James Cox takes the City.ie to Edinburgh, a city steeped in history and culture.
Whether you’re looking for a shopping trip, a lads holiday, a romantic getaway, a cultural trip or indeed just a nice break; Edinburgh has it all. The city is steeped in history, no more so than in the old town. Any retail therapy needed will be more than satisfied in Princes Street, the city’s high street. While if it’s good food and drink you’re looking for, there’s an abundance of high quality restaurants, everything from traditional Scottish food to award winning Indian restaurants. For bars then, homely Scottish pubs or more trendy cosmopolitan options are available.
The Scottish National Gallery is located half way up Princes Street and is open from 10am to 5pm daily. It’s free to enter and is a must see. Whether you’re religious or not, another place to visit is the St.Giles Cathedral. The Cathedral is located on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh’s old town and was built in the 14th century. Once inside you’ll be taken aback by the magnificent building. It’s free to visit but for only £5 you can take a tour of the cathedral’s rooftop, which boasts a beautiful view of the whole city. The old town is also home to some of Edinburgh’s most charismatic taverns and while there it would be rude not to sample at least one of them. For beer lovers there’s a wonderful choice of craft beers, one not to miss out on is Edinburgh Gold. And when in Edinburgh why not tuck into some Haggis? You know you want to!
Edinburgh Zoo is a 15 minute bus journey from the city centre and is well worth a visit. It is open from 9 to half 4 daily and getting there early to make the most of your day is advisable. Everybody loves penguins and the zoo’s “Penguin Rock” is home to King, Gentoo and Rockhopper colonies. Every day at 2.15 a “Penguin Parade” takes place. The Zookeeper’s open the gates to the Penguin enclosure and two or three penguins join them for a brief walk around the zoo, this is an unmissable event. Edinburgh Zoo is also home to two Malayan Sun Bears, named Somnang and Rotana. These guys are an extremely endangered species. Edinburgh’s pair were rescued from a Cambodian collector. Another of the Zoo’s attractions is the only pair of Panda’s in the UK. One male, Tian Tian, and one female, Yang Guang, are the zoo’s biggest attractions (along with the Penguin Parade of course.)
the “Penguin Parade” at Edinburgh Zoo
Edinburgh Castle dominates the city’s skyline. If you were to pick one place to visit on your trip, the castle would have to be it. The castle is Scotland’s most visited tourist attraction with over 1.4 million people coming to see it in 2014. Inside the castle you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a scene from Game of Thrones with the ancient paths and walkways. Every nook and cranny of the castle is made available to its visitors (something the tour guides pride themselves on). Within the castle itself there are many different points of interest including St.Mary’s chapel, the oldest part of the castle, dating from the 14th century, and the Scottish National War Memorial. You should really devote most of the day to a visit to the castle because to rush around would be a shame. The views of Edinburgh from the castle’s various levels are simply breath-taking. You’ll feel like you’ve taken a trip back in time. The castle has been home to many huge figures in Scottish national history such as Robert the Bruce and Mary Queen of Scots. Why not come and meet them? Just be careful you don’t get stuck in the dungeons.
The Royal Yacht Britannia is the UK’s number one attraction on Trip Advisor and it certainly lives up to the praise. The Royal family sailed around the world on Britannia for over forty years and since 1997 it has been preserved as a tourist attraction in Edinburgh. The Yacht takes around two hours to get around in full, and every visitor gets a handheld telephone device which tells stories about 29 points of interest around the yacht. You’ll experience what life was like on board the yacht for the Royal family, the Yachts admirals, engineers, servants and cadets. No area is excluded and even the Royal families personal living areas are on show to the public. You can enjoy tea and cakes on the second floor with a magnificent view of the Edinburgh Ocean Terminal too.
The Queen’s Banquet room aboard the Royal Yacht Brittania
These attractions are only a few of the many things Edinburgh has to offer. The city is the perfect venue for a weekend break or a longer getaway. Flights and accommodation are available at extremely reasonable prices and its less than an hour’s flight. So what’s stopping you? To get a real feel for the City you’ll have to go and experience it yourself so make it your next holiday destination. You won’t regret it.
By James Cox
A view of Edinburgh’s old town from the castle