Even though Sotland’s capital is just about as big as Nuremberg (which counts approximately half a million inhabitants), it has a lot to offer! After having lived in Singapore for the previous 6 months, I really appreciate the enormous amount of history and culture that is omnipresent in this city, nestled between the sea and many hills.
As I didn’t have a lot of lectures during my first two weeks here, I was fortunate enough to be able to explore the area quite thoroughly already. The main reasoon foor this is the fact that most tourist attractions are to be found on or near to the Royal Mile, hence, everthing is within walking distance. Therefore, this post will provide you with an extensive list of things you can do while being here (to those who are planning to visit me: make sure to pick out your favourites so we can go there together 🙂 ):
Believe it or not, going to a museum is really worth it in Edinburgh! I am usually not a huge fan of these institutions myself, but honestly, there are quite a few in Edinburgh that are highly interesting! Also, they served as an amazing escape from the cold and stormy weather outside:) Moreover, most of them are free! My favourites include the following:
a) National Museum of Scotland
This museum, located close to the Royal Mile on Chambers Street, covers a huge variety of topics! From the history of Scotland, to the history of Fashion (including an exhibition of lasted designer creations from no earlier than 2016!), to an exhibitionn of famous technological inventions from the Scottish, to religious objects from different cultures and specimen of many different animals. Plus, this museum, which is loctad in an absolutely beautiful building, is free 🙂
b) Surgeon’s Hall Museum
While this one, loctaed close to the National Museum, is unfortunately not for free, it is still worth a visit! I have never seen a collection of specimen of human diseases, deformations and abnormalities of such a size! But be warned: Some of the objects are quite… revolting. However, there is usually also a temporary exhibition as well as a presentationn of the history of medical treatments and surgergy, so there is also something for those who do not wish to encounter weird tumors or skulls 🙂
c) National Portrait Gallery
This gallery is located on the other side of Princes Street in the New Town (more or less). It’s also free, and, like the National Museum, located in a really pretty building. While I did not find the permanent exhibition too interesting (except the library, which has just recently been partially opened to the public), the temporary exhibition about the evolutionn of photography and modern portrait works was absolutely fascinating for me, and I almost forgot about time when I was there. Make sure to check it out if you are coming to Edinburgh in the near future!
d) Royal Scottish Academy
Here, there are many different exhibitions of artists of all kinds displayed all year around! I really like this sort of art museums/ galleries, scince they sho more recent work. Also, it is just off Princes Street, so it’s easy to just pop by for a short visit after shopping 🙂
Okay, these are definitely my most favourite ones. However, there are many more to see! Here is a brief list of other museums that are free to visit:
e) National Gallery
Yes, this one is famous. Yes, it offers a huge amount of precious artworks. This soort of cultural goods is just not my cup of tea. I went there, but it just doesn’t really fascinate me. But if you are into this kind of stuff, it is definitely worth going to! Also, it is free and located very conveniently, in the midst of the Princes Street Gardens.
f) Museum of Childhood
The name already tells what you can see there: Toys. We went there, because it is free and located on the Royal Mile, and because it was cold otuside. It’s pretty to look at, but the learning outcome is not too big. However, it is nice to dwell in past memories while looking at the objects displayed:) Just don’t expect too much.
d) Writer’s Museum
This small muesum, located close to the Royal Mile, is dedicated to some of Scotlands most famous writers- most importantly Burns, of course. It is free as well and I personally really enjoyed it. However, I believe that this is also one of those institutions that will not fascinate everybody that much, hence, it only appears in this section of my list 🙂
e) Tartan Weaving Mill and Experience
It’s to be found on the Royal Mile, just besides the castle, and it’s free. You can learn how tartans were made back in the days where there were not the highly automated factories, so it definitely gives you a nice insight into Sootland’s most famous clothing object 🙂
There are many more museums to explore, such as the National War Museum (which, unfortunately, is located inside of the castle, and since I did not want to go in there, I missed out on it, so I am sure I (and you) will never get bored in this city!
While Edinburgh Castle is undoubtedly the most famous one, I did not go inside, as literally everbody I spoke to told me it was not worth it, since admission fees are quite high. Instead, we went to Craigmillar Castle, which is located in the outer skirts of Edinburgh. It is a lot cheaper (only 5.50 for an adult), but it surely is really cool! The building is so much bigger than it looks from outside, and I loved exploring all the hidden chambers 🙂 One could really imagine how the Craigmillar family lived back in the days whn the castle still served as their home and demonstration of wealth and power. Plus, one has a great view onto Kinng Arthur’s Seat from its top:)
As you guys know, I love being outsiide, and yes, I did not neglect this passionn despite the cold weather 🙂 Here are my favourite tours so far:
a) Kind Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park
This is supposedly the most famous walking tour of Edinburgh- and I can definitely see why! Even though the hike up the hill is quite tough, the view is aboslutely stunning! You can see the entire city of Edinburgh to your feet, and also, I feel almost as if I was in the Highlands when walking up to the top through the rough nature.
b) Waters of Leith Walkway
This is located really close to my apartment. It is a 12.5 mile walkway connecting Balerno (which is in Edinburgh’s outer skirts) to Leith. I haven’t walked the entire way yet, but I started at my home, which still leaves me with around 7 miles to walk- and it is so pretty! It is certainly a great escape the busy city life. Plus, it leads you through the entire city, hence, you can just get off wherever you want, and I really recommend you do so when reaching the Dean Village, which is a very historical side and beautiful as well 🙂
c) Royal Botanic Gardens
This is another spot you can reach when walking the Waters of Leith walkway. The Gardens themselves make up for a nice stroll, offering a lot of different sites to explore, but my personal highlight is surely the greenhouse! Inside, there is a lot of beautiful plants and from the outside, I feel as if it could well be the greenhouse from Harry Potter- it is so beautiful 🙂
d) The Meadows
This park, which is about 1 mile long, is next to the popular living areas Morningside and Bruntsfield, just next to the Old Town. The Airbnb I lived in was in Morningside, so this park was ideal for me when I wanted to go for a little stroll. There are many joggers, families and dog-owners to be encountered at any time. Also, you get a nice view of Kind Arthur’s Seat, so if you are ever desperate to go for a little stroll or even a run, just remember this park and check it out 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this brief overview, and make sure to stay tuned for the second part, where I will talk about the best places to go shopping and eating, the most impressive monuments to visit and the best places where one can just have a little stroll 🙂
Just one last tip: If you are in Edinburgh for a very short period of time only, just go to the Royal Mile (the featured image gives you an idea of what it looks like)! Most tourist attractions are to be found there or very closeby, there are nice cafes and restaurants, and you can definitely get a good idea of Scottish culture and history 🙂