Studying in Nottingham on exchange was really great, because we could travel in and around United Kingdom on weekends where work was less or there weren’t any important deadlines. As students from Asia, Nottingham was cold for us, so while we thought a weekend in the wilderness of Scotland would be idyllic, we decided to limit ourselves to Edinburgh because of the weather in northern Scotland. Which was a good idea in the end because there is just so much to see in Edinburgh, but it also means that another trip to Scotland is a must.
I made the journey with my boyfriend and another friend. We set off by train, which enabled us to explore the countryside throughout the (close to) 5-hour journey. Our first clue that we were nearing our destination was the sea – seen through the train windows as a slight rain drizzled on.
This has got to be the gloomiest of all views. But it perked us up because it meant we were arriving soon. We reached Edinburgh around noon.
Checking in to our apartment was such an experience. There wasn’t a reception or concierge – instead, our keys were placed in pigeon holes in the center courtyard. We had to unlock the pigeon home with a combination they’d emailed us in order to retrieve our key. Fancy!
Our apartment was big enough for six people. Really cosy and beautiful.
Our day of exploration began, with our first stop at Camera Obscura. We walked up the Royal Mile, the fanciest street of Edinburgh, which isn’t just a flat street, but an actual hilly one.
Over the weekend, we visited:
Camera Obscura and world of illusions: Unique 360° panoramic views over Edinburgh from the fascinating Camera Obscura and rooftop terrace. In World of Illusions, five floors of interactive hands-on optical illusions, tricks and fun things to do including vortex tunnel, mirror maze and shrinking room. Get involved, play, touch everything. Great fun for all ages and nationalities, whatever the weather.
Edinburgh Castle: A mighty fortress, the defender of the nation, and a world-famous visitor attraction – Edinburgh Castle has dominated the skyline for centuries. And the high volcanic rock on which it stands has been occupied for thousands of years. Today it is home to Scotland’s crown jewels, three military museums, the Scottish National War Memorial, the Prisons of War exhibition, and much more.The castle offers a fabulous day out – an experience not to be missed.
Edinburgh City Center: The Royal Mile and Prince’s Street are the two main streets throughout the town. So much shopping here! Thoroughly enjoyed myself in the huge Zara showroom. Lovely places to eat, and since my friend was Egyptian, we also indulged in falafels for breakfast on both mornings.
The Hairy Coo: This is a tour company that offers a full day trip to the Scottish Highlands. My friends and I booked a full day tour with The Hairy Coo after seeing all the lovely reviews on this site. We were prepared for a great day out, but the tour definitely exceeded our expectations. I loved the fact that there were not more than 20 of us, so it was lovely to chat with our tour guide Russell and our fellow travellers. Russell was able to mix interesting anecdotes with facts and making history actually enjoyable! I’m not much of a history enthusiast, but even I enjoyed every minute of it. The tour was well placed, it was lovely to get out of the bus every now and then and explore different parts of the Scottish highlands. Don’t leave Edinburgh without enjoying a day out with Russell and the Hairy Coo! Oh, and I fed one of them coos!
Cadies and Witchery Tours: There are so many tours to choose from, but this one and the Mercat tours were both recommended. We chose this one, and we were not disappointed. Adam Lyall (deceased) kept us thoroughly interested in Edinburgh’s fascinating past with entertaining anecdotes mixed with factual knowledge. The only downside is that we were a bunch of students and there was no discounted rate. But Adam had a great sense of humour and it was an enjoyable tour for all of us.
Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park: Arthur’s Seat is one of four hill forts, dating from around 2,000 years ago. Situated within Holyrood Park, as well as it’s rich cultural heritage, the park offers walks, solace, wildlife, volcanic geology and unparalleled vistas of the city from its many vantage points. The park has several Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) designations due to its exceptional range of grassland habitats and its internationally important volcanic geology.
National Museum of Scotland: I just had to see Dolly the Sheep! Thats really the only reason we went here. Scotland boasts some of the best collection of art in the world. It was a superb visit and lovely stroll out to the park. The only mistake we made was to get here after climbing up Arthur’s Seat, so we were really exhausted. Start your day with this.
The trip ended all too soon for me. But there was no way we could possibly get more out of a weekend.
Check out the gallery below for more beautiful pictures of Edinburgh, the streets, the sighs, the highlands, and the coos!