Top Seven Things to Do in Edinburgh

DSC_8900 In this post, I would like to share with you my second favourite city in the UK after London: Edinburgh. It was stop number one of my (mini) Grand Tour of Scotland in September. Albeit its relatively small size and the predominance of many shades of grey, the Scottish capital is undeniably picturesque, providing an exceptionally romantic getaway destination! Unfortunately, this post is not going to be particularly photo-heavy due to rather gloomy weather throughout my stay in Edinburgh (bad lighting equals bad photos): overcast skies with more or less incessant drizzle with an occasional brief appearance from the sun. I suppose that’s expected.

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View from my awesome suite at the Glasshouse ( I LOVE complementary upgrades!!!)

Top Seven Things to Do in Edinburgh

As well as being very romantic city break destination, Edinburgh is also brimming with history: it has been the capital of Scotland since the 15th century and has seen many turbulent times. This hilly city is best explored on foot, wondering along its many cobbled and winding streets, turning round every inviting corner leading your to discover new, charming places. For this post, I have picked out a few things that I particularly enjoyed throughout my three-day stay. DSC00927 1. Climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat

I believe that if possible every city visit should start with an overview in order to give you a a glimpse of what is yet to come! Therefore, my first pick for Edinburgh would be to climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat, which commands expansive, gorgeous, albeit a little sober views, of the city…

Did you know that Edinburgh is the only city in the world that sits on top of an extinct volcano? Arthur’s Seat, the highest hill within the environs of the Scottish capital, is, in fact, the remain of a volcano from the Carboniferous period (i.e. from many millions of years ago). DSC_9904 2. The Scottish National Gallery

Being somewhat of an art buff, I absolutely love the Scottish National Gallery. The gallery has got a very impressive, albeit relatively small collection of art, ranging from the early Renaissance up to the start of the twentieth century.  The collection of Renaissance pictures is particularly good: it includes masterpieces from the likes of Titian, Botticelli, Lucas Cranach; there are also beautiful Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works from Edgar Degas, Claude Monet,Paul Cézanne and many other easily-recognisable names. There is also a separate building featuring contemporary art. Entry is free of charge.

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3. Wander around Edinburgh castle

Edinburgh Castle is the most famous attraction in Edinburgh; you can see this imposing, stony edifice from almost anywhere in the city. The dramatic fortress has dominated Edinburgh’s skyline for several hundreds of years and has been involved in many a conflict from the Wars of Scottish Independence; it has served as a royal residence and military barracks. Within its walls you will also find the oldest building in Edinburgh, St Margaret’s Chapel, dating back to the 12th century. Unfortunately, as you might suspect, the castle gets a little overcrowded with tourists, therefore it is advisable to head there first thing in the morning! In addition, to beat the queues book your tickets in advance. IMG_1139 4. Afternoon Tea At Prestonfield

Afternoon Tea at Prestonfield,  Edinburgh’s most beautiful and unique hotel, is a truly luxurious experience: a wide range of loose leaf teas brewed to perfection,  a good selection of freshly-made sandwiches, and, of course, scrumptious home baked cakes (I am particularly fond of their scones). To make your your experience just that little bit more decadent, go for Champagne Afternoon Tea!

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5. The Scotch Whisky Experience

Being the national drink of Scotland whisky is everywhere in Scotland, therefore whisky tasting ought to be an essential component of your trip to Edinburgh or to anywhere in Scotland! Whisky here is not your usual, undrinkable Jack Daniels type (well, in my opinion, anyways): instead whiskies in Scotland are delicious, flavourful,and varied. In fact, whisky is my favourite “strong” drink; I particularly like the more smokey, woody ones! If you are a whisky novice (or perhaps not!), the Scotch Whisky Experience should be quite high up in your Edinburgh “to-do” list: here you will find an extensive selection of blended and single malt whiskies both from easily-recognisable and obscure names. At first sight, this establishment might be somewhat overwhelming, but the one hour tour offered here, for adults only, is both fun and educative. True, this establishment, located a stone throw’s away form the entrance to Edinburgh Castle is primarily tourist oriented; regardless, it is definitely worth a bit of your time!

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Loving the layout of the drinks menu at Filament Coffee

6. Have A Great Cup of Coffee

Okay, this is not exactly a “very” Edinburgh or Scottish thing to do, but Edinburgh has some excellent coffee shops! Great coffee is an essential component in any of my trips – yes, I am a real coffee addict- and if I cannot find decent coffee, I get rather moody! I have discovered three wonderful coffee shops in Edinburgh:

 Zebra Coffee Co. – a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop just by the Bank of Scotland. They have a sign inside the shop that says “Coffee keeps me busy until it’s acceptable to drink gin”: I love their life philosophy; and they do serve top-notch coffee!

