By Chloe Flood
There is nothing better than a weekend trip away from the normal hustle and bustle of life. With the vast destination options across mainland Europe, it can be difficult to drop a pin on where you should rendezvous. One of my own top-spot weekend destinations is the Scottish capital city, Edinburgh. Edinburgh is one of the most fascinating and beautiful cities in the world. The city has a thriving café culture, emerging food scene, great shopping, contemporary art scene and vibrant landscape. With a history rich foundation and spell-binding culture, the city is one that offers something for all ages.
Edinburgh offers something all year round. From the renowned International Fringe Festival, Christmas, Hogmanay, Film, Jazz, Science and Literature festivals there is never an off season in this city. If you are looking for a solo or romantic getaway Edinburgh city is the perfect choice for you to explore all year round!
What to do & where to explore in Edinburgh
1. Edinburgh Castle
Dominating the capital skyline, Edinburgh Castle perches itself upon the rigged Castle Rock. The iconic site is enriched with history and breath-taking scenery. Visitors can explore the castle’s grounds with a guided or audio tour. Visitors get to walk the great halls, admire the Crown Jewels and witness the firing of the One o’clock gun! It is best to book your tour tickets in advance to avoid disappointment! The castle opens 9.30 am daily and adult tickets start at £17.50.
Visit https://www.edinburghcastle.scot/ to plan your trip.
2. The Edinburgh Dungeons
The Edinburgh Dungeons offers something fun for all. Transport yourself back in time to a much darker and sinister Edinburgh city, riddled with plague and murderers. The tour brings you deep into the history of your destination in a fun and interactive way. The dungeons are open 7 days a week, 10 am-5 pm. Tours operate every 15 minutes and run for 70 minutes.
Tickets start at £15 online at https://www.thedungeons.com/.
3. Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park Walk
One of the city’s most impressive views can be stolen from the top of an extinct volcano! If the excessive uphill walks around the city grounds haven’t exhausted you completely, a walk-up Arthur’s Seat is well worth the visit. The view from the peak offers sensational views of the whole city and beyond. Best to look ahead at weather conditions before venturing up as visitors who dare attempt the walk-in rainy conditions risk a disappointing view.
4. The National Museum of Scotland
The National Museum of Scotland houses a stunning collection of worldly treasures of nature, art, science and technology. Meet ‘Dolly’ the first cloned mammal and brush up on your body snatching techniques with a visit to the darker side of the Scottish exhibits. The museum operates between 10 am-5 pm with free admission all year round. Plan your visit on https://www.nms.ac.uk/
5. Edinburgh Hop On, Hop Off Bus
One of the better (or lazier) ways to see the city is by splashing out on a Hop-On, Hop-Off bus pass. Get chauffeured around the Old and New Town and miss nothing from the top deck of the bus. Jump from significant place to place and hear all the tales and facts of your location as you recline. The bus operates 9 am-4 pm every day and tickets are valid for 24-hours.
Prices start from £16 and are available https://city-sightseeing.com/en/home.
Top Edinburgh Travel Money-Saving Tips
For best value across the board, I highly recommend opting for an Edinburgh City Pass. You can pick a one, two or three-day city pass depending on the length of your visit. The pass grants you entry into 23 of the city’s attractions such as Edinburgh Zoo, The Edinburgh Dungeons, Hop-on Hop-off Bus, Harry Potter Tour, Edinburgh Vaults, Glenkinchie Distillery and many more.
The passes start at £45 for an adult one-day pass, £55 for an adult two-day and £65 for an adult three-day pass.
Check out the full list of attractions here: https://www.edinburghcitypass.com/attractions/ and depending on the things you want to do, these passes can work out the best value!
Photo above courtesy of Deacon’s House Café
What to eat and drink in Edinburgh
Breakfast in Edinburgh
What better way to start your day off than with a delicious and hearty breakfast. It will definitely be needed ahead of all your excursions in the city! Here are a few of my favourite launching pads:
1. Deacon’s House Café
Located on the Royal Mile, this café offers a wide variety of breakfast treats. From homemade scones and wild smoked salmon to a full Scottish breakfast with all the trimming, Deacon’s has something for everyone on their menu. Grab a seat in the café’s courtyard and relish in the pretty historical setting.
Discovre more: http://deaconshouse1788.co.uk/
2. Urban Angel
If you are looking for high quality and exciting food, then look no further as Urban Angel prides itself on providing locally sourced organic fair-trade food and drink. The menu has something for everyone ranging from Eggs Benedict and French Toast to healthier options like smoothie bowls and fresh juices. And for those coffee lovers out their Urban Angel have their own bespoke blend of coffee which is served all day.
3. Zebra Coffee Co.
If you’re in the get-up and go mood, Zebra Coffee Co. might just be the perfect choice for you! Wake yourself up and waste no time exploring with freshly brewed coffee-to-go and something sweet or savoury packaged up for your travels. The cosy corners opened 9 am -5-30 pm daily welcome you to stay but the adventure of the city and the kicking coffee may encourage you otherwise.
Learn more: http://zebracoffeeco.co.uk
Photo below courtesy of Zebra Coffee Company
Lunch & Dinner in Edinburgh
Keep yourself fuelled throughout your fun-packed day with some of these fun lunchtime or dinner hot spots:
Looking for a quick and fun lunch option, look no further than OINK! Yes, you’ve guessed it Oink specialise in pork and offers you a full hog roast lunch without the mess! Pulled pork under a brioche bun topped with your choice of herb stuffing or classic Scottish Haggis! Add a dollop of house special apple, BBQ, Chilli Jam or mustard sauce and you’ve got yourself a lunch fit for a king!
