This post is part of our Eurotrip Series. You can find the rest of the series here.
On Eurotrip Day 9, I would estimate we walked no less than 10 miles. We took a free walking history tour of the city, and then we hiked up to Arthur’s Seat (a giant hill overlooking the city of Edinburgh). The hike was not easy, but the views were totally worth the effort! We walked back to our hotel and spent the rest of the evening eating, sipping wine, and propping up our very tired feet!
- Adventures – Write-ups of the activities we enjoyed during our visit.
- Hotel Spotlight – Where we stayed and our review of the accommodations.
Free Walking Tour
Our day started with Sandeman’s Free Tour of Edinburgh. Our tour guide was very well-versed in the history of “Edin-bruh.” The tour began at the high point of the Royal Mile, the street atop the main hill in the city, which connects the Palace to the Cathedral. Locations and topics covered on the tour include the following:
- The Royal Mile
- Edinburgh Castle
- St Giles’ Cathedral
- Old & New Towns
- Mercat Cross
- Greyfriars Kirkyard (cemetery) and Greyfriars Bobby
- The original ‘Hogwarts’
- William Wallace and the Stone of Destiny
- National Museum
- Covenanters’ Prison
- Martyrs’ Memorial
- The real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
- The Scottish Enlightenment
Walking through Edinburgh really feels like a walk back in time. The buildings along the Royal Mile appear to be 3-4 stories tall, but as we descended the wynds (narrow alleys) to the base of the hill, we learned that they are as tall as 14-stories high at the base of the hill.
I particularly enjoyed the Harry Potter trivia, as J.K. Rowling is an Edinburgher, and she pulled much of her inspiration from the city. For example, many of the names from the books, including Thomas Riddle, are borrowed from the cemetery near her children’s school. Diagon Ally is likely modeled after Victoria Street, with details pulled from the city’s wynds.
At the end of the tour, we walked into the National Museum of Scotland to see Dolly, the famous cloned sheep. Unfortunately, the exhibit was on the road during our time in Scotland.
Lunch at Grassmarket
For lunch, we went to Grassmarket, a central market area in the middle of Old Town. In the early days of Edinburgh, the Grassmarket area was used as an open-air market and also a place of public execution. Today, you can find bustling pubs, retail shops, and eateries at all times of the day or night. We decided to eat some wraps at Graze, a popular cafe offering fresh ingredients to build-your-own salad, sandwich, or wrap. Great spot for lunch!
The best view of Edinburgh takes some serious work! Although we were tired from the walking tour, we decided to tough out the hike up to Arthur’s Seat. We are sure glad we did!
Hilton Edinburgh Grosvenor
See our review from Day 8.
We came to Edinburgh with no expectations, but we were completely blown away by the city. Words cannot adequately describe the feel of this city, because it was so unique. If you visit Scotland, be sure to schedule a day or two to explore Edinburgh. Walk the Royal Mile, get lost among the wynds and closes, take a ghost tour, climb Arthur’s seat and take in the views, and soak in the rich history of this wonderful city! Cheers!