Where to Stay
Royal Mile is located in Edinburgh Old Town. As the name suggests, this street is a mile long and runs downhill between two significant locations in the history of Scotland, namely Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. This area is very much a tourist stop with a lot of Scottish shops selling souvenirs.
Princes Street is another main street for shopping. A lot of hotels are along this street as it is located adjacent to the Waverly train and bus station. Across from Princes Street is Princes Gardens that contains an open air theatre, a war memorial to U.S. soldiers of Scottish descent and two main art galleries; the Royal Scottish Academy and the National Gallery of Scotland.
When to Go
Scotland is one of those places where it is great to go year-round. Personally, autumn and winter are my favorite times to go. In Autumn, Scotland is filled with gorgeous colors that make hiking and Highland tours so much more exciting. Seeing the beautiful nature of Scotland with the changing colors just makes it seem more magical and inviting.
Winter time is just as fun. Christmas markets are open and Scotland celebrates the event Hogmanay, a New Year’s Eve festival that spans over three days. It’s a huge event with fireworks, entertainers, and events throughout the city including the Looney Dook, where people can take a refreshing dip in the ice-cold waters of the River Forth.
What to Do
Hike up Arthur’s Seat to catch the sunrise/sunset. This steep hike is completely worth it for the outstanding view you get over all of Edinburgh. On a clear day, you can see pretty far out on either side of the hill. The hill is actually an active volcano and sits 823 feet above sea level situated in Holyrood Park. This is a very challenging hike so come prepared with some good traction on your shoes. The hike itself takes about 20 minutes from the base of the park. Even though it was super windy and a little bit of a struggle to get up to, the view and the sunrise made my last day in Edinburgh amazing.
It’s not just the Brits who enjoy a spot of tea. Check out any hotel in Edinburgh and they will more than likely have a nice afternoon tea set up for the middle of the day with treats, sandwiches, scones, and tea or coffee. It’s a great way to relax after a long travel day.
Edinburgh Pub Crawl
A night procession of drinks and young people all getting to know each other while tossing a few back. I think pub crawls are a fun way to start in a new place. Outsiders think of pub culture overseas as toxic or dangerous, but it is a fairly social environment where people just relax and chat with others. For only seven pounds, your entire night is planned for you. Edinburgh Pub Crawl, established in 2013, claims to be the number one pub crawl in Scotland, providing guests with shots, cocktails, and discounts into bars and clubs.
The castle is a historic structure that dominates the skyline of Edinburgh from its position on Castle Rock. The Royal castle has stood in its spot since the 12th century and remained the Scottish Royal residence until the Union of the Crowns in 1603. Witches in the past were burned at the stake here.
Scottish National Museums
Scotland has a ton of national galleries that you can visit. There is the Writers Museum, The Portrait Gallery and The Museum of Modern Art. There is even a museum about Scottish money. Plenty of time can be spent exploring the Scottish history through painting and pictures and even more of an incentive, all the museums are free.
Welcome to the tourist trap. On this street, also known as a high street, there are tons of tourist shops selling Scottish trinkets and clothing. Along this street, you can reach Edinburgh Castle and the start to Arthur’s Seat. In an old church building, there is a Royal Mile Market open from 10 am to 6 pm filled with booths of people selling handcrafted items. It reminds me of a small Christmas market.
Get out of Edinburgh and experience the highlands! The highlands consist of many national parks and Loch Ness, famous for the myth Loch Ness monster. The highlands is a gorgeous picturesque place for any outdoor enthusiast. One of the places, Fort William is named the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’ and Cairngorms National Park is the largest national park in Scotland; even bigger than popular Lake District in the UK. It is a great way to really enjoy Scottish nature or go skiing in winter. The easiest way to explore is on a bus tour or renting a car.
So, the next time you are making plans for a vacation across the water, consider a 3-day excursion to Edinburgh, Scotland. Happy and safe travels.
About the Author: The EM, Inc. Travel “Guru” Kayla Brock grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, Ill. She chose to go to an international university in London for her bachelor’s degree because it offered her an opportunity to study journalism and communications in ways that she felt she would not experience in the United States. Being overseas was an easy decision for her because she had the freedom to travel and explore different cultures from her own. So far, she has been to 20 countries and also has traveled to 24 out of 50 states in the U.S. Kayla enjoys travel writing, photography (digital and film), video editing, hiking, and adventure sports.
Photo Credit: Kayla Brock
Three Days in Edinburgh, Scotland