A few years ago, my daughter, Peyton, some friends, and I took an 8 day road trip through Edinburgh, Scotland. We hired a private guide to show us through the beautiful Gaelic countryside and highlands. Upon arrival in Edinburgh, we began our wonderful vacation. Edinburgh displays a great contrast between medieval Old Town and planned Georgian New Town, with the medieval parts being my favorite.
Where We Stayed
Our group stayed in Leith at the affordable and no frills Holiday Inn Express Hotel, located on the waterfront, a five minute walk from the Royal Yacht Britannia. The price was definitely in our budget range and offered on point service and accommodations. Our rooms were spacious, clean, and had comfortable beds. A European breakfast was provided for the guests.
We strolled around the Royal Mile, which is formed by name given to the succession of streets that form the main artery that runs through the city of Edinburgh to connect Old Town to the 11th century visually stunning Edinburgh Castle. It is approximately one Scots mile long and is made up of the streets Castlehill, High, Lawnmarket, Canongate, and Abbey Strand.
Along the way, we encountered pubs with creative names, numerous cafes, elegant mansions, religious buildings, and trendy souvenir shops and boutiques. Most days we saw street performers who offered their talents for tips. As you might have guessed, one of the main attractions for us women were the many men dressed in kilts.
The Gorgeous and Historic Edinburgh Castle
We visited the iconic Edinburgh Castle, the #1 tourist destination, and inside, you can be photographed in Scottish garb, but for a hefty price tag. My husband, his father, and friends did it and the photo was cheesy as hell, yet a very memorable experience. A perfect souvenir! At the end of the Royal Mile is the Palace of Holyrood House, which later became the residence of the Scottish Kings. Across the street was the newer building housing the Scottish Parliament.
My favorite part of our day in Edinburgh, aside from our ritzy afternoon tea at the Royal Yacht Britannia, was people-watching around Royal Mile. It was so cool to see so many locals dressed in tartan plaid and kilts. The people of Edinburgh went out of their way to cater and to us and we appreciated it.
Note: During our day exploring Edinburgh, the Edinburgh Marathon was taking place. The temperature was 77•F and many runners were hospitalized due to heat exhaustion. Since we are used to extreme heat back in the United States, we were incredibly shocked by this.
Check out our other posts about Scotland: