Scotland has been a part of the United Kingdom since the Act of Union in 1707. Even though many decisions governing the country are made in London, its capital of Edinburgh is a hub of Scottish culture and a great starting point for any trip to the country. Whether you’re visiting Edinburgh for the first time or once more after a long time away, the following are must-do and must-see facets of any vacation getaway.
Things to do
When you arrive in Edinburgh, you should take a stroll down the Royal Mile to get acquainted with the city. The Royal Mile runs through the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh’s Old Town and the buildings and street itself reflect the history of the area, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Edinburgh Castle, high on a hill, sits opposite Holyrood Palace at the end of the road. The former is a fortress dating from the 12th century that is home to the Honours of Scotland (the crown jewels) and the Stone of Destiny, and the latter is the official residence of the British monarchy in Scotland. Along the road are plenty of shops and historic sites such as the Real Mary King’s Close, a narrow alley that was once exposed to the sky but is now preserved underground.
Outdoor adventurers making the trek to Scotland should take a walk up the famed Arthur’s Seat. Situated in Holyrood Park, this ancient volcano is a short journey from the Royal Mile and sits about 823 feet above sea level. The high vantage point offers a great view of the city on clear days and the trek to the top gets the heart pumping. If you want to get out of the city and explore the wilds around it, there are several tour companies like Heart of Scotland Tours that offer day trips out to the Highlands, Loch Ness, Stirling Castle, Whisky distilleries and more.
If you’re near the city in August, consider grabbing tickets to the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It has been going on since 1947 and is considered the biggest celebration of culture and the arts in the world. You can grab tickets for events on formal stages or just opt to walk around the main thoroughfares of the city to catch street performers at work.
What to eat
When you think of Scottish food, your first instinct is likely to think of haggis, which is an animal stomach stuffed with suet, oatmeal and seasoning. You’ll be happy to know that you can certainly try genuine haggis here, but you can also choose to avoid it like the plague and enjoy other Scottish cuisine. Consider a stop at Forage and Chatter, which serves dishes like monkfish and lamb loin and shoulder made with locally sourced ingredients. For something in a more traditional pub setting, head out to Roseleaf in the Port ‘o Leith for dishes like Coconutty Toffee Pudding, Cheeky Chana Curry or Leith-al Egg (which is haggis).
Where to stay
The size of Edinburgh means there are a lot of places to choose from when you’re looking to lay your head down for the night. The Raeburn is a four-star boutique hotel in an old Georgian home. Reviewers on TripAdvisor praise it for large bathrooms, cleanliness and close proximity to Edinburgh Castle. If you want to stay on the Royal Mile, treat yourself to a meal and a stay at The Witchery by the Castle. Andrew Lloyd Webber reportedly called it the “prettiest restaurant ever,” and The Times raved that it is a “pure unmitigated pleasure palace.” Rooms have names like The Vestery and The Inner Sanctum, and the decor in each is delightfully dramatic and certainly memorable.
Edinburgh, Scotland, is an old city with many charms for a modern traveler. Consider visiting if you are hoping to have a memorable vacation that will stay with you for years to come.
This article is presented by BMW of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio.