Edinburgh: A walk through the Scotland’s capital

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and the UK’s second most popular tourist destination after London. Sometimes nicknamed the ‘Athens of the North’, I was surprised to learn that my husband from the North had never been there?!

So to kill two birds with one stone (visit my dear friends who had moved up to Edinburgh a year ago, and educate my DH), we visited Edinburgh this past summer for brief weekend away.

How to get there:

You can fly into Edinburgh Airport from all over the world. We chose to take the train from London Kings Cross (a 4hr journey) to Edinburgh Waverley. Costs of tickets vary on how well in advance you book. We used the trainline to book and also used our two together railcard which is worth the purchase (£30)

What to do:

There’s plenty to do in Edinburgh, from galleries to visiting palaces. Depending on when you visit you could attend the 6 Nations Rugby at Murrayfield staduim (Feb-Mar), the Edinburgh Jazz Festival (July) and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Aug) to name a few.

We decided to walk around the city to take in the city. So here’s what we did.

Morning in Stockbridge

I started out with a morning walk with my friend around Stockbridge, a small residential area 5-10mins walk away from Princes Street. We first grabbed a coffee at  Cafe  no.33 in Stockbridge on the way and then continued our walk. We walked over to the Royal Botanical Gardens and witnessed beautiful views of Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s seat on the way. As we walked through Inverleith Park we also spotted the spires of Fettes College. Fettes College takes its fame from being the place where former UK Prime minister Tony Blair was educated. It is also rumoured to be inspiration for Hogwarts, alongside George Heriots. The botanical gardens itself was large and free unless you wanted to visit  particular greenhouses with special exhibits on. I enjoyed talking numerous photos of sturdy plants that could handle the Scottish winds.

Brunch in Inverleith

After the Botanical gardens we walked up to Brandons of Cannonmill on Inverleith Row. Walking up Inverleith Row you can take in Scottish row homes, built with grey  stone slabs. There’s something about these buildings that I quite like. They are certainly a sign of Scottish architecture and not that of London. 

Walking up a hill

Following brunch we continued our walk through the city up to Calton Hill. Marked by the unfinished National Monument, originally built as a memorial for those lost in the Napoleonic wars. It resembles the Greek Parthenon and was intended to be finished as such until funds ran out. Although sometimes referred to as ‘Edinburgh’s shame’ it’s actually a great spot to catch views of Edinburgh (if you can climb up). I settled for the views afforded by the hills, which on its own were stunning enough. 

From here we walked back down Princes St and then ducked into The Guildford Arms for midday pint and rest before carrying on across North Bridge. On the way we past the famous Balmoral Hotel, where JK Rowling finished the Harry Potter series. 

The Royal Mile

We walked from North Bridge up to the Royal Mile. Marked with Holyrood Palace on one end and Edinburgh Castle on the other, it is aptly named the Royal Mile as – you guessed it, there is a mile between the two royal residences. The Royal Mile is probably my favourite street in Edinburgh because there is just so much going on that is unexpected.

Very few cars are allowed on it as well which is an added bonus for pedestrians. While many of the shops are catered to tourists and you won’t be short of spotting a Scottish wool shop, there are other unique sightings along the way. While checking out the exterior of St.Giles Cathedral we spotted a wedding on it’s way out. Much to the dismay of our husbands, my friend and I had to wait until the bride and groom came out! 

Edinburgh Castle

Our walk continued to the end of the Royal Mile at Castle Hill. We walked up to the castle which was undergoing some scaffolding in place for Trooping the Colour. So sadly we couldn’t see much of the castle. However, if you did visit the castle, the views again of the city would not disappoint. Tickets for admission are £17 for adults, £10.50 for children

Grassmarket 

Behind Edinburgh Castle and down the stairs you will find yourself at Grassmarket. This is one of my favourite streets in Edinburgh because of its lively eclectic mix of fun. And sure enough, as we walked down the steps we were met with the sounds of the Edinburgh Jazz festival. There are many restaurants and cute little boutiques around here and definitely a nice way to spend an afternoon. We didn’t stop here for food as it was just a tad too busy for us. But walking up the street to Greyfriar Bobby’s (the statue of the little loyal Scottie dog) we ended up on the edge of the grounds to the University of Edinburgh. This was where we ended our walk around the city and settled in for a few pints. 

Evening

We returned to Stockbridge for dinner at Lancers  for a curry and drinks at The Last Word, a nice cosy cocktail bar. 

Unfortunately for us, we were off on a train back to London the next day. However had we stayed longer a hike up Arthur’s seat would have been a must for more stunning views and fresh Scottish air! And if in season, a rugby game at Murrayfield! Until next time Edinburgh!

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Edinburgh, walking guide

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