Travel Diary: Edinburgh, Scotland

Saturday, April 13, 2019
Earlier this week, myself and my mum headed to the beautiful and historic city of Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland for a belated Mother's Day treat. I have been lucky enough to go on various family holidays growing up around Scotland including Mull, Oban, Fort William and the Isle of Arran, the latter on a geology field trip. However I've always wanted to visit Edinburgh, especially since almost everyone on one side of my mum's family is Scottish (from Aberdeen, Stirling, Glasgow) and from my Ancestry DNA results, I'm 16% Scottish.

None of this trip was sponsored (sadly, it would have been amazing if it was) and we travelled via Transpennine on seemingly the oldest and most rickety train imaginable then on a slightly disappointing Virgin Train. The Virgin First Class Train we went on in February to London was amazing but sadly this one was more than a little dirty and the driver was late for the journey back on Wednesday so our train was delayed from Edinburgh and we missed our connecting train as a result - the reason the driver was late was because of train cancellations...he had to be driven from Glasgow to Edinburgh to drive our train!
National Museum of Scotland  
Anyway, enough moaning about trains (we have asked for a refund as the delay was over 30 minutes) and onto what we did in Edinburgh. We hadn't really planned anything for the first day as you never know if there's going to be a problem with the train so after walking for a while in the wrong direction from the station, we finally found our hotel (it would have been a very simple and short journey but we came out of the opposite side of the station and Edinburgh is a bit of a maze!).

We stayed in the new Premier Inn on the Royal Mail (well, it is actually on East Market Street - a very handy street for the station and to get to most of the main attractions such as Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace). We've been to a few Premier Inn hotels as they're always so clean, inexpensive and the food is great too and this one was no different. The staff were incredibly lovely, the room was much larger than others we'd been in and it was great value for money. If you are looking for a good Premier Inn then I cannot recommend this one enough, along with the Euston Premier Inn.
Enough raving on about the hotel and onto the first place we visited, the National Museum of Scotland which is quite an unimposing building from the outside but the inside is incredibly beautiful. I adore beautiful and unique architecture so this museum was a dream to walk around and photograph! It's such a vast museum and you definitely need to take one of the maps as you'll never see all of it without one - we had a map and still didn't manage to explore everywhere.

Despite the number of people, it was a very pleasant museum to walk around with lots of seating, beautiful spring natural light, so many exhibits to see and a wide range of subjects from the natural world and space to fashion and more. The section I was most interested in was the one that seemed to be hidden away, The Kingdom Of The Scots which I would have thought would have taken centre stage in the National Museum of Scotland....However it was in a far off corner and if we hadn't asked about it, I don't think we would have managed to find it, especially as we didn't have all day to look around. If you're visiting Edinburgh then I'd recommend a quick visit to the museum as it's such a calm, open and interesting museum to visit, if a little confusing in terms of it's layout.
Holyrood Palace 
As I said, on the first day we didn't have anything planned and we seemed to waste quite a lot of time looking for the hotel and on Cockburn Street trying to decide which direction to walk in! However after having a look at the map from the hotel, we noticed that Holyrood Palace (which I thought would be quite a walk away), was only ten minutes or so from our hotel so at four(ish) on the first day we decided to walk to the palace. The palace is across from the fairly controversial Scottish Parliament building (I personally don't like the design and I don't know why they didn't choose a Scottish architect to design it). 

I didn't expect the palace to be open for much longer but we arrived within ten minutes of the last admission and it actually closed at six so I think we were quite lucky with the timing - we managed a relaxed walk around all of the palace within just over an hour. The museum was free to visit but the palace was £15 each - which is a great price in my opinion. You receive an audio/video guide to listen to as you walk around and unlike all of the other guides I've used while visiting other palaces/historic houses in the UK and abroad on holiday, this one was so easy, pleasant and fuss free to use. 
I've visited a fair few historic, country houses and palaces within the UK over the past ten to fifteen years including Kensington Palace (which I visited in February and you can see it on my London 2019 Instagram stories highlights) and Buckingham Palace palace a couple of years ago but I think Holyrood Palace was one of the nicest and most 'user friendly' palaces I've ever visited. The layout wasn't confusing, the audio guide was informative without being boring and the staff were so nice. Sadly, the only downside to the palace is that you can't take photographs inside (apart from the abby/grounds). 

The palace itself is incredibly beautiful with so much history particularly related to Bonnie Prince Charlie and Mary Queen of Scots, you can even go inside her bedchamber. As well as the palace you also see the ruins of Holyrood Abby which was opened in 1128 - I did take photos here (which you can see above) as there weren't any signs prohibiting photography outside of the palace. Overall, I think it is well worth the money and the visit as it's such a gorgeous building with such a vast and interesting history. I definitely want to visit it again in the future and with a little more time so I can visit the palace gardens. If you are visiting Edinburgh then you need to visit Holyrood Palace, you won't regret it!
Edinburgh Castle 
We made a few whistle stop visits to a few other places such as Greyfriars Kirk and St Giles (from a distance was we didn't have much time) but the last main 'attraction' we visited was the famous and impressive Edinburgh Castle which sits atop Castle Rock, the remains of volcanic activity 340 million years ago. We bought tickets online for the castle in advance and it's something I'd definitely recommend to avoid queues and I'd also recommend choosing the earliest slot available (9:30 - 11am)  as we did so you have as much time as possible as there is SO much to see. We went on one of the free guided tours and the tour guide was fantastic!

