Most large cities that attract tourists have “must see” attractions. Edinburgh’s “must see” list includes Edinburgh Castle, St. Giles Cathedral and Palace of Holyrood House. I did them in one fabulous day and here’s how I spent my second day in Edinburgh.
Let me start by saying that a few days into my visit to Scotland I was enjoying the countryside so much that I was wishing I had planned differently and instead of spending three nights in Edinburgh had booked another evening in Inverness. The way it turned out though, was with me wishing I had even more than three nights in Edinburgh. The city has an abundance of interesting things to see and do, is easy to get around in, filled with friendly people and simply beautiful.
My hotel was perfectly located in New Town Edinburgh so I was able to walk to almost every place on Day Two - which was a Saturday, by the way.
First stop: Grassmarket Saturday Market. Ok. I ended up at the market because I went the wrong way out of my hotel. (Sure would like to say that going the wrong way rarely happens to me but directions are just not my thing. However, in my defense, I headed out originally to go to Gladstone’s Land (a place I saw while on a walking tour the previous day) and thought it was on Grassmarket Street but it is on Lawnmarket Street. So technically I went the right way but that was the wrong way.) Either way, I found the Saturday Market. Yay!
The Grassmarket Saturday Market is set up in the centre of Grassmarket and has maybe about 20 or so tented stalls selling local produce, jams, sweets, arts, crafts, cheese, bread - you get the idea - and some were street-food stalls - including a popular one selling “lovely paella”. Oh, also there were a couple of stalls selling some vintage items. (I tried to find a porcelain quaich at these stalls but no luck. Though I did talk to one of the owners of a vintage item stall and told him that I hoped to come back later this year and he said he’ll find me a porcelain quaich and hold until the end of the year. I said “oh goodie, thanks”. Then “can you look for one for my soon to be sister-in-law too”? Lol.)
Second stop: Gladstone’s Land. Found it! Just walking down the sidewalk you’d think Gladstone’s Land was a shop selling quality tourist items. On closer inspection you find that it is indeed a shop - but it’s also a 17th century high-tenement house that has been restored by the National Trust. My tour guide the previous day had explained to me that because of crowding in the city buildings had to be built up and not out - so the house is SIX stories high. Which level you lived on was an indicator of your social status. You didn’t want to be too high or too low. And the ground levels were used as shops.
Third stop: The Real Mary King's Close. Old Town Edinburgh in the 17th Century was over-crowded because everyone wanted the protection of living inside the city walls. Off the main road were these little alley ways that are narrow, gated (and locked) and lead from the road to a courtyard that was used by residents of the apartments surrounding the courtyard. Real Mary King's Close is a steepish underground close that you can tour. The tour is led by folks in period costumes. Similar to Gladstone’s Land, Mary King's Close, allows an interesting look into life in Old Town Edinburgh in the 17th Century.
Fourth & Fifth stops: National Gallery of Scotland & Portrait Gallery. Free admission to both; some really wonderful paintings by Scottish artists in the National Gallery; BP Portrait Award Exhibit in Portrait Gallery. The Portrait Gallery building itself is magnificent inside so it’s worth a stop to just see the foyer. (On my next visit to Edinburgh I will spend more time at each of these galleries.) (Up to this point I had walked to each stop. After the Portrait Gallery I taxied to the remainder of the stops and back to my hotel.)
Sixth stop: Georgian House at Charlotte Square. Georgian House is the equivalent of Gladstone’s Landing in New Town Edinburgh. It was interesting to say the least to have the comparison between life in Old Town and New Town in the 17th Century. (Tip - New Town was the place to be. :))
Seventh stop: Edinburgh Gin Distillery. Gin is happening & hip in Scotland. Edinburgh Gin is right in the thick of things in New Town. Their advertising mentions the words “rabbit hole”. When you visit you will know why. (Well, you’ll also know why because I’m about to say. HeeHee.) Edinburgh Gin Distillery is all of a sudden -right there- tucked behind the Waldorf Astoria. You see the banner flags and walk downstairs to the Distillery. Yep. It’s underground - rabbit hole style! Tour is fun and informative. Plus, you get some gin at the end! I’m a gin drinker so really enjoyed this and plan to see some other gin distilleries on my next trip to Scotland. (Which I hope is later this year.)
Eighth (and, whew! last) stop: Mother India Cafe. Indian Food - Tapas Style. Wow. I love love love Indian food and I love love tapas! Did they pop-up this restaurant just for my visit! Surely not. But heck yeah! - I want me some Indian tapas! Delicious! I’m reviewing the restaurant soon but rest assured it was yum yum yummy!
The day was long (sort of like this post) but completely enjoyable and a great way to spend my final day in Scotland.
Happy & Safe Travels.
Come along with this southern girl on my fun travel adventures! I’m taking the tours; seeing the sites; trying out the hotels; dining at the restaurants; cruising on the cruise ships; and sharing the experiences on this blog. I hope you enjoy reading about my travel escapades and that they will be inspiring and helpful when planning your own fabulous adventures.