I’ve been living in Edinburgh since I started my university degree and I can honestly say I have fallen head over heels in love with the city. It has so much character and history to awe at while still being a vibrant place to live. When I first moved to Edinburgh I looked numerous times at the things I “had to do” there and am in the process of trying to do as many as I can. There are a lot ok, so I haven’t done them all but I thought I would take a look at Trip Advisor’s Top Things to Do in Edinburgh and provide my opinion on how ‘top’ these sights really are.
#1 Arthur’s Seat
What kind of city can actually boast that it has a volcano right in the centre? Edinburgh can! I completely agree with this being #1, Arthur’s Seat is such a huge part of Edinburgh because you can literally always see it, it’s huge! It must be said that this is absolutely not for the faint hearted, it’s a hefty climb and there were times in my ascent (ok, I’ll own up right now and say I am no Mo Farah, my fitness needs improvement) when I asked myself “why am I doing this?” but I assure you it is totally worth it. On a good day (a phrase used often in Scotland to refer to the few and far between days of bright sunshine and clear blue skies) you can see for absolutely miles in all directions. It truly is the best way to see Edinburgh and the surrounding area in all it’s glory, and trust me when I say it really is glorious. Added bonus, you’ll have gone a long way to working off that full Scottish breakfast you treated yourself to, win-win.
Another confession, I LOVE the Royal family. When starting a new job and they do those “fun fact about everyone” team building exercises – my fun fact is that I was once the proud over of a life-size cardboard cut-out of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, so it will now come as no surprise that I would definitely recommend taking a trip on the 34 bus to Ocean Terminal and getting yourself on that yacht. There is even a blooming good tearoom on the Britannia (added after she was decommissioned, sadly, but I love the idea that the Royals sat in that tearoom gossiping) so when you start to feel a little parched after admiring how the other half travel the world, you can grab yourself a cup of tea and a scone. The great thing about the Britannia, unlike some tourist attractions of actual homes, is that you get to see literally EVERYTHING: the story of the yacht before you even get on, the areas where the crew lived and worked, the guests living quarters, the entertainment areas for all those mad parties I like to imagine them throwing back in the day and even the engines for those interested in machinery (ie. not me, that part went straight over my head). I have visited a few times with members of my family varying from 15 – 72 years old and between us all we do not have 1 bad review, so if that doesn’t sell it to you I don’t know what will.
#3 Edinburgh Old Town
I have lived in Edinburgh for 2 years and I honestly had to click on this to find out what Trip Advisor class as the “Old Town” because so many people change the boundaries daily for where this actually is. Basically, what it looks like to me is the general area around the Grassmarket and Cowgate. I’ll be honest, if you have minimal time in Edinburgh and want to make every second count seeing the big tourist sights, this part is skippable. However, if you are around for a while I do believe it is one of those places that you can’t not enjoy. There are so many cool restaurants, vintage shops, bars, cafes, etc. not to mention the view of the Castle literally right above you from the Grassmarket. The whole area just has so much character you can’t help but fall for.
Also, if you’re in this area there is a café close-by, The Elephant House, which claims to be “The Birthplace of Harry Potter” as J.K Rowling apparently sat and wrote parts of the Harry Potter novels in that very café. Many other famous authors have frequented the café too. If it’s good enough for J.K Rowling, it’s good enough for me.
I’m not a big museum girl (sorry, sorry, sorry) so I’ll be honest here and admit that this wouldn’t be my #4 thing to do in Edinburgh. That being said, there are quite a few rainy (dreich) days in Edinburgh where the only thing to be done is to take shelter indoors, so why not eh? However, the student in me definitely appreciates the fact that the National Museum is free (but donation is recommended). If you haven’t picked a rotten day for it, weather-wise, definitely check out the roof terrace with amazing views of the key parts of the city, obviously including Edinburgh Castle because it’s so bloody huge and on top of a big hill where can you not see it from?
#5 Sightseeing Tours
Again, rather ambiguous but I’ll try my best here. There are so many to choose from in Edinburgh, just walking along the Royal Mile (the mile between the Castle and Holyrood Palace, you honestly cannot miss it) you’ll probably see about 1 flyer every 3 minutes for some sort of tour. It goes without saying that I have not been on all of them, I do actually have to go to uni sometimes, but I have done a few. Along the Royal Mile, and various other parts of Edinburgh too, you will see many companies guiding tours around the vast underground streets, a particularly famous one being Mary King’s Close. If you do some Internet research you’ll be able to find so many tour companies with varying prices, some more entertaining and others more factual. Be aware that some are so scary I personally wouldn’t even dream about going due to the fact that I am a complete wimp when it comes to getting any kind of fright, but if that’s what you’re into then you’ll be in your element.
Obviously the city has so many more amazing things to offer and if you continue down Trip Advisors list you’ll find plenty more amazing things to do/see. I must warn though: if volcanos, the Royal Familys ex-actual private yacht, streets filled with character and a city with photogenic views every direction you turn isn’t for you then don’t go to Edinburgh, honestly you’ll just hate it.