United Kingdom

Published on March 11, 2011 | by Andrea Guerriero


Edinburgh in a day: 5 things not to be missed

Edinburgh is a beautiful city, resting on the hills and on the banks of the North Sea in the large bay of the Firth of Forth. Edinburgh is an historic city, rich in monuments, palaces and castles, but also a “city of the world” where to have fun among inns, pubs and venues in which it is possible to listen to live music.

The city is very pleasant to get around on foot, with many ups and downs and shops still in style that have kept the furnishings of the past. The airport is a few kilometers, well served by shuttle bus, and within the city the public transport network is very efficient. Edinburgh is not big, but there are so many things to visit. Who had only one day to visit this city, we give some advice on what to see. Only five stages all in the area of Royal Mile.

1. The National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street

An overview of Scotland in a very recently structure (built in 1998): even the period furnishings are of interest, but in the five floors of the museum you will discover the history of this region by the geological origins to the present day. In the rooms you can explore and discover the origin of the Scottish villages and landscape, with artifacts and implements of daily use: there are more than 10 thousand objects, from prehistoric jewelry to the flags of the great history battles, machinery, ship models and old cars. An important part of the museum is dedicated to modern age, with all the problems about industrialization and the life of the population, including the great tragedies such as child mortality. The museum is near the Royal Museum, dedicated to decorative arts, science, archeology and biology.

2. The Castle

The Edinburgh Castle dominates the city from a hill over the old town: here-hence the panoramic view is outstanding. It is an old military fortress of the sixteenth century with even a military garrison of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The castle is also a museum of the famous Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. Passing the drawbridge it is possible to admire the Honors of Scotland, one of the most ancient royal insignia of Europe, and the famous Stone of Destiny. The halls are visible daily, excluding Sundays, while at 13 o’clock the cannon (One O’Clock Gun) shoots to indicate the correct time: it is an ancient tradition that at one time served to mark the day for sailboats moored at the port. If the day of your vacation is in August, you should not miss the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which takes place in front of  the castle: a military performance in costume.

3. The Scotch Whiskey Heritage Centre

In the area of the castle, on the Royal Mile, there is a structure very interesting and fun, suitable for both adults and children, where to discover the secrets of the production and preservation of the most classic drink of Scotland: the whiskey. The whole process of production of whiskey is made in a big tournament: the visitors sit inside large barrels going through a traditional distillery, to discover both the production techniques and the myths and legends related to the liquor. It is the ghost of a master distiller to accompany tourists to discover 300 years of history: the visit concludes with an excellent tasting.

4. The most famous ghost of Edinburgh

In the area of the Royal Mile, it is possible to go to the Mary King’s Close, an archaeological excavation of the late Middle Ages that brings in the basement of the city. It is one of the most classic places of the “mysterious” Edinburgh and its population of ghosts. You can enter in the Mary King’s Close, only by a guided tour. Edinburgh, like many European cities, in mid-1600, was devastated by the plague: the solution adopted at that time was to seal the old city, with all its cargo of death and build on a new city. The plague did not kill immediately all the poor people buried alive: some small communities survived for a while and today they roam like ectoplasm (ghosts) to remind everyone of their suffering. Mary King’s Close which gives its name to the place, was one of the buried ways, while Mary King was the owner of a building at the beginning of the road. Are dozens the sightings of ghosts associated to the painful events of 1600.

5. The Writers’ Museum and the Makars’ Court

The Writers’ Museum is on a small street that comes to Royal Mile. Here lie the relics, manuscripts, portraits and memories of three great writers who have made the history of Scottish and world literature: Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. This is a very well kept and cared museum which often hosts temporary exhibitions of contemporary Scottish writers. Just outside the museum, in the medieval courtyard, Makers’ Court, there are huge stone slabs engraved with some of the most famous phrases of the Scottish writers of the last 600 years. Edinburgh has been declared an Unesco city of literature. The Writers Museum is housed in the Lady Stair’s House.

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Photo of the Edinburgh castle by jordanshatcher

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Andrea, a travel blogger, web programmer, seo apprentice and amateur photographer based in Milan. I love reading, I love music. I love to travel but only if I leave on a mission! I've been traveling through most of Europe and I love writing about it. I love photography, especially as a way to document experiences, places, events. My Nikon D300 camera is always with me, and it helps me in sharing my life with the rest of the world. Getting in touch with new people, different life styles and foreign traditions, and write about it, is all I can ask for.

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