My Bucket List - Edinburgh

We had a 'day trip' to Edinburgh in 2014. With so little time, we only saw a small part of the "Royal Mile" visiting Edinburgh Castle and having tea at The Palace of Holyroodhouse - but not much else.
Entrance to Holyroodhouse
Entrance to Holyroodhouse

Day Tripping

In 2014 we were able to fit an overnight trip to Edinburgh into our schedule. Arriving from York in the early afternoon and leaving at noon the following day, we had little time to explore much more than the area around our hotel. Fortunately, we were staying at the IBIS on Hunter Square — just a few steps from the “Royal Mile”. 

Although we were going there in June, we had been warned that Edinburgh could be cool and wet — we thought we were prepared for that. We weren’t. The torrent of rain and the damp chilled us to the bone. Although my camera is water resistant, I had to purchase a small umbrella that my wife held over the camera while I took pictures.

Spending the afternoon exploring Edinburgh Castle, we got back to our room completely drenched. We had left our luggage back in York — without a change of dry clothes, we made good use of the heated towel racks. There was little thought of taking in Edinburgh’s night life.

The next morning was a little better — it wasn’t raining but there was a cold mist that made everything damp. We checked out the Palace of Holyroodhouse before heading back to heading back to Waverly station and our train back to York.

Why Go Back?

It doesn’t always rain in Edinburgh. (We just happened to be there on the coldest and wettest day of the month.) Also, it is not the easiest city to walk around, it is hilly and some of the more interesting attractions along the “Royal Mile” are accessed by steep staircases.

  1. There is more to Edinburgh than the “Royal Mile” — although there is a lot there that we didn’t have time to explore.
  2. It has an excellent bus system with day passes available at a very reasonable price. 
  3. Edinburgh’s Waverly Station is the gateway to the rest of Scotland via ScotRail and to parts of the north of the UK via LNER  and CrossCountry rail.

Things to Do in Edinburgh

  • The Royal Mile — Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse anchor either end of the Royal Mile. Between the two are a wide variety of attractions with much more just a few blocks away.
    For me, an open gate or a side street is an invitation to explore. There are dozens of these opportunities along the way.
  • Climb Arthur's Seat — Rising 822 ft. above the city, this ancient volcanic core may not be for those with mobility issues. If you are in reasonably good health, this is a MUST DO. (See Arthur’s Seat – Self Guided Walks)
  • Climb Calton Hill — At 300 ft over the city, the top of Calton Hill offers great views of the city. 
  • Visit Scott’s Monument — The 287 step narrow stair case to the top of the tower is not for everyone — but, hopefully, I will be up for it.

Tours

  • Rebus Tour — Two different tours, based on Ian Rankin’s surly detective John Rebus, showing Edinburgh’s darker side.(Book online)
  • The Scotch Whisky Experience — Even if whiskey isn’t your ‘tipple’ check out the gift shop and restaurant.(Book online)
  • Free Walking Tours — A gratuity-based walking tour (Book online)

Day Trips

  • Leight — part of greater Edinburgh and easily accessed by city bus. It was Scotland’s major port until the 18th century. The area around the port is becoming ‘gentrified’, although many of the older building remain.
  • Glasgow —  Just an hour from Edinburgh by train and trains running every 30 min. makes Glasgow an ideal day trip.
  • Stirling — An hour from Waverly Station on ScotRail. It is only a 2km. walk to the castle from the train station — up hill all the way. Take a taxi to the castle and walk back.
  • Dundee — Just over an hour from Edinburgh by train, it is a small city with a mixture of modern and old architecture. 
  • Durham Cathedral — Two hours south of Edinburgh the cathedral library is home to many historic documents including the 1216, 1225, and 1300 versions of the Magna Carta

Tours

  • Tour the Firth of Forth — A boat tour up the Firth of Forth featuring views of the three bridge crossing the firth. (Book online)
  • Glencoe, Ben Nevis & Loch Ness — Take in top natural attractions including Glencoe, Ben Nevis, and Loch Ness on this day trip from Edinburgh. (Book online)