As trite as the phrase ‘four seasons in one day’ sounds, it has never described a city more aptly than it describes Edinburgh. This is a place that requires a coat be carried at all times regardless of the season. It is however, a city that is worth layering up for. Having been inhabited since Adam was a cowboy, the city is steeped in history like a forgotten teabag. At each turn you are confronted with another majestic stone building that would violate every part of the New Zealand earthquake code.
A single weekend in Edinburgh was all it took to convince me that this city would be my new hometown. So how does one weekend in one city have such a big impact? Let me share the itinerary that had me bagpipes over sporran for Bonnie Scotland.
It’s absolutely essential that you walk up Arthur’s Seat. The city is dwarfed by this huge crag of untamed rock situated in Holyrood Park. The apex gives you a panoramic view of Edinburgh, it’s the perfect place to orientate yourself with the city’s layout and see the amazing geological formations created by glaciers thousands of years ago.
After your exertion you will have earned your lunch and there is no shortage of great restaurants including quite a few Michelin stars. A personal favourite is The Dogs which is much nicer that it’s moniker would suggest. A delicious three course meal for less than 20 quid is not to be sniffed at (although the service leaves a bit to be desired). Failing that I’m also in LOVE with Baba, a Persian inspired small plates restaurant on George Street.
With bellies lined it’s time to taste some whisky. There are endless stores doing this but my recommendation would be Hector’s shop on Jeffrey Street. Hector’s Grandfather didn’t speak to him for 2 months after he put water in his whisky once. He really knows his stuff and is passionate about sharing it.
You’ll be feeling like you’ve taken a strong muscle relaxant after this session so you’re best to swing by one of the numerous curry houses to mop any excess Scotch before heading to The Stand. This is the most popular comedy venue in town with a show every night of the week. Tickets start at 3 pounds and you’re sure to see something hysterical and, more than likely, rude.
Rise bright and early to a traditional Scottish breakfast of square sausage, black pudding and a tattie scone. This will set you up for a day of walking while you tour the Old Town, The New Town and all of the steep narrow streets in between. There is so much history here you could walk forever but 3 hours is probably enough to cover the basics with a local guide.
Refuel with a hog roast roll at Oink and trundle from the top of the Royal Mile and the Castle, to the bottom where the controversial modern parliament building sits. You can book onto tours around the building and get the opportunity to see the inner workings of a parliament that has been sitting since 1293.
No trip to Scotland is complete without a pub dinner of Haggis, tatties and neeps washed down with a pint from a local brewery. This city is the home of the pub quiz so while you’re there get yourself an answer sheet and you might just go home with cash or a bar tab.
A weekend, a month or a year is easily whiled away here. Edinburgh is endlessly interesting and completely charming. Just remember to pack your raincoat when you come to visit.