Enjoying a fulfilling stay in Edinburgh – Pointers worth knowing

8 January 2021 Off By Preeti Asri

If were wondering, are hotels open in UK, then you should know that you can actually enjoy a wonderful holiday in several parts of the country including Scotland. There are various UK hotels present in Edinburgh, one of the most famous cities in the world and the pride of Scotland. Edinburgh is situated in the southeastern portion of Scotland which is roughly 60 miles northwards from the Scotland-England border while being 50 miles eastwards from the largest city in Scotland which is Glasgow. 

When is the best time to visit Edinburgh? 

Before you go into the best things to do in Edinburgh during lockdown, it is important that you know the best time to visit this historical city. Edinburgh is a city that can be visited throughout the year. If you love drier and warmer weather, then you should visit between the months of May and September. Do remember that Scotland has abundantly fickle weather and you should always pack proper layers and be suitably ready to receive a little rainfall. 

If festivals in Edinburgh are what drive you then you should visit at the time of August when some of the biggest celebrations occur. Christmas is a mega event in Edinburgh along with Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year festivities. The city is busier at this time and you should book accommodation well in advance. If you do not prefer crowds then you may consider skipping the festivals in August. 

Best things to do in Edinburgh

There are several things to do in Edinburgh that you should take a closer look at. These include the following: 

  1. Edinburgh Castle 

The Edinburgh Castle is one of the biggest landmarks in the city and a must-visit for all tourists. The castle is the city’s most familiar and instantly recognizable attraction with its location atop a volcanic peak and the imposing effect it has on the skyline of Edinburgh. The castle has witnessed various historical incidents in Scotland with several famous residents over the years including Mary, Queen of Scots herself. You will find a bevy of historical and charming artifacts within the castle including the clothing, weapons and also the Scottish Crown Jewels which are called as the Honors of Scotland. The castle is also the location of the Scottish National War Memorial and also the National War Museum of Scotland where you can easily get entry. 

The plethora of inherent attractions within the castle makes it one of the top things to do in Edinburgh with kids. Key attractions also include the St. Margaret’s Chapel that dates back to the 12th century and is the oldest structure in the castle and Edinburgh that still survives while there is also the Great Hall. The towers and terrace of the castle offer fabulous views of the city of Edinburgh likewise. You can visit the castle at the time of the firing of the gun which is held on most days of every year for marking the 1 PM time-frame with the exceptions of holidays and Sundays. This practice commenced in the year 1861 with a muzzle-loading cannon being fired every day for being a major timekeeping mechanism for the ships stationed at the harbor. 

The gun is today fired to keep this whole tradition and show alive. If you are interested in witnessing the gun being fired, you should venture to the Mill’s Mount battery within the castle prior to 1 PM for discovering a suitable viewing point. 

  1. Royal Mile 

One of the top things to do in Edinburgh is walking down the Royal Mile and you can do this after visiting the Edinburgh Castle. This is the major highway for the ancient medieval city and is a bustling destination in recent times. It covers almost one mile from the castle positioned atop the hill till the bottom-placed Holyrood Palace. 

It also covers 5 different streets and none of these are actually known as the Royal Mile. This is a busy thoroughfare and there are multiple attractions along the route. These include several cafes, restaurants, shops and museums that you should certainly check out during your trip. 

  1. Camera Obscura and World of Illusions 

The Camera Obscura and World of Illusions are located near the Edinburgh Castle along the Royal Mile. This attraction comes with two prominent features, namely multiple floors encompassing several light tricks, optical illusions and old-fashioned games along with magic displays for abundant fun and entertainment alike. There is also the Camera Obscura on the roof which is an old-fashioned system of projection which enables direction of visible light from the external world onto the viewing surface amidst a room which remains darkened. These have been existing for several hundreds of years and were reportedly an attraction in the Victorian era as well. 

The Camera Obscura dates back till the 19th century, making it one of the leading attractions for tourists in Edinburgh. The tower rooftop also offers fabulous views of the city and castle alike. 

  1. Scotch Whiskey Trails 

Along with the Camera Obscura, you should also enjoy the Scotch Whiskey Experience which is a major attraction along the Royal Mile itself. You can embark on various tours along with experiencing training sessions, master-classes or simply sampling whiskey and food at top restaurants. There are fun activities such as whiskey barrel rides along with guided tours for learning more about the crafting, history and origin of whiskey. You will also get an in-depth idea about the diverse whiskey regions in all of Scotland. You will also be viewing gargantuan whiskey collections which are the biggest in the whole world. 

There are several in-depth tours which also help in obtaining suitable tasting instructions and samples along with master-classes. There are stores retailing whiskey all throughout Edinburgh and those who prefer Scottish whiskey should also head to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society or embark on whiskey walking tours that are readily available for visitors. 

