Put on your good socks and make sure your phone’s fully charged. Cities reward those who explore on foot, and Guil can show you how!
So why explore Edinburgh by foot?
If you read my previous guide about how to explore London in 24 hours, you probably know I’m the kind of person who believes a 30-minute walk qualifies as ‘just around the corner’. And this one won’t be any different! If you haven’t read said post yet, go ahead and do it. This can wait.
Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, be it under a glorious blue sky, heavy snowfall, or a downpour that’ll put your raingear to a test. It also hosts quality art, incredible architecture, surprising hikes, hearty food, spectacular booze, and a full-on medieval castle – smack at the top of the main thoroughfare, known as the Royal Mile.
Grab your comfy socks. It’s time to see what this gray beauty is all about!
But what if it’s raining? Or snowing? Well, first of all, you’re going to enjoy your day a lot more if you don’t start it out by complaining about the weather.
Secondly, there’s great comfort food to line your stomach and steel your fortitude at the aptly named MUMS Great Comfort Food. Apart from doing what it says on the tin, MUMS is near Greyfriars Kirkyard. The bad weather will only add to the atmosphere of this 16th-century graveyard.
Potterhead or not, you could probably use a cup of coffee after that walk through the cemetery, and the Elephant House is right across the street. JK Rowling used to come here, sit in the back room and piece together the ideas for the wizard’s early adventures.
Now you have no excuse not to brave the weather! Get on George IV Bridge and walk up Lawnmarket towards the mighty Edinburgh Castle. There’s plenty to see indoors, from the National War Museum to the Stone of Destiny, though make sure you’re to be at the north face of the castle at around 12:50. The One O’Clock Gun is fired at 13:00 on the dot and waits for no one!
Boom! That cannon blast used to allow ships to set their maritime clocks. In your case: it signals lunch time. Head for the Edinburgh Larder, where the food is locally sourced and the cake selection changes daily. That extra bit of sugar will help prepare you for our next stop, the Scotch Whisky Experience. Come for the complimentary dram(s) of Scotch and stay for the well-designed interactive attraction, that pleases even those who don’t know their amber stuff. (and no, you’re not drunk, those really are holograms).
Still sober? Walk down the road towards John Knox House, the last remaining medieval building on the Royal Mile. If the walls in this place could talk, they’d probably tell very similar stories to the ones you’ll learn…
Take a break at your accommodation and kick off the session with a White Russian (or should I say Caucasian?) at Lebowskis. A 20-minute walk east from there takes you to the Jazz Bar, where sweet tunes and a great atmosphere await you. Or head north, towards Princes Street, and you’ll find Panda & Sons on Queen Street. It looks like an old barber shop, but it’s probably the bar where you’ll spend the rest of your evening.
Ready to call it a night? Then do it like a local, by devouring a life-saving meal at Kebab Mahal. These folks have been around since 1979, so don’t be surprised if you end up sinking your teeth into the best kebab ever.
Here comes the sun…
Fine, those mostly indoor activities look cool and all. But what if the weather gods present you with 24 hours of glorious blue sky in Edinburgh? Stick around and you might find out.
Edinburgh is a major hub for those seeking to explore the Highlands.
See some of the most amazing parts of Scotland on a day trip to Loch Ness.