Edinburgh was one of the most captivating cities we visited. I loved the gothic architecture, the dark and gloomy skies—the whole city felt as though it had remained the same over centuries, and we could really picture just what life looked like hundreds of years ago. Check out some of my favorite moments from the trip.
Edinburgh Castle: This was the very first thing we did after arriving in Edinburgh, and it was a great introduction. The castle sits above the city, so from almost every angle, no matter where you’re standing, you can look up and see it. As we walked from Princes Street (where our hotel was) to the Castle, I was transported back in time—the dark cobblestone streets and old buildings left us feeling dreary, the way we imagined the common people felt as they went about their daily business. Once we arrived at the Castle, we got to see stunning views from the top. Learning about the historic fortress was even more intriguing. We actually got to set foot in the room that Mary Queen of Scots gave birth in; it was surreal.
Scotch Whiskey Tour: Just down the street from the Castle was The Scotch Whiskey Experience. First, we ate dinner at the attached restaurant, Amber, which was delicious. Then we made our way to the tour. I’m not a big whiskey person, but I still found myself enjoying the experience. We learned about the different regions Scotch Whiskey is produced in Scotland, and it was so fun to guess the notes and undertones from each sip we tried, hoping to identify the region from which it came.
Kelpies: I had seen photographs of the Kelpies prior to our visit, but seeing them in person was incomparable. They were so big and all-encompassing that it was almost overwhelming. As we admired them from below, we enjoyed fresh ice cream from a nearby farm. It was a great way to spend the morning.
Ghost Tour: This was one of the most memorable tours from the trip. It’s no secret that I love a good ghost tour, so I was really looking forward to this. We walked through the city and learned about local hangings and executions that took place centuries ago; we meandered through ancient burial grounds and heard the stories of the people resting there; and towards the end, once nightfall hit, we got to step underground and walk the original streets of the city. Once there, we were told stories of accused witches, brutally murdered, that had lived at the spot we were standing on, and we looked around fearfully for their ghosts. I’m not sure if it was the storytelling skills of the guide, or just being underground, but I’ve never experienced anything quite as horrifying; perhaps because it was all true.
HMY Britannia: This activity turned out to be way more interesting than I had anticipated. Walking through the ship that three generations of the Royal Family, including Princess Diana, has inhabited was really fun. We got to see where the Queen slept, learned about her day, and even saw rooms where she hosted famous guests—like the Clintons. We sat in the same chairs the Queen’s family sat in, while looking at photos and video footage from their holidays.
Georgian House: I’ve talked a lot about feeling like we had stepped back in time on this trip, but nothing created that feeling more than walking through the Georgian House. Time stood still here, and we got to be flies on the wall, seeing what a typical home was like in the 18th century. The house is situated in the historic New Town district of Edinburgh in Charlotte Square. As we toured the house, we learned about the Lamont family who lived there and got a taste of what daily life looked like for them. After wandering through, I found myself incredibly grateful for the evolution of societal rules and the invention of basic plumbing and electric. Times sure have changed.
Victoria Street: I am a huge Harry Potter fan, so when I found out J.K. Rowling lived in Edinburgh, and the city was a huge part of her inspiration for the stories, I knew we would have to visit Victoria Street—her real life version of Diagon Alley. The street was colorful and quirky, lined with interesting shops and restaurants. You could really see just how much of Edinburgh was translated into the books, and just how mythical the city really is. We ended the excursion with a glass of wine and shot of whiskey at a local bar. It was an afternoon well spent.
Royal Mile Market: So many British cities have exciting marketplaces, and Edinburgh was no exception. As we walked to and fro, we found this bustling market almost exploding with life—so we decided to check it out for ourselves. I found that local markets are a great way to really experience what a city’s culture is like. We got to interact with people, and even buy a few trinkets and souvenirs. Making sure there is time for unplanned activities like this one is key when organizing a trip; you can only plan for so much without being there and seeing what the city is really like and has to offer.
Hadrian’s Brasserie: This restaurant was located down the street from our hotel, and after walking by on the way home after a long day of festivities, we made a reservation for later that evening. The combination of upscale service, delicious dishes, live music, and overall satisfying ambience made for a wonderful last evening in Edinburgh.