For my final post from the UK, I’ve saved the best for last.
While London is still quite lovable … Edinburgh is oh-so-livable. In fact, it’s completely stolen my heart and is now my favorite UK city.
During the summer, that is. I have no idea what it’s like during the dark, dreary and cold (!!!) winter months.
But during high season, when the days are long, and the sun shines without scorching, it’s heavenly. And there’s so much to do.
Where do I start?
- First, getting to Edinburgh from London is easy — just a 4.5-ish hour train ride from London’s King’s Cross to Edinburgh’s Waverley.
- Accommodation in Edinburgh is expensive! I opted to stay in an Airbnb “private room” vs. renting an entire flat. My room was in the western part of “New Town” and a 20 minute walk to the top of the Royal Mile. Here was the view from my bed every morning. Super chic and not too shabby!
- The New Town is full of gorgeous Georgian and Victorian style homes, many on crescent-shaped streets. I never minded the walk to/from the city center, especially in the mornings and evenings. So pretty and peaceful!
- While Edinburgh is extremely walkable, it also offers a decent network of trams, trains and buses. Taxis are plentiful and cheap, although I walked most of the time and only used a taxi when it rained.
- Edinburgh is a Harry Potter fan’s paradise! Legend has it that J.K. Rowling spent many-a-day at the Elephant House cafe writing Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (as it was titled in the UK).
- I’m not sure why, but fans now flock to the Elephant’s bathroom to pay their respects, filling every inch of wall space (and toilet paper dispenser!) with graffiti …
- They also flock to Greyfriars Kirkyard to see more Harry Potter inspiration. Like Tom Riddell’s gravestone …
- There are lots of other Potter perks for Edinburgh visitors, and I won’t spoil any more surprises. Just Google Harry Potter tours, and you’ll be spoiled for choice. Yay!
Other highlights …
- Perched atop a massive volcanic rock, the magnificent Edinburgh Castle towers above the city. It’s a must-see and easier to visit when you purchase an online ticket in advance. I went early on a weekday morning when the crowds were thinner.
- Also atop a massive volcanic rock: Arthur’s Seat! This group of mountains/hills is another must-see and incredibly beautiful. To climb to the top, the less steep/challenging route is on the left. The path on the right is supposed to be much harder. I’d advise wearing grippy shoes either way and skipping the climb if it’s rainy. Even on the “easier” path, some of the stretches are quite steep and would be slippery when wet.
- There’s also the pub/shop lined Rose Street in New Town …
- And narrow “closes” throughout the Old Town, as well as tons of beautiful architecture …
- There are plenty of walking tours for history buffs, literature lovers, foodies, and ghost hunters. Though they vary in focus, most cover similar local highlights … like Greyfriars Bobby!
The timing of my visit coincided with Edinburgh’s annual film festival. I was so excited, I bought tickets to six films!
Here’s what I saw:
Moon Dogs – Very likable Scottish “coming of age” film that features stunning Highland scenery. If you’ve spent any time in Scotland, you’ll enjoy the recognizable landscape.
Irreplaceable (Medicin de campagne) – A French film about a country doctor who must train his replacement. It stars Francois Cluzet, who was also in The Intouchables. This film had the highest production value of the bunch and was quite charming.
The Mine (Jättiläinen) – A Finnish environmental thriller I thought I’d like … but didn’t.
Santoalla – A Kickstarter-funded documentary about a man’s mysterious disappearance in a small, Spanish village. I loved this film. Very intriguing story.
The Pretty Ones – I soooo wanted to like this documentary from Argentina about female gender norms, but I didn’t think it lived up to its potential. At all.
Kids in Love – This British film had a lot of buzz since it featured Cara Delevingne in a supporting role. It was slick and fun and quite likable.
With its strong literary history, Edinburgh also inspired me to do some quality reading. I loved sitting in Prince’s Street Gardens and diving into my pile of books.
Here’s what I bought/read while in Edinburgh …
I LOOOOOOOOVED The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Handmaid’s Tale. I liked The Driver’s Seat and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I couldn’t get into How to Build a Girl.
Edinburgh also offers plenty of beautiful local walks. I bought this book at Waterstones, which listed/mapped 40 walks. The Water of Leith path was my favorite. It passed through the lovely Dean Village and continued to Stockbridge and Leith. The Stockbridge Market is a nice place to visit on a Sunday.
I absolutely loved my time in Edinburgh. The city was beautiful and walkable, and there was so much to do and see. The locals were friendly and helpful, and the long days made it easy to spend hours exploring on foot.
One final piece of advice: If you want to explore Scotland during June, July or August, book early. Accommodations fill up quickly, particularly as you head north.
But it will be so worth it.
Until next time, Scotland. I can’t wait to visit again!