Lifestyle: Things to do in Edinburgh

 photo 2013-08-13172902_zpsa0a9f626.jpgLast year I visited Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival, so due to shows and the sheer amount of people about I didn’t see that much of Edinburgh. This year we travelled up for a few days during June (luckily coinciding with the heatwave, though my shoulders think otherwise!) and were able to see a little more, do a few more touristy things and generally relax. Kind of, we still packed loads into a few days! Here’s what we got up to…

Visit to the Zoo

On our first day we let our inner child out and went to the zoo! I’m not a huge fan of zoos in general as I hate seeing animals caged up, but I was really impressed with Edinburgh. The enclosures were large, but there was also hidden bits so the animals weren’t on show – they could escape from the public if necessary. The highlight of our visit can’t be singled down to one thing – we loved the Penguin Parade (the door to the enclosure is opened, and any penguins that want to join in and walked around the path, they aren’t bribed in any way) and also viewing the Pandas.
 photo Meerkat1_zpsfa7467ac.jpg photo Rhino_zpsde59c4cd.jpg photo Panda2_zpscb114121.jpg photo Panda1_zpsd7eb8bfc.jpg photo Koala_zps1af43b7c.jpg photo Leopard_zps1d30e317.jpg photo Penguins2_zpse000410e.jpg photo Penguins1_zps61558ac6.jpg photo Penguins3_zpsac24804d.jpg photo William_zpsf7bc0117.jpgVisiting the zoo cost us £14 each, with student discount and including a voluntary contribution. We took a picnic (always do this – also nowhere seemed to be open to eat so we are glad we did!), and the Panda viewing was free but time allocated. We spent a good 4 and a half hours there and still didn’t see everything, so you definitely get your monies worth. We got there on the bus, which was another £3.50 each from the city centre, although we could then use any bus for the rest of the day. Definitely worth the money in my opinion!

Visit a Whisky Distillery

Last year we escaped the rain/cold of Edinburgh in August and visited The Scotch Whisky Experience near the Castle. Whilst we really enjoyed this we decided we wanted something a little less touristy this year, so opted to visit a working distillery. We went to the Glenkinchie Distillery, about 40 minutes drive from the city. They run a transport-inclusive tour during peak months, which is the option we went for, and we also opted for the Flavour of Scotland Tour, which meant we were able to taste four different drams of whisky (of our choice) – I highly recommend this one, as we were able to really define our own tastes. I now know which whiskies I would happily ask for!

 photo 2014-06-29162935_zps3e20f045.jpgThe whole distillery was a great experience, we had a wonderful guide (thanks Fraser!) who was knowledgeable, honest and really knew his whisky. It cost us £24 each, including transport, four tastings and a discount on purchases (we bought a signed-by-manufacturing-staff bottle of Glenkinchie whisky) – not the cheapest day out, but well worth the money.

Climb Arthur’s Seat

One for the fit people this; I highly recommend those who aren’t completely comfortable with long walks and hills to give this a miss. I like to think I’m in relatively good shape (though definite room for improvement) but I really struggled on our walk, though in my defence I think we picked the hardest route, and it was really, really warm! The week of our holiday was when Edinburgh suffered a heatwave; none of my packed jumpers were used, and my boyfriend actually had to take a trip to buy some shorts.

 photo ArthursSeat8_zps0e1ef2c3.jpg photo ArthursSeat6_zpsfbc704d2.jpg photo ArthursSeat2_zpsbb5f33df.jpg photo ArthursSeat5_zps48e841ea.jpg photo ArthursSeat4_zpsdd66d163.jpg photo ArthursSeat1_zps1e89b3f7.jpgAlthough the walk was difficult, and involved climbing/scrambling at some points, despite me wanting to give up multiple times, I really enjoyed it and the sense of achievement at the top was wonderful. The views were pretty fabulous too! For a free thing to do (minus the bright blue slushie I wangled from my boyfriend on return to the bottom!) it was one of the best things I’ve done in a while, and I kindof want to do it all again. If you are up to it, I highly recommend you give this a go!

