My husband and I gave ourselves four days in Scotland during our honeymoon trip to Europe. It’s a place we’d both dreamed of going, and was high on both our lists of must-travel destinations. Also – who wouldn’t want to travel to Scotland after watching Outlander?!
We planned to spend four nights in Edinburgh – two days exploring the actual city and two days using the city as a base and traveling to other areas of Scotland.
We arrived early in the morning on our first day in Edinburgh. We took the tram from the Edinburgh airport to the Princes Street stop in the city centre. We walked to our accommodations. Despite our overnight flight where sleeping didn’t come easy, we used the adrenaline and excitement running through us to make the most of our first full day in Edinburgh.
We stayed at the Sherwood Guest House, located in the South end of Edinburgh. It’s a 30 minute walk from the Royal Mile. Sherwood Guest House was a beautiful, quaint guest house, with delightful hosts, delicious breakfasts and cosy accommodations all within an old, authentic Scottish stone house. The price point was very affordable and we didn’t mind the walk to the main landmarks on the Royal Mile, as we got to experience more of the city staying outside of the touristy centre.
Our first day in Edinburgh was rainy, but I think the rain and mist just adds to the magic and the charm of this old city. The stone looks more vibrant, and the leaves and the grass look a richer green. In the morning, we enjoyed a hearty breakfast at Deacon’s House Cafe on the Royal Mile, reveled in the beauty of St Giles’ Cathedral, and then headed up to Edinburgh Castle. Edinburgh Castle was breathtakingly beautiful, and offered stunning views of the city that surrounds it. There is so much to see and explore inside the walls. This castle has served as an ancient stronghold, a home for Scottish royalty and an army headquarters. You need at least a few hours to uncover all of it’s history. It is one of Edinburgh’s most popular tourist attractions as well, so I recommend going in the morning to avoid long lines, or buy your tickets online in advance.
We continued to explore the Royal Mile and the surrounding area in the afternoon, taking in the beautiful old stone buildings, churches and cemeteries. I couldn’t stop taking photos – everywhere I turned the stone and architechure was more beautiful, or we found a new close with pubs, shops or staircases inside. As we went along, we stopped in at pubs to warm up, and to have a few pints of beer of course!
On our second day, we got up quite early and walked through Holyrood Park and hiked up Arthur’s Seat. It was a steep hike up, but we were rewarded with the best views of the city from the top! If you’re not into hiking, there is a walking path up to the top or Arthur’s Seat as well. The benefit of an early hike was there weren’t a lot of people at the top when we were, and this made for easy landscape photo opportunities. While in the park, we also visited the ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel – a 15th century medieval chapel, and experienced the Salisbury Crags – a series of 150 foot cliff faces dominating Edinburgh’s skyline – up close and personal.
We walked down off Arthur’s Seat mid-morning and took in the sights of the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Holyrood Abbey. We explored Calton Hill and all its famous monuments, including the National Monument and the Nelson Monument. We walked across the bridge to New Town to take in the beautifully preserved Georgian architecture and to do some shopping on St. George Street. We strolled through the Princes Street Gardens, and stood in the shadows of the Sir Walter Scott Monument. We then made our way back to the Royal Mile to look around a little more, before enjoying a leisurely late afternoon in and out of pubs in the Greater Grassmarket area. Later that evening, we enjoyed Scottish mussels and stews at a pub near our guest house.
Edinburgh to me, is a magical city. Even though it’s modern, and bustling with locals and tourists, you still feel like your back in time somehow, exploring a charming settlement that has secrets and stories to tell. I would also not have been upset at all if a clan of strong, brooding Scotsmen in tartan road by on horseback waiving weapons and shouting with purpose. To be honest, I was quite disappointed that didn’t happen. But a girl can dream right?
Even though we explored our fair share of Edinburgh’s core in two days, there is still so much we didn’t see. I could go back and spend days exploring the old cobbled streets and wandering through museums, taking in as much Scottish history as my head can hold. But there’s always next time – and trust – Edinburgh hasn’t seen the last of me.