early works, it can be crowded and a bit difficult to get a seat. Nonetheless, at least stop by and see how adorable it is, how friendly the staff is, and try to grab a drink!
National Museum of Scotland – Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF – Check out the history of Scotland, the wonders of nature, art, design, fashion, science and technology!
Sir Walter Scott Monument – The largest monument to a writer anywhere in the world! You can’t miss this site. Just take a walk along Princess Street and you won’t miss it!
Calton Hill – This walk offers panoramic views of the city as well as some well-known national landmarks. Here you will find the National Monument, styled after the Parthenon in Athens, The Nelson Monument which looks like an upturned telescope, as well as the City Observatory.
The list of things to see in Edinburgh is extensive and this merely scratches the surface of that list. If you are short on time, be sure to squeeze a few of these into your visit!
“Keep your heart open, a suitcase packed and wander often for the world is wide and adventure awaits.” ~ Emylee