This week, we took ourselves off on a short break to Edinburgh, Scotland. If you’ve followed us for a while, you’ll know that we’ve always wanted to visit the country. There’s just something magical and mysterious about Scotland.
As an LGBT family, we’ve always seen Scotland as one of the most progressive and accepting countries. Since the early 2000’s Scotland has been leading the way when it came to LGBT Equality, and they’re still making great strides. Even in 2021, Scotland became the first nation to embed LGBT-inclusive education within the school curriculum.
It’s because of this, and many other reasons, we decided to make Scotland our next destination of choice as soon as we could.
Choosing which Scottish city to visit first was a tough decision. We have friends in Glasgow, and we’ve heard so much about more rural parts of Scotland. But, in the end, we decided on Edinburgh to ease us in gently.
With good links from London, we were then torn whether to fly or travel by train. We did consider driving – seeing as we drove to The Lake District the other year – but for this trip I wanted a break from driving so we decided to fly.
Arriving Saturday evening, we quickly made ourselves at home, grabbed some dinner and then hit the sack. The journey itself, though, was really smooth. We grabbed a 4:20pm flight from Gatwick and were in the air less than 2 hours. We then caught a taxi to our accommodation.
As with most trips, we tend to spend the day after travelling exploring and getting to know the area. For our trip, we stayed in an Airbnb in Leith which was around 25-30 minutes from the main city centre. For our Brightonian followers, this was the equivalent of staying in Brighton Marina and getting a bus into town. It was walkable for us, but not every day.
Very quickly whilst walking the colourful streets, it was evident that Leith (and the rest of Edinburgh for that matter) is a foodie haven. Just in the small square mile around our property we found places that made handmade (and geek-themed!) Pizza, Thai restaurants, spots serving Dim Sum, plus more. We were really spoilt for choice when it came to dinner.
After browsing the local area, we then grabbed a bus into central Edinburgh to extend our introduction. Getting the bus into Edinburgh was a breeze. As well as being spoilt for choice when it came to buses, tickets were a bargain in comparison to Brighton. A single journey was £1.80 for an adult, or a family all-day bus ticket was £9.50 which covered 2 adults and 3 children. This allowed us plenty of flexibility when it came to travel, especially when deciding whether little legs were getting tired.
Once we arrived, we then made our way to Old Town and soaked in the sights. I don’t think my neck knew anything but the upward position that day. There’s just so much to see. So much history. When my neck did rest, it was usually because my attention had been caught by a street musician or performer.
After a busy first day getting ourselves settled, we started the next day with a walking tour with Little Fish Tours (which was part of our collaboration with AirBNB). This was our second ever city tour, however based on how interesting our last one was we decided to book ourselves onto another. Walking tours – in comparison to bus tours – are a great way to get to know a city, as well as learn about it’s history.
During our two-hour tour, we learnt about Edinburgh’s history and traditions to its religion and folklore. It certainly gave us a deep understanding of Edinburgh and Scotland as a whole. Stories and topics included Edinburgh’s Mercat Cross, St Giles Cathedral, the Scottish Enlightenment, Greyfriars Bobby, the Grassmarket, Harry Potter’s inspirations and so much more. What our tour guide, Luca, didn’t know wasn’t worth knowing. He was also great with T who didn’t stop asking questions!
If you also have kids with you, don’t let that put you off attending a walking tour. If your kids are good walkers, then this is a great way to burn off energy as well as sneak in a history lesson.
After the tour, we quickly grabbed some lunch (which was also our first taste of Haggis, Neeps and Tatties!) and then walked back to The National Museum of Scotland. We didn’t realise how close it was to the main city centre, so we made sure we added this to our list of places to visit during this visit. What was meant to be a brief trip, turned into 3 and a bit hour visit! There was just so much to see and do, and we didn’t even touch the sides. It was incredible.
The museum is free to enter – which is amazing if you’re trying to save a few pennies (although you’re welcome to make a donation before you leave). As well as Scottish history, there are a variety of different rooms and exhibitions; ranging from Animals to Transport. There’s even an LGBTQIA Trail. Within the old part of the museum are 5 main floors of exhibits, and next door within newer part of the museum is a further two floors on top of that; which includes a roof terrace.
During our visit, we managed to get through 3 floors before we had to call time and head back to our accommodation, but not before heading to the gift shop! On our way back, we took a detour via Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliment Building; with the Palace being next on our places to visit upon our return.
With our trip slowly coming to an end, we decided to save Edinburgh Castle until the end.
We’re going to be writing a separate post about Edinburgh Castle, if you’re interested in visiting yourself, but for now I’d share a general overview of our day.
If you’re visiting Edinburgh for the first time, it’s inevitable that on your travels up The Royal Mile you’ll end up at Edinburgh Castle. Even if you don’t fancy going inside, you can still access the area surrounding the front entrance for free. This is great if you just want to capture those panoramic views.
The castle itself is one of the oldest fortified places in Europe and records date back over 3000 years. Situated on top of an old Volcanic rock, Edinburgh Castle has long been a residence for The Royal Family and is still a symbol of strength and pride. We passed the castle several times during our stay and on each occasion it really took my breath away. It’s such a dramatic, yet magnificent sight to behold.
On this occasion, we decided to explore the castle by ourselves. This was so we could soak it all in and take our time. If, however, you would like to learn more, there are several tour companies – including Little Fish Tours – that offer guided tours of the castle. When we come back to Edinburgh we’re going to take advantage of this. Just so we can learn more about the castle’s rich history. Exploring the castle on our own took the best part of a morning. I can imagine you could easily spend a whole day here, though.
Our personal highlights included; The Crown Jewels, Prisons of War and the One o’clock Gun.
On Wednesday, it was time to leave the gorgeous city of Edinburgh. Time had certainly flown! We’re always sad when we have to head home after a break. But, leaving Edinburgh was pretty tough when we have so much to still explore.
As a family we felt incredibly safe and welcome, and T had a blast running around the city. Travelling further afield for the first time in a few years felt strange, however I actually felt safer in Scotland – in terms of restrictions – than England. Masks were still mandatory (unless you’re exempt) in shops, restaurants and public transport. Everyone just appeared to be considerate of others. It was such a refreshing change!
This will likely be the first of many trips, not just to Edinburgh, but to Scotland. It’s absolutely gorgeous – even in the rain – and the people are so warm and friendly. If you have any recommendations for us, let us know in the comments below!