I am so excited about this post because today I get to talk to you about my favorite city stop on this tour: Edinburgh! On my Great Britain Contiki tour I got to spend one day in Edinburgh. This is the city with a castle at one end and a palace at another, and almost even more famously – the city that inspired JK Rowling while she was writing the Harry Potter series! I absolutely adore this city and plan on going back and spending at least a few weeks there sometime in my life, but on this tour we only stopped for one day, so I crammed as much as I could into that day!
First up was the Edinburgh castle, which sits on a cliff overlooking the city. When you get to the castle there are a few different tours that you can go on or you can explore on your own. We went on an hour long tour and our guide told us the history of this castle. I loved having a tour guide for this because I got to learn so much more than I would have if I just roamed, also this castle is huge, so roaming around with no direction I would have spent all day there and missed out on the rest of Edinburgh.
There is so much more interesting history at this castle than anywhere I have ever been. Most interestingly to me was the time that Mary Queen of Scots was there as she has always been fascinating to me. There is a whole exhibit based on her embroideries that she created while she was there. Another exhibit not to be missed is the Honours of Scotland where you can see the oldest crown jewels in Britain. There is so much to see at this massive castle as it was a hot spot for the military, royalty, and has beautiful architecture. If you do one thing in Edinburgh it needs to be visiting this castle.
After realizing that I had spent almost half the day in the castle I remembered that there was also a palace to see, so I departed the castle to walk toward the palace. The road from the castle to the palace is aptly called the Royal Mile and is filled with restaurants, shops, and street performers. Just as I was leaving the castle there was a street performer playing the bagpipes which was cool to listen to as I walked down the road.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
After walking for about 20 minutes I reached the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This is the Palace that the Queen still stays in when she visits Scotland in the summer, so it was amazing to see the inside. When you enter the palace you can purchase an audible tour, which I did but it moved really slowly so I would not recommend this unless you plan to spend the whole day at the palace. Here I got to see the royal dining room, the throne room and the beautiful courtyard that all seem to still be used today. There is also an amazing amount of history here as there is at the castle. When touring you can see Mary Queen of Scots chambers I loved this as it just extended what I had learned about her at the castle.
Tip: Do not try and take a picture inside the palace unless you want to be lunged at by two royal guards. (It’s not fun lol)
Whisky and Folklore
After spending quite some time in the palace I headed back up the Royal mile where I ended the day in Edinburgh in a perfectly Scottish way with whisky and folklore! In the upstairs lounge at the Waverly Bar where posters of musicians and other artists are glued to the ceiling I got to taste 4 different types of Whisky (with no e because its Scottish) while listening to folklore about Edinburgh. This tour is done by Little Fish Tours and is a must do.
When I booked this trip I decided that I was going to try everything, so even though I am not a whisky drinker normally, I tried all four types (Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside and Islay). I ended up really enjoying the Islay whisky, maybe because of the three I had before it or maybe because it was actually really good I haven’t looked for any since I have been home to see. We had two story tellers who were great at their jobs and were so engaging and the stories were mesmerizing to listen to, although some of the stories were quite morbid.
Edinburgh was such a beautiful city and I wish I had more time there, but I guess I will just have to make another trip back to Scotland and spend more than a day (or darn). If you missed the beginning of my trip make sure to check out the rest of my adventure here and don’t subscribe to not miss out on my next adventure!