Lovecrumbs – great coffee, and VERY scrumptious cakes. If you love your coffee with cakes, please pay this lovely cafe a visit!

Filament coffee – a lot of care is put into making each cup of coffee; great for coffee connoisseurs.

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My little sister at Armstrong Vintage

7. Go Shopping for Vintage Clothes and Antique Books

Armstrongs Vintage  – amazing selection of awesome and fun vintage clothes! My sister absolutely loves shopping here.

Ebinbrugh Books – Edinburgh’s largest second-hand book reseller. Books are so much better than Kindles, and I love the distinct smell of old books! I could spend hours just browsing here.

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Gorgeous, sober architecture. Buildings are made of sandstone.

A few more personal recommendation…

Best for Lunch: Gardener’s Cottage

This tiny village cottage standing alone amidst greenery right in the heart of the city serves a seasonal menu that changes daily based on the freshest and local ingredients; they even grow their vegetables and fruit themselves! There are two long communal tables, which means that eating here is a very social experience. Lunch is a la carte, whereas dinner is a set six-course menu.

Best for Seafood: Ondine
Fantastic fresh Scottish seafood in Edinburgh historic centre. Enough said.

Best for Dinnner: Timberyard
Currently favourite restaurant in the Scottish Capital; I cannot stop daydreaming about going back there… Timberyard is a slow-food restaurant that sources its produce from small, independent suppliers. The decor of the restaurant was righ up my alley: tables made from old slabs of mahogany, white cast iron pillars, exposed wooden floorboards; the ambience was further bettered by dim, atmospheric lighting: very retro, hip and chic, all the same time. Food was light, fresh and delicious; excellent, reasonably priced wine list; and great, friendly service.

Where to Drink: Dragonfly.
A trendy cocktail bar in the heart of the old town with an extensive menu and some interesting options.

Where to Stay: Prestonfield. A truly wonderful and unique hotel. See my full post here!

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Flowers atop Arthur’s Seat

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One of the most beautiful buildings in Edinburgh: Bank of Scotland

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View of city centre from Edinburgh Castle

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DSC_9946_2 Saturday Brunch at Gardener’s Cottage

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The Ladies Waldegrave by Sir Joshua Reynolds

The Ladies Waldegrave by Sir Joshua Reynolds

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Peacocks at Prestonfield

Peacocks at Prestonfield

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Edinburgh Castle

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Contemporary Art at Scottish National Gallery

Chilling in my bedroom at Prestonfield

Chilling in my bedroom at Prestonfield

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Arthur's Seat

Arthur’s Seat

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Edinburgh Castle

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The famous Balmoral hotel

The famous Balmoral hotel

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14 responses to “Top Seven Things to Do in Edinburgh”

  1. angelica says:

    Never been in Edinburgh, so I will keep in mind all your suggestions for my next trip!

    I would love if you could check out my blog! I really appreciate your opinion about it!
    Wishing you a wonderful day!
    With love, Angelica

    http://www.angystearoom.com

  2. yvonnelaura says:

    It looks like such a great place to visit! Can’t wait to go there myself

    http://www.theturistoflife.com

  3. Awesome blog! Seriously loved the photos and your outfits! <3

    KristenLeo

  4. All of these pics are really awesome *_*
    kisses

    Francesca http://everydaycoffee23.blogspot.it/

  5. Borka Gamero says:

    Beautiful!
    Kisses from Miami,
    Borka
    http://www.chicfashionworld.com

  6. nat says:

    my friend recently came back from edinburgh
    looks awesome 🙂
    xx
    http://anoddgirl.blogspot.com.au

  7. Hazel says:

    Great pictures. I would love to check it out. Thanks for the post =)

    Hazel =)
    http://www.theskimplelife.com
    Please follow me on Instagram: @theskimplelife

  8. Nicole says:

    Wow amazing photos!! The photography is really great! 🙂

    New post on GIRL ABOUT TOWN BLOG
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  9. formemag says:

    awesome site and what a helpful post! i’d love to visit here one day

    http://www.formemag.com
    http://www.kkathleenn.blogspot.com

  10. Kate Ramsay says:

    Beautiful post with gorgeous photographs – thanks for sharing! I agree the Scottish National Gallery has an amazing collection while also being on the small side, perfect for when you are only in Edinburgh for a short time like I was.
    Kate x

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