One of my favourite cities in the world is Edinburgh. It was the first official “city break” I went on, and it really fuelled a love for travelling and visiting new places. It’s such a magical place. I fell in love with the city instantly and it will always hold a special place in my heart, as I first visited two years ago when I was jobless after a crazy few months interning in London, and I found out I had an interview that would kickstart my career whilst there.
Since then, I’ve visited four times with work and each time I’ve had the opportunity to stroll through the streets and to take in the architecture and beautiful city views. I love how it’s nestled among the mountains, as well as being right by the sea, and every time I go I make a mental note to plan a road trip around Scotland immediately. I feel like it’s one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been to.
This weekend I went to Edinburgh once more with work, for a whirlwind 24 hour trip where we auditioned some potential contestants for the programme I work for (leading BBC daytime antiques programme, if you were wondering… any guesses?!). I was actually really thankful for the 4am start, as it meant we had the morning to do some exploring before our work began in the afternoon and went well into the evening, and it made me realise once more why I bloody love the Scottish capital.
If you’re planning a getaway for some time this year, then I urge you to read my reasons to visit below, and if you’re still just thinking about it, then my Edinburgh city break guide will definitely convince you…
1. The breathtaking views
Whether you’re walking around Princes Street and looking up, or hiking up Calton Hill or the dormant volcano that is Arthur’s Seat and looking down, the views are incredible. Edinburgh has some of the most beautiful open city spaces in the world and I would definitely take the time when you visit to climb some of the hills and peaks in and around the centre. They are totally worth it and they’re not too tough a climb either. You get a panoramic view of the city and beyond; it’s really beautiful.
The architecture is also worth writing home about. From Edinburgh’s iconic castle, which stands proudly on a rock in the medieval “Old Town”, to the glorious Georgian buildings in the city’s “New Town”, everywhere you look is a little snapshot of historic beauty. It’s the perfect place for budding photographers and Instagrammers, and be sure to have your camera battery completely charged as you’ll be snapping on every street corner.
2. The history
Speaking of historic beauty, the city has been inhabited for thousands of years, so there’s no shortage of stories, tales and exciting things to see. The castle and National Museum of Scotland are obvious to-visit spots for any history buffs, while Grassmarket, Greyfriar’s Bobby and the dungeon tours highlight Edinburgh’s darker past…
I’d also recommend doing the open top city bus tour if you get a chance. I know sometimes people think these are pretty lame, but it meant we got to visit a lot more on the outskirts of the city, such as old fishing port Leith, and also Holyrood Park and the Scottish Parliament. It’s a hop-on, hop-off service, and there are a variety of tour options and prices available, so a great way to scoot around the city in no time at all.
3. There’s so much to see and do
Shopping? Check. Hiking? Check. Museums and history? Check. Music? Check. Food and drink? Check. Edinburgh has it all. Whether you’re someone who wants to enjoy the outdoors within a stone’s throw of the city, or if you want to spend your time visiting the foodie hotspots, Edinburgh is the place for you.
One thing I am determined to do is to visit during August for the yearly Festival Fringe, which is the world’s largest open access arts festival, and equally if you’re a bookworm then you should definitely check out Scott Monument, which is the largest monument built for a writer, ever! (You can also climb to the top of this Monument by paying £8 and following the spiral staircase to the top – not for those who don’t like heights or small spaces though.) I’d also love to go to watch the rugby at Murrayfield Stadium, followed by a drink on the Royal Mile, obvs.
4. The friendly people
Maybe it’s because the Scots are our Celtic cousins, but everyone I’ve encountered in Edinburgh is so friendly. They’re always happy to help, to point you in the right direction and to give you recommendations. Despite the centre being quite small, it’s also very multicultural so you’ll get to meet lots of people from all sorts of places on your travels too.
5. The magic
I couldn’t list the reasons to visit Edinburgh without mentioning a certain boy wizard now, could I? Just walking around the alleyways and closes that wind off the Royal Mile you can see just why the city inspired JK Rowling’s Harry Potter. In fact, the city has huge links to witchcraft and wizardry, so even if you’re not a massive fan of the Hogwarts series, there is definitely something to learn.
Have you visited Edinburgh before?
Lots of love. xoxo