A place that has been on my travel bucket list for simply ages has been Edinburgh. Having been sent a postcard of the castle when I was about 16, I instantly fell in love with the city and knew I needed to visit. And this summer, I had the chance to tick it off my list.
Let me just tell you – Edinburgh did not disappoint. From the moment I first properly saw the city I fell in love with it and I am certainly not finished with the city yet.
I wanted to write this blog post because, despite dreaming of going to Edinburgh for such a long time, I actually had absolutely no idea about what to do in the city. I mean, I knew I wanted to do the castle but other than that I had no idea. So, I want to write this blog post as a little bit of a hints and tricks post and a little bit of a suggestions post. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to gush over the pictures I took which is becoming my new favourite past time.
The Lothian Bus and Tram App.
Ok I’m going to get this one out of the way quickly because – well, let’s face it – it’s boring. Because we went during Fringe (which meant the entire city was heaving) we actually stayed in student accomodation a little way out of the centre of the city. As a result this app became our saviour. Not only did it tell us which bus routes to get but which bus stops were closer, how long buses were going to take, and had a live map of buses and how to get to the bus stops! Trust me, when you are two directionally challenged tourists in a strange city, this is amazing. It also allowed you to track the bus as you were on it so you knew which stop to get off of at which was vital – especially when we missed our stop once and ended up half an hour off course! I’d really recommend travelling by bus and using this app as it is a great way to experience the city. We bought a £4 dayrider ticket each day and it earned its value back every time. 10/10 would recommend.
I won’t lie. When we went to Edinburgh, I had absolutely no intention of doing an attraction that I could do in London. Sure, it would be slightly different, but I incorrectly thought that once you’ve done one, you’ve done them all. It was only when we found ourselves at a loose end (after making a mistake and buying a Fringe show for a different day than planned) that we thought ‘what the heck’ and went. And oh-my-goodness… It was one of my favourite things from the whole trip. It was such a fun and immersive way to learn about Scottish History and I am now 100% a convert and will do one in any city I find them. My sister (who had never done a dungeon experience at all) was terrified through out (and I had to keep telling her not to swear at every scare) but absolutely loved the experience. I would thoroughly recommend this experience, even if you’re not a huge fan of scary experiences, but it is just honestly fantastic.
Hop on, Hop off City bus tour
Even with our trusty dayrider tickets, I knew I wanted to try a bus tour. We picked this one because the tickets were valid for 24hrs and we could hop on and off whenever. And boy, was it worth it. It was slightly pricey but I would still recommend the experience. We had found that (somewhat unintentionally) we had spent all our time near the Royal Mile and actually there was so much of the city we hadn’t seen. I wished we had done the tour at the beginning of the week as we may have explored more and ventured outwards but it has left me hungry for more. It was a great way to experience the city and the tour was really interesting.
Here we have it. The main event. The reason I had always wanted to go to Edinburgh. Did it live up to the hype I hear you anxiously ask. Did you love it? Yes … And no.
I absolutely adored the castle and learning about its history. The castle has honestly been through so much and is just as impressive as the city. My one criticism of the castle would have to be with the management of it. There were absolutely no queuing systems or one way systems. Oh dear, here we have it. A Brit living up to her stereotype. But honestly, the lack of order meant at times it would be chaos. No one knew which direction to go which meant that everyone would be walking on top each other. It also meant going in and out of rooms and buildings was ridiculous because there was only one door used for entering and leaving. For a business (which it is) that takes so many customers each day and has done for so many years, I find it impossible to believe that no one has thought of a better system. A bit of rope doesn’t cost an awful lot and would make me feel better about spending such a large price on the ticket. So I would recommend the castle but I would recommend seeing if you can get slightly cheaper tickets if you don’t by directly from the castle and accept the fact you will be walked through and stood upon.
Walk through the lanes.
I honestly can’t recommend enough just walking through the old town. With its interesting architecture, I can promise you it is the gift that keeps on giving. I would really recommend the grass market because it is stunning and a lovely place to eat.
So there you have it: a break down of my advice from Edinburgh. It was a truly wonderful trip and I am definitely hungry for more. Until next time Edinburgh.