When someone suggests for me to travel around the UK, my reaction is generally like ‘ummm yeah one day, but I’d rather go to Paris!’. I think I forget that the UK has some incredible cities and there are some amazing sights to behold. That’s why when my Mum asked if I’d like to go away with her and my sisters for a little pre-birthday trip, I suggested Edinburgh.
I have always wanted to visit Edinburgh, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit. We only went for the weekend, and even though it didn’t seem as though there was an insane amount of things to do, it did feel like we needed longer!
Our flights were actually good timings as well, none of us wanted to take any days off (those extra days really come in handy in December hehe), so we caught a Saturday morning flight from London at 8.30am to land in Edinburgh at 9.30am and the return flight was at 8.30pm on the Sunday evening to arrive in London at 10pm!
From the airport, we got on a tram directly to Princes Street and from there it was around a 3-4 minute walk to our accommodation. I love getting trams, they’re just so cool and because I very rarely get trams, it makes it extra special when I do! For an open return ticket, it cost us £8.50, which I thought was decent, I think a taxi would have been the same price but we felt like the tram was a lot easier. They also come every 3-5 minutes, so very easy to simply hop on the next one if you miss one!
We stayed at a beautiful apartment on Hanover Street simply called Hanover 71 Suites, which was a road off of Princes Street and in an ideal location. Very close to the Royal Mile which was around a 10-15 minute walk, and there were lots of great restaurants and bars too – The Dome was just around the corner!
It was such a lovely space, we had a ~beautiful~ bathroom (if you saw my Instagram story, you will know it was literally bathroom goals), and a big old bedroom with a sofa-bed and the comfiest bed to fit the 4 of us in. I’ve never stayed in an apartment before but it was so lovely and so cheap compared the hotels. Next time I visit though, I want to stay on the Royal Mile!
As the flight arrived in Edinburgh pretty early, we dropped our bags off in our room and set off towards the Royal Mile. Part of the Old Town, the Royal Mile (as the name suggests) stretches a mile and a Scotch mile long, with Edinburgh Castle at one end and lots of other attractions with bars and restaurants along the way.
The weather let me down, as it usually does in the UK. I don’t mind the cold as much as others do, in fact if you read my New York Travel Diary, then you will know that I actually prefer the cold to being too hot! But one thing I don’t enjoy, especially when trying to explore a new city, is the constant blooody drizzling. It was the most frustrating thing ever!!!
FYI: The first picture is day one and the second picture is day two!
The first place we visited was the Real Mary King’s Close which was a tour of the 17th century streets of Edinburgh, it was so interesting and such an insight to the way people used to live with the Plague and how many people from all kinds of social standing lived in the smallest rooms! We actually went there early to get some tickets for a later tour at 5pm – it was very chilly as it’s all underground, so if you go when it’s cold, don’t forget to wrap up!
Next, we visited Camera Obscura & World of Illusions. I know this is a gimmicky place but it was honestly so much fun! It is a quirky museum and you could literally spend all day in there, no matter how old you are! There are 6 floors full of cool illusions and parts of Edinburgh history to learn about, and your ticket also includes a 15 minute show right at the top of the building. I won’t ruin the show for you, as I found it so cool, but what I will say is that you should definitely try and visit here when it is a bright clear day!
After Camera Obscura, we went to lunch at a beautiful restaurant called Witchery by the Castle that was literally opposite Camera Obscura. We ate in the Secret Garden and it was one of the prettiest places to eat ever! It is definitely pricey, but they have set menus which have tons of choices, and my Mum doesn’t eat meat and she didn’t really like the veggie meal that she had so they actually took it off the bill for us, which I just thought was a lovely touch!
After doing the Mary Kings Close tour at 5pm, which lasted an hour, we were absolutely knackered (and bloody freezing!), so we decided to head back into the warmth of our apartment and just chill before dinner. We had dinner at a lovely restaurant called Mother India Cafe, which was like Indian tapas and it was well worth the money! After dinner, we went for a drink at the Dome, which is the nicest place to have an after-dinner cocktail. It reminds me of a London hotel, it’s very fancy and just generally quite a nice place to visit if you’re ever in Edinburgh.
The second day, the sun was shining and we woke up in a bloody great mood (except the fact that we had to check out at 10am, but that is by the by). We decided to have breakfast at a place that was quite literally next door to us, a relaxed restaurant called Grand Cru and even though we wanted to go to somewhere more blogger-esque (and by we, I mean me, obvs!). It kind of felt like a Wetherspoons or something, but hey the food was good and coffee was included and they did caramel + hazelnut lattes, so who is really going to complain?!
I know that there have many a controversy around J.K. Rowling ~but~ I will forever and always be a Potterhead. It’s just the way it is, I’ve accepted it as should you. It was such a huge part of my childhood and even now when I’m feeling a bit down, I will read one of the books or watch the films. So when I did some digging and found that a lot of sights in Edinburgh were used as inspiration for the book, I knew I had to visit as many as I could.
But before I could start my Harry Potter mission, we had to visit Edinburgh Castle. It is a beautiful building, I mean it’s a bloody castle so how could it not be? We didn’t actually go inside, and I think next time I go, I would want to take a tour inside, but this time around I didn’t feel like we had that much time and didn’t want an hour (or more) to be spent in a castle when the sun was actually shining.
We walked the 10 minutes from Edinburgh Castle to Victoria Street, where it has been said that J.K. took inspiration from to invent Diagon Alley. Okay so there is also a street in York that she supposedly took inspo from too, so who knows? But this street is super pretty, with lots of coloured buildings, and cute shops. Even if you’re not a HP fan, I’d definitely walk past here if you find yourself in the area!
A little bit further down from Victoria Street, there is the infamous Elephant House. This cafe claims to be the ‘birthplace of Harry Potter‘ (in the most horrific font, I might add!), because J.K. Rowling used to come to this cafe and wrote her earlier books. Apparently there are a few cafes that claim this, it feels like every cafe claims that she wrote a page of Harry Potter in it!
A graveyard wouldn’t really be the first thing on my list of places to visit in a new city, but when I learned that there was a grave for a Thomas Riddell, I thought it was only right to have a ‘lil nosy. Now, I may a be a huge fan, but even I know that this person’s grave *probably* has very little to do with Voldemort, but even so I had to admit it was kind of cool! There is also a grave of a William McGonagall but I couldn’t find it!
For lunch, we had booked a table at Makar’s, which is a gourmet mash bar. The food here was so good, very comforting and exactly what you need on a chilly day! For a starter, we ordered a traditional Scottish meal of haggis, neeps and tatties. Haggis is a Scottish speciality so I knew I wanted to try it, and I was actually pleasantly surprised! Neeps are turnips and the ones in the starter were a mixture of turnip and swede mashed, and tatties are just mash potatoes. For my main, I ordered a sausage and mash (kid’s portion was a £5er, get in), my sausage was ~slightly~ too salty for me, but the mash was delightful.
After lunch, I wanted to see the handprints of J.K. Rowling, and they were just a 5 minute walk away by the City Chambers. To finish off the day, we walked past a Harry Potter shop so I took a few snaps, and played with some wands and basically pretended I was shopping for a new year at Hogwarts. A gal can dream right?!
So that was my trip to Edinburgh! Have you ever been to Edinburgh? Did you do any of the same things?