Do you ever think about other lifetimes? I’ve been fortunate enough to have serendipitously met a few people in my life that I have instantly bonded with. Bosom friends. Sister from another mister. Love at first laugh. There’s that moment when you connect so quickly it feels like you’ve known one another your whole lives. You can go years without seeing each other and get along better than most of the people you’ve met in the same amount of time. Almost like you’ve done this so called life together before.
Ok, enough of the philosophy. If I go too far down the rabbit hole there’s no going back! After not seeing each other for seven years, my friend Elyse spontaneously decided to visit me in Dublin for a week. She’s never been to Europe before so we managed to squeeze in a quick two night trip in Edinburgh. Elyse is the first person I met at university. Some random “soph” (Definition: overly excited second year student trying desperately to relive their first year) pulled me out of the car at my new residence and proceeded to force introductions with a handful of other students who were pulled out of their cars at the same time. Thankfully, Elyse was the first person I met and we connected as soon as we discovered we were both in the same media program. We ended up spending way too much time together as we found each other equally hilarious (surprisingly, not many others shared this disposition). From thereonin we ended up living in a share house with three other hilarious girls. After spending time with each other nearly every day of the school year for four years, I decided to take off to Australia, then British Columbia, then Ireland, until suddenly we hadn’t seen each other for seven years. We picked up exactly where we left off and made for great travel companions. Fast forward to an adventure in Edinburgh.
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Edinburgh four times. Every time I go as soon as I get a glimpse of the city all I can think about is how amazing it would be to live there. Panoramic views of breath-taking Victorian architecture is a treat for the eyes and a boost to the creative soul.
Edinburgh is a city that just makes sense. I’d imagine that the architects were inspired by the natural landscape and weather since the buildings are even more beautiful when it’s windy, cloudy and drizzling. Whenever I’ve gone I’ve only had one or two days to explore, so I’ve put together a little list of what to do in the city in 24 hours.
- Walk the entire Royal Mile
The Royal Mile is the name given to a succession of streets in the Old Town. The stretch between two significant historic locations, Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, is the ultimate place to imagine medieval life. You can walk right up to the gates of Edinburgh Castle, and if you can spare the time, tour the inside for £17. On the opposite end you’ll find the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, who spends a week residing there every summer. You can visit the palace for £14.
- Arthur’s Seat
A hill located at the end of the Royal Mile, climbing Arthur’s seat is a great way to spend a couple of hours when visiting Edinburgh. A relatively easy climb (my legs only hurt for one day after), you’ll get a chance to catch your breath while getting amazing panoramic views at the top. I’ve climbed Arthur’s Seat three times and would do it again next time I visit Edinburgh. Arthur’s Seat is the largest of three sites of the Arthur’s Seat Volcano site. Like the location of the castle, its formation is the site of an extinct volcano system.
- Whiskey and Wine
Head out to either the Old Town or the New Town and try a unique Scotch you’d never get to try elsewhere. There are so many to choose from it can be a bit overwhelming. There are lot of good whiskeys to try at affordable prices so just go for something you’ve never had before. Besides that, Elyse and I came across a couple of great wine bars. We especially liked Smith and Gertrude in the New Town. You can choose different artisan cheeses ranging from £3.50 to £4.50 and cured meats from £4.50-£5.50. Or you can do what we did and order a mixed board of cheese and charcuterie (three of each) for £16. So.Good. We also treated ourselves to a great bottle of Langhe Nebbiolo, La Ca Nova for £30.
- Camera Obscura
If you’re short on time, visiting the camera obscura is a brilliant way of getting your bearings in the city. A Victorian style virtual tour, you are guided through the Unesco World Heritage site that is Edinburgh from a tiny dark room. Tickets are £15.50 for adults and they’re valid all day so you can come and go as you please. There are some great photo opportunities from the top of the building as well.
- Walk Princess Street (and Primark!)
On the south side of Princess Street you get amazing views of the Castle perched atop the volcanic site, giving the illusion of the castle blending in to the rock as if it’s part of the earth itself. There’s also a massive gothic monument to Sir Walter Scott, the stunning Balmoral Hotel, and the Princess Street Gardens. On the other side, you’ve got your high street shops. Ladies and gents, there is some serious Primark action happening on this street. Sprawling over about 5 floors, if you fancy a bit of shopping you’ll find some stellar deals. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, there is always a ton of paraphernalia to choose from (pyjamas, socks, notebooks, etc).
We did all five of the things on the list (but didn’t go inside the castle or palace) in 24 hours and had a great time. Next time I’m there I plan to check out the galleries, museums, and evening ghost tour.
The travel details:
- Ryanair return flight from Dublin for €50
- Two nights in a twin room at the Edinburgh City Hotel for £111 (£55.50/person)
- Return air coach transport from Airport to Edinburgh City £7 (this bus leaves every 10/15 minutes. Great service).
- The city is very walkable and we didn’t need public transit or taxis at all.
Edinburgh is wildly beautiful. In my opinion it’s an underrated gem in the United Kingdom. It seems almost unfair for so many gorgeous buildings to be located in such close vicinity, and it’s a pleasure to visit every single time.