Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and one of my favorite cities I’ve visited. The medieval buildings are so well preserved that it makes you feel as if you’ve traveled back in time. The atmosphere and culture along with so many wonderful things to do makes Edinburgh a must visit. The best part being how easy it is to use points and miles for the trip! We used British Airways Avios to fly Aer Lingus. For just 26,000 Avios you can get a roundtrip flight from Boston to Dublin and then book an inexpensive hopper flight to Edinburgh. You can get Avios easily by transferring 1:1 from American Express or Chase Ultimate Rewards.
The best area to stay is Old Town or New Town as it is central to everything. For just 35,000 IHG points per night we stayed at Hotel Indigo Edinburgh and I highly recommend it. It’s a boutique hotel housed in five historic Georgian Townhouses with each room distinctly decorated. Location is central to bars, restaurants and activities. Just be prepared for all the hills throughout the city!
Must do activities include:
· SANDEMANs Free walking tour: I always recommend a walking tour on the first day in a new city as it’s a fantastic way to get your bearings as well as learn the history of the city you are about to explore. The tour lasts about 2.5 hours and is available throughout the day. You can book online or just show up. Meet in front of the Starbucks on High Street.
· St. Andrews & fishing villages of Fife: A trip to Scotland just wouldn’t be complete without visiting the home of golf. The Old Course is stunning and the town of St. Andrews is beautiful. Make sure to visit some of the small fishing town nearby such as Anstruther.
· Edinburgh Castle: dating back to the 12th century this castle houses Scotland’s crown jewels and is a world-famous icon. Book your tickets online in advance to skip the long que. Guided tours are included in your ticket price.
· Royal Mile: The main street located in the Old Town which runs between the Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. Many shops and restaurants are located along the Royal Mile
· Grassmarket: located directly below Edinburgh Castle this area was originally a marketplace for horse and cattle. Grassmarket is now a lively area full of shopping, restaurants and pubs. Make sure to check out the statue of Greyfriars Bobby.
· Princes Street Gardens: Public park in the center of Edinburgh. Take a stroll through and admire the beautiful gardens while listening to the many street musicians who perform throughout the day.
· Arthurs Seat hike: an ancient volcano which is a distinctive feature of Edinburgh’s skyline. The hike up to Arthurs Seat is worth the trek as you are rewarded with spectacular views of the city at the top.
· Rosslyn Chapel: grab an Uber and take a 20-minute ride to Rosslyn chapel, where you can tour the chapel which was featured in the Da Vinci Code.
Must eats include:
· Anstruther Fish Bar: the best fish and chips can be found here. Located in the small fishing village of Anstruther, about 15 minutes from St. Andrews.
· The Café Royal Bar: Sit in the bar and enjoy a Scottish ale or whisky with your dinner while admiring the traditional Victorian interior. We really enjoyed the food and atmosphere here!
· Fortitude Coffee: located in the New Town, stop in for a quick breakfast and grab a cold brew and donuts.
· Oink: I’m sure you weren’t planning on having BBQ while in Scotland but Oink has an amazing pulled pork and haggis sandwich. Haggis is the national dish of Scotland and is made up of meat, oatmeal, onion, salt and spices. You’ve got to try it, it’s actually pretty good!
· Asti: If you’ve had your fill of fish and chips and haggis, head over to Asti for some delicious Italian. Be sure to make a reservation as this little place fills up fast. Try the Coda di Rospo (fillet of monkfish), it tastes like lobster.
· Deli Fresco: excellent little café serving up some of the best breakfast sandwiches
· Mary’s Milk Bar: we missed out on this ice cream shop as they were closed when we visited but I’ve heard their ice cream is to do die for!
Keep in mind that Scotland is part of the United Kingdom so Pounds is the currency.