A Holiday To Edinburgh

Hello everyone,

Today I have quite an unusual post, as it is not about books. In April, I was lucky to spend a week away in Edinburgh, and it turned out to be the most wonderful holiday.

It was my first time visiting the city and indeed Scotland as a whole, so I was very much looking forward to it, especially having heard so many great things about the place. In the end, it surpassed all of my expectations. I had the absolute best time, so I wanted to share my experience with you here!

Day One

As I live in Bristol, I was prepared for quite a long journey and had lots of food and drink packed with me along with four books. It was a nice day and the scenery became more and more picturesque as we travelled further north, passing a handful of well-known landmarks before reaching the border into Scotland, which underneath the early evening sunshine was perhaps the highlight of it all.

After 10 hours, I eventually arrived in Edinburgh just before 7pm and after stopping at a nearby restaurant for dinner, I began the slow walk to my hotel, taking in as many of the sights as possible and regularly stopping to take photographs on my mobile phone. It took only a matter of minutes for me to appreciate just how beautiful a city it was that I was stepping into, with stunning architecture and breathtaking views everywhere you look.

I soon arrived on Prince’s Street, which would become the centre of my universe for the next few days, with my hotel situated just around the corner. Just like many of the streets in the centre of Edinburgh, it is long and straight, and it has lovely gardens which look up towards Edinburgh Castle. The castle sits majestically on the rock and seeing it for the first time was a real ‘wow’ moment, looking perfect under the purple hues of the darkening sky.

The view towards Edinburgh Castle from Prince’s Street.

Prince’s Street also contains the Sir Walter Scott memorial, a towering structure with a statue of the iconic poet in the middle, along with a row of other statues; the Scottish National Gallery, and the enormous Caledonian hotel.

The Sir Walter Scott memorial.
The Caledonian Hotel.

Every step on the way to my hotel was a sight to behold, and I had most of plans laid out for the days ahead, starting with the castle.

Day Two

My pre-booked slot at Edinburgh Castle was not until 11am, so after tucking into a nice breakfast at my hotel I began the day by exploring Prince’s Street Gardens. The weather was glorious and so I took my time, looking at all the statues, savouring the cherry blossoms and looking up at the view towards the castle. The other most notable feature is the Ross Fountain.

Looking towards the castle from Prince’s Street Gardens.
The Ross Fountain.

I then walked uphill before entering the Royal Mile for the first time, so called because it leads from the castle to Holyrood Palace, one of Her Majesty the Queen’s royal residences. After admiring the cathedral and buying a couple of items from the souvenir shops, it was time to enter the castle.

The castle is more of a collection of buildings rather than just one large structure, and I had an amazing time there. The views are incredible and there was so much discover, as it incorporates two little museums and gives you explore all the areas that mattered. These include the Scottish war memorial and the Scottish crown jewels, where no photography was allowed.

The entrance to the castle.
The view from the castle, with Prince’s Street gardens in the foreground.

I spent a number of hours at the castle and managed to see everything; leaving late in the afternoon. But there was still plenty of time, so armed with a cup of tea and walked along the whole of the Royal Mile until reaching the Scottish Parliament building, which compared to the rest of the buildings in Edinburgh is quite an eyesore. It is however flanked by a beautiful area of greenery, with Holyrood just across the road and Arthur’s Seat – the famous hill which provides panoramic views of the city and the east coast of Scotland – a short distance away.

The view towards Arthur’s Seat.
The palace of Holyrood.

The first time I had ever heard of Arthur’s Seat was when reading the end of the novel One Day by David Nicholls, and that sprung to mind as I began the ascent, coming across a number of other tourists along the way. As someone used to walking and climbing, it was not too difficult to get to the top, but I took my time and admired the scenery, marvelling at how I was looking down on so many buildings, yet they seemed so close.

View from near the top of Arthur’s Seat.
Me at the top of Arthur’s Seat.

I am not as good with heights as I used to be a few years ago, but I stayed at the top for some time as the sun started to set and finally came down. As I returned to my hotel to complete a day that involved so much walking, I reflected on what had been a very special and memorable day.

Day Three

As someone who loves to visit museums, there was always going to be room for a trip to the Museum of Scotland during my time in Edinburgh. Instead of heading down Prince’s Street, to get there I went the opposite way from my hotel and walked along a meandering road that included a cat café, and eventually found myself on a buzzing thoroughfare on the other side of the castle.

The museum was just a couple of turnings away, flanked by two large statues. It is separated into an old building and a new building, and both are absolutely huge – set over three floors, meaning that despite spending the entire day at the museum until the 5pm closing time, I had only managed to see about three quarters of the exhibits in the new building.

The central gallery included an eclectic mix of items, some from around the world and others with a strong connection to Scotland. This area led to two enormous halls on either side. One of them was on Scotland’s scientific and industrial history and technological innovations, and the other was on natural history, with sizeable exhibits from the animal kingdom and the world of geology.

The museum’s central gallery.

