My second day in Edinburgh was every bit as cool as the first. If, like me, you stay at the Smart City Hostel, then get yourself downstairs for a full Scottish breakfast, complete with some original haggis (yup, that’s right sheep lung, liver and heart wrapped in sheep’s stomach for brekky).
After that you can go and walk the length of the Royal Mile. This is truly the heart of Edinburgh and it’s arguably the most beautiful street in all of Scotland. It takes a leisurely hour or so to walk it, popping in and out of shops and taking pics of the beautiful architecture and random men in kilts busking with bag pipes along the way.
If you start at the bottom, and make your way to the top of the Royal Mile you’ll end up at the city’s most iconic landmark – Edinburgh Castle. Allow yourself a couple of hours to fully explore the castle, the views from the top allow the most amazing views of all of Edinburgh, try to be there for the 11am gun-shot, and the changing of the guard both of which give you a real feel of Scotland of old.
The castle has plenty of areas to explore, museums, coffee shops and view points so take a leisurely stroll around, it should bring you up to around lunchtime.
After a hearty lunch then, it’s time to venture to one of my favourite spots – the Scotch Whisky Experience. You can’t come all the way to Scotland without finding out about their liquid gold!
The Scotch Whisky Experience is an absolute must for Edinburgh, you can go with the basic entry (about 12 GBP), or as I did go for the Gold option (about 20 GBP) which gives you some stellar whisky tasting at the end.
The experience lasts around an hour or so, maybe 2 if you go for the whisky-tasting gold option. You find out all about how the good stuff is created, then a wine coinesseur will teach you all about how to taste your whisky, and they various differences between the regions of Scotch Whiskey.
Finally, with the Gold option, you then get a selection of 4 whiskys to indulge in after the tour and to put all that new found tasting knowledge to the test. That, combined with a tasting during the actual tour, is a fair chunk of whisky hence the suggestion of a hearty lunch!
Time to walk that whisky off though. So from the Whisky Experience, you can wander down to Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh’s highest point. The walk to the bottom should take around 45 minutes, then perhaps another 45 minutes walk to the peak of the hill. If it’s a nice day, which it was when I was there, the views are spectacular and well worth the hike. You could even bring a little picnic along for the ride. It’s a really nice walk and you cant fail to spot the path, there’ll be a lot more people sharing the same journey so just follow them!
After dinner and a cheeky beer then it’s time for the last activity of the day, and of my 2 day itinerary. The Real Mary King’s Close. This is an awesome activity for you to do with your partner, family or friends. Basically a ‘close’ in Scottish English is a narrow alleyway, and Real Mary King’s Close is the most famous of all.
The Royal Exchange was famously built over the top of this close, leaving some of Edinburghs history permanently buried beneath ground, with the roads completely still in tact. On the tour a themed guide takes you down, under Edinburgh’s current ‘ground level’ to the close. The operators have blended technology and actors beautiful for the whole duration of the tour, it’s really pretty creepy!
Walking around downthere, it’s honestly like going back in time. Everything is completely intact, and you can really imagine how people lived in the 17th Century. The whole thing completely blew my expectations apart so don’t miss the opportunity to check it out, really really fun.
Edinburgh is without doubt my favourite city in the UK. It’s so beautiful, the city mixes the tourist vibe so well with the locals, the views and scenery are amazing and of course the whisky is tiptop. If you ever venture to the UK, don’t just hit up London, make the effort to head north to Scotland and check out Edinburgh, I’d recommend taking the train too for the awesome views en route. Edinburgh will blow your mind, it certainly blew mine. Happy travels!