Edinburgh is a fairly compact city – you’ll find most of the top tourist attractions in close proximity to one another around Old Town. Pack some flats, and you’ll be fine.
There are two bus companies running in Edinburgh – and tickets can’t be exchanged between them, so make sure you know which one is going to be more useful for your day when buying. As tourists, the Lothian buses (big, burgundy and white) will probably be more useful to you. A day ticket is about £3.50. If you’d like to try a bus tour, they usually start from Waverly Bridge, near Waverly railway station.
Driving in Edinburgh is nearly as difficult as driving in London. Avoid it if you can – leave your car at the hotel and walk.
Edinburgh is allegedly one of the most haunted cities in the UK. If you’ve got a bride who doesn’t scare easily (or does, but kind of likes it anyway), check out:
- Greyfriars Kirkyard – on one hand, it’s said to be haunted by an extremely violent poltergeist, known for biting and scratching women. On the other hand, it’s also said to be haunted by a Skye Terrier called Greyfriars Bobby who guarded his master’s grave for 14 years.
- Edinburgh Dungeons – the Scottish equivalent of the London Dungeons, it’s over the top, theatrical and utterly gruesome.
- South Bank Vaults – close to the Royal Mile and the most haunted area in Edinburgh. Burke and Hare, infamous body snatchers, went around hunting for victims down here, and stored the bodies too.
- Police Information Centre – doesn’t have the most terrifying name unless you’re a career criminal, we’ll grant you. As well as a police station though, it also doubles as a museum, with macabre exhibits of weapons and tools from days past. It also has a business-card holder made from the skin of William Burke, in case you were in the market for a new business card holder and needed some ideas.
Essential Edinburgh Sites
If you only visit one site in Edinburgh, make it one of these:
- Edinburgh Castle – huge, stately and imposing, the stunning Edinburgh castle presides over the city. Home of royals, base of armies, and currently hotspot for tourists, the castle is as old as Edinburgh. It’s also built on an extinct volcano, which is pretty cool.
- Holyrood House – the current official residence of the Royal family when they take a trip up to Scotland. It’s closed for tours when the Queen’s home, but when they’re hanging out down in Buckingham Palace you can see 89 portraits of Scottish kings – as well as the exact spot Queen Mary’s bff was murdered by her husband.
- Rosslyn Cathedral – not as well known as St Giles (which is a bit more visually impressive and lies right along the Royal Mile, if you fancy dropping in), but the richly decorated and intricate interior has inspired more writers – Sir Walter Scott, William Wordsworth, and, um, Dan Brown have all featured it in their works.
- Arthur’s Seat – another Edinburgh landmark built on am extinct volcano. Arthur’s Seat is a really big, really steep hill, with fantastic views of Edinburgh. Don’t be disappointed when you get to the top and there’s not a literal seat there.
- The Royal Mile – conveniently stretching between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood House, the aptly-named one mile long road is the busiest tourist street in Edinburgh’s Old Town (check out Princes Street for the New Town equivalent). Nowadays, it’s full of shops, restaurants, pubs, and has plenty of smaller tourist attractions on the side roads too.
January – Hogmanay! It’s one of the biggest and most spectacular New Years celebrations in the world. There’s also Burns Night, which is a great excuse for whiskey and food.
April – Beltane. Fire, drums, and 12,000 people heading to Calton Hill for an explosive celebration.
June – Edinburgh International Film Festival, the world’s oldest continually running film festival.
August – you’re spoilt for choice. There’s the Military Tattoo up at Edinburgh Castle, which involved armed forces and military bands displaying incredible rhythmic precision. There’s the Edinburgh International Festival, a celebration of multiculturalism and diversity. And then there’s the iconic Edinburgh Fringe Festival, six weeks of comedy, theatre, dance, and goodness knows what else.