Thinking about a quick weekend trip to Edinburgh – or maybe a longer week exploring the various bits and bobs in the Scottish Highlands and Islands? Surprisingly, I think some of the best things to do in Edinburgh are free – even on a rainy day you can find yourself with plenty of safe refuge. Here are some personal suggestions.
St. Giles Church (pictured above) on the Royal Mile is one of Edinburgh’s most inspiring churches – both from the exterior as well as its interior. Recently, the interior has underwent a much needed clean-up and restoration, leaving the inner nave and it’s beautiful royal blue ceiling looking as smashing as ever. And it’s free to pop in for a visit – it’s a must see.
I’ve walked this hundreds of times and never tire of it. It’s a small river that skirts around the edge of Edinburgh, from the Union Canal and wrapping around the west and north sides of the city, ending down in Leith. You can access it from a number of points, but the most picturesque portion is around the Stockbridge area.
Ok, I know this one sounds a bit morbid – but some of the graveyards in Edinburgh are examples of some of the oldest architecture in the city, and certainly some of the most unique. Who knows, you might see a ghost! But seriously, the carvings and engravings will warm your heart, while some of the older mausoleums may give you a bit of a chill. Don’t miss the Old and New Calton Cemeteries, as well as Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, which has an excellent night-time ghost tour.
On a windy day it can be fierce up on these hills, but the views just cannot be beat. Arthur’s Seat is the highest point in Edinburgh, but it is a moderate climb – you definitely need proper footwear, and I strongly advise you to be careful in wet weather, as it can be very rocky and slippery. Bring a jacket – even on a warm summer day, it’s blustery and cold up here.
Ever since the Scottish Parliament opened its doors to the controversial (and expensive) building, it has been a hit with tourists from both in and out of Britain. Once you go through the security controls, you’ll end up in the gift shop/cafe where you may think you’ve got to buy a tour ticket, but in fact you are allowed to stroll right in and check out the main debating chamber – as long as there isn’t anything in session, of course. Free of charge – and it is the main highlight of the tour. Grab a brochure in the lobby for more info.
Posted : Friday, December 30th, 2011 at 11:00
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.