I didn't know what to expect at the castle but there's so much more than a castle as there's a war memorial, the Scottish Crown Jewels, an 12th century church, various souvenir shops, cafes, a great hall (which was completely renovated by the meddling victorians...) and amazing views among a couple of museums so you need at least half a day to explore it all fully. I think there were around three smaller sections that we didn't have time to see (including the Royal Scots Dragoon Regiment museum) but we still spent over three hours at the castle after arriving there just before it opened. As with Holyrood Palace, I don't think a trip to Edinburgh is complete without visiting the castle and I think you get so much to see for your money.
I have to say that my first visit to Edinburgh wasn't quite what I expected as I didn't know just how steep some of the roads were, how many bloody annoying cobbled streets there would be (which I managed to almost trip over a good few times), how quiet it is, how clean the city would be and how much I would adore the architecture. I also have to mention that there are a fair number of Harry Potter themed shops around the city too which I deeply appreciate - you can easily see how magical the city is and how it could have inspired the wizarding world. Walking the streets of Edinburgh you get such a sense of the vast history of the city, it is almost magical in its narrow steep streets and its beautifully striking architecture. There are so many other cities I want to visit across Scotland and I would be very happy to visit Edinburgh again!

If you want to see more photographs and videos then definitely check out my Edinburgh highlights on Instagram!

Have you visited Edinburgh? If so, have you visited any of the places I've mentioned? Also, do you have any recommendations of other places to visit in the city? 

27 comments

  1. I’ve been to Edinburgh once but only for a few hours whilst we waited for a connecting train to Perth, in with you on those cobbled streets!

    www.beautyqueenuk.co.uk

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  2. I've been to Edinburgh twice but only on day trips when we were staying in Glasgow. I would really like to re-visit, especially after reading this post! xx

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  3. I've never been to Edinburgh! I've never been to Scotland but I'd love to go, it looks beautiful

    Jenny
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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  4. I love Edinburgh! To me it is my closest big city. We were there the other day getting doughnuts - a little bit different to your experience, but we so love the history museum :)

    Erin || MakeErinOver

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  5. I've never been to Edinburgh but it's on my list!

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  6. Looks like such a beautiful place.

    Candice x

    natalyaamour.com

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  7. Such beautiful pictures! I am desperate to return to Edinburgh for another little holiday

    www.theemeralddove.co.uk

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  8. I love Edinburgh - lovely photos of a great trip!
    Em x

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  9. I really want to visit Edinburgh this year! xx

    Maiya | www.maiyabellexo.co.uk

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  10. I can't believe that I've never visited Holyrood Palace. There's so much to see in Edinburgh. There are lots of wonderful charity shops in Stockbridge too.

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  11. I've never been to Scotland but it's on my Bucket List x

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  12. It looks lovely! I'd love to visit one day x

    Annie | musingsofamakeupjunkie.com

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  13. I would love to visit the castle!

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  14. Edinburgh is so hilly isn't it!! lol Also I've been to Edinburgh a good few times and always manage to trip up on the cobbles haha. Glad you had a great time lovely, I'm back there on Saturday for the day - can't wait, I love it :)
    Chantelle x
    The Girl In The Tartan Scarf

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  15. I've always wanted to visit Edinburgh! One day! xx

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  16. I've wanted to go to Edinburgh for so long! You got some lovely photos

    Jasmine xx

    Jasmine Talks Beauty

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  17. Edinburgh is gorgeous! I really want to visit!

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

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  18. Oh it is a place I am desperate to visit. Stunning pics. x

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  19. I've never been to Scotland but Edinburgh always looks like such a beautiful city. Sounds like you had a lovely trip despite the train journey x

    Sophie
    www.glowsteady.co.uk

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  20. Edinburgh is definitely near the top of my travel list, it looks like a wonderful city xx

    Tiffany x www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

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  21. It sounds like you had the best time! xx

    Gemma • GemmaEtc.com ❤️

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  22. Still on my wishlist! We are hoping to go in autumn this year x

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  23. It looks like you had a lovely time, it’s such a beautiful place

    https://littlemissmelanie.com/

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  24. Edinburgh is such a gorgeous place to visit! x

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  25. I really need to visit Edinburgh. I want to do a ghost tour!

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  26. I really want to visit Edinburgh

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  27. Ive always wanted to visit Edinburgh,thanks for the review x

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