After years of pestering Marcus, we finally booked a Christmas weekend away to Edinburgh, Scotland. We love exploring Europe and beyond but this time we decided to stay in the UK and explore one of our bordering countries. From what we’ve heard, Edinburgh is a great place to visit all year round, but seeing it during the festive period is a must! From the vast Christmas Market on Princes Street, to the decorations along the Royal Mile – it is BEAUTIFUL! We want to give you an insight into everything that made us fall in love with the Scottish capital and any tips and tricks we have for your visit to Edinburgh.
Long story short, we had a pretty awful journey to Edinburgh considering it’s only a mere 1 hour flight from London Stansted. After arriving at Stansted an hour earlier than we needed to be.. WHOOPS, we settled ourselves for a slightly longer wait than usual. Not that this was an issue, as it meant we had some extra time to grab a bite to eat. We were called to the gate, but soon realised that our flight was going to be slightly delayed due to a late incoming flight. Again, not a problem – this often happens with low budget airlines. A few moments before we were originally due to take off, they finally started boarding – phew our delay wasn’t too bad after all… or so we thought. All settled on the plane and ready to get airbourne! “Hello, this is your captain speaking, we have a slight issue…” – the words all passengers hate to hear. He then proceeded to tell us a bolt was missing from the plane, only a minor issue…NOT! Around an hour passed before the captain finally announced that the bolt couldn’t be changed and we’d have to wait for a new plane to be flown over from another airport. The delay went from a few minutes to a few hours pretty quick! To avoid a boring explanation of our time going from one plane to the next, we arrived in Edinburgh over three hours late. Although we lost the majority of our first evening it the city, there is a small plus – we managed to claim compensation for our flight being so delayed – YIPPEE!!
Flying to Edinburgh is certainly cheap from London airports (we paid £54pp) and is of course necessary for those travelling from outside of England and Wales, next time, we will definitely catch the train! With trains from London taking just over 4 hours to central Edinburgh (Waverley Station), the timings are pretty similar to those of an on-time flight, with the benefit of being able to see the scenery of northern England on your journey!
The accommodation in Edinburgh is similar to that of any major city, with a vast array of choices from hotels and hostels to B&B’s, and Airbnbs. We did a fair bit of research before settling on a lovely little B&B slightly outside the city centre. As our visit was during the festive period, accommodation was more expensive than usual, but this is to be expected at certain times of the year. Choosing somewhere slightly further out to stay was therefore the best option for us. We stayed at the Albyn Townhouse, located around a 25 minute walk to Edinburgh Castle, for three nights. The B&B was lovely, with some great little touches including a handwritten letter, hot chocolate, lollipops and a useful guide to Edinburgh with recommendations on what to do and where to eat- something we really appreciate when visiting somewhere new! The rooms were spacious, all with private bathrooms – most as an ensuite, although ours was outside the room – not an issue for us but something to make note of if planning to stay here! The breakfast was fantastic, and although it wasn’t included in our room rate, it can be purchased for £9pp. We particularly liked the fact that ingredients were locally sourced, particularly the haggis (included in the breakfast) which was delicious!! We’d definitely recommend the Albyn Townhouse for anyone visiting Edinburgh that is not too bothered by the slight walk into town.
Getting around the city
The city is quite spread out, with the airport sitting to the East and Arthur’s seat to the West, so it can be quite a trek to get to the various tourist attractions! We did walk most of it, with the furthest walk being from our B&B to Arthur’s Seat – this took around 50 mins / 1 hour, so not too bad! However, for those who aren’t so keen on walking, there is public transport all across the city and also Ubers which are reasonably priced for a large city! The airport to our B&B cost around £15 in an Uber, although there’s airport express buses which run from multiple stops across the city, the choice is yours!
Top things to do
With plenty of things to do and see in Edinburgh, we’ve listed our favourites and why!
- Edinburgh Castle
- Royal Mile
- Princes Street
- Princes Street Gardens and Princes Street Christmas Market (during December)
- Scotch Whiskey Experience
- Arthurs Seat
- The Dome – beautiful location for a drink, their Christmas decorations are second to none!
Firstly the Castle is one of the most beautiful buildings, it stands out in the centre of Edinburgh and can be seen from all over. When we decided to visit the castle, we thought we would just have a quick look around, not bothering with a tour. However, when we arrived we decided to take the plunge and pay £18 each to enter the castle grounds. It was worth every penny. The views are spectacular and there is so much to see, including demonstrations, the chapel, museums, the crown jewels and much more! We’d highly recommend paying the extra to enter the castle!
Royal Mile and Princes Street
Both iconic to Edinburgh and a must see during your visit, The Royal Mile leads directly down from the castle and is full of traditional shops, including lots of Whiskey and tartan shops, not to mention the bagpipes being played at various points along the road. Princes street is more modern and is where the majority of the shopping area is located. Right next to Waverley station there’s lots to do around here, including the Scott monument.
Right next to Princes Street are the beautiful gardens, during the month of December (when we visited) there is a huge Christmas market that contains a variety of stalls from pottery, to Christmas decorations to yummy food. There is a funfair within the market too!
As the Christmas market was VERY busy on the Saturday when we had first planned to visit, we wandered slightly further up Princes street and stumbled across a lovely little winter bar that served lots of yummy food, beers and of course mulled cider – YUM.
Scotch Whiskey Experience
This is perhaps the best tasting experience we’ve ever done. It cost us £16 each for an hour tour. First you are taking on a short ride that explains more about how the whiskey is made. Then you watch a video on the different regions of Scotch Whiskey before finally the tasting experience. The staff are very knowledgable and you get to learn a lot about the Whiskey! This is a must do if you enjoy tasting experiences, or Whiskey! Our favourite Whiskeys were from the Lowland and Speyside regions!
Luckily on our final day in Edinburgh, the sun came out and we were able to do the walk to the top of Arthur’s Seat – although the walk was slightly harder than we thought it would be (maybe we’re just very unfit), the view’s were well worth it! You can see the whole of the city from the top – it’s AMAZING! We walked back down to the city centre via the ruins of Saint Anthony’s Chapel which is beautiful – especially on a clear day.
Must try food and drink
Here are some of our recommendations for food and drink when in the Scottish capital:
- Scotch Whiskey – Speyside and Lowland regions in particular!
- Scottish Breakfast – including haggis, black pudding and potato scones
- TC Whiskey Cask cider – it tastes delicious mulled!
- Makars Gourmet Mash Bar (Mound) – both the sour cream and chive and the bacon and cheese mash were to die for!!
- Tigerlily – fantastic cocktails
We’ll definitely be back!
We absolutely loved our stay in Edinburgh, everything from the food to the architecture to the beautiful festivities, and we will definitely be returning at some point. Hopefully this post has given you bit of an insight to what we think is a must do, see or try whilst in the Scottish capital! Now we’ve had a taste of what Scotland has to offer, i’m sure we will want to visit more cities and places, including Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Hadrians Wall!
With our next trip in less than two weeks, we can’t wait to show you where we’re off to next! Keep following our instagram for more info on where we’re jetting off to before Christmas!
Adios for now,
Love Char & Mar xxx