Scotland Travel United Kingdom

Why Edinburgh should be on your bucket list

Edinburgh is the CUTEST, quaintest of places. This Scottish seaside town doesn’t get enough credit, in my well-traveled opinion. I knew very little about the city before spending time there but had several travel friends highly recommend it.

The city is two parts — old and new. The new is of course modern, filled with storefronts and apartment buildings. Old Town is like stepping into a time machine: gothic-style architecture, cobblestone streets and castles.

This city is quite the dream and there are plenty of reasons to visit.

By Sabrina Russello

Hollyrood Palace

This was the royal residence to Mary Queen of Scots (once she returned to Scotland), and is still the royal Scottish residence for Queen Elizabeth II.

Read up on the Queen of Scots before you go. The tour will be that much better if you know some of her history.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is one of the oldest fortified castles in Europe. It’s been used as a royal residence, military garrison, prison and fortress. Today, parts of it still remain in military use.

By Sabrina Russello

Check out the crown jewels, the military prison, Queen Margaret’s Chapel and the “whee” room where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to her only son, James IV, who eventually united Scotland and England when he became king.

Arthur’s Seat

Grab your best walking shoes and a bottle of water and head up to Arthur’s Seat. The stroll to the peak that overlooks the city will take you about an hour, but it’s worth it.

Eat like a local

By Sabrina Russello

The one item you’ll find on every menu in Edinburgh — haggis, neeps and tatties. If we’re being honest, I was nervous to taste haggis: liver, heart and other organs of a sheep in the form of a casserole wasn’t exactly appeasing to me. But when in Rome, as they say, so I gave it a try. Shockingly, I really liked it … I’m sure it being covered in cheese had something to do with it.

What the heck are neeps & tatties? Turnips and potatoes.

Take a night stroll

In the summer, the sun doesn’t really set in Edinburgh until midnight, so there’s a haze of light for most of the evening. Be sure to take you camera.

By Sabrina Russello

Order a whisky flight

Whisky is the drink of choice in Scotland and all pubs offer a variety. So whether you’re a whisky rookie like me or a seasoned whisky drinker, whisky sans the “e” is a must.

Recommendation: Whiski Bar & Restaurant, 119 High St. There is live music every night at 10.

Circus Lane

By Sabrina Russello

This is one of those side-street gems that you’d never know about unless you stumbled upon it. It’s a residential street lined with vines, flowers and landscape decor.

Calton Hill

Another aerial view of Edinburgh, Calton Hill is actually a neighborhood but most visitors travel to its peak where the Nelson Monument, the “National Monument” and the Old Observatory House were built.

Best views: At the top of the steps next to the old observatory house, which overlooks the city centre.

Photo: Sabrina Russello

Second best: Past the unfinished national monument at the edge of the hill where you can see Hollyrood Palace and Arthur’s Seat.

Scott Monument

The Scott Monument was inaugurated in 1846 built in honor of the writer Sir Walter Scott. It’s the largest monument in the world, standing at 200 feet, dedicated to a writer. Climb to the top via a guided tour (self-guided tours are no longer allowed).

Travel tip: The website says the monument closes at 4:30, but the last guided tour actually leaves closer to 4 p.m.

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