Edinburgh, Scotland

I love Scotland! I love it's capital city Edinburgh. I still remember the sense of awe I experienced pulling into Edinburgh's' Waverly Train Station for the first time, and seeing the gothic soot covered Scott Monument. Wow! This is  my kind of place!

Edinburgh is just a very cool city. There's the old medieval part with the castle, New Town, and places to explore underground like the vaults, and Mary Queen's Close.

Edinburgh Castle looms high above the city on Castle Rock. It sits at one end of the historic Royal Mile in Old Town and Holyrood Palace at the other. In between the two royal residences are a cathedral, churches, graveyards, shops & pubs, as well as numerous little passage ways called closes, that are fun to explore. 

If you're a Harry Potter fan, it's easy to see how this city influenced the story's setting and even it's famous villain. You'll find Tom Riddle's headstone in Greyfriar's Kirkyard as well as the Potters, McGonagall, Moodie, and Charles Black. Victoria Street is said to be the inspiration for the design of Diagon Alley.

Down below the Royal Mile on one side is Princes Street, full of shops, restaurants, hotels, and garden. Enjoy the view of the castle from Princes Street Gardens.

Similarly, on the other side of the Royal Mile is the Grassmarket, a lively area with numerous shops, vendors, and restaurants. It was once a medieval market place and site for public executions! There's a pub called The Last Drop.

August is the busiest time in Edinburgh with the Fringe Festival and the Royal Military Tattoo going on. The Fringe Festival attracts thousands of tourists and performers. The streets are packed with hoards of people. There are street performances. There are people everywhere handing out flyers trying to convince you to come see their show. Pubs, courtyards, restaurants, and parks all become fringe venues for comedians and other performers. It's madness! 

The Royal Military Tattoo takes place in the evenings at Edinburgh Castle. Military bands from around the world are invited to preform each year. There are so many bagpipers! It's one of my favorite events and worth planning your trip around.

The best way to see the city is to just start wandering around. Your best bet is to head up towards the Royal Mile first then expand out wherever you're drawn.


Scott Monument 2

Scott Monument it's a 287-step climb to the top for a small fee.

Scott Monument from Princes Street

Scott Monument from Princes Street Gardens.

Flying Scotsman
Scott Monument Bottom

Sir Walter Scott

Scots Monument 3

Edinburgh Castle

Make your way up the volcanic rock to visit Edinburgh Castle. Get your admission tickets in advance as they have timed entry and they sell out. Don't miss the One o'clock gun. Pop into the tiny St. Margaret's chapel, which is the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh. While you're at it, wait in line to see The Honours of Scotland, the oldest crown jewels in Britain. Peek over the ledge to see the old pet cemetery. 

If it's August, come back at night for the magnificent Royal Military Tattoo! It's usually the highlight of my trip. Bagpipers and fireworks!

Edinburgh Castle 2

The Ross Fountain in Princes Street Gardens beneath Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle 3

St Cuthbert's Cemetery, next to Princes Street Gardens.

Edinburgh Castle Entrance

Edinburgh Castle entrance by day.

Edinburgh Castle Entrance Tattoo

Castle entrance at night during the Tattoo performance in August.

Edinburgh Castle 4

The line to see the crown jewels.

Edinburgh Castle Pet Cemetary

The little pet cemetery at the castle and a view of Princes Street.

The Royal Mile

The Hub Edinburgh

The Hub, located at the top of the Royal Mile, in front of the castle.

Red Phone Booth Edinburgh

Iconic British Phone Booths

Tron Kirk Edinburgh

Once a church, now a marketplace.

Tollbooth Tavern Edinburgh

This medieval building was used to collect tolls in the 1500's. The ground floor became The Tolbooth Tavern in 1820, and it still operates as a pub. It's pretty small inside.

Writers Museum

Writer's Museum featuring:

Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson

Closes

These narrow passageways called closes are everywhere. Some of them go all the way through. Some of them are dead ends. Some have a garden. Some have a steep stair case. Each one is unique.

Anchor Close
Jollie's Close
Tweeddale Court
Paisley Close Edinburgh
Fleshmarket Close

Fleshmarket Close. Halfway House, is the smallest pub in Edinburgh, on the right. 

St. Giles' Cathedral

On the Royal Mile, in between the castle and Holyrood Palace is St. Giles' Cathedral. You must go inside and see the stained glass, the organ, and the architecture.

After the Queen's passing. She laid in rest here for a day. Mourners lined up all night to get a chance to pay their respects. She attended services here whenever she was in town.

