Lara's Log

Edinburgh Guide

View of Edinburgh

View of Edinburgh

It’s been almost a year since I moved to Edinburgh. 1 Christmas Market, 1 Edinburgh Fringe festival, 4 ghost tours and 2 five hour walking tours of Edinburgh later and I think it’s about time I start putting my experiences down for others to learn from.

Below is a list (in no particular order!) of ideas of things to do in Edinburgh. These will be expanded upon so stay tuned!

Things to do in Edinburgh

Climb Arthur’s Seat – takes about 30 – 40 minutes hard climb depending on what angle you tackle it from. Has nice views of the city though I think the castle has better views. I recommend combining this with having dinner at Sheep’s Heid pub. Booking is advisable (though not strictly necessary) as it’s packed most days/ nights. The pub was established in 1360! I really like it as it strikes me as being very Hogwart-ian. Here’s the Sheep’s Heid web site. You can also play skittles there. It costs £12.50 per hour before 7pm – after 7 you have to book the whole room out and you need 10 people for that. I’d recommend a taxi home as though you could have a lovely walk back along Duddingston lough, it would take about 1 1/2 to walk back to Princes’ Street.

Dynamic Earth – Dynamic Earth goes through our planet’s past, present and future, with interactive exhibits and impressive technology, including a 4D and 3D experience. Haven’t done this yet but everyone I’ve talked to who’s done it has loved it so guess it’d be worth a visit!

Horrible Histories Bus Tour – a bus tour written in the style of Terry Deary aimed at children presenting Edinburgh’s darker history.  Haven’t done this as yet – just waiting for an excuse! Surprisingly there’s no web site for this…yet!

Edinburgh Castle – open until 6pm, tickets cost £14 per adult and £7.50 per child. Aside from the Crown Jewels and the *Stone of Destiny* (to be read in a booming voice), there is also a museum of War as well as well as section showing what it would have been like to be a prisoner of war there. The most interesting part, I think, is the War Memorial. It’s a very moving memorial to all wars with some amazing statues and art work.  Incidentally you don’t have to pay to visit the memorial. If you only want to visit the memorial, you ask at the visitors centre and they will escort you straight there. Haven’t done this myself so not sure if you get to stop and check out the views or not, but worth bearing in mind if you’ve no interest in the rest.

Ghost Tours – You can’t come to Edinburgh and not go on a ghost tour really. The Mercat Ghosts and Ghouls tour is the best one for the kiddies I think. Cloaked guides take you around Edinburgh main streets, and then underground to the vaults. It’s a lot lighter than other tours I’ve been on. Other ghost tours that I’ve been on are the Black Hart Graveyard Tour as well as their City of the Dead Tour. New Europe also do a ghost tour, which goes acorss North Bridge and up to Calton hill. Incidentally, their walking tour of history is excellent. I thoroughly recommend it – been on it twice!

Mary King’s Close – more historical than scary, this is a very interesting exploration under the streets of Edinburgh showing you how people lived at the time of the Plague. I couldn’t get over how close the houses were built together! Plus you get an infra red photo of the group at the end :)

The Edinburgh Dungeons – Personally, I found this a lot scarier than the ghost tours! A lot of the walking around is in the dark with flashing lights. There’s also a bit in a boat which scares the pants off me everytime (been on it twice). However, if you think the kids would be up for it, the photo opps at the end are pretty good. If it’s just adults, I’d say definitely go along. It ain’t cheap at £15 a head, but you can get £5 off if you book and pay for tickets at the Tourist Information office which is right around the corner. See a map of Edinburgh here.

Seafari – I did something like this in Dublin before and it was great fun. Costs £22 per adult and £19 per child. Haven’t done this one in Edinburgh myself but if you’ve been to Edinburgh before and want something different, I’d say this is something to keep in mind.

DeepSeaWorld – this is Scotland’s National Aquarium and is located outside of Edinburgh. You can get to this by train apparently but haven’t done this myself so not sure how good a connection this is.

Dominion Cinema – this is an absolutely awesome cinema, with giant leather recliner seats. It is a little bit out of the way from the centre of Edinburgh but totally worth it if your a film buff. A good thing to do on the night before heading home I think.

The Royal Yacht Britannia – luxury yacht used by the Royal Family and docked in Edinburgh. Famous people who have been aboard include Sir Winston Churchill, Boris Yeltsin, Rajiv Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, among other on board. Haven’t been aboard so not sure if it’s any use. Tickets are £31.00 for a family.

Ocean Terminal – I include this mostly because of the Royal Yacht Britannia is right beside it. I’m not a shopaholic, but know a nice shopping mall when I see one! It’s a little bit out of the city centre but you could kill a couple of hours there after/ before visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia. Other shopping centres in Edinburgh include St James’ and the Princes’ Mall which is right beside Waverly train station.

Camera Obscura – one of the original attractions of Edinburghs, it’s been around for 150 years. Web site makes it look good anyway! Dying to check it out.

The 3D Loch Ness Experience – presents the history and mythology of Loch Ness through 3D.  Haven’t experienced it myself yet. Will update when I have.

Museum of Childhood – unfortunately due to time constraints, I have only been in the ground floor of this. However it seemed quite interesting – especially the gift shop with lots of toys! :)

Holyrood Palace – haven’t been remarkably enough. Tickets cost £27.00 for a family.

Museum of Scotland – my Mum raves about this, haven’t been yet myself shockingly but I know the cafe is supposed to be excellent.

More to come as and when I make more ventures into Edinburgh!

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