When I think of going on holiday, I usually imagine escaping the UK to somewhere a bit more exotic. But my recent trip to Edinburgh made me realise that we have some beautiful city escapes right here on our little island.
Edinburgh is a place full of friendly people, delicious food and lots of history which, if I’m honest, really did surprise me! I had no idea what a cultural hub it is. It’s a great option for a long weekend away from London and if you’re not a fan of airports, it’s just a train ride away.
What To See
Day 1: Underground Vaults Tour
Edinburgh city is known for its rich history and the underground vaults come with plenty of haunted tales. We booked with Mercat and went for the adults-only tour, Hidden & Haunted. This is a great option for day one of your trip as it takes place in late evening, so you have plenty of time to settle into your hotel and grab dinner as well as fit the first of many activities into your trip.
Day 2: Edinburgh Zoo
This zoo was the main reason we decided to visit Edinburgh in the first place. It’s the only place in the UK where you can visit a giant panda! There’s no guarantee that you’ll even see one or the panda may just be asleep but we were lucky enough to catch him happily eating some bamboo. The panda exhibit was so much fun and really informative too. You only get a fifteen minute slot but if it’s not busy, you can go back and visit again. Make sure you book your time slot online before your visit.
Other than the main attraction, you’ll find all your regular lions, penguins, monkeys and creepy crawlies here. It’s a little taxi ride away from the town centre so I’d recommend spending the day here – there are a couple of places to grab lunch in the zoo – before heading back to town for dinner and drinks.
Day 3: Arthur’s Seat Hike
Just a short distance from the town centre is Holyrood Park, where you can hike up to Arthur’s Seat, a hill over 2000 years old. Get a stunning view from the top and see the whole city below. This hike is great for both beginners and regular hikers as you don’t have to go all the way up and it isn’t too bad a climb with breaks in between.
It took us about an hour to reach the top viewing spot and another hour to get back down. If you get up early to fit this beautiful hike in, you have plenty of time left in the evening for another activity.
A word of advice: when your boyfriend says “let’s take this steep, rocky shortcut” on the way back down – don’t! Just follow the path like a normal person…
Day 3: Edinburgh Castle
After the hike, head back to your hotel to freshen up and then head to the iconic Edinburgh castle where you’ll find rich history and even more great views of the city at dusk.
See the rooms and halls inside as well as outdoor viewing points around the castle. It took us about an hour and a half to make our way through and see everything and we opted for the 15:00-16:00 entry time which meant we were ready to go for dinner straight after.
Book your ticket in advance to ensure a place.
Where To Eat
Miro’s Cantina Mexicana
Miro’s Cantina is a cosy restaurant right in the centre of town offering a wide variety of Mexican dishes. Get your taco, quesadilla or fajita fix here. The staff are lively and the portions are great value for money.
Whatever you do, you have to go to Chaophraya! I had the best Thai food of my life here. It’s a little more on the pricy side but not too expensive at all. Especially if you opt for a set menu – we ate until we couldn’t eat anymore and it was difficult to stop as everything tasted so good…
Plus there’s a beautiful fish tank in the centre of the room and amazing views over the city through the glass walls. This is the perfect spot for a romantic evening meal.
After a visit to Edinburgh castle, make sure you splash out on a fancy meal at The Witchery, just a couple of steps down the cobbled path. The exquisite interior nods to the quality of food served here.
If you’re thinking fancy restaurant means small portions – well, you’d be right. But we surprisingly didn’t go hungry as we ordered a side each which left us perfectly satisfied after the meal. You must book a table way in advance of your trip as spaces fill up fast!
Sicilian Pastry Shop
The Sicilian Pastry Shop may not be in the centre of town but it is definitely worth a mention. Located in Leith, just a ten minute drive from town, this little bakery is a dessert lover’s dream.
Where To Drink
Bryant & Mack
Edinburgh is a lively city with plenty of awesome bars to choose from. If you’re a fan of the speakeasy style, this hidden bar, Bryant & Mack, is for you. It took us almost fifteen minutes of walking back and forth before we realised where the bar actually was! I won’t spoil the fun for you – good luck finding it!
Badger & C0
Badger & Co was recommended to us by a waitress at Chaophraya and we were very impressed with their large cocktails! They also serve pub food here if you’re looking for a casual spot to grab lunch or dinner.
Where To Stay
I booked our accommodation through Airbnb and found a lovely little flat in Leith that I swear is owned by the friendliest couple on Earth. They gave us the local lowdown and made us feel comfortable. Their flat was spotless and included everything we needed from the all important WiFi down to a basic stocked kitchen. If you’re planning on staying in Leith by the city centre, I recommend you book this ideal spot!
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