Posted by: chiarraigrrl | February 3, 2012

If you ever get a chance to go to Edinburgh…

View across Edinburgh from Calton Hill with Dugald Stewart monument

Yesterday evening I got one of my favorite kind of text messages: “my friend is going to ___, can you recommend places to go…?”.

To which the answer is always YES I CAN!

I love making suggestions for people travelling, especially when it’s to one of my favorite places – and Edinburgh (eh, the one in Scotland, obviously) definitely qualifies for that status. And since I had the details organized in one place – I thought other people might find it of interest, too.

What to do..?

Scott Monument in Edinburgh
Scott Monument, Edinburgh

I highly recommend one of the open-top bus tours of Edinburgh- they all leave from Waverly Bridge near the Scott Monument- it’s hard to miss. There are tickets that cover more than one tour, which are a pretty good deal- for only an additional £2 you can take more than one of the open-top bus routes around the city within a 24-hour period. The best value is to take one of the sightseeing tours around the city and also do the Majestic tour to the Firth of Forth waterfront and Royal Botanic Gardens. The Botanic Gardens is a great way to spend a few hours, and well worth the visit. I also very highly recommend the Grand Plus ticket, which includes the Firth of Forth bus-and-boat cruise, but that’s only available April-October, unfortunately.

The National Gallery is not to be missed. It’s free in, and has amazing exhibits. One of my favorites? The opportunity to stand a mere couple of feet away from one of Monet’s “Haystacks” paintings. Wonderful stuff.

Edinburgh is a delightful place just to walk around in and admire the scenery, too. Definitely bring a camera, strike off in one direction and see where it takes you. Calton Hill is a great walk, and Arthur’s Seat is fantastic in decent weather.

There’s loads of other things to do in Edinburgh- Greyfriars Kirk is well worth a look around, there’s always the castle (though the cover charge seems a little steep to me, I’ll admit), and of course plenty of shopping etc. For the more bookish (and who doesn’t love a good books maps and prints shop?) there’s the wonderful Old Town Bookshop, and map-lovers will delight in the Carson Clark Gallery on the Royal Mile. A free one-hour tour of the Scottish Parliament building is also highly recommended- it’s a fascinating and beautiful building, and the tours are excellent. These are just a few of my favorites….

I couldn’t not recommend the Stand Comedy Club, too, if looking for somewhere to go in the evening- they tend to have an excellent lineup.

Go eat!

There are plenty of great places to eat in the city. I definitely *HIGHLY* recommend Double Dutch at 27-29 Marshall Street, near the university, for breakfast- I often go when I’m in town for the Festival and Fringe for good big fried breakfasts. Good service, strong coffee and good food at relatively reasonable prices.

One of my favorite Edinburgh eateries is Gordon’s Trattoria on the Royal Mile, even just for one of their delightful desserts (they do an excellent banana split, which is hard enough to get…). One of my favorite places in Edinburgh, and the staff (and owner) are really lovely. On a good night it’s often sort of like stopping in to a dinner party that goes on every night. Delightful.

There’s also a wonderful Italian restaurant called Pompeii at 62 Grassmarket in Edinburgh, which is convenient to most of the city center and has an excellent menu and lovely service.

No list of Edinburgh eateries would be complete without a recommendation to stop in to City Restaurant at 35 Nicolson Street (within a few minutes’ walk of much of the city center)- something for everyone, good food, great service, relaxed surroundings and reasonable prices. And they do a mean mac & cheese…



  1. I’ve been thinking about planning a visit to Scotland/U.K.! Maybe finding this blog is a sign 🙂

    • haha You definitely should go if you can- it’s well worth the trip! I’d be happy to make suggestions/give advice – I’m following your blog & twitter now, so keep us updated on whether you decide to go… 🙂

  2. Lovely travel post. It makes me want to get on a plane and go!

    • ah thanks mrs! I’d say it’d be a great place to run around, too. 🙂

  3. […] liked to fit in proper touristy things while in Edinburgh too, and I’ve made some suggestions in this post from a while ago. Don’t miss eating at Gordon’s Trattoria on the Royal Mile, if you can […]

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