It is an excellent museum in terms of what it contains and the extent of its collection, but perhaps best of all the information screens are very in-depth and it is extremely interactive. There are so many activities for children to engage with, so it is a great day out for people of all ages. I shall have to go there again on my next visit to Edinburgh to see the things I did not have time for this time!

After exploring the blossom adorned churchyard containing the final resting place of the poet William McGonagall, and consuming a takeaway cup of tea on a grass bank beneath the castle, I decided to head to Dean Village for the evening. A pretty little area containing quaint houses and a little nature walk, it had been recommended to me by several people both before and during my holiday.

The churchyard, complete with daffodils and cherry blossoms.

It was a bit of a walk to get there, but I found it in the end with the help of Google. While not as large an area as I expected, Dean Village is certainly tranquil and the houses are very colourful.

Dean Village.
Looking the other way.
The viaduct.
Further along the path from Dean Village.

The water of Leith flows serenely and you can walk along a path beside it, taking you underneath a high viaduct and further throughout the city, although I chose to return to the centre as it was getting late.

Day Four

This was my final full day in Edinburgh, so I simply had to make the most of it! The weather was somewhat cloudier than the previous days, but perfectly pleasant all the same as I walked to Edinburgh Zoo, a route that took me past Murrayfield stadium, the home of the Scottish national rugby team.

The zoo itself is very uphill and quite steep in places, and among its collection are some animals that I had never seen before in the flesh, including the famous giant pandas. There were also koalas – who won the prize for the cutest animals on the day – and the goral, a creature quite similar to a goat.

One of the giant pandas.
The koalas.
The pacing Sumatran tiger.
A parliament of penguins.

Among the other highlights were the large pelicans, the graceful Przewalski’s horse, the tigers – in an enclosure with a tunnel underneath, the adorable little monkeys, and the vast population of penguins. I spent a long time with the penguins and horses in particular.

The Przewalski’s horse.

When I left at about 3pm, my next destination was the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens, which were some distance away and slightly away from the centre. Once I finally found my way in after several minutes walking around the perimeter, I had a very lovely time there. The gardens may not contain many exotic plants, but it is beautiful nonetheless and so incredibly peaceful.

The lake in the botanical gardens.

The colours of all the plants and leaves, the calmness of the ponds and streams and the mazy pathways full of glimpses of wildlife, all made it a perfect place to spend a late afternoon. The sun was shining brightly by this point and there was also a wedding taking place, and as a came upon their parade photographs were being taken, with the gentlemen in their ceremonial kilts.

However, I had been told that the very best cherry blossoms were at the Meadows park, and that, I can confirm is categorically true. A colossal green space adjacent to the University of Edinburgh campus, it has three or four paths running through it that are lined by pink cherry blossom trees on both sides – a glorious sight.

The cherry blossoms in the Meadows park.

It was early evening and the park was full of people. With another cup of tea and a cinnamon swirl, I relaxed and did some reading for a blissful hour, before taking a closer look at the cherry blossoms. This was such a wholesome day.

As it was my last day in Edinburgh before leaving, I decided to walk along the Royal Mile one more time. There was just about time to buy another souvenir minutes before the shop closed, and take another close-up look at the castle, until I finally retired to my hotel. Once again, there was so much walking, but I loved every second.

Day Five

I did not have much time in the morning before my journey home, but after my final hotel breakfast (the service was excellent), I took up another recommendation and bought a white chocolate cream cake from Black Rabbit, a vegan bakery. Just like everything else I experienced in Edinburgh, it turned out to be amazing.

I did not return home until the early hours of the following morning. On the way I managed to finish the book I had been reading (Bone China by Laura Purcell), and listen to a lot of music. I must admit that I almost did not want to leave Edinburgh! I adored it so much there that I fell in love with the city during the previous few days.

One of the University of Edinburgh buildings.

You may also be wondering about bookshops! Well rather shockingly, I did not manage to visit a single one while I was in Edinburgh. I was hoping to visit Lighthouse bookshop, but I prioritised seeing as many of the sights as I could and so I ran out of time!

Overall, it was a fantastic holiday and one that I will never forget. I already cannot wait until I visit Edinburgh again!

27 thoughts on “A Holiday To Edinburgh

  1. Lovely! I’ve been several times, and I don’t think I’ve yet to discover it all. On one trip we visited Sir Walter Scott’s home, which is a museum – a bit on the twee side, but interesting enough.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It was great to experience your trip via blog post. It sounded like you had a wonderful time and all your photos took me back to my visit. Even better as I got to see the views from Arthur’s seat as when I went up there it was surrounded in fog (timing is everything 😂). The Castle and architecture is soo beautiful though. 😍 Dean Village and the Botanical gargens look lovely, I will have to add them on my to visit list.
    I’m so glad you had a great time and thank you for sharing 🥰

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a lovely blog post Stephen! Edinburgh is one of my all time favorite cities, but I haven’t been able to go for almost 10 years and this was a lovely vicarious visit 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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