Destination Friday: Edinburgh

April 4, 2008 at 9:05 pm 2 comments

Let’s look at Edinburgh (EH-din-bur-uh) today. I got to visit the town, Scotland’s second largest city, back in 2000 and loved it. Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, the seat of the Scottish Parliament, and (at least according to Wiki) the second most visited tourist destination in the UK (after London).


Image from Wiki. WIki, Wiki, and Wiki.

Getting There
You can fly into EDI from a number of places via a host of airlines. To get into the city center, snag a taxi (25 mins) or hop on the Airlink 100 (bus; £3 single, £5 return; 25 mins to drop off at city center) or Edinburgh Shuttle (minibus; £8 door to door; 25 mins). They’re working on an underground tram, but it’s not running yet. Check EDI’s website before you go – you may need to account for additional travel time due to construction.

There are several options via train. GNER offers service between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh in just 4 hours. First Scotrail has sleeper service between London and Edinburgh 6 days a week. Virgin Trains has other options. Remember the BritRail pass I mentioned before? That’s how my traveling companions and I got there. Stock on Scotland has some good train tips for this particular trip.

Buses are also an option for those on a budget: see National Express, Megabus or Scottish Citylink.

What to Do/See
Edinburgh Castle: The castle, the oldest part of the structure dating back to early 12th century, is probably the most popular visitor’s spot in Edinburgh – with good reason. The views are amazing due to the castle’s placement overlooking the city. Check out the Scottish Crown Jewels and Regalia in the Crown Room; the oldest part of the castle, St. Margaret’s Chapel; and Mons Meg, the huge 15th century siege gun. If you’re in the area around 1pm, be prepared for the One O’Clock Gun. If you’re visiting in August, check out the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Holyrood Palace: Holyrood dates back to 1128 and served as the principal residence of the Scottish royal family since the 15th century. It’s now the setting for State ceremonies and official entertaining. It’s probably best known as the home of Mary, Queen of Scots. In touring the Royal Apartments, you can see plasterwork ceilings and period furniture.

Arther’s Seat: This is the main peak of the group of hills forming Holyrood Park. The peak is a bit over 800 feet above the city and provides excellent panoramic views – though a bit scary for those who are afraid of heights!

Princes Street: This street is the main shopping street in Edinburgh. Along the south side, you’ll find the Princes Street Gardens.

National Gallery of Scotland: The neoclassical building holds a broad range of art – from Bernini and Botticelli to Degas and Monet.

Edinburgh Festival: This is actually a collection of festivals held in August each year. If you’re going to visit during August, see what’s going on when you’re there. If you have some flexibility about when you’re going, keep in mind that the tourist population of the town swells quite a bit for these festivals. If you aren’t specifically interested in attending, you may prefer to avoid visiting in August.

Bonus: If you’re a dog lover or just a sap (like me), check out the statue and fountain erected in honor of Greyfriars Bobby (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greyfriars_Bobby).

Where to Eat/Stay

We stayed at a hostel, and that was fine for traveling on a budget. If I had my choice, I’d stay at the Balmoral Hotel. It’s a luxury hotel right on Princes Street next to Waverly Station.

The Yahoo travel guide seems to have some good suggestions about where to grab a bite or pint. GAM Taxis has more specific information, but you might need to do a bit of preliminary work before hitting it.

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Entry filed under: CenturyClub, Destinations, Europe, UK.

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