Discover the best of Edinburgh on your next trip to Scotland! Here are seven reasons to visit the ‘Athens of the North’.
From mystical castles, authentic whisky tasting, ghostly folklore to the stunning Highlands and the mysterious Loch Ness, there are many reasons to visit the Scottish capital. Today, ‘Auld Reekie’ is a cultural paradise with the backdrop of a spectacular countryside. Check out our seven favorite reasons to visit Edinburgh.
1. Walk through history at Edinburgh Castle
Once a medieval military fortress, this wonderfully historic relic is now a crown jewel soaring over the Edinburgh skyline. This iconic symbol of Scotland is a must-see on a trip to the city as it is a great place to start in understanding the region’s rich history. Edinburgh Castle was built on a rock upon which a castle had stood since the twelfth century, being the home of some famous names such as Queen Margaret and Mary Queen of Scots. As you stroll the corridors of the ancient castle, don’t be surprised if you sense vibes, hear ghostly whispers or if something–or someone!–unseen brushes up against you. The castle is one of the world’s most haunted places and is often the subject of paranormal investigations.
2. Explore Edinburgh Old Town
The Old Town of Edinburgh, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has a millennium of history to uncover. Take a tour through the cobblestoned streets and visit St. Giles Cathedral. Founded in the 1120s, vaulted ceilings and ornate stained glass windows characterize this magnificent cathedral. Known as the ‘Cradle of Presbyterianism’, St. Giles was the main church of John Knox during the historic reformation.
3. Come for the Haggis and the Scotch Whisky!
With its long history and contemporary flare, Edinburgh offers a plethora of gastronomic experiences to choose from. However, when making a trip to Edinburgh, first-time travellers should be sure to try the traditional dishes that are a source of Scottish pride. Take a food tour of the Old Town and try the fabled haggish, a warm meaty dish made from sheep pluck, or delight the senses with a traditional Salmon Tart. Finally, wash it all down with a swig of Scotland’s National drink: Scotch whisky.
4. Hear ye, hear ye! Scottish legends and folklore
With such an ancient history, it should come as no surprise that unearthed dark secrets abound in Edinburgh. Let a well-informed storyteller shine some candlelight on the gruesome tales of torture, ghosts and the foul-smelling streets of the Edinburgh of old. Take an evening walking tour that ends with a whisky tasting in a candlelit cellar. If you’d like an enriching family experience without the possibility of those unwelcome sleepless nights, take the kids on a light-hearted “gory stories” tour.
5. Gaze at the majestic Scottish Highlands
The Scottish Highlands are an amazing must-do day trip from Edinburgh. Rent a car for the day or book a tour of the iconic picturesque region. Be sure to visit the famous fifteenth-century Kilchurn Castle located on the spectacular Loch Awe. On the way, stop to explore one of the many charming small towns like Inveraray, home to the castle featured in the 2012 Christmas Episode of Downtown Abbey.
6. Visit Inverness and Loch Ness
Have you ever wondered about the legend of the Loch Ness Monster? Take a trip to Inverness where the first recorded sighting of the legendary creature took place in 565 AD. The countless sightings since that fateful day include the famous black and white photograph taken by R.K Wilson in 1934. Whatever the truth about this mysterious creature may be, it is always worth a trip to Loch Ness to see for yourself and discover the beauty of this ancient lake.
7. Discover the magical (real) world of Harry Potter
Fans of Harry Potter will delight in any visit to Edinburgh, author J.K. Rowling’s hometown. A simple stroll down the enchanting Victoria Street–Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley–will feel like teleportation directly to the magical world of witchcraft and wizardry. Also, fans should not miss the chance to visit Alnwick Castle, the site of many Hogwarts scenes including the iconic ‘broomstick training scene’ in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first film.