Edinburgh Travel, Scotland 2017-08-18T13:51:43+00:00

Edinburgh Travel, Scotland, UK

Princes Street edinburgh, scotland. AndrewJGallacher

Princes Street, one of Edinburgh’s two most important shopping streets. Photo by Andrew J Gallacher.

Why Edinburgh Travel?

edinburgh view from nelson monument, calton hill. Photo Duimdog

Edinburgh seen from the Nelson Monument on Calton Hill. On the right is the National Monument and on the left the City Observatory. Photo by Duimdog.

Stern, grey 15thC buildings sit on an extinct volcano, lighting a fire under the colourful and sophisticated locals and inspiring a dynamic arts scene that makes this city well worth a trip.
The weather can be dreadful and some areas are a no-no, but summer time, with up to 18 hours of daylight is sensational, especially during August’s Edinburgh Festival or Hogmany (New Year’s Eve).

Scottish Parliament

Edinburgh, scottish parliament. Photo ad meskens

The strange and controversial architecture of the Scottish Parliament buildings in Holyrood, east Edinburgh. It’s a World heritage Site. Photo by Ad Meskens.

This distinctly odd conglomeration of structures came 4th in a 2008 poll on which UK buildings British people would most like to see demolished.
However architects claim that the structure has achieved a ‘poetic union between the Scottish landscape, its people, its culture, and the city of Edinburgh. ‘
Furthemore it is ‘a tour de force of arts and crafts and quality without parallel in the last 100 years of British architecture’.

Holyrood Palace

 Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, lookimng over to Leith port, Scotland. Saffron Blaze

 Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, looking over to Leith port on the Firth of Forth estuary. Photo by Saffron Blaze.

Holyrood Palace, (officially known as The Palace of Holyroodhouse) has been the British monarch’s residence in Scotland since the 16thC. Queen Elizabeth shows up once a year in early summer but otherwise the historic apartments inside are open to the public and a popular tourist attraction.

Leith

Edinburgh, view-from-edinburgh-castle to Leith, Scotland. Alanford

Leith port, a district of Edinburgh on the estuary (Firth) of the Forth River, shortly leading to the North Sea. Photo by Zaian.

Edinburgh weather

Edinburgh castle in fog, Scotland. Photo by Ad Meskens

Edinburgh Castle hardly seen at all during an occasional summer fog. Photo by Ad Meskens.

Best weather: May-September. Summer temperatures are never excessive, with highs of 25C and lows of 10C. Hope for sunshine but don’t assume it.
Avoid: Winter time, when it’s chilly (tho’ rarely much below freezing), grey and daylight is in short supply, and August if your aim isn’t the Festival (finding accommodation will be a nightmare at that time).
Full-on party people might want to join the madness of the original New Year’s Eve celebrations, Hogmanay, at the end of December.

Things to Do

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland’s biggest tourist attraction

edinburgh castle cherry blosson, Scotland. Photo mactographer

Edinburgh Castle’s northwest side seen from across Princes Street Gardens. Photo by Mactographer.

Edinburgh Castle gets well over one million visitors a year but does not look like a traditional castle from some angles, presumably because the northwest side hardly needs defending due to the perpendicular rock face known as ‘Castle Rock’.
The section that looks more impressively fortified is the east side, where the ridge slopes up gently and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place.
Castle Rock, 80m (260ft) above the surrounding land, has seen defensive fortifications since 2nd century and royal residence since the 12th century.

Edinburgh Castle and the Rock. Scotland. Saffron Blaze

Edinburgh Castle and the Rock on which it sits –  a  very old and very extinct volcano. Photo by  Saffron Blaze.

Edinburgh Castle Fireworks, scotland. Chris Combe

Edinburgh Castle is the prime location for major fireworks events, notably during the August Edinburgh Festivals and of course Hogmanay on December 31/January 1. Photo by Chris Combe.

This is a very walkable/bikeable city with terrific sights all along the Old Town‘s core, such as Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile (a long medieval street), St. Giles Cathedral, John Knox House, Holyrood Palace, Holyrood Park and Scott’s Monument.

Edinburgh’s New Town offers less in the way of must-see tourist attractions but the 18th century environment does a great line in must-buy shops, big and small.

Golfers should try the hilarious Bruntsfield links just south of the Old Town and beside The Meadows, or one of many ‘proper’ courses nearby, or get serious and head for St Andrews.

The Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre, sodden and aromatic, awaits those that love a drop of the hard stuff.

Short Trips
12thC Haddington, Linlithgow, the Borders, Trossachs, and St. Andrews for a game of golf.

National Museum of Scotland

edinburgh national museum of scotland. remi mathis

The outstanding old decor of the Grand Gallery of the National Museum of Scotland (formerly the Royal Museum built in 1860’s), inspired by London’s Crystal Palace. Photo by Remi Mathis. The National Museum is well worth a visit, not only offering grand spaces but also a huge variety of interesting worldwide artefacts, in the spheres of geology, archaeology, natural history, science, technology and art.

The Royal Mile

The Royal Mile, Edinburgh. Photo by Daniel.

The Royal Mile, Edinburgh. Photo by Daniel.

