Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh might just be the most haunted and atmospheric city I’ve been to. And you know, it has had its fair share of serial killers, ghost stories and plague outbreaks. In the Old Town, memories from the Middle Ages lurk around every corner, in the dark alleyways and the moldering graveyards.

MORE SCOTLAND TRAVEL TIPS: GET MAPS, ITINERARIES AND SCOTTISH PHRASES

BAGPIPES AND SCOTTISH HISTORY

Scotland has a lot of history and you see traces of it everywhere. From the bagpipers on every street corner to Edinburgh castle which is built on a 700 million year old extinct VOLCANO.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

The only female bagpiper I saw

EDINBURGH AND THE REAL JEKYLL AND HYDE

Just before I went to Edinburgh, I found out that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote his notorious novel about Jekyll and Hyde here. The inspiration is obvious.

Edinburg’s Old Town is one of the most haunted in Europe. But Stevenson’s true inspiration came from William Brodie, a real-life Jekyll and Hyde who led a double life and was hanged for theft in 1788. Deacon Brodie’s Tavern on The Royal Mile is named after him.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

MARY KING’S CLOSE

The most atmospheric and historic spot in Edinburgh is Mary King’s Close. Back in the 1600’s, Mary King’s Close was one of Edinburgh’s busiest and most vibrant streets. It was named after Mary King of Scotts.

This guided tour was by far the most fun and interesting I joined in Edinburgh and I highly recommend it. Our guide was absolutely hilarious while realistically explaining how life was 400 years ago. Clue: it wasn’t pretty.

Edinburgh, Scotland

WHISKY TASTINGS

Another very Scottish thing I did in Edinburgh was drinking whisky. Now, I’m not really a whisky drinker, but after joining the Scotch Whisky Experience, I am definitely more open-minded.

Edinburgh, Scotland

This place is home to the largest Scotch whisky collection in the world, and I got to taste the famous smoked Highland whisky → not my favorite, but it was fun to try.

Edinburgh, Scotland

The whisky collection

Edinburgh, Scotland

HAGGIS AND A SCOTTISH BREAKFAST

When I came to Scotland there was one thing I HAD to try: Haggis. On purpose, I didn’t read up on what exactly it is because I’m pretty sure it would have scared me off.

I ended up trying haggis three times, each cooked in different ways. And you know what? It was surprisingly good. Sort of spicy and dark in flavor.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Haggis sausage for breakfast

Edinburgh, Scotland

Haggis terrine – my favorite

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Deep fried haggis with lots of spices

CALTON HILL

So, aside from a ghostly past and a questionable national dish, Edinburgh has quite a few nice viewpoints. And one of the best ones is Calton Hill, which is a UNESCO site. I also found several iconic monuments up there, like the National Monument and the City Observatory.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Calton Hill is easy to hike and it only takes 5-7 minutes. I went there in the morning to catch the sunrise, but you know.. Scotland and the weather 

Edinburgh, Scotland

THE ROYAL MILE

Another popular place in Edinburgh is the Royal Mile. Since I was in town during the Edinburgh Festivals, the Royal Mile was packed with people, artists and tents. Normally, it’s just the main pedestrian street where lots of the top attractions are located, like The Scotch Whisky Experience, Mary King’s Close, Camera Obscure, Edinburgh Castle and much more. But during the festivals, it really came alive!

Edinburgh, Scotland

St. Columba’s Free Church

Edinburgh, Scotland

A bit more empty in the morning

Edinburgh, Scotland

St. Giles church

Edinburgh, Scotland

Inside St. Giles church

CAMERA OBSCURA

While on the Royal Mile, I went to the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions. What I got was six floors of optical illusions, cool tricks, a mirror maze and much more. On the roof there was a panoramic view of Edinburgh. It was fun, but it’s one of those experiences that are best when shared.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

EDINBURGH CASTLE

Of all the things Edinburgh has to offer, the castle takes the prize. It’s perched high on a steep, rocky cliff and has been at the center of numerous wars, having been attacked and besieged many times.

Back in the day many prisoners were locked up in the dark dungeons at the castle… and forgotten 

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

THE NEW TOWN

So, if we go back to the Jekyll and Hyde reference for a bit…

As a city, Edinburgh fits the description when you compare its Old Town and New Town. Most European cities with a medieval old town have a sharp architectural contrast, like Colmar or Tallinn. But the difference with Edinburgh’s Old Town is the atmosphere. It’s dark in a ghostly kind of way, while the Georgian town houses in the New Town are classy and simplistic.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

NATIONAL MUSEUM

The National Museum is an interesting place to visit. I came there to watch a dance performance during the Fringe Festival and had a chance to walk around the museum afterwards.

Edinburgh, Scotland

The Scotts’ history with the English is very much alive today. The quote below is just one of the freedom texts that are found in the National Museum.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Oh, and guess who I found?

Dolly, the cloned sheep! I had no idea she was from Edinburgh, but what do know 

Edinburgh, Scotland

Dolly, the cloned sheep

EDINBURGH SKYLINE

Last but not least, let’s talk about Edinburgh’s skyline.

I mentioned that Calton Hill was a great viewpoint in Edinburgh, but the view from Camera Obscura building is actually better. The city also lights up after dark and I was lucky enough to watch it from atop the Edinburgh castle during the Military Tattoo Festival. It was the perfect way to end my week in Scotland.

Edinburgh, Scotland

View from Camera Obscure

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Many thanks to Edinburgh Festivals, VisitScotland and VisitBritain for hosting me on this trip to Edinburgh. As always, all opinions are my own.

Have you been to Edinburgh? Would you go?

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Fun and spooky things to do in Edinburgh
Awesome things to do in Edinburgh Scotland
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Miriam

Travel blogger at Adventurous Miriam
I’m Miriam Risager, and this site has been my scrap-book, playground and home since 2013. I launched this blog as a way to share my journey, as well as share the hows, whys and wheres for other travelers.