From its’ castles and tall buildings of stones to its hills and volcano, Edinburgh is a theatrical and dark city. It is home to institutions such as the Scottish Parliament and the Holyrood Palace. For a place so filled with history and culture, a weekend is not enough to grasp its energy fully. A few tips on what to visit will help you make the most of the time you have there.
I read that while we usually loved cities for the attractions that they offered, some were attractions in themselves. That applies to the Scottish capital. With a near-endless list of restaurants and museums, the city still has the lead role in the story.
Center of intellectual activity, as you quickly see from the Scott Monument on the main street and the two museums neighbouring it, Edinburgh has for a long time been a military stronghold (“Burgh” is an old English word meaning fort).
Edinburgh was also a home to a community of Dominican and Augustinian Friars during the Medieval period. For good luck, you can rub the nose of Greyfriars Bobby, the statue of the Sky terrier near Haymarket, symbol of fidelity and national emblem.
Edinburgh became known for its wool in the 14th century. You can visit the Tartan Weaving Mill and Exhibition on Castlestreet to learn more about the history of the emblematic pattern. You can also browse through the diverse collection of kilts, tartan cloth, jumpers, and other products from Scotland.
Walking down from Castlestreet, you will soon find yourself on the Royal Mile in the Old Town, one of the busiest streets in town during the Fringe Festival. A street with a fascinating history, its 12 or 14 stories tall buildings were built in the 17th century to accommodate a rapidly growing population.
While the Old Town is rich with history, the New Town that is found between Princes Street and the Botanical Gardens, built in stages from the 18th century onwards, is a sumptuous site of Georgian architecture. Both Old Town and New Town were named UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
Places to eat
- Nobles Bar & Restaurant in Leith offers a large quantity of whisky and a vast choice of local beers. The food, served by a friendly and professional staff, is fresh and cooked with products from the nearby sea. It is a perfect place for a Sunday brunch in a maritime atmosphere.
- L’Escargot Bleu is a cosy restaurant that serves French cuisine made from Scottish products. An additional benefit is that it is in Broughton Street. A haven of independent cafes, boutiques, and bookstores.
Perfect pubs for a night out
- The Guildford Armsis great for its gorgeous interior, the proximity to Princes Street, its live music, some evenings, and typical food.
- Brewdog is famous for its beers and board games, as well as for its location, in busy Cowgate.
Cafes to visit
- Artisan Roast is a chain of cafes that are a must visit. There are several in Edinburgh, all located in interesting streets.
- The Milkman is the home of some of my loveliest memories. You will have to go there early because it is a small place that fills up quickly, but you will not regret it.
Three fun things to do
- Go for a walk on Arthur’s Seat.
- Visit Wild West Cowboy Street in Morningside.
- Go for a screening at the Cameo Picture house, an independent cinema.
This is only a small list of ideas, and one of the best things you can do in Edinburgh is to put your shoes on and get lost among its spires and cobbles.