Yes, No, Maybe: What (Not) To Do In Edinburgh

Edinburgh, the biggest city north of the wall…no silly not the Game of Thrones wall, but Hadrian’s Wall! With history adorning its every stone, beautiful architecture, and stunning views, it is a place that is definitely not to be missed. With that in mind, here are things you should do and see if you stray north of the border.

See the Scott Monument. This example of Victorian gothic architecture is an ode to Sir Walter Scott and his poetry and it actually looks good in both photo and in person. Climb to the top for a birds-eye view of the city to die for (but don’t jump).

It’s hot, it’s cool, it’s a calorie bomb: hot Chocolate Float at Mary’s Milk Bar. It’s absolutely divine and quite possibly my favourite thing I drank there – sorry whisky – maybe you can impress me next time.

Can’t get enough art? Then a visit to the National Galleries will definitely quench your thirst. Aside from a gift shop, they also have works from all best buddies from Da Vinci and Botticelli to Picasso, and if that wasn’t good enough, then entry is free.

Muggle up and take a trip around the so-called ‘birthplace of Harry Potter.’ Wander the streets that may or may have not inspired JK Rowling for Hogsmeade or sip a coffee at the Elephant House, the cafe where she wrote the first book. Sadly there’s no butterbeer as far as I could make out.

Put on your walking boots and climb Calton Hill. Your thighs might complain, but there’s a reason this place gets plastered over postcards selling the city and maybe you can try and beat them with a award winning photo of yourself and a random tourist you grabbed.

Everyone’s heard or seen Edinburgh Castle. It sits like a lonely ex-boyfriend stalker above the Scottish capital, looking down wishing it was part of the fun again. But seriously, the fortress once served to defend the nation and it has its own crown jewels – take that Tower of London! However…even these jewels weren’t worth the £16.

Don’t go in the middle of a festival season if you don’t plan to attend one. I booked my trip to Scotland in the middle of Fringe Festival (without realising), which meant that it was really busy, hotels were extra expensive and booked out almost everywhere – don’t follow in my footsteps!

Stand on top of Arthur’s Seat. No, it’s not a giant toilet seat, but a hill on which you can stand. Now, I know that doesn’t sound super exciting, and it’s a bit of a trek, but you eyes will thank you for the views.

Wander into Saint Giles Cathedral. Named after the patron Saint of Beggars and Cripples, the cathedral was important according to some history books. If you love stain glass (who doesnt right!) then this is for you, and if not, it’s a maybe.

Call my maybe…? I mean tell me your Edinburgh yes/no/maybes?

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  1. Love this post! If I do venture up to Edinburgh, I will stick to this post like a map! (I’m now also craving a hot chocolate float I have never tasted haha – I can only imagine how amazing it must be!) x

  2. I’ve been twice to Edinburhg: one in January and one in August (during the said festival). To be honest August was far better albeit busy (but a far cry from January). I agree that the castle is not worth a visit. The Camera Obscura near the castle is fun though!! Also climbing up Arthur’s Seat calls for hiking boots (more than Calton)!
    I also like to walk in the “new” part of town (George and Rose streets)!

  3. I’ve never been to Edinburgh but all the pictures I’ve seen of it have looked beautiful. Sorry that you accidentally went during such a busy time. 🙁 Great post!

  4. Hey, I just found your blog while I was searching for some tips for my trip through Scotland in one week. Great blog!

  5. I’ve never been to Edinburgh, but it looks very interesting. I love all the history, but it’s good to know the castle might not be worth it. Thanks for sharing your tips! It’s always good to know what can be skipped when planning a trip, because all too often I just want to see it all.


  6. This is taking me back! I loved Edinburgh so much, especially wandering its mysterious streets and back alleys. And I couldn’t agree more, the castle is not something I’d see again (… sorry about it Edinburgh, I love you anyways)!

  7. You’re giving me previous home sickness 😛 I used to live in Glasgow and spent a lot of time in Edinburgh. And no visit was complete without a quiche and beer at the elephant café. Did you go visit the graveyard next door? That’s were J.K.Rowling found all the names for the characters in the Harry Potter books.

    xx Dandy I

  8. I love Edinburgh so much – my sister studies there but I’ve only been up twice! Must go again and consult your list of Yeses! Mary’s Milk Bar is a favourite – when I was up last month I tried the Bananas Fried In Butter flavour ice cream and nearly wept with happiness. I also just love wandering around the Grassmarket area and taking in the beautiful, Gothic-tinged buildings. x