Last October I visited Edinburgh for a second time together with Jo. For me it was not the first time and Jo has lived there so it put us at an advantage to actually plan what we wanted to do there. Because that is one of the most common holiday issues, there is just so much stuff to do and to see that it can easily become a bit overwhelming.
Edinburgh is a big city and has many museums, restaurants, events and stuff to do that you can easily get lost in all the available options. I have been to the city twice now, for a week, and there is so much good stuff to do and to see that I haven’t been bored for a second. I intend to go back to see some more of Edinburgh as it has so many hidden places that I still haven’t seen enough of the city.
So here on my blog I gathered some of my favourite places to visit when I am in the city. And these are also the places and activities that I really recommended to my friends and family when they ask about travelling there. I hope you like these Edinburgh Travel Tips.
Foods and Drinks:
26 George IV Bridge
This restaurant never fails to entertain me. Both the atmosphere and the food always make me want to come back for more. And that’s even without the amazing themed cocktails they serve. A bar/ restaurant dressed up in a Frankenstein theme? Yes please! The food is really nice and affordable and I love their cocktails. My personal recommendations are the Beef Fajitas and the “The Bride” and on Monday – Wednesday their cocktails are only £3.95.
They also have a Bier Keller which is supposed to be an all year Oktoberfest with many choices of beer, themed food and a lot of fun and parties. Sadly when we were there this wasn’t officially open yet so we weren’t able to test the drinks and the bratwurst out.
If you are into (board)gaming then this is the place to visit for some tea or coffee. This café not only serves coffee and food but it also has everything a board-gamer like me needs. They serve nice sandwiches and coffee but on top of that they also sell some really cool boardgames and things like dice, figurines and more.
If you are not sure if a game is something you like, you can ask if there is a demo available to try when you enjoy your drink. You can also go there and rent a game for £3.00 an hour, so you can actually play the game without having to own it.
Honestly I wish we had something like this where I live.
Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar
30-34 Candlemaker Row
If you want a nice bite to eat and good pint of cider than I can really recommend this place. The prices are not expensive and the Nachos and burgers are really good. The name of the Bar is inspired by the story of Greyfriars Bobby who held vigil over his master’s grave at the cemetery next to it.
Also when you are there don’t forget to take a look at Greyfriars cemetery. They give tours that give you a lot of historical information on Edinburgh and you can see a part of the old city wall. As for ghost fans, this is also the place where the Mackenzie Poltergeist likes to scare people. Just near the pub you can find the Elephant House which is the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote parts of the Harry Potter novels. It also gives a great view on Edinburgh castle.
The Scotch Whisky Experience
354 Castlehill, The Royal Mile.
Tickets: £14.00 (Adult), £7.00 ( Children).
This is a fun tour of one hour which guides you through the journey of making Whisky. You will be told everything you need to know about Whisky, and you get to know about the difference in regions and the way they taste. The most fun part is the actual whisky tasting where you can try which whisky suits you best.
At the end of the tour you will be shown the biggest scotch whisky collection. There are a total of 3,384 bottles of Scotch Whisky on display and some of them have amazing designs. For me this was well worth the visit.
Tickets: £16.50 (Adult), £9.90 (Children).
If you ever go to Edinburgh this one of the few things that you must visit. It’s one of the biggest landmarks of the city and from the castle walls you have a spectacular view over Edinburgh. The castle and the surrounding buildings host a number of highlights like the regimental museums, the national war museum, the crown jewels, the stone of destiny and more.
Be warned however that much of its seems to pretty much focused on the military history of Scotland. So if you are hoping for a more historical view on Edinburgh and Scotland I would suggest going to National Museum of Scotland.
Tickets: £40,00 (extra with added options).
We booked the Loch Ness tour to visit some of the Scottish Highlands and see some of the Lochs. We added an hour long tour over Loch Ness to hunt down Nessie and actually see more of the Loch itself.
In the morning you are picked up in front of the booking office in a bus which will drive you through the beautiful Scottish lands, around 10:30 you will be dropped off at the same place. During the day you will tour through beautiful parts of Scotland and see the highlands, the many lochs, old castles and nice towns. The tour guide will give you information about the landmarks you encounter and entertain you with stories about the land and its history.