  1. Mary King’s Close 

There is a wonderfully concealed portion of Edinburgh beneath the streets of the city. The Real Mary King’s Close tour is something that you should never miss. Covered by constructions back in the 19th century, Mary King’s Close was earlier one of the busiest medieval Edinburgh streets and situated right off the Royal Mile. It was named after businesswoman Mary King who resided nearby in the 1630s. You will obtain more information regarding how life would have panned out in the city right between the 16th and 19th centuries. 

  1. Giles Cathedral 

The beautifully designed St. Giles Cathedral is situated near Mary King’s Cross and is a permanent figure in the city of Edinburgh with the crown-esque steeple. St. Giles is also called the High Kirk of Edinburgh and is the principal worship place for the Church of Scotland while the church goes all the way back till the 14th century. The Thistle Chapel is a key interior attraction built in 1911 for The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle which is the most crucial Order of Chivalry in all of Scotland. 

This was set up in the year 1687 and the Queen presides over the same. The Thistle Chapel is tiny but the ceiling is immaculately designed in tandem with 16 stalls for each Knight of the Order. There are guided walking and rooftop tours available that you can check out in advance while admission is free for the cathedral although donations are requested from visitors. You can also find a charming café at the back of the cathedral along with a small gift store for souvenirs. 

  1. Holyrood Palace

Right opposite to the Royal Mile on the route coming from the Edinburgh Castle, you will come across the Palace of Holyrood House which is otherwise simply known as Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the British monarch when in Scotland. It has also been the principal residence for the Scottish monarchs ever since the 16th century. 

The name is derived from the Holyrood Abbey of the 12th century which was constructed here and the ruins of which can be visited today as well. Mary, Queen of Scots, lived here for some time along with several other historical luminaries over the years. The famous State Apartments and Royal Apartments of Holyrood Palace may be visited throughout the year along with the grounds and gardens. You will come across a café and gift shop and visitors may venture to the Queen’s Gallery in front of the Holyrood Palace. 

  1. National Museum of Scotland 

You can also explore the gargantuan collection housed in the National Museum of Scotland. This museum has exhibits related to various things including Scotland and other parts of the world, emphasizing majorly on Scottish culture and history along with science, fashion and technology alike. Some key attractions include coins, jewelry, furniture and letters linking back to none other than Mary, Queen of Scots. The huge collection of the museum encompasses two central buildings including a Victorian era building dating back to the 19th century and a building that is more contemporary and dates from 1998 onwards. The Victorian portion has a beautiful gallery in cast iron which is also a museum-worthy attraction in itself. 

The museum is continually integrating newer pieces into the collection while possessing a restaurant, gift shop, café and a fine dining restaurant. The Tower Restaurant is run by the James Thomson situated atop the roof of the museum. 

  1. Feasting on traditional Scottish delicacies

You should definitely gorge on various delicacies during your stay in the city of Edinburgh including the national dish which is Haggis. This is conventionally created from the liver, lungs and heart of sheep fused with spices, fat, onion, stock, oatmeal and spices. Haggis is mostly served up fresh with potatoes and mashed turnips along with whiskey sauce at times as well. 

You should also experiment with the local Scottish salmon, Cullen skin, sausage, beef and lamb preparations, stovies and black budding among other delights. Dishes like meat pies, traditional roasts on Sunday and fish and chips are widely available along with lip-watering Scottish desserts such as fried Mars Bars, shortbread, Dundee cake, tablet and cranachan. 

  1. Scott Monument & Princes Street Gardens

Edinburgh is also known as a UNESCO City of Literature and the famous Scottish writer Walter Scott is an icon here. He is known for life-changing works including The Lady of the Lake, Ivanhoe, Rob Roy and Waverley. He is a leading figure in the country with Edinburgh naming its central train station after Waverley. There are multiple monuments worth seeing including the massive Scott Monument which is positioned along Princes Street, right above the Princes Street Gardens. 

You can venture closer towards the monument while viewing several figures from the novels of Walter Scott along with other iconic poets, writers and historical figures. This monument allows you to climb all the way till the top for getting a fabulous view of the city for a nominal fee. There are several steps that you have to climb upwards on the spiral and narrow staircase with a museum room on the first level which has detailed information about the life of the literary icon and his famous works. 

The Writers’ Museum is also worth a visit near the Royal Mile for learning more about Scottish literature down the ages. The Scottish Borders is also worth venturing into for Walter Scott fans since this is where he built his home, lies buried and drew most of his creative inspiration from. The Princes Street Gardens is situated just below this monument and was once a marshland. It was turned into an artificial lake later on, known as the Nor Loch and was used as a defensive barrier for the Edinburgh Castle. The Nor Loch has now become a lovely garden with the Princes Street Garden East and West being demarcated by The Mound which is a man-made hill formed from the New Town excavation. 

These are some of the top things to do in Edinburgh that you should definitely get a closer glimpse into. 

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