Not particularly known for my spontaneity, I decided to suppress my urge of being comfortable and book a last minute holiday (aka: vacation) to Edinburgh, Scotland. Why? To be completely honest, I have no damn idea. Maybe it was because Portugal felt too far for a weekend trip. Maybe it was because it was a lot less expensive than Portugal. Yes to both 1 and 2.
But regardless, I’m lucky I did because Edinburgh is rad as all get out.
I also have realized from living and traveling alone, that I’m not a planner. Rather, I’m a go with the flow kind of girl. Thankfully, Edinburgh is full of fun things to do – whether you’ve intended to do them or not.
If you’re looking for a picturesque and historic vacation – Edinburgh is for you. Similarly, if you’re looking for a hip and quirky city, get your britches ready. Edinburgh checks all those boxes and then some.
WHERE TO STAY
Eden Locke: I knew I wanted to do a hotel from the get go. I was traveling alone and liked the idea of being near people – regardless if I talked with them or not. While I was searching for boutique hotels, I stumbled upon Eden Locke. I stayed at their sister location in London last year and was pleased that they had a location in Edinburgh! It’s chic, well designed, and they have a badass staff. Because I was alone, I often wandered into the sun lit lobby, grabbed myself a pint and read a book until dinner. It was perfect.
WHERE TO EAT/DRINK
BABA: I love Mediterranean so I was tickled to find Baba right across from Eden Locke. I also was ridiculously sick the day I got to Edinburgh (couldn’t smell or taste anything), so when I walked into Baba I basically said, “GIVE ME THE SPICIEST SHIT ON THE MENU.” They delivered on that request and I found myself downing hummus, labneh, peach and tomato salad, and a margarita or two full of jalapenos.
Smith & Gertrude: I’m quite keen for a cozy wine bar and Smith & Gertrude was the perfect place to sip and savor. The staff was ridiculously friendly, knowledgeable, and informative – they gave me a ton of suggestions for places to check out in Edinburgh.
Lucky Liquor: After dinner, I walked past this unassuming bar and thought I’d give it a go. It was a rainy evening and a nightcap seemed like a good idea. The whole idea here is that they use 13 base spirits to create 13 cocktails. I honestly couldn’t tell you what I drank (besides one where it was infused with kimchi!), but the experience was awesome. The cocktails are thoughtful, the ambiance is solid, and the staff is friendly!
The Little Chartroom: At times, eating alone can feel, well...lonely. I decided to “ball out” for one dinner while in Edinburgh and The Little Chartroom was it. Eating here didn’t feel lonely at all – especially if you’re sitting at the bar. The owners are a lovely couple who pride themselves on serving good food to good people. The menu changes often, but if you had only a few days in Edinburgh, The Little Chartroom would be on my “must eat” list. While I was here, I had Cucumber gazpacho to start, wild sea trout and then chocolate delice. Oh, and copious amounts of champagne. See? I told you I balled out.
The Pantry: After one too many cocktails, head over to The Pantry for a proper breakfast. Whether you’re feeling healthy (they have avocado and eggs) or a bit more devilish by indulging in pancakes or waffles, this place is perfect to curb any hangry traveler.
WHERE TO EXPLORE
Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat: This 640-acre royal park neighbors Holyrood Palace and is highlighted is the highest point in the park. Arthur’s Seat gives you amazing views of the city and the walk up takes around 30 minutes. It’s beautiful and a perfect pre-dinner workout.
Royal Mile: Touristy? Yes. Beautiful? Absolutely. It’s the main street that’s nestled in Old Town and it’s full of shops, restaurants, and pubs to keep you occupied for hours.
Calton Hill: Right in the middle of the city center is Calton Hill. It’s a short walk up and has panoramic views – making for a pretty badass selfie.
Exploring Leith: Looking for a cool neighborhood with a little grit? Pop on over to Leith. Previously known as Scotland’s main port for trade, Leith now has a ton of places to eat, drink and be merry.
Edinburgh Botanical Gardens: If it’s nice (and really, even if it’s not), I’d recommend checking out the Botanical Gardens. It’s a HUGE park that’s free (besides the greenhouse) and has so many flowery nooks and crannies perfect for walking and exploring.
Silvermills: I stumbled upon this street while exploring and I have to say, it’s CAYUTE. Tons of independent bookstores, clothing stores and other knick knacks and dodads. Specifically, I loved Golden Hare Books, independent bookshop with a love and appreciation for book design (AND interiors! It’s beautiful!) and then Bon Tot, a kid’s clothing, toy and gift shop that was too perfect for words.
Spare yourself 10-15 euro and take the bus from the airport to the city center! Adult single tickets are £6.00 and return tickets are £8.50 and best yet? It only takes around 20 minutes to get there!
Tipping isn’t really a thing in Edinburgh (or Europe, for that matter). Some restaurants include a service charge of 10-15% in the bill, in which case no further tip is needed. And when it comes to bars, I didn’t tip either since the staff in the UK receive at least minimum wage.
Bring comfy shoes, y’all. I basically walked 10-15 miles a day since the city is easy to navigate. Also, exercise!!!