Even though I lived in Edinburgh for four years whilst at university, that didn’t stop me from doing touristy things! This is my list of the Top Ten things to do in Edinburgh, Scotland.
10. Dynamic Earth – I know some of you will be wondering why this is at the bottom of a list of top ten things to do in Edinburgh – but you haven’t seen what else is on my list yet! Dynamic Earth basically shows you the history of the Earth from the Big Bang until today. There are a lot of interactive activities and it’s a must-see if you have children!
9. Scott Monument – This is a monument for Sir Walter Scott. From what I’ve read, it’s the biggest monument to a writer in the world! I’d recommend climbing it – the views are incredible! And there’s a little museum about halfway up, which I wasn’t expecting (I love museums!). Another interesting thing about the Scott Monument – it used to be a sandy sort of colour, but pollution has stained it black. It’s not been cleaned for fear of damaging it but I think the black has a nice Gothic-y feel to it.
8. Arthur’s Seat – Everyone knows about Arthur’s Seat. It’s basically a huge hill in the middle of Edinburgh. I’d recommend climbing this as well – the view from the top is spectacular! I met my university room-mate after I had climbed Arthur’s Seat. Unfortunately, I happened to fall over when I was near the bottom and I met my room-mate for the first time covered head-to-toe in mud. Thankfully, we became really good friends and ended up living together for the next four years!
7. Edinburgh Castle – More a military museum now than an actual castle, Edinburgh Castle is really interesting. You can’t not miss it when you go to Edinburgh – it’s sitting on top of a dormant volcano! I managed to visit it when the 1 o’clock cannon went off (which I hadn’t planned!). This is a must for anyone visiting Edinburgh (even though it took me nearly four years of living there to actually go!)
6. Scottish National Gallery – Being free, this was a staple for me in Edinburgh. If I was bored, or wanted to get away from studying, I went here (or the National Museum of Scotland). I love art galleries and love spending hours wandering through them (or curling up on one of the many sofas dotted throughout with a good book).
5. Camera Obscura – The World of Illusions. One of my flat-mates (the one I met covered in mud) and I visited here during our last year in Edinburgh. It’s one of those places where it’s impossible not to enjoy it. You have to try the vortex tunnel – it messes with your mind!
4. The Meadows – I literally lived just around the corner from The Meadows. On a sunny day, my flat-mates and I would grab our books, or our laptops, and have a picnic on The Meadows. Being a big green space, there’s not much in the way of things to do, but it’s a nice place to relax and, sometimes, there’s impromptu plays being performed (closer to the university side of the park). And, when it’s snowing, it’s a great place to build a snowman (or snow kangaroo/T-rex, as my flat-mates and I did)!
3. Royal Botanic Gardens – Definitely visit the glass houses! These are beautiful! All of the gardens are beautiful, but those glass houses are incredible. The gates to get into the gardens are impressive and I was stupidly entertained by the fact that there were antibacterial mats (I think they were antibacterial?) that you had to walk over to get into the gardens, so that you weren’t treading anything unsavoury into the gardens.
2. National Museum of Scotland – this is definitely my favourite museum in Edinburgh. It’s free (woop!) and has heaps of interesting things to do. It has Ancient Egyptian artefacts! I love anything to do with Ancient Egypt. I spent many an hour here when I lived in Edinburgh.
1. St Giles Cathedral – what can I say? I love cathedrals. The architecture is amazing. The inside is amazing. Everything about it is amazing. Make sure if you do visit (it’s free!), that you go into the Thistle Chapel tucked away in the back corner. There’s some impressive carvings and the ceiling in this part of the cathedral is definitely the most impressive!
Honourable Mention – Holyrood Palace/Abbey – I never actually had a chance to visit here. Every time I tried, the Queen (or another royal) was in residence, so they weren’t allowing tours. I’m desperate to visit here – especially for the Abbey. I love ruins and Holyrood Abbey looks lovely from the pictures I’ve seen.
Another Honourable Mention – Black Medicine Cafe – I know everyone wants to visit the Elephant House, as it’s the birthplace of Harry Potter. But, if I’m being honest, it’s not the greatest. The food is okay and the prices are a bit touristy expensive. You can get your pictures here but, if you’re looking for a decent cafe, I’d recommend Black Medicine Cafe. My flat-mates and I spent a lot of time here – especially when our internet wasn’t working!