Right at the top of the hill, this is pretty hard to miss. It’s really easy to get tickets on the day, we didn’t have to wait for that long. We didn’t get an audio guide, instead we followed a free tour guide, who was brilliant and wore some funky tartan trousers, so we instantly liked him.
There were some really cool things here! The exhibition leading to the Crown Jewels was really good, lots of it was 3D. It told the story of the jewels and the monarchs before you finally saw them. The hall next to it was designed by boat makers, so the roof is made just out of wood and is structured just like a boat. It also has the oldest building in Edinburgh, a chapel, which is still used for weddings today – there was one on while we were there!
The best bit is definitely the firing of the gun at 1pm. You need to get there early to get a good sport – people start lining up from about 12.30.
As it is so high, it is quite windy and some parts are a bit steep, so wear good shoes and wrap up warm. There’s also a whisky shop to help warm you up. You’re treated to some lovely views of Edinburgh though!
This was quite possibly my favourite thing of the whole trip! We just had a simply smashing day!
I would strongly recommend booking tickets online in advance as there is a massive queue if you don’t, and you have to book separate (free) tickets to see the pandas, these go really quickly if you haven’t booked in advance.
We were a little disappointed quite a few of the exhibits were closed for refurbishment and the top part of the zoo was closed off (tigers and lions) due to mating season. This was quite disappointing as I love tigers and red pandas. However, there were lots of other things that made up for this!
Edinburgh is the only place in the UK to have pandas and koala’s – and they have a baby koala! We were really lucky to see both! Unsurprisingly, these are both really busy, so we popped back later in the day to see the koalas and were treated to seeing the baby koala (a joey) out!
The other highlights of the day were seeing the penguin parade, where the penguins (by choice) do a walk around the green, and a baby squirrel monkey putting their face up against the glass to look at my camera. It was freaking adorable.
J.K.Rowling lives in Edinburgh, and wrote much of Harry Potter there, so there are lots of nods to her all around the city. Our first stop was The Elephant House which is where she wrote a lot of the books. It has a bit on it’s logo saying it’s the birth place of Harry Potter, they have something on their shirts and there’s a frame on the wall inside with a few images and new clippings of her. Other than that, they haven’t gone HP mad, which is lovely to see. The toilets were something of a shock. Fans have write messages EVERYWHERE. Literally. On the frames, mirror, walls, door, hand drier… everywhere. It’s pretty incredible.
Just around the corner is the Greyfriars Kirkyard. In there, you can find the grave of Thomas Riddell and William McGonagall. If you look through the gates, you can see what is now a private school which use to be a school for orphaned children, and is thought to be the inspiration for Hogwarts.
The road along is Victoria Street, which is through to be the inspration for Diagon Alley, with it’s tall and brightly coloured shops. There is an incredible HP shop which reminded me a lot of House of Mina Lima.
Because she won the Edinburgh Award, where her hand prints and name can be found in the City Chambers under the bridge. I don’t think many people knew they were there because we got a lot of odd looks for going there.
We didn’t manage to get to Spoon Cafe, which is another location that she wrote lots of the books. We did have a look around the Writer’s Museum but were disappointed to find that the book had left!
Other things we did…
Greyfriars Bobby – A statue of a little terrier which became famous for spring 14 years guarding the grave of it’s owner until he died. His statue is outside the graveyard, and he has his own grave inside which people place flowers on daily. And someone also placed a stick.
Carlton Hill – Included in the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, up here you can find the National Monument and Dugald Stewart Monument. There are beautiful views of the city and Arthur’s Seat.
Scott Monument – Right by Waverly Station, in the centre of the city, this is really hard to miss. It’s the biggest monument for an author in Europe – Sir Walter Scott, author of The Bride of Lammermoor and Ivanhoe. He also conducted the search that found the hidden Crown Jewles. We didn’t, but you can climb up it to the top.
Museum of Childhood – We heard really good things about this. Unfortunately it was closed for refurbishment!
Holyrood Palace – The official Royal residence in Scotland. We couldn’t be bothered to go in, but it was pretty to look at.
Writer’s Museum – A huge collection of books, personal items and portraits of Robert Burns (Auld Lang Syne), Robert Louis Stevenson (Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Treasure Island) and Sir Walter Scott.
Hume Statue – A statue of the philosopher David Hume, with a shiny toe from people rubbing it for good luck or to absorb his knowledge.
We went to so many amazing cafes in Edinburgh! I swear I’ve put on at least a stone over the three days!
Deacon’s House Cafe – Deacon Brodie was a cabinet maker and Edinburgh city Councillor who had a secret life as a burglar. He inspired the novel The Stange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. This cute and hidden away cafe was a must see. Plus, they sold roiboos tea, I was very happy.
Saint Giles Cafe and Bar – They did amazing rosmary buns. Yum.
Mrs Macintyre’s Coffee House – this was absolutely tiny but beautiful. There was lovely artwork all over the place and people were talking photos from outside. The hot chocolate was delicious.
Boozy Cow – Oh my goodness. This place was amazing. It does meat and drink. The burger was incredible, the chilli cheese fries were delicious and the drink scrummy. Plus it was playing more rock than Hard Rock Cafe, and playing Captain America.
If we were to go again I would love to go up Arthur’s Seat.
Have you been, or like to go, to Edinburgh?
What did you do / would you like to do?
See my other travels, including Paris, Barcelona and Rome, here.