Edinburgh in 36 Hours
In what I would call a “speed round”, we managed to see Edinburgh, Scotland, in a mere 36 hours! What? I know, that’s not a lot of time, but thankfully, the main sights of Edinburgh are relatively close to each other. Still, we had to hustle to get in everything we wanted to see. How did we do it? Read on to find out….!
We landed in Edinburgh at about 8:30 pm. By the time we made our way through customs and retrieved our luggage it was getting late, so we decided to take a taxi instead of trying to figure out public transportation. Getting through the airport to the taxi pickup area seemed more complicated than it probably was, but we eventually got there, and hopped in taxi. It was worth the $30 fare. Our taxi driver was hilarious as he described visiting his brother who lives in America and attending an American football game. He was astonished to find out that American football fans could sit wherever they wanted at a stadium, because in Scotland, soccer fans must sit according to their teams.
After a nice chat, our driver dropped us off at about 10:00 pm at the centrally located Hilton just a short walk from Waverley Railway Station. We'd be taking the train from there back to Glasgow in about a day so the hotel was perfectly situated for us. Once we checked in to our hotel, we were famished, so we headed to the bar, and had a late dinner, watched some American football (no really!), oh yeah, and had a beer!
On the Move!
Since it was a nice morning, we planned our sightseeing day as a walking tour, starting out on foot from our hotel and making our way to Edinburgh Castle. Along the way, we saw the Scott Monument, built to commemorate Sir Walter Scott, one of Scotland's greatest novelists. The foundation stone was laid on the August 15, 1840 (the anniversary of Scott's birthday) and the monument was completed in 1844. It is 200 feet 6 inches (61.1m) high, and is made of sand-stone from the Scottish county of West Lothian.
We also passed the Scottish National Gallery and the Royal Scottish Academy also close to Waverley Station. And while we love museums, we limited our museum time to the National Museum of Scotland (more below). In case you're planning a visit to Edinburgh and want to include the National Gallery on your "to do" list, it houses masterpieces by Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Monet, Van Gogh and Gauguin, just to name a few.
Once we finally made it to Edinburgh Castle, I have to say, on the whole, I was sort of disappointed. First, it was insanely crowded. Yeah, I get it, it's a major tourist attraction, but still, it was "hard-to-move" crowded. Second, we stood in a ridiculously long line to get entry tickets. Then about 20 minutes into the wait, we realized we could buy ticket online for the same price. We bought the tickets on line, then printed them out at a conveniently located kiosk right at the Castle – you just need your confirmation number. Super easy. The cost for two tickets was 34£ or $45. Third, while the views from the Castle were really beautiful, I found the rest of the sights on the grounds to be a bit well, underwhelming, and to see the crown jewels, well, forget it – the line was out-of-hand.
After leaving the Castle, we walked down the equally crowded Royal Mile. Not super impressive either, except for the beautiful flower boxes everywhere and the crush of people. Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile refers to the collection of historic, iconic streets at the heart of the Old Town. Along the way, we passed the Scottish Parliament building (which you can actually visit!) and St Giles’ Cathedral. You can walk the Royal Mile all the way down to Palace of Holyroodhouse (which we did, albeit a bit circuitously)
I read about the Outsider Restaurant in Time Out Edinburgh. It was sooo worth it for about 18£/ $24 for the two of us. It turned out to be one of our favorite meals of the trip! Me, I got pan fried gnocchi with walnut, pear, cherry tomato in pesto. And for Hubby – beef burger with fries.
After lunch, we decided to head over to Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park. The park is a short walk east of the city center. The views are said to be spectacular at the top of Aruthur's Seat (250m), but since it was a bit drizzly, we decided to skip the hike up and opted for some ice cream (about 6 £/ just about $8) at the foot of the hill, which totally made up for the rain!
On the way back, we passed the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Dynamic Earth, the futuristic Science and nature attraction, which looked super interesting.
We decided to duck out of the rain and head to the National Museum of Scotland. It’s got a really eclectic collection of all kinds of things from around the world. From dinosaurs to prosthetics (yup), the museum houses objects from thousands of years and from all across the globe. It was fantastic and FREE!
Good Bye Edinburgh...
The next morning we caught a train from Waverley Station back to Glasgow where we'd be flying home. (Psst - don't forget to check out my post on Glasgow!) Edinburgh was a lot of fun, the people were friendly, and the food was delish! Admittedly, we didn’t visit every single sight - we only saw the Nelson Monument from afar and we missed the National Monument and the Royal Botanic Garden altogether. In spite of our limited time, I feel like we had a great day and managed to cover a lot of Edinburgh in about 12 hours! We got to see what was most important to us. And isn't that what a vacation is supposed to be - doing what you want to do?
Are you heading to Edinburgh any time soon? What are your plans? Let me know on Facebook or in the comment section below!