How to have a perfect holiday in Edinburgh

by Harry

Have you ever been on a holiday to Edinburgh? The city regularly ranks high in the list of most beautiful places in the world and is popular with single travellers and families alike. It’s safe, multi-cultured and has things to do which will suit everyone. Right now (summer 2021) it is also experiencing one of its quietest spells after coronavirus as most holidaymakers are travelling to the wilderness of the Highlands.

That means that now is the perfect time to take in the parks, history and shopping opportunities Edinburgh has to offer. There are loads of special offers and deals to take advantage of, so get yourself ready for a break in Edinburgh now!

A view of Edinburgh Castle from Princes Street Gardens
Edinburgh Castle during summer, Scotland.

Where to stay in Edinburgh?

If this is your first time visiting the city, you’ll probably want to stay close by to the centre. However Edinburgh is a compact place, with most things within walking distance to each other so don’t worry too much about location.

A popular hotel is the Parliament House Hotel, an affordable but stunning hotel hidden in the heart of Edinburgh. It sits just five minutes away from Waverley Train Station, meaning you are close to everything the city has to offer. There are regular special offers available for rooms, so be sure to check them out before booking. Parliament House Hotel is a great place for enjoying Edinburgh in style whilst still on a budget.

An Edinburgh street lit up at night
Street view of the historic old town, Edinburgh, Scotland

For travellers who want to keep the accommodation costs to an absolute minimum, then somewhere like the Edinburgh Backpackers Hostel is perfect. Again only a few minutes away from Waverly, you are immediately in the heart of the capital’s old town from the doorstep. Situated on the beautiful Cockburn Street (tee hee! But pronounced ‘co-burn street’, so settle down at the back) you can often find a bed for as little as £18 per night.

If you are absolutely filthy -richloaded and have money dripping out your pores, you could always stay at the magnificent Balmorel Hotel. I mean, it’s magnificent on the outside, I assume it’s magnificent inside. I once tried to pretend I had lost my room key there when I was a student in Edinburgh, thinking I could blag a free stay. But I’m rubbish at that sort of thing and stunk of Jägermeister so was booted out pretty quickly. The lobby was nice though, I think. Prices here start from as little as the soul of your firstborn.

Scottish PArliament with Calton Hill behind
View of New Parliament House under Calton Hill – Edinburgh

City centre things to do in Edinburgh

So, you’ve booked your accommodation and are ready to start your holiday in Edinburgh. Now all you have to do is figure out what to do! Fortunately, you could live in Edinburgh for years and still find yourself with a to-do list as long as a Walter Scott novel. Although shut at the moment, the Scott Monument sits at the start of the Princes Street Gardens. These large open spaces are perfect for getting away from other people and offer amazing views up to Edinburgh Castle. Which is, of course, another thing to do. The castle is particularly great if you are into war as it houses the National War Museum.

Edinburgh taken from Arthur's Seat
View of Edinburgh and Edinburgh castle from Arthur’s Seat peak at sunset

Just down from the castle is the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions. Honestly, I think this is an even better thing to do than the castle. It’s awesome. It houses floor after floor of optical illusions, holograms, a mirror maze and a bridge to cross over that makes you feel like you are going through the Time Tunnel. You get 360° views of Edinburgh from the top, as well as a chance to see the camera obscura itself, which is kinda like a 1800s-era CCTV camera. And best of all – the Camera Obscura is dog friendly!

Fancy going a bit further?

Like I said before, most of everything in Edinburgh is walkable. For example, The Scottish Parliament is just down the Royal Mile, sitting opposite the Palace of Holyrood House and Our Dynamic Earth. You can visit all of these things during your holiday in Edinburgh and not regret a minute.

A giant panda at Edinburgh Zoo
Male Giant Panda, Yang Guang, Edinburgh Zoo,

Let’s not forget the towering extinct volcano that looms large over Edinburgh and its residents. Arthur’s Seat is open to all, offering space to climb, explore and ponder this wonderful city. There are ponds with wildlife, as well as some stunning rock formations. Climb to the top and you will find views that will stay with you all your life. For a shorter climb that’s more accessible from the city centre, take a walk up Calton Hill. At the moment, it’s pretty quiet up there and you might even be the only one! You can see all across Edinburgh’s Princes Street, and out into the Firth of Forth and over to Fife.

Furthest away from all this is Edinburgh Zoo. You could walk here if you wanted, but frankly you would be better taking the bus from the city centre. It’s a great day out for everyone on a holiday in Edinburgh, with tigers and giraffes and monkeys and pandas and loads of other amazing animals!

Eating and drinking in Edinburgh

Edinburgh has eateries to suit everyone’s palates. From greasy spoons to Michelin stars; 50’s USA themed cafes to vegan restaurants, you can get it all here.

If you are looking for regional food, you can go for Scottish, Indian, Argentinian, Middle Eastern…honestly, you can probably get whatever you want. It’s a foodies paradise.

And if you want a drink, you can choose to be a rather fancy drinker with a posh pinky, or a terrible mess.

The Panda Rooms is a great place to begin the night and feel classy. It’s like a speakeasy and the entrance is hidden so the feds can’t catch you! This is a wonderful and classy bar, so don’t ruin it with your rubbish patter.

From here, you might want to experience something a bit more classically Scottish. And I mean traditional Scottish, not Trainspotting Scottish. So, why not head to the Whiski Bar on the Royal Mile? There are over 300 Scotch malt whiskies here, which should see you entertained for an hour or two.

Then you can finish the evening in the SKYBar watching all the little insignificant people below you get on with their mundane lives. And at this point, you should probably go back to bed. You’re drunk.

glasses of whisky for a tasting session
Flight of Scottish whisky

Take a trip to Edinburgh when it’s quiet

Now is a great time to visit Edinburgh. Whilst everyone heads to open spaces, you can be smart and head to Edinburgh – it’s as open a city as you can get. It feels like a small town really! Edinburgh has an airport, bus station and train station, as well as great transport links. And there are plenty of parks and open spaces throughout Edinburgh that are certainly worthy of a visit from you.

So what are you waiting for? Come for a holiday in Edinburgh today. You’ll have an amazing time!