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5 Top Travel Places to See in Edinburgh

Updated on August 4, 2015
ElizaDoole profile image

I am a passionate writer with 22 years’ experience in the industry, writing for various print and online media here in England and abroad.

Edinburgh - The Cool City

I last went to Edinburgh fifteen years ago and had such a good time I missed out on seeing Edinburgh Castle. For anyone who has ever been to Edinburgh, this confession of mine is usually greeted by exclamations of "WHAT"??

My first must-see and do travel tip for Edinburgh City is to visit Edinburgh Castle!

1. Edinburgh Castle:

Positioned on Castle Rock (or Castilly Rock if you buy into the idea George R Martin set the Lannister's homeland in Game of Thrones on an Edinburgh-esqe-type city map), Edinburgh Castle is an extremely intact building atop a magnificent peak. The site is part of a volcanic structure, encompassing three peaks of Castle Rock, Carton Hill and Arthur's Peak and the theory goes that the city of Edinburgh lies atop an extinct volcano.

The castle entry for adults is £16.80 (2015 prices), and is worth every penny. The impressive displays are well organised, easy to read and comprehend. History comes to life as you see the crown jewels of Scotland, the honours, the stone of destiny (or Scone) and the old castle prison. If you are a Royal fan, the Princess Diana memorial tartan is on sale in the form of a scarf in the gift shop, alongside a lot of authentic souvenirs. (Note the tartan scarf is around £85 - but if you are cold it is so worth it!)

Keep walking up, the Castle's at the top.
Keep walking up, the Castle's at the top. | Source

Edinburgh Castle

The front of Edinburgh Castle has magnificent views to either side and great photo opportunities.
The front of Edinburgh Castle has magnificent views to either side and great photo opportunities. | Source
View from Arthur's Seat.
View from Arthur's Seat. | Source

Edinburgh Restaurants

I've got three recommendations:

2. Visit The Witchery by the Castle:

As far as atmosphere goes, The Witchery by the Castle has it all. Very lush, medieval decor, and a menu designed to challenge and inspire. We had game, venison and partridge, and seafood starters of scallops and lobster bisque. Dessert was a highlight, with the selection of puddings for £16 containing delicious combinations including pistachio creme, strawberry parfait and mango cheesecake. It's an expensive night out though, just to warn you.

3. The Devil's Advocate

This restaurant, champagne and cocktail bar saw us 'down with the youf'. Trendy, with well-priced food that turned out to be delicious, we had mussels and vegetarian broccoli and cheese, and pork belly followed by steak and chips. Delicious wine, ales, and champagne for a reasonable price with great service. I cannot fault the staff who were amazing. Book yourself a place during the day when you are wondering down the Royal Mile. Advocate's Close is off to your right (facing the castle), just before St Giles Cathedral. If you haven't been to Edinburgh for ages, this bar opened in January 2014, and is part of a £45 million facelift for Advocate's Close. It is lovely.

4. Bella Italia - I don't often rate a chain restaurant, but Belle Italia is well situatied on the Royal Mile, and has terrific staff. Additionally, if visiting Edinburgh off-peak, it is one of the only restaurants serving main courses after 10pm which is exactly what was required on night. I liked the big windows for people watching, the steak and chips, the range of Italian food on offer, the wine, and the pizzas. It was such a great visit we returned the next day for Breakfast, which was excellent.

The Witchery. Each brass candle is slightly different. One of many 'touches'.
The Witchery. Each brass candle is slightly different. One of many 'touches'. | Source
Devil's Advocate on the left has a balcony bar.
Devil's Advocate on the left has a balcony bar.
The view up Advocate's close to the Royal Mile
The view up Advocate's close to the Royal Mile
The entrance to the alley way Advocate's Close off the Royal Mile. Head down here.
The entrance to the alley way Advocate's Close off the Royal Mile. Head down here.
Bella Italia, you saved us!
Bella Italia, you saved us!
The Brew Lab
The Brew Lab | Source
Inside Tron Kirk
Inside Tron Kirk | Source

Coffee Shop Cool

Recommendations:

5. Tronkirk: At the base of the high street, an old church called Tronkirk has been converted by local artists into a culture craft venue. It's a little market catering to local traders, and has a super coffee shop inside which does a pretty good bean!

6. Perpendicular to the high street, and just past the Edinburgh National Theatre, there's an artisan coffee house called Brew Lab on the corner of South Bridge Road and College street. Full of Edinburgh University student-types, the coffee is sensibly priced and beautifully done - each cappucino comes with a lovely chocolate design. This place reminds me of how the service in Starbucks used to give you a special coffee. (Where did that go? When did standards drop? Sigh!)


Breakfast in Edinburgh and Arthur's Seat

A good day out is to take the journey up to Arthur's Seat. This sturdy hike is really worth the view it offers of the whole of Edinburgh City, the Edinburgh Castle and across the river Fife to the isle where St Andrew's University is located.

15 Edinburgh Things to See and Do

show route and directions
A markerEdinburgh Castle -
Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh EH1 2NG
get directions

B markerThe Witchery Restaurant and Hotel -
Witchery by the Castle, 352 Castlehill, Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh EH1 2NF, UK
get directions

Medieval atmosphere, luxury rooms and gorgeous restaurant.

C markerThe Scotch Whiskey Experience -
The Scotch Whisky Experience, 354 Castlehill, Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh EH1 2NE, UK
get directions

Gold experience is best value, or platinum with meal.

D markerThe Devil's Advocate, 9 Advocate's Close, Edinburgh, EH1 1ND -
Edinburgh, Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh EH1 1ND, UK
get directions

Named after the legal position, to be the 'devil's advocate'.

E markerBella Italia, corner of The Royal Mile and North Bridge -
55 North Bridge, Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh EH1, UK
get directions

Pizza, pasta, grill.

© 2015 Lisa McKnight

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  • aviannovice profile image

    Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

    I have heard of The Witchery through an area resident, which is very posh and for some extra special occasions. If I ever get the opportunity, I think Skye would rock my socks.

  • brownella profile image

    brownella 2 years ago from New England

    Hi Lisa. Great hub. I am headed to Scotland next month! Thanks for the tips, I will be sure to "keep walking" and not miss the castle :-)