A weekend in Edinburgh.
Discover everything Edinburgh has to offer and fall in love with its enchanting streets with our guide to a weekend in the Scottish city.
Edinburgh is one of Europe’s most beautiful and underrated cities. Home to many stories and storytellers, it was Edinburgh’s charm that gave life to the world of Harry Potter and Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde. From its winding cobblestone streets and sprawling narrow alleys, to the breathtaking views from Arthur’s Seat and the city’s rich cultural heritage, it’s no wonder why Edinburgh has inspired so many novels. Here are some things you can’t miss out on whilst your there!
Start by exploring the city’s historic heart, the Royal Mile, which runs through the Old Town centre and stretches from Holyrood Palace to the magnificent Edinburgh Castle. The Mile is peppered with cobbled closes and wynds with tumbling stairways that lead to little shops and cosy pubs that’ll shelter you from the cold. Hidden away down one of these enchanted alleys, the historic Advocates Close, lies Devil’s Advocate, a quirky candle-lit bar with big windows and rough stone walls housed inside an old Victorian pump house with a 200-strong whisky shelf. It’s great for a pint or two when the sun’s gone down, or a bite to eat when you’re taking a break from your sight-seeing.
Perched high on a base of volcanic rock overlooking the Royal Mile is Edinburgh Castle, a fortress famous for the 26 sieges it has endured during its 1100-year-old history, giving it a claim to having been “the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world”. Explore the vaults under the Great Hall where prisoners of war and pirates were held until the 19th century; learn about the heritage of the Royal Scots, formerly the oldest serving regiment in the British Army and known as ‘Pontius Pilate’s Bodyguard’; enter St Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest building in the castle, built in about 1130 in memory of King David I’s mother Queen Margaret; or explore the castle’s royal residence, where monarchs stayed when they sought the safety of this mighty stronghold.
At the gates of the castle is Witchery by the Castle, a renowned restaurant and luxury boutique hotel housed in a substantial sixteenth Century building. Expect heraldic painted ceilings reflecting the close links of the alliance between France and Scotland; tapestry-hung walls panelled with seventeenth century oak rescued from a fire at St Giles Cathedral; opulent red leather upholstery and antique church candlesticks that complete the scene. It’s a candlelit dining experience like no other, so be sure to make a dinner reservation in either of its two stunning rooms, the Secret Garden or the Witchery room, during your stay.
You can’t go to Edinburgh and not climb up Arthur’s Seat. The dormant volcano rises 822 feet above sea-level and is the highest of Edinburgh’s seven hills, offering fantastic panoramic views of the city and the Firth of Forth to the north. The seat itself is said to be the indent between the highest point of the peak and a secondary point a little way to the south. Once you’re at the top you’ll be able to see all of Edinburgh at your feet, it’s a breath-taking view to say the least. The hike down won’t take more than 20 minutes, but don’t go down the same route. Instead, walk down to Duddingston Loch and have lunch in Edinburgh’s oldest surviving watering hole The Sheep Heid Inn, which has been beautifully restored to make you feel like you’ve just entered Hogsmeade.
So, whether it’s dining at its exquisite restaurants, downing a couple at one of its best whisky bars, exploring the Old Town, or hiking up a dormant volcano, there’s plenty to keep you busy during your stay at one of the richest and most inspiring historic cities in Europe.