When traveling to the UK, most tourists will choose London as their go-to destination. However, I think Edinburgh and the rest of Scotland for that matter is a must see! I spent a semester abroad in Edinburgh my junior year of college and immediately fell in love with the city. While it does have its tourist traps, there are quite a few hidden gems! One of my favorite aspects of the city is just how walkable it is and how much you can accomplish. Also, if your a Harry Potter fan, Edinburgh is home to much of the inspiration to the books.
WHERE TO STAY
Ibis Edinburgh: This hotel is in one of the best locations in the city. A little off the main street, The Royal Mile, you are super close to great shopping and restaurants. Depending on the season, the rooms aren't too expensive as well.
Principal: This is a little more upscale because it is located on the expensive shopping street, George Street. However, its location is also one that cannot be beat. Within walking distance of Calton Hill and all the shopping you can think of on Princes Street, this is a wonderful spot.
The Balmoral: As one of the nicest hotels in Edinburgh, this iconic hotel is known as the location where J. K. Rowling finished the Harry Potter series, wiring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in room 552.
Hostels: Edinburgh has numerous hostels scattered throughout the city are various price points so if you are looking for something cheaper definitely look into them!
WHAT TO DO
Climb the hills. Edinburgh is known for the many hills that are scattered around the city. Arthur's seat provides a beautiful view of the city and Calton Hill has a few monuments including Edinburgh's own Parthenon.
Walk the Royal Mile from Parliament and Holyrood Palace to the Castle at the top of the hill. I would recommend walking around the inside of the unusual Parliament building as well as touring Holyrood Palace (home to the British Monarchy in the summer and the former King and Queen of Scots). Touring the inside of the Castle is definitely something you can skip however. The Royal Mile has a lot of touristy spots but it is definitely something not worth missing.
Harry Potter tour. You can definitely join a tour or you can do this one completely yourself. The Elephant House coffee shop is where J. K. Rowling famously started writing the series on a napkin. Behind The Elephant House is a graveyard where many of the names used in the series can be found. Victoria Street, located a block away, was the inspiration for Diagon Alley.
Museums. Every museum in Scotland is free! you could easily spend hours walking through them all but The National Gallery and the National Museum are two great options.
University of Edinburgh. Founded in 1582, the campus of the university has some beautiful architecture that sprawls throughout Old Town.
WHERE TO EAT
Tea and scones anywhere in the city. A few of my favorite coffee shops are Black Medicine, Kilimanjaro, Eteaket, Papi.
Civerinos has great pizza and definitely try the Nutella calzone!
Mary's Milk Bar has delicious ice cream and hot chocolate. You can even try them together!
El Cartel Mexican restaurant has delicious plantain chips and guacamole as well as a wide variety of margaritas.
Bramble Bar is a cozy drink spot hidden away in the basement of a building. However with comfy seating and creative drinks, you can't help but stay a long time.
Also, don't be afraid to try Haggis. While it might not sound appealing, the amount of spices added gives it a very unique taste and its a must try while in Scotland.
HOW TO GET AROUND
Walk everywhere! While you can take a bus or taxi, with the amount of traffic you are usually quicker if you walk. Plus, while walking, you can discover all the amazing nooks and crannies that the city has to offer.