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Edinburgh 2018: The Sights

Edinburgh has been the capital of Scotland since the 15th century and there is even evidence that the Romans visited the area as early as the 1st century. Therefore it should come as no surprise that there is a lot to check out in this city. During our 10 day trip we did a fair amount of sightseeing and this article details some of those sights that really stood out.

Arthur's Seat

I think hiking Arthur's Seat is the first thing anyone should do when they come to Edinburgh. It is as mild or as strenuous a hike as you want (the difficulty is based on the direction you approach it from) and when you finally reach the peak you will be afforded a view of the city that you have to see to believe. From here you can see a ton of other sights you must visit such as Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile, Calton Hill, the Scott Monument, etc. It is the perfect way to ground yourself and fully understand what Edinburgh has to offer.

The Scotch Whisky Experience

We were in Scotland so we obviously had to partake in some scotch whisky and what better way to do it then by taking The Scotch Whisky Experience tour. Not only do you get to learn how scotch whisky is made but you get to choose a sample based on what you have just learned. My pro-tip would be to buy the gold tour so at the very end you can enjoy a nice flight of scotch from all of the regions of Scotland.

Edinburgh Zoo

Elsie and I continued our tradition of visiting the local zoo in any city we vacation in. The Edinburgh Zoo is actually one of the best zoos we have visited. It was incredibly well laid out and there was a wide variety of animals. The enclosures were very spacious and didn't have the depressing feeling that a lot of other zoos can have.

Some of the highlights would be the meerkats and red pandas and I even got to hold a stick insect while it ate a leaf. But the best animals we saw were undoubtably the Scottish wildcats. Not only were the cats super cute but they also had just given birth to two kittens that were only six weeks old!

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

If you have a green thumb I would recommend touring the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Don't underestimate how much there is to see. Elsie and I made the mistake of trying to squeeze it in one day and were running all over the place. I would say give yourselves at least three hours to properly tour the whole thing and take in all of the amazing views.

The Royal Yacht Britannia

Touring The Royal Yacht Britannia is something I would recommend to everyone. Since it was built in 1954 it is incredibly dated but as you tour through it you start to be in awe of the sheer about of history that has happened in the halls you are walking through. Every piece of that ship had a story to tell from the upper decks all the way down to the yachtsmen quarters below. They had their own fudge making shop down there!

The Real Mary King's Close

If you're interested in learning about what living in Edinburgh was like in the 17th century then The Real Mary King's Close is a tour you must take. It is a series of closes that were buried in the 18th century in order to build the Royal Exchange on top of them.

It was on this tour we learned of the term "gardyloo" which is what someone would yell just before they were about to empty their chamber pot out the window onto the street below. Indoor plumbing really is something we take for granted nowadays.

Cramond Island

Cramond Island is a tiny island off the north-west part of Edinburgh. It is a tidal island which means it is only accessible for a few hours a day during low tide. It is one of only 17 islands that can be walked to from the Scottish mainland.

If you do take the time to hike out to the island, not only will you be treated to some beautiful views of the sea but also ruins from World War II when the island was refortified as outpost to tackle torpedo boats entering the harbor.

Calton Hill

Next to Arthur's Seat, Calton Hill is the second best vantage point for a view of Edinburgh. Located in central Edinburgh it provides a panoramic view of the entire city as well as being home to the National Monument, the Nelson Monument and other historical buildings.

The Scott Monument

If you are in the mood for climbing stairs then do I have a recommendation for you! The Scott Monument is a Victorian Gothic monument (more like a spire) that sits right at the intersection of Princes Street and South St. Davids Street. If you can climb the 288 steps you will be privy to one of the most breathtaking views of Edinburgh Castle rivaling even that of Arthur's Seat. Beware though, the staircase is incredibly tight and winding so be sure you are ready to brave the climb.

Edinburgh Castle

It is almost impossible to go anywhere in the city without being aware of Edinburgh Castle. If you are in the mood to learn about the history of the city and what life was like back in medieval times then you should take the tour. With the magnificent views, the numerous museums, the Scottish Crown Jewels, the "Mons Meg bombard" and numerous other sightings, Edinburgh Castle is well worth the visit and my words cannot possible do it justice.

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is a tourist attraction right on The Royal Mile just in front of Edinburgh Castle. It is a six story building filled to the brim with all sorts of exhibitions designed to play with perception. At the top of the building is the titular camera obscura which allows visitors to have a full 360 degree tour of the city through its lens.

The Elephant House

If you are a Harry Potter fan then you'll probably want to swing by The Elephant House. It is a quaint little café just south of the Edinburgh Castle and it is most well known for being the place where J.K. Rowling started writing the Harry Potter books.

Alien Bloc

If you're obsessed with bouldering like Elsie and I then you should hit up Alien Bloc. It is a stellar bouldering only gym.