When it comes to city breaks there are a fair few places on my list to visit. I love visiting somewhere new for a long weekend, which I alway think is just the right amount of time you need to explore & discover a new city. For a while Edinburgh has been on my list & not for 1 specific reason but just that it seemed a great place to visit with a mixed bag of activities to keep me & my boyfriend entertained.
So a couple of weekends ago we were finally off to Scotland’s capital city & were heading towards Liverpool John Lennon Airport for our 45 minute flight. From Liverpool it can usually be a bit of a trek to Edinburgh which isn’t the best start to any trip so when I heard about Flybe’s new route it was the perfect option. We arrived at the airport an hour before our flight, parked up & headed straight through & in under an hour we were on the plane. It was the best way for us to travel & it was simply quick & easy, before we knew it we were touching down in Edinburgh ready for a long weekend of exploring.
Where To Stay
Prior to the trip I did my fair share of research on where we should stay as I always think it’s such an important part of the trip & 1 key part I always look at is location. Especially when you are only somewhere for a few days you want to be central to everything so you are not wasting time back & forth. We stayed in the beautiful The George Hotel which you can find on George Street a 2 minute walk from the shops, near plenty of restaurants & coffee shops & a 10 minute walk to the castle. Now the hotel is pricey so if your visiting Edinburgh for a special occasion then I would definitely recommend it, an 18th century building it has a grand luxury feel, our room was homely & spacious with a fantastic view over the city.
Now there are plenty of other hotels in the city for your to select from that are in various locations so it mainly depends on what you want. I also did look at airbnb & there were numerous places for rent on there with some fantastic apartments but I find you definitely have to book well in advance if you are wanting that something a bit better or unique but it’s definitely worth doing.
Where To Eat
If I was to try & sum up Edinburgh then high on my list would definitely be that it is a place to visit if your a food person like me. I didn’t have 1 bad meal & was spoilt for choice on where to go. Before our trip I was doing some research & heard plenty of great reviews about Urban Angel so I called ahead & booked a table for Saturday morning which was a good idea as it is very popular & was already busy at 9:30!
A good sign surely?
It was the perfect place to fuel us up for a busy day ahead. With a pot of tea for me which adorably came with an egg timer inside to make sure my brew was just right while my boyfriend had what he described as the best cappuccino ever.
Urban Angel serve fresh fine quality food from local sourced products & you can tell, my nutty seed butter & berries was one of those yummy homemade dishes that was delicious & my boyfriends chorizo & mushroom must have been pretty good as there wasn’t a crumb left.
It’s cosy with great friendly staff, we left with a home made smoothie & it was the great way to start the day.
Now if your like me & have a sweet tooth for anything really but in this instance it’s cakes well then quite simply there is only 1 place to visit in Edinburgh & that is Stockbridge Kitchen. We stumbled across this place on the Sunday & only that we had not long eaten before we popped in I think I would have ended up having a slice of each of the mouth watering cakes.
Heading inside we were lucky to get 2 seats, that is the only thing there aren’t many tables & a few people were turned away but if you can wait, it’s worth it. The staff were absolutely lovely, so friendly & talked me through each cake that are all lovingly made in house by the owner who is a very talented lady.
Deciding on a New York Cheesecake plus a Lemon & Strawberry Tart we ordered a pot of tea & had our own late morning tea & cake & it was absolutely delicious. I would definitely advice going with an empty tummy if possible to simply make the most of it. But if your not much of a sweet person then don’t worry there are plenty of other homemade options available, the pies looked pretty good if I say so myself.
The Gardener’s Cottage
Dining at The Gardener’s Cottage was definitely a highlight of the trip for sure. If you are a real foodie person or you simply are looking for something different to try on your trip then I would highly recommend visiting this place.
Located at the bottom of Carlton Hill in the Royal Terrace Gardens the cottage has a rustic charm about it as you walk along the vegetable plots on your way up to the cottage. Inside you are seated on long communal tables which were smaller than I realised so it does get quite cosy but after a couple of minutes you forget that the person is next to you.
Seated, we were ready to enjoy a 7 course taster menu, that is created from the best locally sourced & seasonal produce. So there is no picking of what you are about to have served to you, you quite simply go with the flow & sample each dish. The experience was fantastic, each course was brought out to us & the dish explained by the staff, you get to taste dishes such as sea trout, mussels & asparagus. Elderflower glazed beetroot then the Roe Dee & Cauliflower then for a sweet dish BBQ Strawberry meringue & sorbet.
It was the perfect dining experience that yes did cost a fair few pennies but it was the perfect dining experience that we both thoroughly enjoyed.
Mary’s Milk Bar
As much as I have a sweet tooth when it comes to Ice Cream I have to be in the right kind of mood for it & I can be quite particular about the flavours ask my girlfriends & they will tell you Mint Choc Chip, always!
The weather was very unpredictable whilst we were there one minute torrential downpour & the next clear skies with sunshine, making the most of the sunshine we popped into Mary’s Milk Bar which makes fresh homemade ice cream every day & all before 11am. Now there is ice cream & then there is really proper ice cream & this definitively falls into the latter, you can quite simply taste the difference.
It”s known for the queue to be coming out of the shop of people eager to get their share of ice cream. There were so many flavours it was so hard to pick but going for hazel nut & pistachio I was not disappointed it was delicious!
