hogwarts bound [edinburgh, scotland]

The beauty of living in the UK is that one week you can be thinking to yourself, “I’d love to see Scotland before it gets too cold” and the next week you find yourself on a train flying through the English countryside heading north.

I grabbed two wonderful friends who are always down for an adventure and headed to Edinburgh, the Highlands and Loch Ness for 5 days last week. All I can say is that Scotland has landed itself towards the top of my favorite countries list.

The people are friendly (I’m looking at you bartender at World’s End who let us try every beer on tap), the views are beautiful from all over the city and everything is cheaper than London.

I’m hoping to be back soon so I’m jotting down a few of my favorites for the next trip.

(or for you… but please bring me if you decide to go)

Taste:

  • Wellington: Close to Princes Street and known for their scones – don’t miss the clotted cream
  • Cairngorm Coffee: Try the vanilla and apple cake – a great place to camp out in case of extreme, unexpected rain/wind (speaking from a bit of personal experience)
  • Worlds End Pub: Right on the Royal Mile – fish/chips and house ale. What more do you need?
  • White Hart: The oldest pub in Edinburgh – had the best steak and ale pie
  • Loudon’s Café: Big, bright and spacious spot for brunch

 

Do:

  • Highlands Experience Tour: An entire day of seeing the Highlands, Loch Ness, Glencoe, Fort Williams, etc. Over 500 miles driven and tons of history to take in. A beautiful way to see more of Scotland than just Edinburgh!
  • Grassmarket Neighborhood: Where our Airbnb was. Walkable to everything, cute pubs/cafes, right at the foot of the castle and less expensive than the Royal Mile area
  • Edinburgh Castle: Best views in the city! No need to buy the audio guide – there were rooms and rooms of exhibits that we weren’t aware of before we went
  • Royal Mile: Starting at the Castle and ending at Holyrood Palace it’s been the heart of Edinburgh for hundreds of years. I went full out nerd and listened to a Rick Steve audio guide but if that’s not your thing you can swing into any side street for a Bailey’s latte like a couple other girls I know 🙂
  • Princes Garden: Perfect place to relax in the sun, read a book and glance up at the castle
  • Whistle Binkies: Underground cave pub with live music every night for no cover

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Getting There:

  • Train: Highly recommend doing train over plane! There’s no worrying about luggage size, liquid baggies, passports or security. Our Virgin Train route dropped us directly in the city center, was only 4 ½ hours from King’s Cross to Edinburgh Waverly and felt like an hour, tops. Count me a believer.
  • Plane: Use the Bus (Airlink 100) or Tram from anywhere along Prince’s Street. If you’re flying within the UK you don’t need a passport, just a Driver’s License or Visa. (In case you’re an idiot like me and let taking the train there lull you into forgetting your passport at home…)

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Couldn’t get through this post without a shoutout to my girl JK Rowling. We had the best time nerding out over all of the Harry Potter references in Scotland and even read some HP at the Elephant Café where she wrote the first book. The bathroom is covered in quotes and thank you’s from fans all over the world and this one was my absolute favorite:

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