For my Mums birthday I decided wanted to take her away so that we could spend some time together. I’m not sure what made me choose Edinburgh but it was the one place I kept thinking of and coming back to in my planning. Plus, it has regular flights that are pretty cheap.
I booked our 4 day trip over a weekend and also combined my trip with a 5 day Haggis Adventures tour to the Highlands.
In this blog I will talk about the things we did on our visit, we spent a day at the zoo and a day at the spa so that limited some of the time we had. I had a sprained ankle from my Highlands trip so that limited the amount of walking we could do.
We flew with Easy Jet, in general they had a really good selection of flights, apart from on the Saturday when they only seemed to have an early morning option.
I used the airport bus to get in and out of Edinburgh, I would recommend the Airlink 100 but not the Skylink 300 as it took over an hour and makes a lot of stops, whereas the 100 is a direct airport bus and takes about 30 minutes. https://www.edinburghairport.com/transport-links/buses-and-coaches
My Mum chose to get a taxi to our hotel, I think this cost her about £20.
There is also a tram to the centre.
Lot’s of the people on the Haggis tour had come from London and taken the train as they got to see the country as they travelled and didn’t need to worry about baggage allowance.
When I was on my own I stayed at Budget Backpackers.
The hostel was in a great location, I stayed there for 2 nights either side of the tour and was in the same four bed female dorm both times. The dorm was small but each bed had a plug socket and light next to it, there was a locker for each person, and a sink in the room. The bathroom was a bit of a walk away and only had 2 toilets and 2 showers in the nearest block, but I never had to que for a toilet or shower.
There is a large kitchen for guests to use.
There is a laundry room with 2 washing machines and 2 tumble dryers and an iron. Apparently, they sale washing tablets at the main desk but the staff didn’t tell me so I washed my washing with water!
There is a bar in the hostel that also sales food, I had a drink both nights in the bar it had a laid back atmosphere and I felt comfortable drinking in their alone.
I would suggest taking ear plugs as on the Friday night it was very loud outside until about 4am.
When I was with my Mum I stayed at Hampton by Hilton West End.
When I next go to Edinburgh, I probably wouldn’t stay there because it’s a bit too far out of the centre. It took about 15minutes to walk to the Grass Market. The walk was okay and once we got used to it, it didn’t feel that far. But it meant that we would have to walk in and out if we wanted a rest. Again this wasn’t the end of the world but I had sprained my ankle and my Mum has a bad foot so it wasn’t the most convenient option for us.
However, there were parts of Edinburgh that I would not have seen if I wasn’t staying in that area.
The hotel was a good price and included a good free breakfast. They were very quick at sending a maintenance man and a new kettle when the electrics went and I thought I’d broken the hotel!
We went to the Elephant Café as this is supposed to be where JK Rowling wrote most of Harry Potter. Honestly I thought it was terrible, the food was awful and the service wasn’t much better, I don’t normally give things a bad review but I did for this place. It is said that the views from the café inspired JK, but you can go the Graveyard where Bobby is buried and see the views for free!
The evening before my Mum arrived
I ate at Pizza Express with friends.
There are chain brands such as Nando’s throughout the city.
I feel like I had quite disappointing food during my visit, a friend recommended Café Adaluce, he said he always has a good meal when he goes. Maybe I got a bad night but I wasn’t overly impressed.
We went to Mamma Pizza, my Mum said her food was really nice, my gluten free pizza needed some refining as it was still very doughy in the middle. I would consider going back in the future to see if they have improved the recipe as they had the best range of pizza toppings I have ever seen.
We also had a really epic picnic in the hotel one night! My Mum said it would have been cheaper to take me for dinner I wanted to buy so much random stuff from Sainsburys! Including some really yucky seaweed thing but an epic marshmallow bar covered in dark chocolate!
If you book your tickets in advance online then it is cheaper than buying them on the day of your visit.
The castle is worth a visit but if you don’t have time to go in then you can go up the castle and take photos of the castle and the view.
On the walking tours the tour leaders said they would advise a guided tour and I think this would be good. We just wandered around on our own and followed the signs in the castle. I was keen to visit the crown jewels and the stone of destiny. I also enjoyed visiting the dungeon and prison as these were really interesting.
Day one we went on a free walking tour with New Europe tours our tour guide Eva was really knowledgeable and interesting.
The tour took us around the old city, Edinburgh has a really interesting history with witch trials and people stealing dead bodies. One of the graveyards has a famous dog called Bobby who sat at his owners grave for years, he even has his own statue.
As with most free walking tours at the end of the tour you pay what you think the tour was worth.
We also went on the Harry Potter walking tour, which I found really interesting. My Mum however, has never read or watched Harry Potter and mostly had no idea what was going on, she is such a Muggle!
This is a paid tour, they advise that you buy tickets online or during one of the other walks as the Harry Potter tour can get very busy.
New Europe also offer a range of other tours.
Edinburgh zoo is the only zoo in the UK with Pandas. I absolutely love Pandas, so of course we had to take a day trip.
We caught the bus to and from the zoo as it is outside of central Edinburgh. When we were on the bus I was checking off the stops on the bus website but it is really obvious when you get the zoo so don’t worry about missing the stop. There are several buses you can get to the zoo, they are all listed on the Zoo website.
You can but tickets in advance which make them cheaper, I got ours on the day as I had a Booking.com voucher to use. As we went on a Monday it was really quiet and we didn’t need to que.
I had to visit the panda enclosure a couple of times before I saw a Panda but when I did she didn’t disappoint.
I was also lucky with the Red Pandas as when I visited their encloser one of them was running around the trees.
The Penguins however, decided they did not want to do their daily walk, and all refused to leave the enclosure!
I’m not a massive fan of zoos but unfortunately there isn’t any other options in the UK to see Pandas and they are supporting and studying Pandas to try and increase their numbers.
I treated my Mum to a package at One Spa, I’m not going to lie it was very expensive! Was it worth the money – 100%
The body scrub and express facial were wonderful, and the spa itself was amazing. I really like water, and it has a good pool with lots of bubbles that sits on the roof. Unfortunately there isn’t really a view but I really liked being outside especially when it is cold outside and the water is warm.
It had a good selection of steam rooms and saunas.
There was also a pool for swimming.
The changing rooms were spacious, and you could access additional robes and towels if needed.
We went for a special treat, but I wouldn’t hesitate to go back.
Things I didn’t have the time to do
Tour of the Vaults, lots of people told me that they are really interesting.
I wasn’t able to go to Arthurs Seat because of my bad ankle, I would definitely like to go back to do this.
Camera Obscura was also recommended to me but we ran out of time