City Spotlight: Edinburgh

City Breaks | | 7 minutes

Edinburgh has the look and feel of a real film set. Its distinctive buildings combined with its amazing attractions, restaurants, and accommodation make it an amazing place to steal away to for a weekend.

To Do & See

Edinburgh Castle

From its vantage point on Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline and looks down over the city. It is one of the most iconic attractions in the city, if not in all of Scotland, and an absolute must-do on a visit. It sits on the plug of an extinct volcano and has a complex history. The castle even houses the Crown Jewels of Scotland.

Tickets must be bought online in advance if you wish to guarantee your entry.

Hours: Open from 9:30 am daily

Price: Adult: £17.50; Concession: £14.00; Child (5-15 years): £10.50

Mary King’s Close

Image source: On the Luce

Edinburgh is more than meets the eye. Its rich and intriguing past is hidden away in nooks, crannies, and underground passages. Mary King’s Close is the preeminent example of a time gone by. It’s a collection of 17th-century streets on top of which another layer of the city was built, essentially obscuring a warren of preserved streets that lay beneath your feet. Edinburgh’s hidden history is revealed in a tour of this incredible location that lies beneath the Royal Mile. Learn who really lived there, how the streets came to be buried, and maybe experience a wee chill-inducing haunting when you go down in to the depths of Edinburgh’s past.

Mary King’s Close is just off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, opposite St Giles’ Cathedral. Waverley Station is just a short walk downhill.

Hours: Mary King’s Close is open 7 days per week, but closed on Christmas Day. Opening and closing times vary seasonally.

Price: Adult: £15.95; Senior: £13.95; Student: £13.95; Child (5-15 years): £9.75; Family (2 adults & 2 children): £43.50

Ghost Tour in Edinburgh’s Vaults

Image source: Ancient Origins

Edinburgh’s vaults are one of the most haunted places in all of Europe. They are chambers formed from the arches of the South Bridge and were abandoned for over 200 years. Their eeriness is palpable so expect to hear some troubling noises and have figures in your photos that you definitely didn’t see in person. Don’t believe in ghosts? You just might after this experience.

The stone vaults were originally houses for tradesmen, but when conditions worsened, they became the dwelling of the poor and violence, sickness, and other vices consumed the vaults.

Auld Reekie Tours is a solid bet as a tour operator. Their Terror Tour will provide all the spine tingles you can handle. It’s a 75-minute tour that leaves nightly at 10 pm and costs £16.

Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

Image source: Camera Obscura

This World of Illusions is five floors of interactive fun and exhibits of visual trickery. Camera Obscura is a rooftop outfitted with cameras that allow you to see the entire city. This is the oldest tourist attraction in Edinburgh and definitely one to get to in order to secure amazing panoramic views.

Royal Mile

The Royal Mile is a succession of streets that combine to create the main part of the Old Town of Edinburgh. It gets its name because the area encompasses almost an exact mile, from the Castle to the Palace. It’s an incredibly busy tourist area and has shopping and dining options galore. The streets that make up the Royal Mile are Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street, Canongate, and Abbey Strand.

BBQ on the Meadows

Image source: Pinterest

This is a classic summertime staple and a must-do if you really want to feel like a local. The idea is to purchase a disposable BBQ (you can do so from any of the Sainsbury’s surrounding the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links) and then have a grand ole time cooking up a cheeky BBQ. There are a series of BBQ safe zones around the park, but in peak season, everyone is cooking all over the grass.

Festival Season

Fringe Festival

Edinburgh’s festival season is only exceeded in total ticket sales by the Olympics and the World Cup. There are 12 main festivals throughout the year, but the season peaks in August when thousands of people descend on the city in celebration of entertainment, food, and the arts. If Graham Norton, Emma Thompson, and Hugh Laurie all received one of their big breaks at an Edinburgh festival, then it goes without saying that it is something to experience in your lifetime.

