Edinburgh has always been one of my favourite cities, and as I lived there for a couple of years while I was a postgrad and first started working, it also holds a lot of special memories. So when GB and I recently had the chance of a short child-and dog-free visit for a Scottish Book Trust event (thanks Mum and Dad!), we jumped at the chance to spend a bit of time in the capital again. We were amazed at how much we were able to fit in to just 48 hours in the city – my little feet racking up 25 miles on my phone’s health app over the course of the two days. And although we’d never wish for time away from our little family, I have to admit that it was nice to spend a bit of time alone as a couple for a change and do a few things that our three ‘kids’ might not enjoy, or even be allowed to join in with (have you ever tried taking your dog to an art gallery?)
Anyway, in case you have a trip to Edinburgh planned in the near future, or just need some inspiration for a quick city getaway, I thought I’d share some of my suggestions for a whistle stop stay in Scotland’s beautiful capital city here. We managed to fit all sixteeen of these into our 48 hour break recently – how many would you squeeze in?
TAKE A HIKE IN THE CITY
Edinburgh must surely be one of the world’s most beautiful cities, and one of the best ways to enjoy it is most definitely on foot. We made the short hike up Calton Hill (1) at sunset and looked out over the city’s sparkling lights, and in the daytime, walked from the city centre along the Water of Leith (2) to enjoy the pretty harbour. We strolled through the Princes Street Gardens (3) and watched a squirrel, a rabbit and birds on the lawn of the Gardeners Cottage (I half expected Snow White to make an appearance), and walking through the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links (4) brought back memories of taking that same route to work on many occasions when I was a young thing fresh out of university. If you fancy a walk up Arthur’s Seat you’ll find spectacular views across the city from the summit (the one thing we didn’t do this time due to having done it on several occasions previously). If you’re lacking the time or the energy to make the full ascent, you can also park your car at Dunsapie Loch close to the summit, and easily make the top within a short 20 or so minute climb (it’s worth it!).
GO SEE A SHOW
There’s always lots of entertainment on offer in Edinburgh, and even if you’re not visiting during Festival season, you’ll find plenty to interest you across the city’s various theatres, pubs and music venues. During our stay we went to see ‘Million Dollar Quartet‘ (5) at the capital’s Festival Theatre and watched the story of how Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins gathered for a one-night-only jamming session at record producer Sam Phillip’s Memphis studio in 1956 (with Jason Donovan in one of the starring roles – my 13 year old self would have been so jealous!) Whatever you decide to do for entertainment during your stay, you won’t be disappointed – just check local listings or take a wander around the city’s theatres to see what tickles your fancy.
EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY
You’ll find lots of opportunities to eat, drink and be merry in Edinburgh, and I only wished we’d had more time to sample some of the culinary delights that the city had to offer. We didn’t do too badly though, and I’m sure my waistline would agree that we found plenty to balance out those 25 miles we’d been walking across the city. We enjoyed a delicious steak and wine dinner (6) at cosy Monteiths restaurant and cocktail bar on the Royal Mile (tip – try the itison website for some great meal deals). We brunched at Montpelier’s of Bruntsfield (7) one of our favourite haunts in Edinburgh almost 20 years ago – and found it just as lovely as we remembered. We enjoyed coffee and cake (8) at Pattisserie Valerie on Rose Street – perfect for a mid afternoon fuel up. And although we didn’t have too much time for drinking (we were feeling pretty merry anyway), our pick of the city pubs has to be the Dome on George Street (9), a bar, restaurant and function venue set in one of Edinburgh’s most iconic buildings (and formerly home to the Royal Bank of Scotland). If you’re visiting close to the festive period as we were you’ll get the chance to enjoy some of the amazing Christmas decorations that adorn this beautiful venue. At any time of year this place would be an eye popping experience though – just don’t miss it on your next visit to the city.
ENJOY CULTURE, HISTORY AND ARCHITECTURE
Wherever you go in Edinburgh, there is culture, history and architecture and my main bit of advice when visiting the city would always be ‘look up’. If you’re passing Register House on Princes Street, do pop in to see its amazing dome room (10), and while you’re in the area why not make a visit to the Scottish National Gallery (11) just along the road to check out some of the amazing artwork on display there. Not too far away on Chambers Street you’ll find the National Museum of Scotland (12) which is an absolute must see – not just for the wonderful exhibits but for the spectacular building they are housed in. And don’t forget to cross the road outside and see the statue of Greyfriar’s Bobby (13), Edinburgh’s infamous Skye terrier who is said to have sat on his owner John Gray’s grave every night for 14 years following his death from tuberculosis (you can also visit both John and Bobby’s gravestones in the adjacent cemetery.) Once you have recovered from that emotional experience you might like to visit the Mansfield Traquair Centre (14) near Leith Walk, a former Catholic Apostolic Church transformed into a wedding and corporate events venue and known locally as ‘Edinburgh’s answer to the Sistine Chapel’. Looking at the murals on display there it’s not difficult to see why – just remember to check out the Mansfield Traquair Trust webpage to check on open days and tours as the centre is only open to the public when not in use for functions and at certain periods during the Festival Fringe.
SEEK OUT A HIDDEN CASTLE
For our final few hours in Edinburgh, we decided to take a trip about 7 miles south of the city for a walk around Roslin Glen (15) near the village of Roslin – the place made famous by Dan Brown’s bestselling book and the film ‘The Da Vinci Code’ back in the early naughties. We have visited the main site of the book’s connection to Roslin – Rosslyn Chapel – before, so this time we decided to take a walk around the nearby glen and found ourselves literally stumbling upon the beautiful ruin of Rosslyn Castle (16) – which I admit I hadn’t even known existed. It was a lovely end to a wonderful 48 hour stay in Edinburgh and another reminder that in Scotland, you just never know what kind of fairy tale awaits you around the next corner.
I hope this post has given you some ideas for a future city break in Edinburgh. Do let me know what you would choose to do as part of your adventure in Scotland’s capital!
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