A guide to an autumn weekend in Edinburgh
As you’ll know from reading my Glasgow blog, I only visited Scotland for the first time in 2019 despite having lived in the UK all my life! Once there, I realised everything I’d heard about Scotland’s beauty didn’t really do justice to what I saw so I had to go back, this time to check out the more well known Edinburgh.
I travelled in early November 2019 from London Euston to Edinburgh Waverley Rail Station with LNER which took 4.5 hours! I chose the train over flying as I wasn’t in a rush and I’m conscious of being sustainable when travelling whenever I can. The train journey is pricey unless you book way in advance and have a UK railcard. I paid £120 return as my train to Edinburgh was first class (Monday to Friday journeys include lounge access, unlimited soft and alcoholic drinks, lunch and snacks in the train) and coming back was standard. Otherwise it would’ve been £79 standard return. The beauty of staying with with my sister meant I could afford to splurge elsewhere!
Getting around Edinburgh is very easy and affordable. Buses are readily available but black cabs and Uber are a quicker alternative and are similar in price. Within the city centre, you can walk between many sites which is always best!
Edinburgh is rich in Scottish history and has plenty to show for it. A great way to start your sightseeing is by walking along the Royal Mile which runs through the heart of the Old Town. Along the way, we stopped at St Giles Cathedral which is stunning and beautifully teaches you about the Scottish clan history as well.
Our next important stop was Edinburgh Castle which is sits on Castle Rock at the top of the Royal Mile!
A tour costs £20 but if you aren’t keen, you can see parts of it for free.
If you walk down Ramsay Lane, you’ll come across one of the many University buildings around town whose architecture are impressive due to it being quite an old and grand University.
From here, check out the free Scottish National Gallery for impressive art work from around the world.
At this point, you’ll be in Edinburgh’s New Town where you can take a break for a shopping along Princes Street or in Waverley Mall. To get into the true Scottish spirit, find yourself some free gin samples to taste along the way! Don’t like gin? No problem. Whisky tasting is a great alternative!
A short distance from Edinburgh’s New Town are plenty of incredible green spaces to check out, which I always appreciate within cities.
First up is Calton Hill which is a very short, easy walk up to give you one of the best views of Edinburgh. Once you’re up here, there’s a variety of monuments to see including the National Monument of Scotland and Nelson Monument plus many walks for different views of the city.
Holyrood Park is nearby and if the weather is good, you must climb Arthur’s Seat for THE view of the city. It’s important that it’s been dry weather recently as the rocks you need to climb up will be wet for days after rain and the visibility has to be good or you won’t see a thing! Hopefully my next visit will allow me to check this out.
The Queen’s Gallery (to see artwork from the Royal Collection), Palace of Holyroodhouse (the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh) and the Scottish Parliament Building (open everyday except Sunday’s and is free) are close by and perfect to visit whilst in the area to learn more about Edinburgh.
The People’s Story Museum (which caught my eye as I had visited a similar one in Glasgow which was amazing) tells the stories of the people of Edinburgh through the ages and relating to various areas in life (home life, work, education, religion, socialising, growing up etc). Perfect to visit if like me you’re interested in how a place has developed over the years! And it’s free!
If you’ve never been to Scotland/tasted Scottish delicacies, then you must try the following:
– Haggis (veggie options are widely available)
– Irn bru (the nuclear orange drink of my childhood)
– A deep fried mars bar (I haven’t braved this yet)
– Shortbread (elite biscuits)
– Tablet (like fudge but sweeter)
– Scottish whisky and gin (tasters around town, distilleries or in bars)
And here’s some of my fave places we ate at during the weekend:
A full Scottish breakfast at the Royal McGregor.
Brunch at Loudon – matcha and vanilla latte with Scottish salmon and scrambled eggs.
Thai dinner at Chaophraya – one of the best Thai places I’ve eaten at outside of Thailand! A bit more expensive than you’d expect for the area but so worth it.
Dinner at The Witchery which is close to Edinburgh Castle. It’s candlelit and has a sophisticated atmosphere. 5* dining for not quite London prices! It’s better to order a set menu for more value for money and a chance to try plenty of dishes so come hungry!
Scots are known to enjoy their drink and there are many bars around Edinburgh to take part in this! We checked out Copper blossom which is aesthetically pleasing and also Tonic for a more lively cheesy evening!
So that’s my weekend summary of my time spent in Edinburgh! I think it would be ideal to next visit in the summer for a chance of better weather (to check out Arthur’s Seat) plus all the other activities which bring the city to life like the Edinburgh Fringe Festival! I’ve really enjoyed exploring more of the British Isles in 2019 and hope to do more of this alongside my international travels next year.
Let me know in the comments if you’re planning to visit Edinburgh soon!