I can’t recommend this enough if you are in Edinburgh for longer than a weekend. While Edinburgh is a beautiful city, I feel that the rest of Scotland is gorgeous as well. When I head back I will certainly do another one as I have really enjoyed it and felt it was well worth the money.
Cities of the Dead tour
St Giles’ Cathedral, The Royal Mile
We took a tour of the Underground cities of the dead after we heard so many ghost stories being told around us. Together with a tour guide you will walk through the underground cities that run under the inner part of Edinburgh. On this tour you will be visiting the underground close that is also known as “Damnation Alley”. The name is appropriate as the close is dark, damp and doesn’t give you any kind of cheery feelings….ever. While exploring the place you will hear a lot of local legends about the dark history of Edinburgh and the many ghostly sightings that people have seen.
It certainly was a fun tour to do and I really like the stories. It takes about an hour and afterwards there are enough pubs around to have a drink and share your experiences.
The Real Mary’s King Close
2 Warriston’s Close, High Street
Tickets: £13.95 (Adult), £8.25 ( Children).
Here you take a tour of the underground so called “closes” and spaces. At one points these streets were bustling with life until Edinburgh grew too overpopulated and they were closed off so they could build on top of it. A lot of people who lived there were forced to move out and not everyone was so too happy with that.
At the venue you will be taken on a group tour by a guide who tells you a lot about the history of Edinburgh and the tales that surround certain places and events. It is a really interesting story and I can really recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about the old city and wants to see the so called underground “passages and mazes” that many people often refer too.
Note: The majority of the underground closes can only be visited while on a tour. A few years ago the city council decided that visits to the places was going to be restricted. So if you want to visit the so called underground cities of Edinburgh, a tour is often your only chance. Wear good shoes, it can be quite slippery.
40-41 Southbridge Street
If you really like comics, pop-culture or are into one of the many popular fandoms, then this is the place to visit. Forbidden planet is pretty well known as a one of the biggest comics shops around and it carries a huge selection of pop-culture items. Action figures, comics, novels, statues, manga’s and much more stuff that you didn’t even know existed.
I love to walk around and see if they have cool items that I haven’t seen online before and often they have nice rare items in stock for an absolute fair price.
Just a word of warning if you have visited their stores in London and Bristol, this location is a fair bit smaller. So if you are looking for specific things it might be worth it to check in advance if they stock it.
129-130 Princes Street
I usually go here to see if they have any sales on music or films and often I manage to find some real deals here. They have a nice collection of foreign movies, blu rays, posters and anime. So if you like films and music, it’s a good idea to pop in for a few minutes.
To my surprise they also have a huge collection of Funko!pop figures including some of the rare variants. So if you are into collecting those I would really recommend to take a look there to see if they have some to add to your collection.
128 Princes Street/ 83 George Street
Sadly due to taxes books can be notoriously expensive in my own country, so when I am abroad I love to walk around bookstores and pick up some new titles. Waterstones is one of my favourite places as they have a great variety in titles and genres. Even better is that when they haven’t got a title they can order it for you to pick up within 48 hours. Which can be nice if you stay there for a longer time.
Nowadays they carry collections of items that tie in to popular (book)series like Star Wars, Hunger Games, Game of Thrones and the like.
115 Princes Street
When it comes to beauty products I am a huge fan of Lush. They are a company that make handmade products that are cruelty free, fair and as natural as possible.
I have been using their products for many years now and whenever I am in another country I love to see if they have any exclusive stuff.
The Edinburgh location also has Spa Facilities which I can really recommend if you want a great treatment. I went in to get the “The Spell” treatment which was just perfect. After we walked for many miles the previous days this really helped to instantly get rid of my sore feet.
If you are interested in having a treatment you need to contact them beforehand as spots fill up pretty quickly. You can do that through their facebook page.
I hope some of these Edinburgh Travel Tips are helpful. However if you think I missed something that is well worth a visit, please let me know. I am always happy to discover new and interesting things on my travels. I hope to be able to get back in 2016 to visit Edinburgh again, that city holds a special place in my travel heart.