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What to do with an overnight stay in Edinburgh?

As with my last trip being during those winter storms in the early part of Dec.  We bypassed our original plans to do a little time in Edinburgh, and a little time in Glasgow. 

We have a return trip planned for September, and we are going to be doing an overnight close to the Royal Mile.  Other than possibly raiding Cadenheads before they close on Sat.

I don't really have much planned, outside of walking the mile up to the castle and back down again and ignoring most of the shops along the way.  Any recommendations of things to do that are slightly off the well trod path?  I'm pondering if the castle is worth the cost (It wouldn't be our first castle), if the Whisky Experience could be outright silly after spending a week on Islay. 

Any suggestions?

Comments

  • MoFMoF Member ✭✭
    I wish I could edit my earlier posting, as I'd just gotten the reservations today (never thought I could afford staying right on The Mile). However, asking on the tourist board's forum about what non touristy things to do in a one of Scotland's main tourist areas is pretty silly.  I do sincerely apologize if I have offended with my post.

    I just personally was wondering if anyone had any insight on the side streets and adjacent areas of things to do during a short visit. I have a strong aversion spending my tourist dollars in the  identical souvenir shops that line the area and instead look for mom-pop shops nearby.  I just was looking for insight of which direction to look, from folks who have spent time there. 

    For example in NYC (I used to live nearby and do day trips) I tend to walk through times square and skip most of the shops there its all the same stuff and usually not even produced in country, and drag folks 3-4 blocks down to little Korea and get stuff off the family menu on the back page rather than spend the 20 dollars on a hamburger in the square itself.
  • VisitScotlandJulieVisitScotlandJulie Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    Hi @MoF

    You have not done anything silly. This is exactly the type of question which is useful for the community here.

    As a local, here are some of my favourite things to do around the Royal Mile which are free and perhaps an alternative to the obvious : -

    Explore the closes (narrow alleyways) that run off the Royal Mile - each has a story to tell and a secret to share. Take a self-guided walk to avoid joining a tour - you can get some ideas at the Edinburgh iCentre

    Visit St Giles Cathedral. There are free walk-in concerts on a Sunday at 6pm and at lunchtimes.

    See the latest exhibition at National Library of Scotland on George IV bridge.

    Explore the National Museum of Scotland - not far from the Royal Mile on Chambers Street - or the National Gallery's permanent collection at the foot of the Mound.

    Browse the Scottish Poetry Library and shop.

    Get lost in the Museum of Edinburgh.

    Explore Holyrood Park - climb high to get some perspective and stunning views!

    Small, independent shops and cafes etc can be found on Victoria Street, The Arches and the Grassmarket and there are some on the Royal Mile itself and its closes.
  • HorizonsHorizons VisitScotland Contributor ✭✭✭✭
    You can tonnes of things in Edinburgh that locals do and tourists don't, I'd love to answer more questions like this
    I'm pondering if the castle is worth the cost (It wouldn't be our first castle), if the Whisky Experience could be outright silly after spending a week on Islay.  
    The answer to both, for me, is no. Although you would be too narrow minded if you wouldn't want to have any whisky experience just because you've been to Islay. Islay is simply one region in many and if you want to experience the other regions and how they taste (ie Speyside, Highland, Island among others) then I'd suggest a meal at the Whiski rooms with whisky flights or just Bow Bar on Grassmarket and ask the bartender. Cadenheads is pretty good but Bow Bar might surprise you with its selection.

    I do think personally that the Edinburgh castle is overrated compared to many others. Lauriston and Dalhousie castle are two in Edinburgh that you can explore.

    Agree with @VisitScotlandJulie about the best spots to find independent shops. I'd add Stockbridge, Broughton Street and Morningside as areas I love as a local a short uber ride from the city centre.