Retro games and movies, wings and amazing cocktails. I’m sold! Just a few steps down Royal Mile you may stumble upon this gem hidden down one of Edinburgh’s many closes. Wings is a blast from the past with each table set up with as a theme from pop culture history. Enjoy a wide and varied selection of wings and delicious sides from their menu and even treat yourself to a tasty cocktail.
3. Bertie’s Restaurant and Bar
A sophisticated approach to fun food and probably the best fish and chips you’ll get in the city! Looking for a casual evening meal Bertie’s menu has something for everyone. From their classic fish and chips to their hearty pies and burgers, something is bound to set your taste buds watering. Sink it all back with a playful classic cocktail. Enjoy Bertie’s menu daily from 12 pm-10 pm.
Photo below courtesy of Wings Edinburgh
Where to stay in Edinburgh
Deciding where to stay is all about personal preference. Whether you want absolute luxury, something different and quirky or somewhere you can just retreat to for a quick rest before hitting the cobbled streets again. Edinburgh city has accommodation to suit your needs.
1. 5 Star Luxury at the Radisson Collection, Royal Mile (£140+ Per Night)
The Radisson Collection is the only 5-star hotel located on the iconic Royal Mile. The hotel’s interior is designed and enhanced with art from local Scottish artists such as Hatti Pattison, Timorous Beasties and Judy R, Clark. Each room is elegantly furnished with art and comfort.
The rooms give views of the enriched Edinburgh skyline, views of the ancient Edinburgh Castle, Arthurs Seat and Victoria Street. With an award-winning restaurant, bar and spa, a stay here offers guests an exceptional experience well worth the price per night! Be warned you may not want to venture out of the opulence!
Photo courtesy of the Radisson Collection Edinburgh
2. Best Value at the Mercure Edinburgh City Princes Street Hotel (£81 Per Night)
The Mercure Hotel is situated on the city’s main shopping street, Princes Street. The hotel’s rooms offer Instagramable views of the Princes Gardens, Scotts Monument, the Old Town skyline and Edinburgh Castle. The hotel is central to everything the city has to offer. If the view from your room doesn’t entice you out and about, the shops, restaurants and bars right on your doorstep might just!
3. Dwell as one of Edinburgh’s Notorious Criminals at The Court Hostel, Parliament Square (£45 Per Night in Private Cell)
Stories of Edinburgh’s infamous criminals can bring out the dark tourist in us all. One way to step a little further down the rabbit hole of Edinburgh’s unjust is to plan a stay in one of their cells! At the Court Hostel, that’s exactly what’s on offer.
Although the private rooms (cells) are equipped with all today’s necessary amenities, the rooms retain the simplicity, round ceiling, iron gated doors and small windows that it had when it housed criminals. As far as hostels go, this one is an experience. One can only hope the cells are not home to those criminals today!
4. A vibrant and friendly stay at St. Christopher’s Hostel, Market Street (£33.50 Per Night in a Private room, £6.80 Per Bed in a Shared Dorm)
For a fun and easy-going place to stay, St. Christopher’s Hostel is the best option. The hostel offers private and shared accommodation in a perfectly central location. The hostel has its own vibrant bar, perfect for meeting new people exploring the city too. The hostel has free breakfast, great discount in the bar (25% off food and drink), free walking tours and pub crawl tours available as well. A comfortable and affordable stay offered here in a prime location!
Parting words for your trip to the Scottish capital…
When embarking for Edinburgh be prepared to get those steps in! The city is built upon an extinct volcano so of course, you can expect some ups and downs during your stay. Always be prepared for rain and shine in Edinburgh, the weather is a bit like Ireland – maybe a little colder!
All in all, I don’t think I have ever come across someone who hasn’t loved this beautiful city. Edinburgh is a place full of exploration, celebration and something a little magical. The only way to experience this city is to immerse yourself in every nook and cranny, every hill and close!
How to get there to Edinburgh
Flights to this destination are very affordable and operate with leading airlines such as Ryanair and Aer Lingus, from Ireland, and a number of European destinations. You’ll not be long flying high until you set your gaze upon the vibrant city landscape as flights out of Dublin Airport to Edinburgh Airport usually take about 40-50 minutes.
Edinburgh Airport is situated about 30 minutes from the city centre. One way to get into the city is to catch the Airlink 100 bus which operates 24/7. The bus fare is set at the price of £4.50 (€5.50) single adult and £7.50 (€9) for an open return ticket. This bus is located outside the main entrance of the airport and runs every 10 minutes into the city.
Alternatively, you can hop on a City Tram for £6.50 (€8) single adult and £9.00 (€11) open return. Trams run from 06:15 to 22:45 every day. Black cab taxis are also available at the airport, prices for your fare may reach up to £20 (€23).
Top Edinburgh Travel Money-Saving Tips
Travel via Airlink 100 bus! The bus is cheap (£4.50 adult single, £7.50 return9 and gets you into the city just as promptly as the other options. When jumping on the double-decker bus take a window seat upstairs.
This is one of the best ways to get an introduction to the city as it takes the main route to the city and even passes by attractions such as Murrayfield Stadium and Edinburgh Zoo. The view of Edinburgh Castle from your seat will mean you have reached your destination. The bus will drop you slap bang in the middle of the city on Waverly Bridge. This is also where the bus will depart for your return journey to the airport-that is if you don’t fall in love with the city and decide to stay!
Chloe Flood, Author
My name is Chloe Flood and I am currently in my final year of studies in Ireland’s beautiful west hot spot: Galway. Through my four years of studying Hotel and Tourism Management, I have been given a great opportunity to travel on a local, national and international scale. During the journey for my degree, I ventured to the Scottish capital for a placement and found nothing short of a second home in the captivating city of Edinburgh