A weekend in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is a city that just has to be discovered. One of the world’s most beautiful cities, wrapped by the rocky hills that surround it, providing ever-changing viewpoints to marvel and enjoy Scotland’s capital. A small medieval old town is watched over by the looming Edinburgh Castle perched up on top of the city, while Arthur’s seat high-up on an imposing peak in Holyrood Park offers sweeping views far and wide.
The train to Edinburgh from London takes about 4 1/2 hours making it possible for a weekend trip. It was this train that swept us up through the northern English countryside to bonnie Scotland . To make the most of a weekend trip, stay in or as close to the old-town as possible, you’ll be in the heart of the action with everything on your doorstep.
Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress that dominates the Edinburgh skyline from its position up on the Castle Rock. The entrance on the Royal Mile opens to a cobbled lane that leads up beneath the 16th century Portcullis Gate to the cannons along the Argyle and Mills Mount Batteries, from where there are stunning views over the New Town and out to the Firth of Forth. As you walk through the castle, guided tours led by actors re-enact significant moments from the castle’s history giving an insight into what life was like all of those years ago.
A visit to the Scotch Whisky Experience, close to the entrance of the castle, is a fun way to find out more about Scotland’s much-loved tipple. Kicking things off on a barrel ride, this tour will teach you everything you need to know about whisky as you explore the world’s largest collection of Scotch whisky. The tour includes a tasting of four single malt Scotch whiskies, perfect research for a night in Edinburgh’s bars.
In the Old Town, running one Scottish mile downhill from Edinburgh Castle at one end to to Holyrood Palace at the other, the Royal Mile is the busiest tourist street in the Old Town and perfect for a wander to take in the surrounding sights and Scottish sounds.
The rocky peak of Arthur’s Seat stands at the highest point in Holyrood Park at 251m, with an impressive view from the summit that makes the steep walk worthwhile. You can hike from Holyrood to the summit in around 45mins, or you can make The Sheep Heid Inn your start and finish point and top up those burnt calories with a good well-deserved pub lunch. While images make it look more like a rolling hill, it gets quite steep and rocky towards the peak and it is definitely worth having the right footwear on.
There are many walking tours to discover the nooks and crannies of Edinburgh's rich and varied history. We took the Edinburgh Book Lovers Tour which takes place every Sunday morning and visits the sites and haunts of Edinburgh’s authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns and J.K. Rowling, telling entertaining and personal stories of Edinburgh’s literary legends. Even if you are not so familiar with all of the authors, you will still take a lot from this tour and discover some secret alleyways and staircases on your way.
Timberyard remains one of the best restaurants I have ever visited. It manages to successfully tick every single box required for an excellent meal out. Housed in an old timber yard that has been tastefully converted, perfectly achieving the cleaned-up industrial look with whitewashed brick walls and exposed wooden beams framing the main dining room and Scandinavian ceramics dotted artfully around. The impeccably hipster staff pay huge attention to the details with the cosy feel of a family-run business. Staff took a lot of time to talk us through their wines and brought us up a quirky selection that worked perfectly with our meal. If that wasn’t enough, while the menu sounds as though a lot of Scottish ingredients have been thrown together, the result is to die for. I can’t recommend a meal here enough.
Edinburgh is home to a great range of bars, from rustic wine bars to award-winning cocktail bars. The Last Word Saloon was the lucky bar of choice and it did not disappoint with what must surely be some of the best cocktails in town. The dimly lit basement bar served up fantastically creative drinks in a laid-back, relaxed atmosphere.
Sadly I didn’t have time to visit them all, but I would be confident to recommend them and now have a great reason to go back and see if they’re as good as they sound.