Edinburgh: A City Guide

Hi there! If you haven’t noticed, I love to write…which is good because I’m a creative writing major. I try and practice my craft as often as possible to sharpen my skills. I also love to read blogs, so when an opportunity to guest post for another blog arose, I jumped at the chance. I recently shared a city guide for Edinburgh on the blog Land of Marvels as a part of their Destinations series, in which they interview travelers to glean their tips and tricks for visiting a particular location. I thought you might enjoy reading it as well, especially if a trip to Edinburgh is in your future. So here ya’ go:

Hello friends, my name is Micah Lambert, the voice behind the travel blog Passports and Paintbrushes. I am a California native currently living abroad in Germany. I am a  university student studying Creative Writing and German, and my blog is a place where both these passions converge. When I have a moment to spare, chances are I’m traveling as far and as long as my college budget will allow! Today, I’m excited to share a bit about my experience in the stunning city of Edinburgh, Scotland, and offer some helpful tips for your future visit. Here we go!

Why Edinburgh?
Ever since watching the movie Braveheart, Scotland has possessed a magical quality in my mind (and Mel Gibson too, for that matter!). I spent years imagining it- vast landscapes filled with dramatic mountains, deep valleys, and mysterious lakes. I’d spent so much time dreaming about Scotland, that when the chance arose to actually visit, I was hesitant. Would it live up to my larger than life expectations? Well friends, I’m happy to report Scotland not only met my expectations, but exceeded them ten fold! Scotland reminded me of England in many ways, but definitely has its own unique, spunky atmosphere and culture. If you are looking for adventure, inspiration, and beauty, Edinburgh is the place for you, Lassie!

Transportation
As a college student, I try to stretch my money as far as possible while still having an enjoyable experience. Once I set my sights on Edinburgh, I began researching every possible option for transportation. There are a number of low-cost European airlines that fly into Edinburgh, such as Ryan Air or Easy Jet, in addition to larger airlines. I ended up booking a flight from Cologne, German to Edinburgh via the budget airline German Wings, and was very satisfied with the experience.Upon arrival, I took the AirLink Bus 100 from the airport into the city center. It is about a 35 minute ride and costs 4.50 pounds each way. If you’re having trouble finding flights into Edinburgh within your price range or time line, flying into Glasgow and taking a bus to Edinburgh is another valid option.


Accommodations
Finding a place to rest your head in a foreign city can be a daunting task! Luckily, it’s nearly impossible to stay in a ‘bad part’ of Edinburgh, because there really are no bad parts. That being said, it is one of the more expensive cities I’ve traveled to, so you might have to make a few compromises on location or other amenities. I opted to stay at the Castle Rock Hostel, appropriately named for its location directly next to the Edinburgh castle in Old Town! I stayed two nights, and payed 30 pounds total for a four person room. If hostels are not your style, there is no shortage of hotels and Airbnb’s in the city. If staying in Old Town is not within your budget, New Town is also a wonderful option, as the city is fairly condensed and has a great bus network.


Must See Spots
Unfortunately, I was only able to visit for two days over a weekend. Try as I did, I just couldn’t fit in everything on my to-do list! So I’m going to recommend a few things I did enjoy, and a few things I’m sure I would have enjoyed had I found the time.

  • The Elephant House Cafe– As a self proclaimed Harry Potter fan, the first thing I did upon arrival was eat lunch at the Elephant House Cafe, where J.K. Rowling wrote large portions of the early Harry Potter novels. After a warm cup of coffee, hop on over to GrayFriar’s Cemetery directly behind the cafe, and see if you can spot some tomb stones that inspired a few Harry Potter character names (Hint: one of them is He who shall not be named).
  • Arthur’s Seat– Arthur’s Seat is a large dormant volcano in the heart of Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park. It is just a short walk from old town, but takes about an hour to hike from the base to the summit. The entire journey offers spectacular panoramic views of the city and harbor. Standing on the summit of Arthur’s Seat was one of the my favorite abroad memories. No joke.
  • Edinburgh Castle– The castle sits perched atop a mountain in the heart of Old Town- you can’t miss it! Unfortunately, we were not able to take a tour or even walk the grounds because of our limited time. So please, tour the castle and post lots of pictures to Instagram so I can live vicariously through you!
  • The National Museum of ScotlandThis museum is one of the most popular in Scotland, and is located in the heart of Old Town. The exhibits focus on the story of Scotland from prehistory to modern day, as well as the story of our natural planet. Again, we unfortunately were not able to visit this museum, but it’s first on the list when I return.


What to Pack
I visited in late March, during the height of the rainy season, although pretty much every season in Edinburgh is rainy! Be sure to pack an umbrella and/or rain jacket and have it on you at all times, as the weather can change on a dime. It hovered around 10 degrees Celsius during the day and dipped as low as 2 degrees Celsius at night. I wore my winter jacket the whole time, and I would recommend packing a scarf and hat as well. If you forget, you can always buy a famous Plaid wool scarf for a fashionable and functional souvenir. The warmest season to visit it June through August, with little rain and long daylight hours. Oh, and throw in a pair of tennis shoes/hiking boots if you plan on conquering Arthur’s Seat!

Anything Else?
I decided to sacrifice one of my precious days in Edinburgh for a tour of the Highlands (#noregret). I used this company, and was very happy with the experience. Be warned: it is an all day affair with lots of sitting time, but the views out the window will keep you entertained! My particular tour visited, among others: Glen Coe, Ben Nevis View, Fort Augustus, Woodland park, and Loch Ness, where I’m 99.9% sure I spotted Nessie. The average going-price for a highlands tour is around 50 Pounds.

Well friends, can you tell how passionate I am about this city? Thanks so much for reading, and I hope these tips will help you optimize your time in Edinburgh. But most of all, I hope my words have inspired you to start dreaming up your next travel adventure, where ever that may be. This world is full of beautiful secrets, and it’s our job to discover them!

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The end (cue curtain). What did you think? Are you itching to hop on a plane to Edinburgh? Did I represent this little blog well? You can read the post on Land of Marvels here.

Have a great day friends, meet you back here soon.


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