St. Giles Cathedral
St. Giles Unicorn
St Giles Stained Glass
St Giles Lectern

The organ in St. Giles behind that eagle lectern. Dumbledore had one with an owl. 

Palace Holyroodhouse

Holyrood Palace sits at the end of the Royal Mile, with Arthur's Seat in the background.

See the Queen's Gallery. Walk through Mary Queen of Scots apartment and other successive royals. No photos are allowed inside. 

Take a stroll outside to see the gardens and the Abbey, now a ruin. The abbey was used for coronations and royal weddings, until the roof collapsed hundreds of years ago.

Holyrood Palace 1
Holyrood Palace Entrance
Holyrood Palace Unicorn Door
Holyrood Abbey

The Royal Britannia

This 5-story yacht belonged to the Royal family for 44 years, until Tony Blair took it away from them and turned it into a museum. It was really old and cost too much public money to maintain. Now it's one of Edinburgh's top attractions.

The inside is not really that fancy. Today's modern day cruise ships are more elaborate. But it's cool to visit anyway and get a glimpse of the Queen's former floating palace.

Britannia
Britannia Bell
Britannia Rolls
Britannia Interior
Britannia Dinning Room

The Georgian House

The Georgian House in Charlotte Square is another place you can get a glimpse of the past of those that lived and worked here centuries ago. 

Georgian House
Georgian House 2
Georgian House 3

Royal Botanic Gardens

Just outside the main city center is the Royal Botanic Gardens. It's quite a lovely colorful place to spend a few hours taking a free stroll away from the hoards of people on the Royal Mile & Princes Street. There are cafe's on the grounds making it a great lunch spot. 

Royal_Garden_1
Royal Garden 2
Royal Garden 3

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  • Temple Old Kirk is located in Temple Village outside of Edinburgh. This site was the headquarters of the Order of Knights Templar in Scotland.

    Temple Old Kirk

    Temple Old Kirk is located in Temple Village outside of Edinburgh. This site was the headquarters of the Order of Knights Templar in Scotland.

  • Medieval Rosslyn Chapel was made famous for being featured in the The Da Vinci Code. It's intricate carvings are associated with many legends and secrets.

    Rosslyn Chapel

    Medieval Rosslyn Chapel was made famous for being featured in the The Da Vinci Code. It's intricate carvings are associated with many legends and secrets.

  • Edinburgh's Royal Military Tattoo is an event worthy of your bucket list. It's a unique performance from military bands across the globe and of course bagpipers!

    Royal Military Tattoo

    Edinburgh's Royal Military Tattoo is an event worthy of your bucket list. It's a unique performance from military bands across the globe and of course bagpipers!

  • Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh is a haunted graveyard best known for providing inspiration for Harry Potter characters.

    Greyfriars Kirkyard

    Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh is a haunted graveyard best known for providing inspiration for Harry Potter characters.

  • St. Cuthbert's cemetery is another one of Edinburgh's cool old cemeteries. The oldest headstone is dated 1606.  It has great views of the castle.

    St. Cuthbert's Cemetery

    St. Cuthbert's cemetery is another one of Edinburgh's cool old cemeteries. The oldest headstone is dated 1606. It has great views of the castle.

  • Dean Village is a gem worth exploring. Dean Cemetery is a Victorian era graveyard with grand monuments and old trees making it one of my favorite cemeteries.

    Dean Village & Cemetery

    Dean Village is a gem worth exploring. Dean Cemetery is a Victorian era graveyard with grand monuments and old trees making it one of my favorite cemeteries.

  • The gardens of Drummond Castle are spectacular. They were filmed in Outlander as a stand in for the Palace of Versailles.

    Drummond Castle

    The gardens of Drummond Castle are spectacular. They were filmed in Outlander as a stand in for the Palace of Versailles.

  • An unexpected detour on our road trip around Scotland led us to the picturesque village of Killin.

    Killin

    An unexpected detour on our road trip around Scotland led us to the picturesque village of Killin.

  • The Clachaig Inn, located in the beautiful Scottish Highlands, was where we spent the first night of our road trip around Scotland. The grounds are stunning. Hagrid's Hut was built across the highway.

    Clachaig Inn

    The Clachaig Inn, located in the beautiful Scottish Highlands, was where we spent the first night of our road trip around Scotland. The grounds are stunning. Hagrid's Hut was built across the highway.

  • Eilean Donan Castle is one of Scotland's most photographed castle. It's been in several films. It's a must stop on the way to Skye.

    Eilean Donan Castle

    Eilean Donan Castle is one of Scotland's most photographed castle. It's been in several films. It's a must stop on the way to Skye.