5 reasons why you must visit Edinburgh
My boyfriend recently moved up to Glasgow, so this winter I went from being a Scotland-virgin to visiting the country every month to escape the madness of London. Edinburgh in particular was a city that I’ve wanted to visit for a long time, but because of the distance I’ve always put it off. As soon as I booked my (five hour, urgh) train up to Scotland, I knew I needed to finally get to Edinburgh, and it didn’t disappoint, zooming its way up into my top five UK cities in the time it took me to exit the train station.
So why do I love Edinburgh so much? Most tourists flock to the city in August, when the Tattoo, Fringe Festival and International Festival are in full swing. But even in winter the city had a real buzz to it, and was much quieter. I’ve found that some cities instantly grab me, and within minutes I knew Edinburgh would be one of them.
1) The incredible buildings
For somewhere so far north I’d always expected Scotland to be a little well, drab. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Yes, the drizzle doesn’t really stop, and you definitely need to arm yourself with a coat and umbrella, but something about Scotland’s capital city makes the crappy weather very easy to forget.
I love historical cities, and Edinburgh certainly ticks all of the boxes. Cobblestones – check. Twisty, windy, hilly streets? Check. Old castle perched on a hill? Check.
Many of the buildings in the UNESCO World Heritage listed Old Town date back to the 16th century, and this area is where most of the city’s best attractions are located. My favourites were the imposing Edinburgh Castle, the distinctive St Giles Cathedral, peaceful Greyfriars Kirkyard and the buzzing Royal Mile.
2) The deepthroating street performers
Okay, so I can’t always decipher what Scots are saying, and I sometimes have to just smile and nod at the more unintelligible parts of a conversation, but on the whole they seem like a very friendly and funny bunch of people. This particularly applies to the street performers who line the Royal Mile.
This guy, who I will call ‘shirtless fire deepthroating guy’ was especially brilliant. I normally find street performers a bit annoying, and normally I’d walk straight past, but within seconds he had his shirt off in mid-winter and was deepthroating a flaming torch while tossing out risque jokes to a crowd rammed with young children – how can you possibly ignore that?
The grand finale of the show involved a rather hefty man balanced on top of him while a board of nails dug into his chest. It looked pretty horrendous but the guy seemed pretty chirpy (and alive!) afterwards. He got a tip.
3) Greyfriars Bobby – one for dog lovers
Greyfriars Bobby is the extremely sweet story of a loyal Skye Terrier who diligently visited his master’s grave every day until he passed away himself. This statue of the terrier is obviously a very popular spot. Did you notice that Bobby’s nose is a different colour to the rest of him? It’s considered good luck to give his little snout a quick rub. Obviously I gave it a go…
4) The best burger in Scotland
Walking up and down the Royal Mile left me pretty hungry, and I’d heard great things about Holyrood 9A. Tucked away down a side street off the Royal Mile is this superb little pub. The interior was so warm and cosy, exactly what you need after a shivery afternoon exploring Edinburgh. Unlike some of the tourist traps lining the main strand, the prices here were very reasonable and the food excellent. The menu even included a ‘cheap’ wine section – bliss. For those after a more traditionally Scottish tipple, there’s also a huge range of local ales and whiskies on offer.
I highly recommend the burgers – huge, juicy two-hands needed contraptions stuffed with tasty local produce. And they even do sweet potato fries. Needless to say, I was in heaven, and enjoyed a pretty tipsy train ride back to Glasgow afterwards. Unsurprisingly the place gets pretty packed, so try to get there early.
Check out the mouthwateringly good menu here
5) The Castle
At the end of the Royal Mile is Edinburgh Castle. Edinburgh’s most instantly recognisable building is like the city it calls home, quite small, weirdly proportioned, but at the same time really quite lovely. Perched on Castle Rock the fortress has overlooked the city since the 12th century, having been everything from home to the Scottish royal family, a military barracks and a backdrop to the military tattoo in its long history.
In fact the whole city is packed full of fun and quirky things, like these life-size dancing puppets…
And the cafe where J.K. Rowling penned Harry Potter… (Unashamed fangirling time!)
I’m lucky enough to be visiting Scotland again next week, and I’m really looking forward to exploring the country more thoroughly. I’ll be based in Glasgow (which despite its reputation is actually a very cool city with the BEST takeaway in the UK – Buddy’s I love you) heading to beautiful Edinburgh again and making trips to Loch Lomond, Stirling and the Isle of Arran. Sadly I don’t think I’ll be able to get up to the Isle of Skye or go Nessie spotting at Loch Ness – maybe another time!