You may be able to see Edinburgh’s two main attractions before your plane’s wheels hit the pavement. Edinburgh Castle towers above the skyline from its place on Castle Rock, where it has stood since the 12th century, and the intricate steeple of Saint Giles’ Cathedral points to the heavens. In the castle, take a tour to see the Crown Jewels and dungeons, then sit your “buttress” down for afternoon tea and scones. Head to the cathedral for a rooftop tour with great views of the Royal Mile and beyond.
If you want to live like a local, accommodation near Haymarket is your perfect home base. The neighbourhood is home to Murrayfield Stadium, “The Home of Scottish Rugby”, and the atmosphere on game days is electric. Have a pint with the Tartan Army (that’s just the name for the fans) and you’ll be singing “Scotland the Brave” in no time.
Not a sports fan? Haymarket’s cobblestone streets and stately Georgian houses are a picture-perfect backdrop for boutique shopping or a relaxing breakfast of fatty cutties (a flat, rich griddle cake).
Flights to Edinburgh land at the city’s international airport (EDI), where a 24-hour bus service links the airport with Haymarket and Waverley stations in Edinburgh, about 10km away. You can also take the tram, which runs from about 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and makes stops throughout the western part of the city on its way to Waverley Station. From there, you’ll be able to reach plenty of attractions, including Edinburgh Castle and Saint Giles’ Cathedral. If your accommodation in Edinburgh isn’t on the tram line, there are plenty of buses, not to mention bike rentals, car hires and taxi services to help you get around.
You’ll have a good time on Edinburgh holidays no matter when you visit, but some months are especially thumping with the theatrics of exciting events. It’s not an illusion: The Edinburgh International Magic Festival takes place each July. You can expect sleight of hand, card tricks and confetti. So much confetti.
August is particularly chockablock with festivals. Get front and centre for a clash of the tartans at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo; you’ll “kilt” for a front row seat to the military performances and re-enactments. Can’t get enough bagpipes? The Edinburgh International Festival is also in August, when the city becomes a hot spot for the best music, dance and theatre in the world. And if you’re into the arts, you must make an appearance at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where celebrity sightings share the city with pop-up restaurants and street performers. Who knows, your favourite star might even be staying in one of the hotels in Edinburgh.
Not to be outdone, autumn also hosts interesting festivals and events. Join the fun by watching captivating spoken-word performances at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival in October. Want to stay near the action? Places to stay in Edinburgh book up quickly during popular events, so book your room now!
Getting a wee bit of fresh air should always be a priority while you’re in Scottish territory. In hilly Edinburgh, your chances to enjoy the great outdoors are staggering. Take, for instance, the Royal Botanic Gardens. More than 70 acres of trees, blooming flowers and serene ponds will leave you awe-inspired and revived. Visit the rock garden and arboretum before you leave.
For walk on the sandier side of things, Portobello Beach is the place to be. This suburban resort has a promenade, arcade and plenty of golden grains to go around. Soak up some sun and enjoy a picnic before you head back into the city. After indulging in some of the best food in Edinburgh, you’ll be off to play 18 holes at Musselburgh Links. Golfers have been using this course since the 1600s, including Mary, Queen of Scots (and apparently the green).
Even if you have but one day in Edinburgh, you can see many of the city’s best attractions. Begin your excursion on Princes Street, a storied stretch of cobblestone with plenty of shopping and a meticulously landscaped garden. Just beneath Edinburgh Castle, the Prince Street Gardens also serve as a public park, and are a part of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site—so they’re kind of a big deal.
Now, Edinburgh has definitely entered the 21st century, but you might not know it as you stroll down the streets of Old Town. This, the oldest part of Scotland’s capital, is steeped in medieval architecture and home to the Royal Mile. Nearby, Holyrood Park lures you to walk its grassy slopes, stand on its volcanic cliffs and climb the iconic Arthur’s Seat hill.
Would you believe that some of the most intriguing parts of Edinburgh are just beneath the surface? Take a tour of Mary King’s Close and you’ll see what we mean. Once upon a time, these narrow tunnels and mysterious rooms were above-ground tenements. These days, having long since been sealed off and built upon, the tunnel are open for night tours. Some say Mary King’s Close is haunted, but you’ll have to visit yourself to see if you believe it.
After you spend the day in and around the city, embark on a Loch Ness and the Highlands full-day tour. Who knows if you’ll see the Loch Ness Monster (Nessie, once you get to know her), but you’re sure to have a good time. Up in the highlands, only one thing will be on your mind: “FREEEEDOM!”. Turn off your phone and enjoy it.
Many a mickle makes a muckle when it comes to Edinburgh hotels (basic translation: save your pennies and book your perfect hotel on Wotif today!). Then brush up on your slang, or yer bum’s out the window.
Hotels in Edinburgh start at NZ$116 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.