    We're a globetrotting travel blogger couple. Find us on Facebook | Instagram

    Best of Scotland in 1 Week (fully by public transport)

    See Scotland with us (incl: SkyeMullArranOrkneyLoch Lomond, Islay, Oban)
  • MoFMoF Member ✭✭
    @Horizons

    I can say that on Islay, there isn't much access to the independent bottlers from what I'd seen in my previous trip, only the Co-op in Bowmore had one and it was a Feis release of a Caol Ila.  So I wouldn't mind exploring, those places that you've suggested.

    @VisitScotlandJulie

    I thanks for the ideas there, I'm still trying to process and research what we want to see, I tend to google street view where I'm going (It helped out tons with getting about while still trying to relearn how to shift and drive with your vehicle configuration, I basically already had memorized the routes I took) 

    I'm now going to peek about those neighborhoods to see whats where I  might even get more ideas. 

  • HorizonsHorizons VisitScotland Contributor ✭✭✭✭
    @MoF there's few independent bottlers to be honest, my recommendations are pubs for tasting while in Scotland instead of taking bottles back to the states (pesky customs limit :smile: ). I personally get my own bottles from distilleries straight from the cask, many distilleries run tours with end with such a bottling session.
    We're a globetrotting travel blogger couple. Find us on Facebook | Instagram

    Best of Scotland in 1 Week (fully by public transport)

    See Scotland with us (incl: SkyeMullArranOrkneyLoch Lomond, Islay, Oban)
  • MoFMoF Member ✭✭
    @Horizons
    Ohh I know... I did a self fill at Bruichladdich, its delicious its amazing and the bottle is half sized so we brought back two of them.  ( Cask Strength can knock you on your rear if you aren't ready for it.)

    Sadly the customs limit is the same if you are there for a week as it is for a shorter period.  At least there is two of us which bumps it some, but I will definitely have to choose carefully which to bring back to the States.

    Although last time the US Customs agent at Dublin just waved us through when I just said we were bringing back whisky.  Of course he didn't realize what I was declaring wasn't Irish whiskey.
  • HorizonsHorizons VisitScotland Contributor ✭✭✭✭
    ( Cask Strength can knock you on your rear if you aren't ready for it.)
    I am always ready for cask strength :wink: I do love my Briuchladdich, it's in my personal top 5. Hope you have a wonderful time in Scotland!

    We're a globetrotting travel blogger couple. Find us on Facebook | Instagram

    Best of Scotland in 1 Week (fully by public transport)

    See Scotland with us (incl: SkyeMullArranOrkneyLoch Lomond, Islay, Oban)
  • VisitScotlandAmandaVisitScotlandAmanda Member, Administrator, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    Hello! Just wanted to jump in with a few of my own 'non touristy' suggestions as well :) 

    • Spend a few hours in Stockbridge - you'll find lovely shops, good coffee, wine bars, high quality charity stores and just in general it's a lovely village to wander through
    • Go up Calton Hill for a walk - depending on what time of year you'll be in Edinburgh, it's a lovely spot for a picnic, or else you can enjoy coffee from the cafe at the top and the great views of the city
    • Scot Monument - if you're a sucker for a birds eye view like I am, this is a great spot in the city to see everything from above, including great views of the castle and old town
    • Visit one of Edinburgh's 'Speakeasy' bars. There are several underground bars popping up around the city now, all with different themes, drinks and decor. You could try and find Panda and Sons, Heads and Tales, Bryant and Mack Private Detectives or Hoot the Redeemer, all of which are centrally located. 
    Hope this is useful!
    Kiwi gal, relocated to Scotland. 
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  • Samantha_GrantSamantha_Grant VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 28
    Hi @mof I’m an Edinburgher and have spent all my days exploring my beautiful city and soaking up its fascinating history.  I have a few posts on my blog dedicated to Edinburgh which you may find interesting.  The Whisky Experience is excellent and well worth visiting, even if you do plan distillery tours on your trip.  I also love Edinburgh Castle.  It’s expensive but there’s lots to see inside.  If you do visit get there early to avoid the crowds.  The Old Town is my favourite part of town, so it’s hidden corners feature heavily.  Whatever you do, you’ll have a wonderful time.

    https://theweewhitedug.com/



    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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