Edinburgh is an amazing city, a compact mash-up of London and York with cobbled streets, beautiful old buildings, and a giant hill right in the city centre. Even though I made the crazy decision to go in winter, I had an amazing time and fell completely in love with the city. Here are my top 5 things I’m glad I didn’t miss…
Obviously this is on everybody’s must-do list for Edinburgh, but it’s for good reason. Visiting in November, I was worried that it would be too wet and muddy to make the climb, but it turned out to be so cold the ground was just frozen solid (oh hurray). I’m so glad we were able to do it though, even if there was ice on top of the hill; it’s such a lovely break from the city and the views from the top are incredible. There’s a lot of contradictory information online about how difficult the climb is but I’m not particularly fit and I didn’t struggle – you do not need special shoes and if you take the direct route you can easily get to the top and back in 2 hours.
National Museum of Scotland
The National Museum was one of those ‘if-we-have-time/if-it-rains’ back-up plans, and we ended up having a spare hour to kill before we went to catch our train home. We managed to cover the natural history and space floors (fun fact – if a museum has dinosaurs there’s a 95% chance that’s where I’ll be), and I aced all the little interactive games that are supposed to keep kids entertained. Except one where I was supposed to steer a bat and catch moths, that one stumped me. The building itself is as amazing as the things inside it – the central hall is a beautiful vaulted gallery flooded with light.
Calton Hill is like the historical centre of Edinburgh; the huge complex includes the Nelson Monument, the Dugald Stewart Monument, and the Acropolis-style National Monument.Even with all the tourists around it feels calm compared to the city, and it’s nice to go for a wander along the path circling the hill. There’s also an art gallery and observatory at the top, where I think you can book to go stargazing!
Is this attraction primarily for children? Maybe. But it’s so much fun! I don’t have a science or logic-orientated brain, so optical illusions are basically like magic to me. The highlights have to be the mirror maze and the vortex tunnel – the maze may have been a little easy but the vortex tunnel is seriously trippy. Also, did you know that you’re always being watched in Edinburgh? We had a demonstration of the camera obscura on the roof, and it turns out the guys on the museum are spying on us all…
Edinburgh Gin Distillery
This was a fairly last minute find – I heard about the gin distillery and booked it as a surprise for the boyfriend. I can definitely recommend splashing out for the £25 Connoisseur package that gets you a tour, a small bottle of gin liqueur, and a generous tasting session featuring shots of the standard Edinburgh Gin, an extra strength version called Cannonball and three of their gin liqueurs, as well as a bottle of fever tree tonic for mixer. Our guide was really informative and entertaining, and our group had a great time testing out all the gins. The groups are small, so book in advance or risk disappointment!
What are your favourite touristy things to do in Edinburgh? Let me know!