No matter what city your in some places are a must visit even if it’s not neccassirily your ‘thing’ you still go & visit, in London you’d go & see Buckingham Palace, Paris it would be the Eiffel Tower & in Edinburgh well it had to Edinburgh Castle.
If I had to describe Edinburgh one word that comes to mind is magical. I’m a big Harry Potter fan so know that author J.K. Rowling wrote the first book in Edinburgh & you can see where he inspiration came from, the buildings are historical & you can’t help but get caught up in the history & feel as though your stepping into Hogwarts when your walk through the gateway to the castle.
We hit lucky with the rain stopping just as we arrived, the clouds parted & the sun came out helping us have an amazing view over the city as we stoop at the foot of the castle. Visiting the Great Hall & Royal Palace, it is definitely a must visit if your in the city & wanting to soak up some culture.
Most cities have art galleries but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Edinburgh actually has 3 there is definitely something there for everyone whatever your taste. If visiting an art gallery wouldn’t usually be something you would do then I would definitely say give it a try especially as the weather is so unpredictable they are ideal to visit when the weather is grim & there are plenty of exhibitions on.
Our first gallery visit we decided to head just outside of the city, jumping an Uber in 5 minuter we were at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Pulling up to the gallery is pretty impressive with its long gravel path way & quirky gardens an the neon light quote ‘Everything Is Going To Be Alright.‘ We visited the Surreal Encounter which was definitely an unusual exhibition but ideal for the art lover & tourists. A bonus was they do a lot of activities for families, there was plenty going on to keep children entertained & introducing them to the creative side of art with fun workshops.
The next day we visited the Scottish National Gallery which is right in the centre of the city & was a 5 minute walk from our hotel so on Sunday afternoon we headed over & I thoroughly enjoyed roaming the vivid red rooms admiring the Renaissance painting which are a particular favourite of mine.
Ahead of our trip one thing that I was really looking forward to was doing something a bit unusual that I wouldn’t necessarily do when visiting another city. Edinburgh is just about to start it’s famous Fringe Festival, the largest arts festival in the world which sees every variety of performer from actor, comedian etc descend upon the capital.
Now we obviously didn’t visit in August but that’s fine because there is always something to do in Edinburgh that is slightly outside the box & we certainly weren’t disappointed in fact it was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. As I’ve mentioned I found Edinburgh magical, so in keeping with this I was very happy to see on ‘What’s On Edinburgh’ that the International Magic Festival was on, perfect!
Saturday evening we arrived to the venue & honestly had no idea what to expect there was only about 60 people so the theatre was very intimate, the lights dimmed & the show began. I was quite literally on the edge of my seat the whole show it was fantastic we left over an hour later wide eyed & on a high from what we had just seen. I would definitely recommend looking for something outside the box for your visit it makes your stay that bit more unique.
When your doing a city break it is very easy to fall into the trap of doing a lot of tourist activities & whilst most of them are great to visit & a must do I always try to find activities that are a bit more local, something you would do if you lived there. When researching Edinburgh I read a lot about Stockbridge which seems to have a village atmosphere to it as well as being picturesque so I knew this was a place we had to visit.
Sunday morning we headed out & straight for Stockbridge it was a straight 10 minute walk out the hotel & before we know it we had landed upon Stockbridge Market which takes place every Sunday between 10-5pm. Arriving into a mini village of yellow tents you are overwhelmed by the variety of food stands available, I was so glad we hadn’t yet had breakfast as we dove straight into the most delicious war pastries, followed by homemade scotch eggs with black pudding, jumping over to Japanese for some chicken gyoza. Picking up some apricot & almond cake for the journey home it was the best way to spend a Sunday morning & feel like a local.
WHERE TO SHOP
Heading into Grassmarket which is located just behind the Castle you can’t miss the colourful bunting adorned Victoria St which is home to a number of independent shops, food stores & galleries a mixed variety for you to visit & I loved shopping on this street. Our first shop was Museum Context which is quite simply an Aladdin’s cave of treasure’s & keep sakes.
You can’t help but marvel at the mixed bag of objects on display, remembering to duck down so you don’t hit your head on the colourful display of hot air balloons or the miniature solar system. There were so many items I wanted to pick up & bring home with me, it is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for some unique items to add to your home to make it that bit different & personal. As I’m such a Harry Potter fan & my time in Edinburgh was making me feel as if I was in Hogwarts I was definitely wanting to pack up this trunk & bring it back home with me.
Golden Hare Books
Selling a mix of fiction, autobiographies & a beautiful children’s section. I could easily have spent the rest of my Sunday afternoon in there but I came away with some new purchases that I have already got stuck into.
Red Door Gallery
With their being 3 art galleries in Edinburgh there is no surprise that there is also a fair few art gallery shops but the Red Door Gallery was exactly my kind of gallery. I love stationary & everything linked to it from gift wrap to notebooks & cute illustrated cards, to quirky gifts & this is exactly what the Red Door Gallery was.
Walking in they had a brilliant selection of unique prints with anything from a sketch of the latest Sherlock Holmes cast to a drawing of the world by one of my favourite artists Alice Tait. I already have a number of her works so I couldn’t leave the shop without bringing this home with me & I’m surprised I didn’t leave with more!