On our trip to Scotland in October, we spent a whirlwind 2-nights in Edinburgh and I was determined not to waste a precious minute! Our red-eye flight landed at 7am and we hit the ground running! We raced to our hotel, the Waldorf Astoria, The Caledonian for a quick check-in and refresh and we dashed out the door to explore the city. I loved the architecture and greenery of the city and I wanted to feast my eyes upon the cityscape. We walked down Princes St. during the morning rush hour to get a feel for day-to-day life, then headed to the Royal Mile for a bit of touristy window shopping, and we took a gander at the very unique parliament building at the end of the mile. I really wished we had more time to see even more of Edinburgh and I can’t wait to return to this fabulous city. The highlights of our stay included:
Hiking Arthur’s Seat
Knowing that we were arriving early in the morning, we assumed that we would not be able to access our room right away and we would need a creative way to beat the jet leg. So, we decided to hike Arthur’s Seat, the prominent hill that stands 800 ft. tall just southeast of Edinburgh’s old town. A bit of exercise and the brisk morning air was just what we needed to wake up and the views were more than worth the effort! By the end of the day, I had racked up 26,645 steps on my iPhone counter and I slept like a baby!
Afternoon in Dunningston Village and Lunch at the Sheep Heid Inn
After summiting Arthur’s Seat, we continued southeast further away from Edinburgh and descended upon the sleepy hamlet of Duddingston Village for lunch at the Sheep Heid Inn. This charming little pub has been in existence since 1360 and is perhaps the oldest restaurant in Edinburgh, if not Scotland. We worked up a healthy appetite on our hike and the hearty chicken and mushroom pie and smooth ale was a perfect lunch. Afterward we wandered the little village and then walked around the base of Arthur’s Seat, through the University of Edinburgh campus, and back to the hotel.
Dinner at The Outsider
Taking just enough time quick nap and a hot shower, we headed back out to explore the city at nighttime. We stuck a little closer to home and explored the Grassmarket neighborhood. Dinner at The Outsider was fabulous. We definitely earned ourselves a couple of glasses of wine after our adventurous day and the well curated menu did not disappoint! The service was inviting and the cozy space was bursting with jolly diners. It was the perfect setting to cap off our incredible first day in Edinburgh. While weaving our way through the neighborhood on our way back to the hotel, we discovered W. Bow and Victoria Street, which became our favorite corner of the city. The street level is full of little boutiques with fun window displays and the second level features a terrace with tables for outdoor dining from a number of great looking restaurants. I do regret not making time to try Oink and their famous Scottish hog roasts.
Visiting Edinburgh Castle
The next day, we were up bright and early and made our way to Edinburgh Castle. We purchased our tickets in advance, which saved a lot of stress, but we still wanted to be at the front of the line when the castle opened its gates so we could explore before the tour buses arrived. We were very lucky to be there on a crisp fall day with a clear blue sky. The views of the city below the castle were just perfect! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the castle and was pleased to see that it had a little something to offer everybody. We opted for the self-guided auto tour, which was very helpful in providing context for what we were looking for. The castle has been in existence and operation for so long, you could pick any time period in history and find something new and interesting to learn. My favorite exhibit was the dungeons below the castle that chronicled the life of American prisoners of war that were jailed there during the American Revolutionary War. It was fascinating to learn about the prisoners early patriotism and loyalty to their country, which technically didn’t exist yet.
Scotch Tasting at Balmoral on a Rainy Day
Our luck for the weather didn’t last much longer after we left the castle and after a soggy afternoon of wandering the Royal Mile, we darted through the rain to the Balmoral for a hotel site inspection and a very welcome dram of scotch! The Balmoral may feel a bit large for some people, but the benefit of a large hotel is the multiple dining outlets. Scotch, the Balmoral’s Whisky Bar is in a quiet corner tucked away from the bustle of the lobby and is the perfect spot for an afternoon re-group after a day of touring. The decor definitely sets the mood and there is no question that you are in the heard of Scotland when you’re in there. The barman is incredibly knowledgable and more than happy to give you a tour of the extensive whisky collection! This was the perfect spot for us to get cozy and wait out the rain!
Dinner at Michael Neave Kitchen and, of course, more whiskey!
As I was preparing for our trip to Scotland and gobbling up as much information about the destination as I could find, I stumbled upon the name Michael Neave and I am so glad I made a note to try his restaurant! This was the ultimate highlight of the 2-days in Edinburgh. Chef Neave is 25 years old and has already earned many awards and accolades. His restaurant, Michael Neave Kitchen and Whiskey Bar is a modern space, tucked away on Old Fishmarket Close just behind St. Giles Cathedral. The menu is well rounded and I loved every dish that I tried! What really surprised me was the savory and aromatic black pudding, which was served as a special of the day. I had tried the store-bought kind before and really would be happy if I never try that again! But, I promised myself I would give the real stuff at least one try before I completely wrote off the dish for good. I picked the perfect place to try black pudding again! The fine whiskey selection made for a nice after-dinner option. And again, I slept like a baby tucked in back for our last night at the Waldorf Astoria!
I would definitely recommend more time than just two days to explore Edinburgh. There is so much more I hope to see someday! Let me know if your interested in seeing Edinburgh for yourself!