Edinburgh, Scotland & The Scottish Highlands

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Jeremy has a work training this week (week of July 16) in Cambridge, UK so we planned a trip to Europe the week before his training. For the first part of our trip we visited Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland and then ventured into the Scottish countryside. Whenever we travel internationally we try to take overnight flights to attempt to get on the other time zone (especially when we went to Nepal and Thailand). So, we left Atlanta at 10pm on Thursday July 5 and landed in London at 11am on Friday July 6. Since we already lost a half day traveling we flew from London to Edinburgh instead of taking the train. So, by the time we got to Edinburgh it was late Friday afternoon.

Travel Schedule

Since Jeremy has Starwood hotel points, we stayed at the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh. Typically Sheraton’s are not that nice domestically, but I was pleasantly surprised how nice the Sheraton was in Edinburgh. Plus, it’s centrally located in Edinburgh. After checking into the Sheraton we forced ourselves to walk around Edinburgh and get the lay of the land. Even though we were exhausted it was the best way for us to get an overview of the city and then plan what we wanted to do for the next couple of days. Normally I’m a psycho OCD planner and have all our vacations planned by the hour/day but this trip I didn’t plan our daily activities, just had an idea of what I wanted to do in each city. Plus, Jeremy’s cousin Barea just graduated from Edinburgh College and is currently working on a startup company. So, part of the reason I didn’t worry too much about planning our Edinburgh trip is because Barea could show us around. 

Jeremy and I walked around the royal mile, which is one of the main and most famous streets of Old Edinburgh. Then, we grabbed an early dinner at small hole in the wall restaurant. After dinner we visited Greyfriars Kirkyard, the graveyard surrounding Greyfriars Kirk. Burials have been taking place since the late 16th century, and is also where J.K. Rowling got inspiration for a few of her Harry Potter characters, including the most famous Thomas Riddell Esq., and one for a William McGonagall. Afterwards we met Barea for a drink at a local pub. After drinks we parted ways as Jeremy and I were exhausted.

Old Edinburgh

On Saturday Jeremy and I met Barea and hiked to the top of Arthur’s Seat. Arthur’s Seat is 800ft above sea level and provides panoramic views of the city. It’s also a great workout and took us over 2 hours to hike to the top and back down. After finishing Arthur’s Seat Jeremy and I toured the Edinburgh Castle, which is a must see. Not only has the castle housed various royals throughout history, but also once housed military prisoners and was the site of a back-and-forth capture with the English. Currently it houses Scotland’s crown jewels and various historical exhibits. You definitely need a couple of hours to see everything. Jeremy and I didn’t do a guided tour, but we purchased audio guides, which walk you through the castle and its history. After visiting the castle we met up with Barea and watched the London vs. Sweden World Cup game which was so much fun watching London win in the UK (so sad they lost the game after). Then, Jeremy and I toured Mary King’s Close, a darker history of Old Edinburgh and how people once lived. Then, Jeremy and I met Barea for dinner at Monteith’s, our best meal in Scotland.

Loch Ness, Glen Coe and the Scottish Highlands

On Sunday July 8,  Jeremy, Barea and I got up early and took a guided tour to Loch Ness, Glen Coe and the Scottish Highlands. The tour was all day but we got to see the most beautiful scenery/sights on our drive. We took a boat tour of Loch Ness, the largest body of water in Britain by volume. All lakes and rivers of England and Wales would fit in it. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see Nessie, but maybe next time. The boat dropped us off at Urquhart Castle and we visited the ruins, which date from the 13th to the 16th centuries. After Loch Ness and the Urquhart Castle ruins we ventured onwards to Ben Nevis, UK’s highest mountain at 4,413 feet and Glen Coe. We drove around the countryside, made a few stops, including to feed the Scottish Highland cows, and saw many other castle ruins and famous Scottish landmarks on the way. Even though this was an extremely long day (we left at 8am and got home at 9pm) we saw so much of Scotland that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen if we only stayed in Edinburgh.

On Monday morning Jeremy any I left Edinburgh early and took a flight to Amsterdam.

Edinburgh Recommendations

Below are some recommendations of things to do and places to eat. We didn’t do all the activities below or ate at all the restaurants, but they came highly recommended by family and friends! Overall I think we saw almost everything, but if we go back I would want to visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse and walk to Calton Hill. The Queen had her birthday party the day before we got to Edinburgh and so the Palace of Holyroodhouse didn’t reopen until Sunday to the public which is when we went to the countryside. Also, we had to choose between Arthur’s Seat and Calton Hill and decided to do Arthur’s Seat. However, Calton Hill is supposed to also have amazing views of the city. We could see Calton Hill from the Edinburgh Castle. I also would have loved to see the Royal Botanic Garden. 

Things to Do

Places to Eat

Breakfast/Coffee Recommendations

Lunch/Dinner Recommendations



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1 Comment

  • Reply Kat

    Awesome photography,can’t wait for the next part of the travelogue.

    July 23, 2018 at 6:46 pm
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