If you only have a short amount of time to spend in Edinburgh, like I did on a recent trip to the lovely capital of the north, do not fear! There are still plenty of things you can cram into a whistle stop tour of the city. Here are my top five suggestions of what to do when in Scotland's capital city.
Scotland's capital, Edinburgh, the birthplace of haggis, the inspiration for J.K Rowling's Harry Potter and home to Holyrood Palace, is a city brimming with culture, history and lots of architecture. There is so much to see and do in this vibrant and dynamic city, with the Old Town and New Town each having something completely different to offer, yet only being a short distance from one another. These two parts of the city are connected by the beautiful Princes Street Gardens and framed by the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, a must-see attraction and residence to the Scottish Crown Jewels, also known as The Honours of Scotland and first used for the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots in 1543.
Royal Yacht Britannia
Calling all Crown enthusiasts! This is a fantastic family friendly experience and a chance to step aboard the ship that served the Royal Family for over 44 years, not just for the purpose of State visits and official receptions, but also a place for family holidays and honeymoons. With over five decks to explore (all wheelchair accessible) you will get a taste of what life was like aboard this vessel, not only from the perspective of the Royals, but also what life was like below deck for the captain and crew. For those with a sweet tooth there is also the chance to sample freshly made fudge or enjoy an afternoon tea on the Royal deck.
Located a little outside Edinburgh's city centre is an easy and short drive away and one of the cities most iconic landmarks. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site this is a view that will not disappoint, the sheer scale of the construction dwarfing the trains that link Edinburgh to Fife. Queensferry offers great views of the bridge and is a quaint little village that sits next to the Firth of Forth, which boasts beautiful views over the estuary and is home to some charming restaurants.
The Royal Mile
If you are looking for a quintessential Edinburgh experience then take a stroll down this cobbled street. Framed on either end by two of the cities most popular attractions, the Medieval Castle and Holyrood Palace, it's a great chance to discover the more historical side of the city. Crammed full of independent shops selling whisky and cashmere in abundance and men dressed in kilts playing the bagpipes on the street; you really begin to get a sense of what it's like to be a local.
Real Mary Kings Close
Conveniently located right on the Royal Mile or should I say 'under' the Royal Mile is the Real Mary Kings Close. This is a costume guided tour that will take you on a journey through the warren of underground streets and spaces, once inhabited by the people of Edinburgh in the 17th Century and that still exist today. The tour reveals a fascinating part of the Old Town's history and helps give a realistic portrayal of what life would have been like for Edinburgh locals during this time, as well as the hardships they faced. I must admit I was apprehensive that this would be another cheesy tourist attraction, but having been on the tour myself I can safely say it wasn't!