From the Castle you can head down on the famous Royal Mile, full of shops, restaurants and pubs as well as historic buildings, churches and monumental statues. At the bottom of the Royal Mile you’ll find the 17th century Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is The Queen’s official residence while in Scotland. The most well known Mary, Queen of Scots, lived in the palace for her short reign. You can tour the ground’s gardens and the ornate rooms of the castle. Located across the street is the very modern parliament building. Climbing the volcanic mountain known as Arthur’s Seat gives you a fantastic panoramic view of the city and towards the river and bay. The bay is known by the interesting name of the Firth of Forth (Firth meaning water and Forth meaning black), it eventually flows into the North Sea.
Edinburgh is Scotland’s enthralling capital city and second most populous behind Glasgow. Edinburgh’s Old Town is filled with medieval charm and it’s Georgian New Town with old world elegance. Scotland is part of Great Britain, and shares the mainland with England to the south. We flew from London to Edinburgh and took just over an hour, from the airport a shuttle bus can take you into the center of the city for a reasonable fee.
Dominating the city is Edinburgh Castle, Scotland’s most visited paid tourist attraction. The historic Scottish castle built on volcanic rock easily dominates the skyline of the city. The castle built atop volcanic rock, dates to at least the 12th century and had been the royal residence until 1633. It houses many buildings and regalia including the oldest, St. Margaret’s Chapel from the 12th century, as well as the Royal Palace, the Great Hall, the Crown Jewels, and the Scottish National War Memorial from after WWI. It is a most fascinating fortress and one can spend many hours taking it all in, as well as checking out it’s marvelous views of the city. Movie and history buffs will enjoy seeing the statues of Scottish heroes King Robert the Bruce and Sir William Wallace (Braveheart) are on either side of the Gatehouse entrance walls which were added in 1929.
History and art lovers will enjoy visiting the National Museum of Scotland, a world class museum full of natural Scottish heritage, world cultures and technological innovations through the ages. Near the museum where Chambers Street meets Forest Street and Candlemaker Row you’ll find Greyfriars Kirk (church) and the adjacent graveyard where many notable Edinburgh residents since the 16th century are buried. A Restaurant Bar just outside of the Kirk called Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar also features a statue out front of a loyal little dog who guarded his master’s grave for 14 years.
If shopping is your thing, the city center’s shopping district of Princes and Georges Streets are grand. There you’ll also find the Princes Street Gardens and the Scott Monument, a very striking Gothic style structure which you can climb it’s stairs for a view of the surroundings.
There’s sure to be a Scottish highland bagpipe player nearby dressed in the traditional dress featuring a tartan pattern on a kilt. Beneath Edinburgh Castle the Grassmarket and the narrow Victoria Street are full of shops and eateries all along it’s winding path. You might want to try some Cullen Skink Soup, which tastes better that it sounds; or you can find just about anything from a tasty burger to the British favorite of bangers and mash.
Edinburgh is a most fascinating city, one that offers an enormous glimpse into Scottish history and a taste of its proud people, definitely one that offers a dream vacation.