Other Things to Do

  • Visit the Castle. We didn’t do this as we felt the pricing was, to be honest, taking the Michael. £16 is fair enough although a bit steep, offering no student discount is a little stingy, especially when discounts are offered to other customers. I’d love to visit at some point, but I wasn’t giving up nice weather on top of my money! Perhaps one for a rainy day…
  • Shop. Edinburgh has some lovely unique shops (post to come!) as well as some lovely high-end designer ones. I tend not to shop much when on holiday, so only nipped into Harvey Nichols to use the loos (which were, quite frankly, disgustingly unclean, and some of the worst toilets I’ve used!) and browse the makeup clearance (disappointing). I make a point of visiting independent shops that look interesting, hence I adore the street Hula Juice Bar is on.
  • Eat. I’m slowly posting reviews of where we ate over our holiday, but Edinburgh has some amazing places. We treat ourselves to two ‘posh’ meals (one was an unbelievable bargain!), and also had a couple of cheaper ones – I still have a long list of places I want to try too!
  • Bus Tour. Last year we did one of those expensive guided bus tours – we really enjoyed it, and even during the Fringe it was surprisingly empty, so a great way to get away from the crowds. The thrifty person inside me knows it would be a lot cheaper to buy a day ticket at £3.50 each and do things that way, but would it be as fun? Probably not! If you’re new to Edinburgh I’d definitely recommend a tour, if you’ve been before try doing it yourself!
  • Museums & Galleries. Edinburgh has loads of these too! Many of them are free, or ask for a voluntary donation. I’ve only been in the free one towards the bottom of the Royal Mile, and it was a small but really interesting place. Lovely and quiet (and cool!), full of unique little objects and to-the-point information boards. The building and its interior were also old and historic too, which added to the feel; something about history museums in more modern buildings really annoys me. I also want to visit the visitors section of the Parliament building too (we stayed opposite – amazing architecture!) but the only time we had free we were pulling our suitcases so decided that wouldn’t be a good plan!

Do you prefer active city trips, lazy beach holidays or a mixture?

  • This is such a great list! I love visiting Edinburgh Zoo – the animals do seem to have plenty of space and it’s great that they have private areas to hide away in of they want to (although it’s is annoying if they’re all hiding when you want to see them!). The keepers also seem really interested, compassionate and dedicated to their animals, which I really like – if you go again and the keepers are giving talks I really recommend them. The photo of the koalas is so cute!

    I’ve shamefully never climbed Arthur’s Seat but the views are so gorgeous I would love to do it if I’m through in Edinburgh on a sunny day. Maybe with a mini picnic in tow to enjoy at the top!

    Looks like you had a wonderful visit.

    X

    • Thanks! Arthur’s Seat is well worth the climb – we took a cake from Hula Cafe with us to eat at the top! Was definitely a wonderful holiday 🙂 x

  • Eh I need to see a penguin parade!!

  • I loved Edinburgh, but didn’t go to the zoo 🙁 Wish I had because I would have loved to see the Panda! We also climbed the mountain thing but unlike you it was the middle of winter and snowing heaps so we only made it half way up before we literally had to slide back down on our bums. Great fun though, would definetely go back 🙂 xx

    • The Pandas are gorgeous – they think they might be expecting a baby too! Unlucky with the climb, its definitely worth it though I wouldn’t attempt it in the snow! x

  • It’s a shame the penguins have never chosen to go for a wander on any of the three times I visited Edinburgh zoo – but you’re right it’s a great zoo – the kolas being a favorite of mine! I love how cheap the buses are in Edinburgh, especially when you compare it to what I was use to getting into York everyday. Always wish i’d of had a chance to climb Arthur’s Seat – your photographs of the views are incredible!

    • I was so worried none would parade when we were there – it was one of the highlights! The views were incredible, though I have to pay credit to my boyfriend and his SLR for most of the pictures! x

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