The capital of Scotland since the early 1400's, Edinburgh is full of history and charm. Whether you're exploring the hill-top castle, ducking into the tiny closes off the Royal Mile or wandering one of the city's museums, you're sure to find endless delights. It's a workout for both your camera and your walking shoes.
Highlights of Edinburgh
- King Arthur's Seat
- The Royal Mile
- Edinburgh Castle
- Palace of Holyrood House
Edinburgh Castle sits on a hill top that has been used as a fortification for over 2,000 years. Inside the castle walls you'll find cafes, military museums, St. Margaret's Chapel and other haunts worthy of exploring. Elaborate stained glass, bagpipers and the crown jewels are just some of the lures of this don't-miss site.
Palace of Holyrood House
This palace, built for Mary, Queen of Scots during the 16th Century, is still home to the Royal Family during the summer. When the Queen is not in residence, the palace offers tours of the royal apartments, including Queen Victoria's Dining Room and the ornate Throne Room.
The oldest building still standing from Edinburgh's Canongate (a small, independent burgh), it once housed Council Chambers, the law court and a jail. It's recognizable by the clock (added in 1884) that overhangs the building.
St. Giles Cathedral
A church site since 848 AD, what stands today was built in the 15th Century and is home to the beautiful Thistle Chapel and medieval choir stalls.
The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile is a stretch of road (just over one mile, actually) that runs between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood House. Wander down the street pausing to peek into shops (selling everything from obvious tourist trap fare to exquisite woolen and leather works) and tiny side streets. It's down these closes that Edinburgh's charm comes to life. Also on the Royal Mile, you'll find some of the city's great pubs, offering good food, drink and live music.
King Arthur's Seat
Located within Holyrood Park - 640 acres of hilly Scottish countryside - King Arthur's Seat is a high point that takes its name from the legendary King Arthur. Although it is a steep climb, the views are unmatched. A one-way hike can take up to 90 minutes, but is well worth it.
National Gallery of Scotland
This museum holds a wealth of Scottish art, as well as other British works and gems by European artists.
Here, you'll find original works by Scotland's premier writers - including Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. The museum also houses memorabilia and pictures as well as a not-to-be-missed printing press on the third floor.
If you need to engage in a little retail therapy, head over to Princes Street. There you'll find everything from staples like The Gap, H&M and Zara, as well as specialty clothing shops.
Places to Stay
There are a handful of hostels in Edinburgh, many within walking distance of the city's center. To search for hostels online with full descriptions, photos and availability information, please access the following link: http://reservations.bookhostels.com/isecard.com. The $2 reservation fee will be waived when booking through this site.
Places to Eat
There are no shortage of great pubs to grab a drink and a bite to eat. For fantastic shepherd's pie, a pint and some folk music, drop in at The Tass (corner of Jeffrey Street and High Street). For more help on where to eat, please visit:http://www.restaurant-guide.com/uk+scotland+lothian+edinburgh.htm
Lothian busses are the most common in Edinburgh, offering routes that cover the greatest part of the city. Timetables and maps are available at travel shops on Waverly Bridge, 27 Hanover Street or Shandwick Place, but are not essential, as most bus stops are marked with routes and busses come fairly frequently (usually every 10 to 15 minutes). Tickets (please have exact change) can be bought from the driver.
Edinburgh is extremely bike-friendly, but do keep in mind that because of its hilly nature, you may find yourself working up a bit of a sweat. The city also offers traffic-free cycle routes (see http://www.spokes.org.uk/ for more info.)
Because of its compact size, Edinburgh is the perfect place to stroll. Many parts of the royal mile do not permit car traffic, and even the areas that do are pedestrian friendly.
There are over a dozen car rental companies in Edinburgh (including big names like Hertz and Avis), but you may want to save these for taking trips out of the city. Edinburgh has very strict (and strictly enforced!) parking restrictions. ISE Cardholders can save 15% off at Alamo Rent A Car. (Mention Code BY ID# 706768).
Edinburgh Airport is Scotland's capital airport, with service to over a hundred locations in the UK, Europe, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Airlink buses connect the airport with the city, and run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (more info)
Waverly Station, Edinburgh's train station, is located in the city center and provides easy and efficient connections to other destinations in Scotland, as well as England.