Fringe Festival is one of the most popular and takes place in August. It is the world’s largest arts festival, lasting about 25 days. In 2018, it featured more than 55,000 performances of over 3,500 shows all over the city!

Greyfriars Kirkyard

On Candlemaker Row, you will find this simple graveyard. Unbeknownst to most, it is one of the most frequented places in Edinburgh for Harry Potter fans. This is the graveyard where author, J.K. Rowling received inspiration for some of the key characters in Harry Potter.

You will find gravestones with some of the most famous names from the series including Potter, Moody, Thomas Riddle, Scrimgeour, and McGonagall. This graveyard i just steps away from the cafe Rowling frequented to write the first book.

To Eat

Edinburgh has more restaurants per head than anywhere in the United Kingdom. With plenty to choose from, it’s is difficult to go awry. But, here are some great options.

The Elephant House

Want to have a cup of tea or coffee in the shop where J.K. Rowling frequented when writing the first book of the Harry Potter series? Then look no further than the Elephant House cafe.

Rowling’s rags to riches story is made obvious when you relax in the same place the multi-billion euro franchise was born. It’s situated in the Old Town right by Greyfriars Kirkyard. It is a simple cafe with a basic menu and while it has lovingly accepted the Harry Potter popularity, it can be quite busy as a result.

The Kitchin

Image source: The Kitchin

In a converted whiskey warehouse, chef Tom Kitchin, mixes Scottish produce with some French flare to create a perfect seasonal menu. The Kitchin is a Michelin starred restaurant on the Leith waterfront and boasts a simple food philosophy.

The Dome

If you are looking for fine dining or afternoon tea, The Dome is the place to go. Its Graeco-Roman façade sits on George Street in Edinburgh’s New Town and its menu reflects a celebration of traditional Scottish favourites.

La Fazenda

Image source: Fazenda

La Fazenda, a Brazilian restaurant, is a highly rated restaurant on George Street in the New Town. They pride themselves in a vast array of perfectly made meats and expert service – you definitely won’t be hungry after a visit here!

Ting Thai Caravan

Image source:

Near Bistro Square sits Ting Thai Caravan. They first hopped on the food scene in 2012 by appealing to festival-goers. Now, this authentic Thai food is an absolute hit and a must-eat in Edinburgh. The owners and chefs are from Thailand and the restaurant is right in the University Quarter by the University of Edinburgh. It’s a cash-only joint with a hip dining room and there will undoubtedly be a line. The wait will absolutely be worth it, though.

The Witchery

Image source: The Witchery

The Witchery is a restaurant located at the top of the Royal Mile by the Castle in a boutique Gothic hotel. It provides a particularly atmospheric dining experience and they serve the finest seasonal Scottish produce.

Bread Meats Bread

Image source: Lunch Quest

Bread Meats Bread holds the title of Scotland’s Best Burger. Simply, their burgers are amazing and they use high-quality ingredients to stock healthy portions, satisfying customers since 2012.

To Stay

5* Balmoral Hotel

The Balmoral is stunning and one of the leading hotels in the city. The hotel enjoys close proximity to the main attractions and boasts spectacular views of Edinburgh Castle. Moreover, it effortlessly blends traditional and contemporary elements to create an inviting environment that is equipped with all of the best amenities.

4* Ten Hill Place Hotel

This hotel is one of the premier city centre hotels and has plenty of public space and smart-equipped bedrooms. It exudes mild sophistication and is a step above the rest. Plus, being within walking distance of all the main attractions will offer you a perfect stay in this marvellous city.

3* DoubleTree by Hilton Edinburgh City Centre

The DoubleTree is a stylish hotel with modern conveniences mixed together with a bit of old-world charm. It is a prime location within walking distance of the best attractions. It offers every necessity and in a suite or deluxe room, the views are unparalleled.

Think you are ready to jet on over to Edinburgh, Scotland? It has everything you could possibly ask for in a city break destination. It won’t disappoint!

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