Happy St Andrew’s Day to all of my Scottish friends out there! To celebrate I’ve decided to share some travel tips based on my trip to Edinburgh.
This April me and my housemates decided to make the most of the 4 day Easter weekend by going on a trip. We had a car, 4 days and not a lot of money… So what could we do? A road trip up to Scotland of course!
1. Go on a road trip – it’s far more fun than flying
Yes you may be able to fly from London up to Scotland in only 1hr30, but once you add on travelling to the airport, arriving 2 hours early, collecting your luggage and getting from the airport on the other side, the time and price can really start to add up. Instead we decided to take a road trip.
For us this was easy as my housemate already has his own car, but if you don’t you can always try hiring one. Check out RideLink where you can rent other people’s cars for as little as £15 a day. If there’s a few of you, driving can prove to be a relatively cheap option.
Driving also meant that we could leave straight after work on Thursday evening to really make the most of the long weekend. We decided to drive half way on the first night, stopping at Hollins Hall Marriott Hotel and Country Club close to Leeds, which being outside of the city didn’t cost us much at all. Despite encountering traffic leaving London the journey took around 4h30 and we managed to arrive by 11pm, giving us enough time to grab some dinner and even have a couple of drinks delivered to our room.
The next morning we woke up early and went for a walk around the golf course and grounds of the hotel to enjoy some morning sun. We then drove another couple of hours, past the Angel of the North, up to Newcastle upon Tyne where we stopped for lunch and a quick look around the center. It’s always interesting to explore a new city in your own country.
After lunch we drove the remaining 2h30 along the coast and up to Edinburgh, arriving mid afternoon. Enough time to take a wander into the town center then head out for dinner and drinks.
With a group of friends, some cheesy music, a few snacks and a couple of pit stops along the way, driving can become part of the fun of a trip.
2. Stay in an Airbnb
Being a popular city, hotels in the center can be rather pricey. We decided to check what was available on Airbnb instead. This is how we found a gorgeous little 2 bedroom flat, walking distance from all of the main attractions.
3. Climb Arthur’s Seat
Arthur’s Seat is the peak of a group of Hills that make up Hollyrood Park in the center of Edinburgh. The Hill is popular with walkers and gives way to amazing views over the city.
Totally unprepared (I had packed for a city break), we headed to the hill on our first morning. The route we took up was steep and hard work to climb, however on the way down we came across a much easier route. If you do your research before hand you can pick which path to take. The view from the top was beautiful and spanned across the whole of the city, with landmarks such as the castle in clear sight.
Unexpectedly this turned out to be one my favorite parts of the trip, and it was free. All you need is warm clothing (it’s windy at the top!), sturdy shoes, a bottle of water and a camera, and you’re ready to go!
4. Try Hagggis, Neeps and Tatties
You can’t go to Scotland without trying their traditional dish of haggis, neeps and tatties – which translates as haggis, mash potato and turnips. Surprisingly tasty, just don’t ask what haggis is!
5. Have Dinner and Whisky at Whiski Rooms
Whisky Rooms is one of the best restaurants in Edinburgh, serving classic and modern Scottish dishes and a wide selection of local whiskies. This place came highly recommended to me by my Scottish colleague, and he was definitely right. Every course was delicious, and the restaurant itself was elegantly decorated and had a great atmosphere. You can go here for breakfast, lunch, dinner or whisky tasting events, just remember to book in advance as it is extremely popular and usually fully booked.
6. Explore Edinburgh Castle
Get away from the rainy Scottish weather by heading into the castle. Here you can learn all about the castle’s exciting history and even see the Crown Jewels. Check the dates you’re going to be there as there are often special events such as the famous Military Tattoo, live performances and concerts. I always enjoy coming back from a holiday feeling like I’ve learnt something about the place I’ve visited.
7. Drink like the locals do
There are plenty of traditional pubs, modern bars and exciting clubs in Edinburgh. In the 3 days we stayed in the city we managed to head to quite a few. Here’s my suggestions on where to go:
- Grassmarket – close to the castle, Grassmarket is a historic market in the old town with plenty of restaurants, traditional pubs and bars
- Frankenstein Bar – a gothic bar themed around the story of Frankenstein, expect an elaborate setting, loud music, fancy cocktails and a real monster show
- George Street – this is where you’ll find many of the late night bars and nightclubs such as the Opal Lounge, LuLu’s and Why Not Club