36 hours in edinburgh!
I visited Edinburgh at the end of 2016 and haven’t stopped going on about it since. It was my first visit to Scotland and I’m not entirely sure why it had taken me so long. I instantly fell in love with the city from the minute I stepped off the train, it’s so pretty, laid-back and everyone is just SO friendly!
If you have a trip to Edinburgh booked or are looking for some inspiration, then read on to find out how I spent 36 hours in the Scottish capital...
T H I N G S T O D O . . .
My boyfriend and I kicked off our first morning at the UK’s only Guerlain Spa, situated inside the stunning Waldorf Astoria hotel. City breaks always tend to be jam-packed, but if you love the opportunity to relax, then I cannot recommend the spa enough. If, like me, you are short for time in Edinburgh and can’t dedicate a full day trying out the facilities, then I would 100 per cent recommend Guerlain’s Caledonian Chic Massage – which has been specially designed for the spa. The treatment begins with you picking your favourite scent, which the therapist prepares the room with, whilst you unwind in the relaxation room. You’re then guided to the room where you are treated to a foot exfoliation and massage, before transferring to the massage bed for an hour-long full body massage. Afterwards, I felt completely relaxed and ready to kick off some sightseeing.
2.) Edinburgh Castle
This is pretty much a given when you’re Edinburgh. It’s such a small city, so everything is pretty much walking distance and it’s brilliant how you can see the castle dominating the skyline. Once you head up to the castle, you could literally spend hours exploring and enjoying the breathtaking views across the city, far out to the coast. If you prefer a guided or audio tour to help take everything in, then this is on offer too.
3.) Edinburgh Zoo
Pandas are my favourite animals and I couldn’t contain my excitement when visiting Edinburgh Zoo. If you’re staying close to the Royal Mile, the zoo is approximately a 15/20 minute taxi ride (£13) away. The zoo isn’t huge and we spent about four hours exploring, which was more than enough time to see everything. The pandas are of course the main spectacle and I would definitely recommend purchasing your tickets in advance, as you will need to choose a time to view the pandas (if the zoo is quiet then they allow you to go back more than once). All the pandas tend to do is eat and sleep A LOT (my kind of animal) so we had to go back a few times before we saw the male panda, Yang Guang, wandering around outside. It’s also worth visiting the penguins, monkeys and the otters, SO cute!
F O O D A N D D R I N K . . .
Pay a visit to Oink for the yummiest Hog Roast rolls on the move. The most central shop is on Victoria Street, which has a few tables inside and we stopped here before visiting the castle. Oink caters for all appetites and we went for The Oink – the classic hog roast roll, but if you have a larger appetite go for The Grunter. The hog roast is served in a white or brown roll with a choice of sage & onion, apple sauce, chilli relish or haggis and crackling (while it lasts!).
2.) Jolly Judge
This gem has to be one of the cutest pubs I have ever visited. On our first day we were frozen after a visit to the castle and I was desperate to find a traditional pub with an open fire to warm up. We stumbled across a sign pointing towards the Jolly Judge and we decided to pay it a visit. I’m so glad we did; as it was exactly what you would imagine when you think of a traditional Scottish pub. With a large open fire and a great selection of beer, ales and wine, you could spend hours enjoying Scotland’s national pastime: drinking. They also offer a menu of sandwiches and soups throughout the day.
3.) The Doric
The Doric is Edinburgh’s oldest gastro pub and has such a lovely atmosphere. If like us you have never tried Haggis, then take a trip to The Doric and have the Haggis Balls for a starter, you won’t regret it! The food is tasty, service brilliant and food and drink really affordable – definitely worth a visit.
The great thing about travelling to Scotland is you have a couple of super-efficient travel options. Of course, you can book a flight with a budget airline for next to nothing (when I looked about a month ago, a return flight was less that £50!) but I have always been desperate to go on a “long-haul” train journey. After looking into the possibility of travelling to Edinburgh by train, I realised you can travel with Virgin East Coast Trains much quicker than I originally thought (my train was 4 hours 22 minutes from Kings Cross, direct to Edinburgh Waverley) which also saves the stress of everything involved with airports.
I travelled in the First Class coach on Virgin Trains East Coast and it is like nothing else I have ever experienced. The team are so welcoming and you are never without an alcoholic drink or snack. Chef James Martin provides the menu, so as you can imagine the food is super tasty and depending on what time you’re travelling you’ll be treated to breakfast, lunch or dinner. To add to the excitement of travelling via train, Virgin has a new Netflix-style app called BEAM, which allows you to stream a selection of films and TV shows through the on-board wifi. I got carried away and watched Home Alone II, Bridesmaids and Wolf of Wall Street.
The best thing about the train was you literally arrive bang in the centre of Edinburgh and are only a maximum 15 minute walk from all the central hotels – which is totally manageable when you have a small wheelie case!
Have you ever visited Edinburgh? Did you love it? Feel free to share your tips with us - we'd love to hear them!