Scotland is beautiful and so rich with history that it could take weeks to really see everything you want. We had 3 days.
With a few solid plans on the books, we made Edinburgh our base and left plenty of time to wander.
First off and most importantly, don’t overbook your trip!
When I planned this trip I was sure to leave just as much time to explore as I allocated to tours, attractions and fancy meals, etc. I don’t recommend filling every single day with activities and definitely don’t recommend planning more than one big thing per day, especially if you don’t have a lot of time at your destination.
The majority of our time in Edinburgh consisted of seeing sights and eating foods that our B&B host recommended. These turned out to be some of the fondest memories we have now looking back. My point: talk to locals, find out what they like and see/do/eat that.
Barony House is where we stayed and we loved it! I always opt for B&Bs over hotels because the food is always amazing, service is warm, friendly and personal and they always feel like home. Barony House was no exception with our friendly host, Paul, greeting us with the warmest of welcomes, taking time to get to know us and giving us a grand tour of our room for the next few days.
Barony House is located about a mile and a half south of The Royal Mile in Edinburgh Old town, so we found that taking a cab into and back home from the Old Town was our preferred method of getting around, though we did walk a few times and it’s about half an hour. The most we paid for a cab for those trips was probably 11£ but make sure you bring cash (or withdraw some from an international ATM there) since most cabs ONLY accept cash payments.
The first stop on our Edinburgh adventure was Craigmillar Castle, which we had no idea existed until our B&B host told us we had to see it – SO glad we did!
The glow of the mid-morning sun highlighting bits and pieces of the ruin and the faint sound of birds chirping in their nests situated throughout the once grand home of nobility create such an ethereal atmosphere.
Craigmillar Castle was constructed beginning in the 14th century by the Preston family and was once a respite for Mary Queen of Scots. More recently, the TV show Outlander (which I still need to watch!) filmed scenes here and it’s no surprise why they chose this beautiful ruin. It’s magical.
We arrived precisely at 9:30 am when they open and were only one of a few people exploring the complex. This is the best time to go as you can kind of get lost and wander and really enjoy your time in each room.
Following our castle adventure, we walked to the village of Duddingston (about 30 minutes and not the most scenic walk, just take a cab) where we had lunch at the The Sheep Heid Inn – the oldest pub in the UK and the only pub the Queen has been to! We weren’t lucky enough to see the Queen, but we did have a delicious lunch and really loved the fact that we were eating in a pub that has been open since 1360!
Salmon tacos, spicy pizza, brownies a la mode and of course good ale for Nate. The perfect spot to load up on calories before what lies just around the corner. Literally.
Conveniently located just a stone’s throw from the Sheep Heid is a long set of stairs. Follow it.
All the way up. (And do look down!)
To the top of an extinct volcano called Àrd-na-Said.
Or “Arthur’s Seat”, where you’ll find a breathtaking 360 view of Edinburgh. And plenty of very strong wind!
The hike was quick and we saw people going up and down in all sorts of outfits – leather skinny pants on one guy – which speaks to the relative ease of the ascent. This hike isn’t quite enough to make a day of but it’s conveniently located next to the Old Town and just down the opposite side that we went up was Holyrood Palace, our next stop.
Holyrood Palace is the Queen’s state residence in Scotland. There are no pictures allowed inside but once you get to the abbey – thankfully – you can take as many as you please!
As with every castle and palace we visited, Holyrood was stunning. This is a must-see while you’re in Edinburgh if you like history, royal watching, or just love seeing gorgeous architecture.
All that walking, hiking and heavy history intake had us quite famished. We strolled up a small portion of The Royal Mile (which ends up at Edinburgh castle a mile away) in search of more delicious Scottish fare and eventually ended up at our final destination for the day, Pibroch.
We ate Cullen Skink; a roast aubergine, shallot and goats cheese tart topped with sweet potato crisps and arugula for me and Nate had the Scottish beef and Edinburgh Ale pie with beef dripping chips. Both were excellent and yet another delicious ale washed it all down.
After dinner we called it an early night, despite the sun staying up well past 10pm! We had an early morning and busy day which I will save for the next post – stay tuned!