The Royal Mile is the name of a cluster of streets  in Edinburgh’s Old Town area. This busy street is, as the name suggests, about a mile long and much of it fairly steeply up/down. At one ends looms Edinburgh Castle while at the other Holyrood Palace. The Royal Mile’s main competitor in the shopping stakes is Princes Street, which is located in Edinburgh’s new town.

Bruntsfield Links

edinburgh, bruntsfield links, scotland, UK. Photo kim traynor

Our best non-festival experience in Edinburgh, playing ‘golf’ on Bruntsfield Links. Photo by Kim-Traynor.

After Fringe Festival madness, a round golf at one of the oldest courses in the world, the Bruntsfield Links, just a couple of blocks south of Edinburgh castle.
The exact date of first use is unclear though the Golf Tavern on the links west side claims to have been built in 1456. The first mention in legal papers of the course was a council act referring to ‘Goulf’ in 1695 and forbidding any disturbance of players.

No booking necessary, Bruntsfield is cheap cheap, just head for the shed to hire an iron or two and some balls. Try not to hit any little old ladies passing by with their shopping and watch out for dogs running off with your ball. St Andrews, pah! This is the life, cheap, easy and never mind the passers-by.
Bugbog stayed in a B ‘n’ B visible to the right and at least two cars parked in our street received golf balls through their windows during our few days in the stern, grey but boisterous city of Edinburgh.

Festivals

Beltane Fire Festival at the National Monument, Edinburgh, Scotland

Beltane Fire Festival. Photo by Stefan Schafer.

And if you’re addicted to Edinburgh festivals you could try the Beltane Fire Festival at the National Monument on April 30th annually. This event is inspired by the ancient Gaelic festival of Beltane which marked the beginning of summer.

Festivals
– Early August for the whole month, International Edinburgh Festival (formal arts events, music, theatre, opera etc), and the loony Fringe Festival, (a massive, world beating celebration of all aspects of the arts, trad to mad) with acts from all over the world. Don’t miss it but book your accommodation as soon as possible. Edinburgh International Festival | Edinburgh Festival Fringe

– Late December is Hogmanay, a couple of weeks (yes, it’s bigger than Christmas! ) of live music, markets, activities and wild street parties that few nations can equal. Note that New Year’s Eve street party is massive and roped off so you’ll need a ticket! More information

Crap Hogmanay

Edinburgh's Big Wheel and lights in winter. Photo by Magnus Hagdorn

Edinburgh’s Big Wheel and lights in winter. Photo by Magnus Hagdorn.

Crap Days Out from the Telegraph newspaper
Quote: New Year’s Eve sees Edinburgh turned into a giant internment camp surrounded by barricades and armed police – who have been drinking? And the council actually charges you to enter it. It’s also freezing. Despite this, thousands of unsuspecting English, American and Antipodean tourists flock to the city on 31 December each year believing that the ‘atmosphere’ will keep them warm. Actually, it is the ‘atmosphere’ that makes you cold. Unquote.

Arts/Culture

Museums & Galleries: The freshly renovated National Museum of Scotland is now a spectacular and dramatic display space (and so it should be at a cost of £47 million! ) full of strange artifacts and wonderful exhibits.
Other worthwhile visits could be to the Royal Scottish Academy; National Gallery of Scotland; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art; Scottish National Portrait Gallery; The Writer’s Museum(Lady Stair’s House).

Classical Music: Queen’s Hall, Reid Concert Hall, St. Cecilia’s Hall, Usher Hall.

Dance/Opera: Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Kings Theatre, Playhouse.

Theatre: Assembly Rooms, Festival Theatre, Traverse Theatre, Gilded Balloon Theatre, Pleasance Theatre.

Live Music & Clubs: Café Graffiti, Canon’s Gait, Cas Rock, Kulu’s Jaz Joint. Check’ The List’ magazine or the ‘Evening News’ for event info/listings. Tickets can be bought from the venues or Tourist office.

Accommodation

Hotels in the UK generally are expensive and Edinburgh is no exception.
However, both Scots and emigré English offer great deals on stylish B’n’Bs and guest houses in inner suburbs of the city, in other words within easy walking distance of main attractions. There are also a fair number of luxury apartments in Edinburgh for rent of course.
We stayed in a charming Bed and Breakfast run by an English couple beside the strange little Bruntsfield golf links (see on map below). Strange because the links is not only reputed to be the oldest in the world (older than St Andrews) but hires clubs and balls to anyone and is surrounded by little Georgian terraces or apartments. So not only would a golf ball occasionally pay a sudden visit through a window, but locals walked their dogs through the links and the dogs would frequently rush off and steal balls. It was a hoot, mon.

Food

Edinburgh offers plenty of fine, varied and reasonably priced restaurants foods in various areas including the centre, West End Eat and the city’s port, Leith. The Grassmarket area has some good restaurants, bars and clubs, but beware the tourist traps and stag party hang-outs.

For budget eating try the frequently excellent pub food in pedestrianised Rose St, parallel to Princes St.
Finally don’t forget to try city’s deep-fried delights from a chippy, such as fish ‘n’ chips and the less obvious deep-fried pies, pizzas, haggis and Mars bars.

Shopping

Smart department stores: Princes Street, Waverley Market
Tourist shops: The Royal Mile towards the castle and Grassmarket.
Wacky: Cockburn Street offers bohemian, alternative goodies and treatments while Victoria Street leading into Grassmarket has a good number of interesting little shops.

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