If you haven’t been to Edinburgh yet then I suggest that you don’t even read this post, instead go
and book some train tickets and a hotel immediately because it really is the perfect place for a city break.
Culture, tick! Exceptional food, tick! Trendy bars, double tick! When all of this is wrapped up in the beautiful streets that are filled with history at every turn, you really can’t go wrong.
I’m currently on my fourth trip to Edinburgh (work related unfortunately) so it felt appropriate to write this post whilst I was here. Work aside, I have been to Edinburgh for two lovely weekends away and also Hogmanay which was an incredible way to see in the New Year! I’m yet to experience The Edinburgh Festival but it is definitely on my bucket list.
Edinburgh is walkable city, but it’s also very hilly so it’s a trip for trainers and not heeled boots unfortunately, but at least you’ll know you’re burning off the cocktail calories 🙂
I’ve got five suggestions for you in Edinburgh, but it was really, really hard to narrow it down to five as I’ve not even included visiting areas like Grassmarket, Calton Hill or attractions like The Real Mary King’s Close, The Scotch Whiskey Experience or The Edinburgh Gin Tour.
1) The coffee shop – The Milkman
You’ll have been on a train for a good few hours when you arrive in Edinburgh so a coffee is probably essential and you may as well start by going to the most instagrammable coffee shop I’ve ever visited. The Milkman is about a 5 minute walk from Edinburgh station (towards the Royal Mile) and is so good that we went twice.
When you get there you will find the smallest but most perfectly formed coffee shop. Not only do they have the best coffee but their hot chocolates are a cup of liquid joy! You should also try some of their locally sourced cakes; salted caramel brownies, chocolate orange vegan cake and homemade peanut butter cups were just some of the delights on offer when we visited.
Just look at this, could it get any better?
2) The fancy restaurant – Forage and Chatter
This was a toughy as we had some really nice meals in Edinburgh, however Forage and Chatter really did steal the show. A family restaurant with Michelin standard food, Forage and Chatter had only been trading for 92 days when we visited and both the food and service were outstanding. The menu is British with South African influences, the South African bread was a particular highlight for me, it was freshly baked and then fried (naughty!). Another lovely touch was that glasses of wine are served in a mini carafe so you can pour it yourself – very cute.
We went for our anniversary so it wasn’t a cheap eat but it was extremely good value, we had three courses and a glass of wine each for £90. The only low point of the meal was when I had a we in the men’s loo by accident – you can take the girl out of Manchester…
3) The best bar – Panda and Sons
If you like your bars hidden and your cocktails served with a side of smoke or in a teacup then you’ll love Panda and Sons, so make your way through the bookcase and grab a seat in the dimly lit cocktail bar and soak in the atmosphere. As well as spectacular ‘show’ drinks, you’ll also get a basket of popcorn to enjoy. Be warned, there’s quite often a queue outside as this is one of the best spots for a drink in the city so take a jacket to keep you warm.
4) The morning walk – Arthur’s Seat
The best way to clear your head after all the eating and drinking is to take a walk up Arthur’s Seat. You’ll need suitable shoes for this as it’s quite steep and does get slippy in the winter months, saying that, one of my friends survived the walk up and down in brogues but I really wouldn’t recommend it. It takes about 1.5 hours to walk up and down Arthur’s seat and my top tip is to take a treat for when you reach the top because you’ll be in need of a little sit down before you start the descent.
5) The culture stop – Edinburgh Castle
You can’t go to Edinburgh without taking a trip up the Royal Mile to the castle, history aside you’ll need to make the walk to get that classic photo that proves you even visited the city. However, I think to really appreciate the castle you need to see it from different angles, once you’ve got the perfect photo either walk down the steps on the left and head to Grassmarket (there’s a farmers market on every Saturday), alternatively take the slope to the right and walk through the park towards the West End to view the castle from a different perspective. If you want to see inside the castle walls then you’ll need to buy a ticket for £16.50, try and get there for lunch time so you can watch the firing of the one o’clock gun.