Europe Travel

A Weekend in Scotland: Edinburgh + a day trip through the Highlands

Scotland is a beautiful, cultured country. We went as part of a trip to Bristol, England. We got a very cheap flight to Bergen, Norway (less than $200 RT!), and booked a second flight from Bergen to Edinburgh. This is a great trick for getting cheap RT tickets to Europe. It’s the create-your-own-connecting-flight strategy 😉 We spent two and half days in Scotland. We were really pleased with how much we saw in that short time.

Edinburgh

It was night time when we arrived in Scotland, and the first thing we noticed was all the stairways through Edinburgh.

We huffed and puffed up the stairs to our B&B. As you can see, they’re very well lit, so we felt safe lugging our suitcases around the city at night.

The next morning, we ate breakfast at Patissere Valerie. Neal got the full Scottish breakfast, which includes eggs, bacon, sausage, haggis, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, and toast. He was heartily satisfied. This turned out to be a good thing because we packed just about everything in Edinburgh into one day. Here’s a quick list of what we saw in Edinburgh:

  • Greyfriars Abbey
  • The National Museum of Scotland
  • The Royal Mile
  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Princes Street Gardens
  • Scott Monument
  • Calton Hill
  • Arthur’s Seat

Greyfriars Bobby, Abbey & Cemetary

Our first stop was Greyfriars bobby, a statute of a dog that was very loyal to his owner in the 1870s. He spent 14 years sitting by his owners grave! Apparently you rub this little guy’s nose for good luck. Edinburgh is very proud of this dog.

Nearby is Greyfriars Abbey. We walked through the abbey grounds and in the old graveyard. The graves are interesting, very large and ornate. A lot of graves here are encased in iron, which apparently was done to prevent grave robbing. And don’t worry, there’s a grave for Bobby, the dog, here, too.

Gravestones at Greyfriars Abbey.

The National Museum of Scotland

After Greyfriars Abbey, we headed to the National Museum of Scotland. It’s free and provided us with our first high views of the city.

view from the National Museum of Scotland

It also had skeletons of a T-Rex and whales, an atom smasher, some old swords and a fun reaction time exhibit that I bested Neal at.

The Royal Mile

Next we went to the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is a road filled with shops and touristy type activities. There’s a cute little courtyard along the Royal Mile devoted to writers. They have a bunch of quotes etched into the sidewalk. It was quite lovely. We also got lost looking in a 5-story wool shop. It was a maze! Cute scarves, shirts, suit jackets, kilts and skirts, though. The Royal Mile even has a bagpipe store. Plenty of whiskey shops along the road as well.

Edinburgh Castle

At one end of the Royal Mile there is Edinburgh Castle. We could see Edinburgh Castle from the National Museum, so we decided we had to go in.

Edinburgh Castle

When we went, it cost 16 pounds to enter the castle. The castle is cool, fully equipped with canons.

It also has the royal jewels, which were incredibly shiny and beautiful. One of the more interesting areas was the war memorial. It had amazing ceiling decorations, wall fixtures, and a monument to WWI. Apparently Edinburgh castle has never been taken by force, but has been surrendered a few times. You see, there is only one well servicing the entire castle and during a siege, a lot of water is needed. Sometimes, too much. At that point, the castle must surrender or everyone goes thirsty. As we headed out of the castle, we happened upon a wedding taking place in the small church on the castle grounds (near a pet cemetary!). We also stopped by Argyle Tower and Neal got this great shot with his argyle socks!

Princes Street Gardens

We left Edinburgh Castle and set off further down the Royal Mile. We spotted a park and made our way down the hill.

View from Princes Street Gardens

The park was situated near the Scott Monument and Princes Street, a road filled with shopping. The park is huge. Neal and I walked through it, listened briefly to some music and sat on one of the many Edinburgh lawns. We tried Scotland’s famous soda Irn Bru, which tastes quite good but is accompanied by a warning that it may hype up your children.

“May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”

Scott Monument

Next, we went over to the Scott Monument and walked up 287 narrow winding stairs to the top. This Monument is for Sir Walter Scott, of course.

Scott Monument

We stole a few kisses along the three different platforms each giving nice views of the city.

View from the Scott Monument

Calton Hill

After resting for a few moments, we walked over to Calton Hill. Atop Calton Hill stands Nelson Monument, the Dugald Stewart Monument (pictured right), and the National Monument (pictured left), which they were still in the process of building (since 1829). We hung out up there for a few minutes, taking in the view some more and taking pictures of Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood.

Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat was the only activity we could not fit into our packed first full day in Edinburgh. We did it instead the morning before we left Edinburgh. Arthur’s Seat is Edinburgh’s highest peak.

View of Arthur’s Seat

We walked there from our AirBnB. On the way, you walk past the Parliament building. I thought it was odd that the design looked like hand guns.

Parliament

When you get to the base of Arthur’s Seat, you have a fair amount of walking up to do.

But of course, there’s a nice view from the top.

Sarah looking out from Arthur’s Seat

Those are all the things we did in Edinburgh. On a whim, we decided to spend our second full day in Edinburgh on a tour of Scotland’s Highlands. BEST IDEA EVER.

The Highlands Tour

We told ourselves before we left for Scotland that we were just going to have to miss the Highlands since our trip was so short. But then we got so much done, and Edinburgh is actually small enough, that we felt like we should take the day in the Highlands. Turns out, it is a must do. We ordered tickets from our AirB&B and boarded a bus in the center of Edinburgh. Along the way you will see awesome Scottish terrain. It is so beautiful. The end goal is to get to Loch Ness. Our tour included a boat tour on Loch Ness as well. This was so much fun! I highly, highly recommend it. It was also kind of nice to get of our feet after a long day of sightseeing the day before. Here are some of our pictures:

On Loch Ness

As you can see, you can see A LOT in a very short time in Scotland. We have to go back sometime to see the rest of the country and give ourselves a little more time to enjoy.

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2 Comments

  1. Nicole Steward says:

    wonderful post – thank you for sharing. can you share the details of the company that you used for the highland tour?

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