This is part of a series of posts about my recent trip to the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, planned in celebration of finishing the bar exam and our third wedding anniversary. There will be a post for each of the 13 days of the trip, from Edinburgh to St. Andrew’s to the Lake District to Liverpool to Dublin to Northern Ireland to Stonehenge to Oxford and finally, to London. At the end of each post, you’ll find a summary of where we STAYED, ATE, and EXPLORED each day. <3
After taking the red-eye from New York to Edinburgh the night before, Shane and I landed in Scotland around 9 in the morning. We took a shuttle from the airport, and walked from the Waverly Station area to our Airbnb, about 20 minutes from the city centre in the Abbeyhill area. The flat we booked was 100% adorable, and perfect for our quick one-night crash in Edinburgh. Our host, Darren, was lovely and accommodating, and we even got to meet his mum! Darren rents out his traditional tenement flat, which is smartly decorated and very comfortable.
After settling in, we headed right back out for a walk along Regent Park, where we had a beautiful view of Arthur’s Seat. With more time in Edinburgh, I would have loved to hike it, but the rest of the Royal Mile was calling.
We walked across North Bridge to get to the Royal Mile, and wandered up towards Edinburgh Castle, taking in the architecture and history of the city. We stopped for lunch at the Castle Arms, which made for our first official meal in the UK. I had a great lamb shank on a blanket of mashed potatoes and gravy, and a pint of Innis & Gunn.
With just about an hour to explore, we entered Edinburgh Castle and used the Rick Steves Edinburgh Snapshot Guide to find our way around. We climbed the Lang Stairs, took in beautiful panoramic views of the city, stared down canons in the Half Moon battery, toured the Royal Apartments (branded everywhere with Mary Queen of Scots’ gilded initials, and including the room where King James VI, first monarch of both Scotland and England, was born in 1566) and the Great Hall (completed in 1511 and chock full of many generations of weapons), saw the Honours of Scotland (the oldest Crown Jewels in the British Isles) and the Scottish National War Memorial, touched Mons Meg (a huge siege gun dating back to 1457), and stepped inside St. Margaret’s Chapel (the oldest building in the Castle, built in the 1100s).
After leaving the Castle, we meandered back down the Royal Mile, stopping for a few tourist traps like the Tartan Weaving Mill & Experience (which Shane loved because of all the film memorabilia) and ice cream at Mackie’s.
We also happened to be in Edinburgh during the 70th year of the Festival Fringe. Originally founded by artists who were rejected from the Edinburgh International Festival, the Fringe brings over 50,000 performances in a span of 3 weeks to the city. While walking along the Royal Mile, we saw dozens of street performers, a cappella groups, mimes, jugglers, and comedians. We stopped for a particularly entertaining juggler who had drawn a large crowd.
Finally, we popped into World’s End (although didn’t stay because of the crowd), and got a beautiful view of Calton Hill as we walked back to our Airbnb to crash for the night.
STAY: Traditional ground floor tenement flat // Abbeyhill area // Airbnb // one night @ $150
EAT: Lunch at the Castle Arms (nachos, lamb shank, and Innis & Gunn beer are all recommended!) // cool decor and witty bar sayings painted on the ceiling // near Edinburgh Castle // mains $11-14/pp
EXPLORE: Regent Park for a beautiful view of Arthur’s Seat // walked the Royal Mile // Edinburgh Castle ($22.50/pp)
If we had more time: Hiking Arthur’s Seat // St. Mary’s Close // Old Town