Edinburgh for everyone

View of Old Town, Edinburgh, Scotland

Whenever anyone asked what destination we were most looking forward to, Sarah’s answer was Scotland for this first European leg. We’d never been and we would be spending 3 weeks there. Well, Edinburgh did Scotland proud for our first week.

Leith

We stayed in a nice big apartment a bit out of the center, in LeithTrainspotting was set in Leith. But we found it quite lovely and not dodgy at all. As per usual, we preferred staying outside the main tourist zones. Leith felt like a real neighborhood and had everything we needed including a ginormous Tesco and access to our favorite Edinburgh experience, the Water of Leith Walkway (learn more below). It took about 20 minutes either walking or by bus to get to the center. Lothian Buses are quite convenient and easy to figure out AND they have free wifi! Our only complaint is that they require exact change in coins.

We would recommend almost everything we did and saw in Edinburgh. It’s a wonderful, beautiful city. However, it’s really really hilly (it’s said to be built on 7 of them).

See… hilly!
Edinburgh, Scotland

Accessibility

Usually we like to visit flat places that don’t leave Sarah continuously breathless. So it’s hard to recommend Edinburgh as a great place to visit to people with lung diseases like LAM or other mobility issues. But the city does try to make itself as accessible as possible given the circumstances. As noted above, it’s well-covered by buses. Some of the attractions try to be accommodating as well. At Edinburgh Castle, there was a “Mobility Vehicle” to take you to the top of the hill – and yes, we took it! It’s quite easy to arrange – just ask the guards at the gate to call it for you.
Mobility Vehicle at Edinburgh Castle

And at the Royal Botanic Garden, we were pleasantly surprised to see signs noting which paths were OK for wheelchairs.
Access, Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh, ScotlandNote, special thanks to our new friend Gill who recommended ways to avoid some of the hills – among other things. We were so happy to meet and spend time with her on this trip.

Edinburgh is truly a city that has something for everyone – nature, art, a castle, pubs. And it’s a photographer’s dream. We enjoyed exploring and taking lots and lots and lots of pictures.

Views 

There are so many vantage points from which to take a good picture of Edinburgh it’s almost comical. When we first found ourselves on Princes Street, we were awestruck by how beautiful the other side of the city looked with its old buildings and, oh yeah, a castle.
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

View of Old Town, Edinburgh, Scotland

View of Old Town, Edinburgh, Scotland

Old Town and Princes Street Garden, Edinburgh, Scotland

There’s also the views of Princes Street Gardens and the Scot Monument.
Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland

Scot Monument, Edinburgh, Scotland

Go up to the roof of the National Museum of Scotland to see a different view of the castle and more.
View of Edinburgh Castle from the National Museum of Scotland

View of Edinburgh Castle from the National Museum of Scotland

View of Edinburgh Castle from the National Museum of Scotland

View from the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle is a cool place to explore and also features amazing views of the city. Tip: buy tickets online and pick them up right outside the gate to avoid the massive lines.
View from Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

View from Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

View from Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Climb Calton Hill (with oxygen if you need it, like I did) to see views of Arthur’s Seat and Leith. Calton Hill is home to the National Monument of Scotland, which was meant to be a copy of the Parthenon but, for budgetary reasons, was never completed. Even though in Scotland it’s known by derogatory names, it still looks pretty cool.
Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland

View from Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland

Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland

View from Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland

Streets

The streets of Edinburgh are pretty and surprising and feature different types of buildings and colors.

Circus Lane 
Circus Lane, Edinburgh, Scotland

Circus Lane, Edinburgh, Scotland

Cockburn Street
Advocate's Close, Cockburn Street, Edinburgh, Scotland

St. Mary’s Street
Corner of St. Mary's Street and Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, Scotland

Our own Halmyre Street 
image

The Royal Mile
St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland

Nature

Did you know there’s an extinct volcano in Edinburgh?* Arthur’s Seat is a beautiful part of the Edinburgh skyline. And you can climb it! OK, so we didn’t climb it, but we did round its base. *Trick question, there are actually 2 – Edinburgh Castle itself sits on one as well.
Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland

As mentioned earlier, the Water of Leith Walkway was one of our best finds – and was one of the benefits of staying in Leith! In totality, it’s a 12 3/4 mile walk along the river from Balerno to Leith. We explored 2 sections: from Leith to the Royal Botanic Garden and from Saughton Rose Garden to Dean Village (with a detour to the Scottish Museum of Modern Art). It’s a quiet, rambling path and you feel like you’re somewhere remote and special – definitely not a big city. The route itself is relatively flat, but sometimes getting to and from the walkway required climbing hills.

Our introduction to the Water of Leith, in Leith!
Water of Leigh, Edinburgh, Scotland

Water of Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland

Walkway up to the Scottish Museum of Modern Art
Walk up to Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Scotland

Water of Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland

Dean Village
Dean Village, Water of Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland,

The Royal Botanic Garden is extraordinary. It features fauna and flora from around the world and are so well-manicured it’s astonishing. And it’s free!

This hedge (pictured left) is over 100 years old! 
Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland

Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland

Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland

Museums 

A lot of the museums in Edinburgh are free! We visited 3.

The National Museum of Scotland is unlike any museum we’ve visited being a combination art, design, science, and natural museum.
National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh

The Scottish National Gallery is a small museum of wonderful paintings right off Princes Street.
National Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland

The Scottish Museum of Modern Art is actually two museums. The collection is lovely and manageable, but we liked the outdoor displays best.
Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Scotland

Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Scotland

Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Scotland

Eats and Drinks

  • We discovered our favorite beer of the trip so far – the Hanging Bat Brew Co Hibernation Series Saison #002. It was light and crisp without being too sweet. If you like saisons and happen to come across this one, scoop it up!

The Hanging Bat Brew Co Hibernation Series Saison #002, Timberyard, Edinburgh, Scotland

  • We tried haggis. No comment.
  • Thanks to a gift from friends (thank you Lauren, Jamie, Harper, Brooks, and Winston!) we ate a 6-course meal at Timberyard, a restaurant that is way too trendy for us. It was delicious and the plates were beautiful so we’ll end this post with some food porn.

Timberyard, Edinburgh, Scotland

Crab and lobster and peas at Timberyard, Edinburgh, Scotland

Beef tartare at Timberyard, Edinburgh, Scotland

Duck and beets at Timberyard, Edinburgh, Scotland

Lamb at Timberyard, Edinburgh, Scotland

Dessert at Timberyard, Edinburgh, Scotland

5 Replies to “Edinburgh for everyone”

  1. Thanks so much for the pictures and commentary. My wife Meg and my 16 year old son Noah and I will be in Scotland next week so we are thrilled to have a preview.

  2. Food porn, eh! Great photos of everything. Sounds like you’re having fun.

    Love,

    John

  3. Barbara Alterman says: Reply

    I so look forward to your posts. I feel like I am traveling around the world with you and you are giving me the bug to get out there. It’s not my time right now, but your posts have encouraged me to resume my on and off again Spanish lessons. My class starts tomorrow! When the time comes, I am going to be fluent. Thanks.

  4. Now John and I do regret not joining you for this part of your travels. It’s gorgeous, though I could live without the haggis. Can’t wait to see the rest of your Scotland adventures.

  5. Just beautiful!!! Enjoy it all!!

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