We have been dying to see Edinburgh for a while, home of its ancestors, so we were able to plan a 3 days’ short trip to Edinburgh in January 2017. Before we started the tour, we decided places to visit in the order of popularity, Edinburgh Caste was our the most favourite choice and The Kelpies, the least favoured one.
We decided to drive all the way from Milton Keynes to Edinburgh, a five and half hours of non-stop journey but with subsequent stops, the overtime time we took around eight hours. Out of three days, we spent whole of first day in traveling so we were left with two more days to explore Edinburgh.
The Royal Mile
The first stop of the trip was through, The Royal Mile, it refers to the road linking Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Lined with charming townhouses and historic landmarks, this splendid thoroughfare is a great first stop in Edinburgh with its fine shops (including kilt makers), numerous inns, museums, cafés and restaurants. Many of the buildings are tall, averaging six to 15-stories, narrow little alleys, called “winds” with the hidden backyards “closes”, weave in and around them. home to the Writer’s Museum displaying manuscripts, portraits, etchings and memorabilia of the poet Robert Burns and writers Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.
Adjacent to ‘The Royal Mile’ is Edinburgh Castle, is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, from its position on the Castle Rock. It is a world-famous icon of Scotland and a world heritage site in UK. To enter the castle. We had to buy tickets with additional option of audio recorded guide for additional price. We opted for ticket without the audio guide. The souvenir guide also has a lot of fascinating information and tales which bring past to life. Also by following the trail of blue shields which describe the remarkable people and events which shaped the castle, and Scotland’s, history. Inside the castle has most fascinating places to visit and take in, for us, it seemed, too much to take in in just one fourth of a day.
Some of the highlights of castle that we visited were:
The crown room and Royal palace, the home to the nation’s treasures including crown jewels including the stone of destiny and where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI.
Mons Meg, one of Europe’s largest siege guns that fired stones weighing 150g over 3.2 km, a must see for everyone.
The Scottish National War Memorial, a place to those who lost their lives in World War I onwards.
St Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest building by David I to commemorate his mother.
The Prisons of War, an atmospheric recreation of life of prisoners at the end of 18th century
The National War Museum of Scotland, the museum which perseveres some arms and artilleries used during conflicts with various tribes, countries etc.
The Great Hall, a spectacular medieval hall that holds a fabulous display of arms and armour.
The One o’ Clock Gun, the famous time signal has been fired almost daily since 1861 except on Sundays, Christmas Day and Good Friday.
Panoramic views, Views across the capital, over the Firth of Forth and into Fife, can be enjoyed from the castle’s walls.
Overall, it is not enough for one day or even a week to fully explore castle. However, we had to leave the castle behind and head towards the next destination, Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, a place with long-standing tower with five floors showcasing hands-on exhibits of whimsical optical illusions, definitely a place to check out, full fun with people of all ages. This is highly recommended as this is near to the castle and for whole families.
Next stop of our itinerary was The Scotch Whisky Experience. There’s a vast collection of whisky around the world. This is good for a general introduction to whisky and how it’s made, information is useful and had a good tasting session after tour. For any whisky lover, this is a must-see attraction.
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Close to ‘Scotch Whisky’ is St Giles Cathedral, is [amazon_textlink asin=’1743215703|B00WGN9BCC’ text=’Edinburgh’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’fundooplace-21|fundooplace05-21′ marketplace=’UK|IN’ link_id=’2607f345-718e-11e8-8cf2-5bf1e27d77e9′]’s principle church. The 161 ft central tower with its eight arched buttresses forms a huge crown (the Crown Steeple) and is a favourite backdrop for photos. Interior highlights include memorials to the dead of WWI, lovely stained glass windows, and a statue of John Knox, leader of the Protestant Reformation (his former home, 45 High St, is close by and contains a museum and related artifacts).
The Thistle Chapel is known for its marvellous oak carvings, heraldic emblems and seals of the “Knights of the Thistle” (Scotland’s oldest order of knights). This is a must see for people for all ages.
We then headed towards Arthurs’s seat, it is situated just to the east of the city centre, about 1 mile (1.6 km) to the east of Edinburgh Castle, the hill rises above the city to a height of 250.5 m (822 ft), provides excellent panoramic views of the city and beyond. While we had to work very hard to climb the hill but at the end it was worth the effort. The hill reminded us the “London Eye” from where the panoramic view of the while city can be enjoyed fully.
Palace of Holyroodhouse and Holyrood Abbey
Next day started with us visiting, the most exciting, Palace of Holyroodhouse and Holyrood Abbey, The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the Queen’s official Edinburgh residence and has frequently been at the center of Scottish history. We didn’t have to wait much to get the ticket with added benefit of free guided audio recording. The interior of the palace displays architectural excellence and fine armour of Scottish heritage, especially stunning Historic Apartments (former home of Mary Queen of Scots) and the State Apartments, famous for their fine furnishings, tapestries and plasterwork. We also spent quite bit of time in enjoying Holyrood Abbey, the resting places of some of Scottish Monarchs. Overall the experience was overwhelming, fascinating and must recommend for anyone planning to visit Edinburgh.
Next, we headed across the road to Scottish Parliament. At the entrance of the parliament there was a small queue, after security check, we went inside the parliament, the interior of the parliament is awe-inspiring, splendid as well mesmerising. Guides tours are available if anyone wants to avail it but we went to explore everything on our own. People in the parliament were very cordial, accommodative and helpful. The most exciting and memorable part was having to enjoy live debate, which according to me worth try for.
Our Dynamic Earth: Edinburgh’s Science Centre
With that memory in mind we headed to the next destination, Our Dynamic Earth: Edinburgh’s Science Centre, Our Dynamic Earth is a multi-media presentation that takes visitors on a 500 million year journey through the earth’s history. Using hi-tech gadgetry and superb special effects, its displays realistically portray natural events such as volcanoes, tropical rainstorms and glaciation.
Located at the foot of Arthur’s Seat near Holyrood Park, this unique science center is housed in an ultra-modern tent-like structure and is particularly fun for kids. And thanks to facilities like the excellent 360-degree Showdome with its 3D movies, it’s as entertaining as it is educational.
We finished the second day trip by visiting the city centre where the Christmas festival was still on so we could explore further the city culture.
Final day and the last day, we set out quite early to finish the last two destinations, Forth Bridge and The Kelpies. The Forth Bridge is a cantilever railway bridge over the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland, 9 miles (14 kilometres) west of Edinburgh City Centre. It is considered an iconic structure and a symbol of Scotland, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The panoramic early morning view of the bridge was mind boggling and fascinating and ever-lasting.
Next, we drove to The Kelpies, towering above the Forth & Clyde Canal, The Kelpies are a feat of engineering, each made with 300 tonnes of structural steel, and are a monumental tribute to the horse power heritage that was vital to the early industries of central Scotland. Even though we didn’t have enough time explore the site fully, the memories of it is everlasting and another must-see for visitors touring to Edinburgh.
Overall the Edinburgh tour is one of the memorable tours we have had so far. The getting to know more about Scottish culture and history is fascinating, astounding and exhilarating, which can’t be described in words. Even though we took hours driving to and from Edinburgh , but at the end it was heavily rewarding.