Edinburgh was our first stop on our 2 week jaunt around Scotland. Even in the 3 days we were there, we absolutely fell in love with the city. It’s so easy to do and here’s how:
1. Ask A Wee Question
You definitely need to engage with the locals because they are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. But not to worry, they will usually start the conversation. They are very eager to tell you all about their beautiful city, the history, the culture, you name it. Be prepared though, because they are a chatty bunch, there is no such thing as a short answer.
Our tram ticket guy, talked to us the full 30 minutes from the airport to the hotel. He was a very warm man with a smile the whole time. He told us all about the beautiful highland country, driving in the highlands, some Gaelic, and so many other things. Just a good guy who obviously loved his job and his country.
And Billy a very sweet guy we met out in front of Canongate Kirk (Church). As we were standing in front of the closed door, he motioned us over from his van. He proceeded to tell us how he repairs the antlers on the top of the roof. He wanted us to know the antlers are real and proceeded to show us all his pictures.
Proudly he told us how Queen Elizabeth goes to that church and has her own seat in the front with a thicker cushion than all the rest of the pews. He had lots of history to add to the antler story and the pew story. We loved it. What he did for us next is our ‘secret’ (unless you saw my Snapchat or Instagram story which has now disappeared) but let’s just say, he left quite an impression on us and was just a sweetie.
Luckily Mike had some challenge coins from the fire department that we were able to give him to say thanks! Everywhere we turned, someone was always there with kindness, manners and just general warmth.
2. Take A Walking Tour Of The Royal Mile
If you only have 3 days, take a walking tour of the Royal Mile. Since you can’t see the whole city in 3 days, why try. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
The Royal Mile is rich with history–you start at Edinburgh Castle and end at Holyrood Palace, or vice versa. You get to see a castle and a palace and plenty more in between.
The Royal Mile is where the Fringe Festival takes place. Yes, it’s very commercial like every tourist area on the entire planet but if you take the right tour you will get all the juicy bits of history, and explore the nooks and alleyways.
We recommend the Rick Steves Audio Tour.
3. Go In April
I really dislike crowds. It can make or break a trip for us. End of March, beginning of April was a very good time to go. It didn’t get dark until 6:30pm and the crowds were very very manageable. I highly recommend it. And lucky for us there were 2 beautiful days when the sun was out, still cold, but lovely just the same. I hear in summer it’s pretty crowded.
4. Take Your Time At Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is a magnificent castle steeped in history. I mean who doesn’t love a castle? But, be prepared it was another one of those “I am in selfie stick hell” type adventures . I really need to learn to tune that out. But, the castle itself has so much too offer– as long as you are mentally prepared for the crowds. The views alone are spectacular!
So, take your time knowing you will be dodging the sticks. The staff is great considering all the tourists that pass through. Get the audio guide for 5 pounds and learn the history of the castle as you walk through. You need the audio guide because it is actually bunch of different areas, as opposed to one big castle. It can be confusing without it.
5. Be Prepared For Fickle Weather
We had lovely weather while we were there. It was brisk, with sun, sprinkled in with clouds and rain. But we dressed in layers and had waterproof jackets with zip out liners. So we were able to peel it off or put it on as needed. We were comfortable the whole time.
TIP: Wear thick soled shoes! The cobblestone streets are a killer on your feet.
6. Don’t Worry, There Are Clean Public Toilets Everywhere!
I know, not the most earth shattering reason to love a city, but it can make or break it for me. I have been to many cities where you have to buy something just to use the ‘john’. Nothing worse. In Edinburgh, there are toilets everywhere. In every tourist attraction, church, store, ticket office, you name it. You can find one. But no fancy paper toilet covers so bring your own.
7. Have A Wee Dram
Go for some scotch tasting. We loved the Scotch Whiskey Experience Tour because their customer service was superb! Yes, the barrel ride was a bit Knott’s Berry Farm-ish, but they more than made up for it with their expertise and customer service. And there was no ‘upselling’ at all. You tasted 10 Whiskys, okay Mike tasted his 10 plus my 10, and we got a goody bag of a scotch glass and poster as a parting gift. We had lots of fun.
We were sad to leave and wish we had more time, but that just means we will go back again, maybe for Hogmanay or the Military Tattoo!
Thanks again Edinburgh, see you again soon. Sláinte Everyone!
Now go forth and set the world on fire.
~Mike And Donna~