I have been to Edinburgh twice now while living in the United Kingdom. Every time I am in the city it is a wonderful experience and both times I have gotten lucky with some good weather! This city always feels so alive! Bagpipes play all over the city, street artists stand all up and down the royal mile, and there are tons of places like the castle to stop into and pick up some history or culture. Whiskey tastings are a must but really when you come make sure to put aside a little time to spend walking around. Take in all the amazing architecture, grab some breakfast or a pint, and talk with some of the locals!
I do have to single out a few select must see spots, one of them being Calton Hill. The very top Pano image has perhaps a better viewpoint, Arthur's Seat, but it can be time-consuming if you only have a day or two in the city. It is because of this that I usually recommend Calton Hill over Arthur's Seat. With maybe a ten minutes walk from the main station, you can make it up to see some great panoramic views of Edinburgh. The hilltop also features the National Monument of Scotland, the Dugald Stewart monument pictured below multiple times, and towering above the hill stands the Nelson monument as well!
I wanted to start recommending some spots to stay at due to folks usually asking how I am traveling so much while working full time or just wanting to know some good party spots for their nights out. I personally love the hostel experience, you get to meet tons of people, they usually have events or tours, and some even feature some really cool spaces like Budget Backpackers, pictured below. One other hostel in Edinburgh I can also recommend the Castle Rock Hostel, their staff is wonderful and it's a great spot with the Castle right out the front door, sadly I don't have any photos of it. Do be sure to book in advance at least for a couple days when staying in Edinburgh, it is always full of fellow travelers.
As far as bar or pub recommendations I am not a club guy so I have to recommend either picking up some cigars and stopping into a whiskey tasting or if you are looking for cocktails and staying out late give one of these places a try!
The Devil's Advocate - Near St. Giles - Cocktails and an all around great spot.
The Last Word Saloon - Not far from Queen St. Gardens - Dark atmosphere.
The Dome - Right near the hard rock - really classy, very nice spot even for lunch.
Cafe Royal - not far from the station. - Again really nice spot, maybe even a touch over the top.
Cumberland Bar - a bit far out like Last Word - Awesome Beer Garden
Bramble Bar - right next to Queen St. Gardens - Speakeasy feel, upscale.
One other is Port O'Leith if you like a more local feel this sailor style bar with good people and cheap beer should not disappoint!
Two other must hit spots if you love interior awesomeness or have the time to walk through some cathedrals are St. Giles on the royal mile, and Saint John's down near the Ross fountain! If you can only hit one go to St. Giles for sure but the glass is really something in Saint John's!
Easily the most touristy thing in town, Edinburgh Castle, does not disappoint. A fair few of the things to see inside the walls are not photo friendly but don't let that stop you! The Scottish National War Memorial was really breathtaking as well as the Honours of Scotland, both on the naughty list for photography. Expect to pay to get in but don't expect to be terribly disappointed.
The last on my list of must-sees but certainly not least is the Scott Monument. It stands 200 feet tall and is the tallest monument to a writer in the world! Even better it has steps offering multiple views of the city all the way to the top! Just to warn you it can get really tight on the spiral staircases and I am positive there are over 200 steps. The monument was built to commemorate one of Scotland's greatest novelists, Sir Walter Scott. After visiting, I did some research on him and came across this interesting quote.
"One crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name." -Sir Walter Scott
This wraps up Edinburgh, I am sure I will be back again and with this finished, I need to start on the next post covering a road trip up to the incredibly beautiful Isle of Skye. Please let me know what you think and tell me about your time in this incredible place. I am always open to meet new people and hear others travel stories so send them over! If you have reccomendations for the next time I am here send those as well, and as always if you want any prints or have any questions shoot me an email!