My husband and I went to Edinburgh for a weekend in November to check out their Christmas Markets and see a little bit of the city. We, by far, did not see all that Edinburgh has to offer but we did see some of the main attractions. We have a feeling that we will be going back to visit quite a bit so decided not to worry about doing too much in so little time. The weather was also rainy, which is very typical so hopefully next time we go back we will have better luck.
Accommodation:We stayed at the Emerald Guest House which is about 10 minutes from the city center. There is a bus right out front that will take you straight to the city center. There is also a grocery store right behind the guest house. The service was very good but there is not much parking. The complimentary breakfast offers a great selection and the couple that lives there is very friendly and helpful.
The Christmas Markets were lovely. They had a train for the kids and an ice skating rink that we enjoyed. They also have a Ferris Wheel and another ride but it was too cold in our opinion.
The one sight that we had to see on our first visit was the Edinburgh Castle. We thought we couldn’t go to Edinburgh and not see the castle. We took the self-guided tour around the grounds and liked that we had access to almost everything. I thought it was well preserved. Our favorite room was of course the Crown Jewels. I also enjoyed the view overlooking the water. There was a free whiskey tasting at one of the gift shops, if you are interested.
Next to the castle, we stopped in the Scotch Whisky Experience. We didn’t want to pay for a tour so we just went into the shop and looked at all of their whisky. It depends on what you’re interested in, but the tour may be something you will like if you want to learn more about the story of scotch whisky.
Down the road from the castle is St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Giles Cathedral. To me, St. Giles wasn’t a spectacular cathedral but I enjoy going in churches when I pass them. We did not go in St. Mary’s.
Although we didn’t have time to go in, we wanted to see the Palace of Holyroodhouse from the outside. It looked beautiful and I would have liked to go in. This is the official residence in Scotland of Her Majesty The Queen. You can explore the Queen of Scots’ historic chambers, ten State Apartments, and the 12th-century ruins of Holyrood Abbey. You can also combine your visit to the Palace with The Queen’s Gallery, which features changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection.
As you can see, we did not have very much time in Edinburgh but we most certainly enjoyed our visit. We look forward to going back!
If you are driving from England, I also want to suggest stopping by Bamburgh Castle on the way there or back. It is about 1.5 hours SE of Edinburgh and is right on the beach. It is only open on the weekends though. We were going to go in and then decided at the last minute to save the visit for another trip with our family. We just walked down to the beach and took a stroll. It is a beautiful location for a castle since there is not much else around so it won’t get too busy.
If you have more time, here is what I suggest looking into that I hope to do on future visits:
Day Trip Loch Ness Tour
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions : 6 floors of interactive fun for all age. Mirror maze, vortex tunnel, bird’s eye view of Edinburgh with the rooftop experience
Royal Botanic Gardens: 70 acres, 10 magnificent glasshouses, exhibitions, shopping, family events
The Edinburgh Dungeon
Edinburgh Old Town
The Georgian House