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My Edinburgh - more than a festival city

Samantha_GrantSamantha_Grant VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭

Although I spend all of my free time travelling around Scotland, Edinburgh is home.  It's a city I adore - a beautiful city full of history, stories and wonderful things to see and do.  I'm an Edinburgher and proud. 

I love the tourist attractions and popular spots but my favourites are the more hidden gems.  I'll share them with you if you promise not to tell! 


The pretty, whitewashed village of Cramond in North West Edinburgh is delightful, yet it's all but ignored by tourists. 

Cramond is a coastal village with lovely views across the Firth of Forth to Fife. 

It has a long rich history, and was once the site of a Roman Fort.  You can still visit, and see the remains of the fort walls today.  In 1997 they pulled a Roman lion statue from the silty waters of the River Almond where the village stands.  Just across the river on the beach at Dalmeny is a carved rock known as eagle rock which is believed to be Roman. 

My favourite Cramond spot is Cramond Island, which is a tidal island that can be accessed at low tide.  The tide times are published at the start of the causeway.  You can find a nice vantage point on the island to sit and admire Edinburgh from the sea. I love how quiet it is there, with only the soothing sound of sea birds. 

Cramond has a historic inn which serves pub food and a couple of cafes too (The Cramond Gallery and the Falls Cafe), so it's a great spot to visit for some sightseeing and lunch. 

Lauriston  Castle

Also in the Cramond Area, Lauriston is one of Edinburgh's lesser known castles.  It's a typical 16th century Scottish tower house set in lovely grounds.  The interior of the castle is a working museum which has been preserved just as the last owner left it in 1926.

My favourite place is the Kyoto Friendship Garden which can be found in the grounds.  It's a stunning Japanese garden, complete with a pretty little bridge, water feature and blossom trees.

The castle has a cafe too, so you can combine a visit with some cake and coffee! 

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

The two galleries which make up the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art stand facing each other on Belford Road.  They're popular with locals but not as popular with tourists as they've away from the city centre tourist hub. 

Inside you'll find Picasso, Warhol, Dali and more.  I love the recreation of the studio of local artist Eduardo Paolozzi. 

Behind Gallery One there's a sad reminder that the building was once an orphanage.  If you go through the gate behind the carpark and turn right you'll find a small cemetery in the woods where some of the children are buried.  It's very poignant. 

Both galleries have cafes which serve high quality food and drinks. 

The Writers' Museum

Located in Lady Stair's House just off the Royal Mile, the Writers Museum tells the story of three of Scotland's most famous writers.  Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.  It's full of fascinating artefacts from their lives, including a cabinet made by the notorious Edinburgh villain Deacon Brodie.  The cabinet once stood in the childhood bedroom of Stevenson.  I find that fascinating as it's said Brodie inspired the characters Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. 

Outside the museum is a favourite Edinburgh restaurant/bar of mine - the Whiski Rooms.  It serves a Scottish themed menu and has an eye popping choice of whiskies on offer.  If you fall in love with any you can buy them on-site as they have a whisky shop too. 

Watching the sun go down

This spot is no secret, but it's worth making the effort to visit Calton Hill as the sun begins to set.  If you're lucky you'll be treated to a fabulous sunset, and what better place to watch it set than over the stunning historic buildings of Edinburgh. 

Everyone should enjoy an Edinburgh sunset at least once. 

Beating the crowds

A great tip for beating the crowds at popular attractions like Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Yacht Britannia is to get there early for opening.  You'll be amazed at how many people don't think to do this.  Visit later and you'll be sure to shuffle round in a frustrating sea of people. 

To avoid disappointment at popular attractions like the Scotch Whisky Experience and Mary King's Close always book in advance.  It's likely in high season that tours will be full so make sure you guarantee your place on one. 

Getting around

Edinburgh is wonderfully compact and easy to get around.  I love walking so will walk most places.  The local bus service is always my next choice.  Lothian Buses or LRT as they're known, operate routes throughout the city and beyond.  Ticket prices are reasonable and day tickets can be purchased.  Day tickets are great value for bus hopping.  LRT buses don't give change so don't get caught out! 

You'll find more on my wonderful city in my Scottish travel blog

I hope you'll find these hints and tips useful if you visit Edinburgh.  If you do, be sure to share your experiences with us. 

Do you have any insider tips for Edinburgh that you'd like to share? 


I'm a Scottish travel blogger and freelance writer with an extensive knowledge of travelling in Scotland.  I'm always on the road exploring my wonderful country.  I love remote places, history and the great outdoors. 



  • FofomaFofoma Member ✭✭✭
    @Samantha_Grant  Although I've lived in Perthshire for nearly 30 years, Edinburgh will always be special to me. My favourite spots are Stockbridge and the Dean Village. I spent most of my childhood years fishing for minnows in Inverleith Pond and the Botanics was our usual Sunday place to visit. The view of Edinburgh Castle from the top of the Rock Garden in the Botanics has to be one of my favourite Edinburgh views!
  • Samantha_GrantSamantha_Grant VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    @Fofoma Lovely spots.  I remember fishing for minnows in the pond too with a wee fishing net. I saw in the Millennium standing above the pond watching the fireworks.  Such a great view.  
    I'm a Scottish travel blogger and freelance writer with an extensive knowledge of travelling in Scotland.  I'm always on the road exploring my wonderful country.  I love remote places, history and the great outdoors. 

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