Edinburgh is the starting point of my 2 weeks road trip in UK. Before the trip, I hadn’t paid much attention to this city, just simply thought that it’s the capital of Scotland where my long international flight would landed. My friends told me that it is a lovely city, but I didn’t believe her as big cities are somewhat similar to each other with skyscrapers, large highways and heavy traffic. I had also looked at some blog posts and pictures about the city and did some researches. Nevertheless, I never thought that I would fall in love with it at first sight as such.
The hilly streets with blocks of unpainted houses and lined up chimneys on the roof created a unique vintage look for this city. It was fascinating to wander on winding roads in old town with cutest gift shops and nicely decorated restaurants, exciting to explore plenty of narrow closes and wynds (Scottish terms for alleyway) which burrow through old buildings and tipsy in the world of whisky.
Must-visit places in Edinburgh
We had 2 days in Edinburgh before starting our road trip. It was not much time, so we decided to skip some popular attractions (due to the tourist crowd), yet rather to follow our spontaneous improvisation at the time to explore more secret and less known (or just rarely mentioned) places.
1. Royal Mile and Old Town
The trip to Edinburgh would not be completed without rambling on Royal Mile street, the heart of Old Town. The street was full of surprises after every turn. Old buildings had been transformed amazingly to shops and restaurants, though still maintained their original vintage charm.
We were overwhelmed by the cutest gift shops, not just simply displaying the souvenirs, but it was an art of arranging and harmonious color mixing. The uniqueness of this old quarter is numerous narrow alleys which we don’t know where they lead us to from outside. We curiously explored each of them which several times led us crossed through an old building to the another street, sometimes to a basement of a residential area or just dead ends.
The atmosphere of Royal Mile was vibrant thanks to lots of activities from street artists. The sound of the bagpipes from men in traditional Scottish kilt enhanced the lively vibe. We’ve been told that they even don’t wear underpants under their kilt, but didn’t dare to check (hehe).
Edinburgh is also known for whisky. You can easily find specialized stores which offer whisky tasting sections. We got into a liqueur shop on the street and tried out several kinds of well-known whiskies. It was an informative experience as there was a full description attached in each type tested.
The old quarter was even more sparkling during twilight. Yellow lights on old buildings standing out on a dark blue sky with layers of cloud created a impressively magnificent scenery.
2. Scott Monument
With 10 min walk from Royal Mile to Prince Street, we saw Scott Monument, a Victorian Gothic structure to commemorate Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. He was probably the most famous of living Scotsmen in early of the 19th century as the founder of the genre of the historical novel, involving tales of gallantry, romance and chivalry. The monument looks like a giant rocket, standing on a hilly green field.
The passage along the monument is a perfect place to wander where the scenery is fully green with trees and grassy slope, separated from noisy streets outside.
3. Edinburgh Waverley railway station
Not far from Scott Monument is Edinburgh Waverley railway station (also known simply as Waverley), considered as the principal station serving Edinburgh. It is the second busiest station in Scotland, after Glasgow Central. The stairway leading to the station looked mysterious with lots of Graffiti pictures on mossy walls.
We were lucky to witness a gorgeous sunset above the station, looking like the sky was on fire.
4. Circus lanes
On the next day, we took a bus to Circus lanes, famous for pretty houses fully covered by green leaves. We were overwhelmed when getting into this street as it was completed different from its neighborhood.
All the houses are charmingly decorated with flower pots and creepers. The roses are pretty high with lovely faintly scents. I specially liked the way they had decorated their windows, looking harmonious and elegant.
The road is just 500m long, but holding us quite sometimes thanks to its charm.
5. Dean village
In the afternoon, we continued heading to Dean village, not far from there. It seemed that we had turned back in time and entered a previous century with a castle by the river, narrow green roads and small houses decorated with colorful flowerpots.
The walking way to the village is quaint and empty. The newly built golden houses are blended nicely with vintage stone mansions. The roofs in triangle shape with wooden splints bring the unique charm for the village.
Wandering along the river, enjoying fresh air in the nice scents of trees and flowers, admiring pretty houses was a pleasant feeling.
6. Calton Hill
End of the day, we climbed to the top of Calton hill, approx. at 103m above sea level, located in center of Edinburgh, Marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has the best panorama view of the city and is home of some iconic Scottish historical monuments.
From here, we can see the famous Balmoral Clock Tower and Scott monument. The Dugald Stewart Monument was built on Calton Hill in 19th century to commemorate the Scottish philosopher Dugald Stewart (1753–1828). It looks like a temple in Romance era.
One of the most striking monument on Calton Hill is the National Monument, inspired by the Parthenon in Athens. Intended to commemorate the Scottish servicemen who died in the Napoleonic Wars, it was never completed leaving just the twelve columns you see today.
Calton hill with its green grassland, windy atmosphere and great view of the city is also known as a hang-out place of local people.
In Edinburgh, there are many other interesting places, such as famous castles and large parks. With our 2 days, we spent most of our time wandering spontaneously, hanging out in the old town and indulging in the cafes. Maybe so, Edinburgh in my eyes is pretty and charming. If I have a chance, I will return to this city, even if only to sit in the old town, watching people passing by.
Traveled in Sep, 2017