Edinburgh is a city I’ve wanted to visit for the longest time, so at the end of last year, when flights were super cheap, we decided to book a trip. We went in late January and were met with the best kind of cold and crisp Wintery days, staying over for two nights and trying to see as much of the centre of the city as we could. Here’s a little of what we did.
How we travelled
Flights and City Sightseeing Bus
We got a flight from our closest airport, Bristol, first thing on a Friday morning, arriving in Edinburgh a little after an hour later, so we managed to have a full first day to explore and sight-see. As we stayed for two nights, we travelled home on Sunday and would highly recommend this as a decent amount of time to spend here for your first visit. Once we were in Edinburgh the only transport we used was the City Sightseeing Tour bus, along with our trusty legs. The bus, which had 14 stops, and had some really interesting commentary all the way along the route, was the perfect way to get around, giving us the ability to hop on and off whenever we reached a sight or attraction we wanted to visit. It was a perfect introduction to a new city, saved our legs when we fancied a sit down whilst still seeing what the place had to offer. The ticket lasts for 24 hours, so if you time it right, you can get a few journeys out of it before it runs out. The rest of the time we walked around, as most things we wanted to see or visit were in easy reach and we could easily pop back to our hotel when I got tired (hello, early pregnancy exhaustion).
Where we stayed
The old Waverley Hotel
We were perfectly located for our little weekend away, on Princes Street, which is the main street running through the centre of Edinburgh and in amongst all the transport links and amenities you could want for a city break. It was a small, but comfortable hotel and was reasonably priced for a well-situated, city-centre located accommodation, so one I would definitely recommend for those visiting the city for a short stay. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, however, I would look into going somewhere a bit more up-market, but if you’re just looking for a bed to sleep in for a few hours then there’s not much to fault.
Where we ate
The Black Rose Tavern
We ate at The Black Rose Tavern for lunch on our first day and this would definitely be one of my husband’s favourite spots we visited on that weekend. It is a small, but super atmospheric pub, with the friendliest staff and the most delicious food. Another reason my husband was such a fan was the music memorabilia which adourned the walls and the soundtrack that was provided during our visit – nothing like a bit of 80s rock to start your Friday off right. We went in early lunchtime when it was still quiet, but as we left it was super busy and seemed to be really popular with locals and visitors alike. We saw that they hosted a lot of live music events too, so that’s likely to be good time.
A busy, but super cute American BBQ restaurant was the choice for our Friday night dinner. I was really looking forward to this one, but my pregnancy stomach did not agree, so I feel like I couldn’t do this place justice. Pulled pork done right has been one of my favourite meals for a few years now and I’m sure this one really was delicious, but my appetite and my nausea just did not let me enjoy it as much as I would’ve liked. My husband tells me that his meal was perfect and he finished off every last bit, but I feel like I need a second visit to get an accurate opinion on how the food was!
We stopped in at this lovely little place for waffles on Saturday morning and it was an absolute dream. My stomach was feeling more up to the meal that morning, so I polished off my Belgian waffles with strawberries and loved every bite. We had to walk around for quite a while to work them off, but it was worth it, as it was a delightful way to start our second day.
The White Hart
Saturday lunch was a quick stop at The White Hart after we’d been to the museum and we were out and about around the Grassmarket area. Another small place that we were lucky to get into given how busy it was, it was a perfect stop for a light bite and a taste of what Edinburgh had to offer. Plus, it was a pub with an interesting past, so reading about it turned out to be quite fun too.
Makars – The Gourmet Mash Bar Company
This was definitely my favourite meal of the trip and was a restaurant quite different from anywhere I’d been, in that it was an eatery specialising in meals based around mashed potato. Both myself and my husband loved every bite of the meals we had and enjoyed it so much that we recommended it to family who were visiting the city a few weeks later. A like a restaurant with a twist, so this place was right up my street and the food and friendliness of staff made it a first class experience. We came out full and very happy!
What we did
National Museum of Scotland
I loved it here and we spent several hours wandering around this incredible building, looking at all the amazing things on display. The building itself is a wonderful attraction, but all of the interactive exhibits inside made the whole experience one that I thoroughly adored. And as a free experience (we donated as we went inside), it can’t be missed. Highly recommended.
City Sightseeing Tour
As mentioned above, we also bought tickets for one of the tour buses that travels around the city and loved this unique way of seeing as much as we could and learning a ton of historical facts through the comprehensive commentary on board. It took about an hour to do the whole route and it took us to some areas we probably wouldn’t have got to see just by walking, so it is something I’d suggest doing if you’re new to the city and want to see the main highlights.
Shopping and walking
We did a little bit of shopping while we were there, mostly due to the fact that we were staying right in the centre of the shopping area and there were a couple of shops we don’t have at home. Other than that, our main activity was walking. We did a ton of walking the entire time we were there and it’s a city that can mostly be reached by walking around and exploring. There are a bunch of different areas of the city, all offering something unique to see, so I would recommend walking and seeing where you end up.
Overall, our experience of Edinburgh was an amazing one and it is a city we both fell in love with. We will definitely be making return trips and will be trying to see as many more attractions as we can, hopefully some that can include their famous drinks (pregnancy wasn’t the best time for this!). Our new baby is likely to impact when we go on trips like these in the future, but I hope we’re able to take them with us on most of our travels so that they can see as much our country and beyond as possible.