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Sarah Dara - The Elephant House

Edinburgh: History and Literature

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Edinburgh's Charms

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and the 7th most populated city in the United Kingdom. Located on the Firth of Forth’s southern shore, it is cited as

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Edinburgh in a Day

The Scottish capital is a beautiful and vibrant city. It has rich associations with the past, and its Gothic architecture is unlike any other European city. What is really great about Edinburgh, though, is that it is compact and walk-able, and therefore is an ideal place to take a day trip. To make the most of it, it’s best to arrive as early as possible in the morning (which might mean a very long journey for those of you coming from London), and leave as late as you can. Below is my suggested itinerary:


Let’s say you hypothetically arrive in Edinburgh at 8am ( sorry – I did mention it was best to arrive as early as possible!). Upon arrival, head straight to Princes Street Gardens, which is only a 5 minute walk from Edinburgh Waverley Station if you’re arriving by train. This beautiful public park separates the Old Town from the New Town, and is home to a wide variety of statues, monument and floral displays (and make sure you check out the floral clock!).

By 9am, it’s time to move on to the next stop: the Scott Monument. It is a bit of a climb – 287 steps to be precise – but is worth every loss of breath and sweaty mop. It stands as a tribute to Sir Walter Scott, and its size makes it the largest monument of a writer in the world. Once you’ve reached the very top, take a moment to appreciate the splendid view.

08.08.2005(Bring spending money for the ‘Harrods of the North’. wikimedia.org)

The next stop is directly across the street from the foot of the Scott Monument. It’s known as the ‘Harrods of the North’. That’s right, you’re going to Jenners, the city’s famous department store.

After you’re laden with shopping bags, for any art lovers out there, the next place on the list is the National Galleries of Scotland at the bottom of the Mound: they’re only a 2 minute walk away from Jenners. The galleries are comprised of the Royal Scottish Academy building and the National Gallery of Scotland, two magnificent neo-classical designs which house works from many famous artists including Da Vinci, Vermeer and Monet. Still not convinced? Entry is free.


By now you have probably worked up a thirst so it’s time to stop off for a spot of lunch. Allow yourself a 10 min walk to the George VI bridge and head to the Elephant House. This is a popular haunt for tourists and locals alike. It is steeped in literary history; JK Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books here!

Once you’re finished it’s time to start exploring again. The next stop is only 100 yards away: Greyfriars Bobby. This is a little statue commemorating one of Edinburgh’s well-loved residents, a Skye Terrier. He’s been made famous by various books and the 1961 Disney film ‘Greyfriars Bobby: The True Story of a Dog’. There’s time for a quick photo before the next stop.

2675713_8d00f6cc(Grab a quick photo of this well-loved resident before your next location. geograph.org.uk)

If you’re a museum buff, directly across the road from Greyfriars Bobby is the National Museum of Scotland. It’s a fantastic way to explore Scottish history, from the primeval age to the modern era. Be sure to check out the amazing 360 degree views of Edinburgh from the roof garden.

From the museum, your next stop is Edinburgh Castle – a visit to Edinburgh is not complete without a visit to the city’s iconic landmark. It is best to go just before closing time because it is quiet and contemplative in nature. You can also observe the dusk falling. If you do want to see everything the castle offers, it might be worth skipping an earlier attraction to give yourself time to explore.


Like London, Edinburgh is a city containing numerous top restaurants. However, the highest recommendation is The Dome. Located in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town, it was originally the old Physicians Hall (1775), and then a bank, before it reopened in 1996. It offers you the most famous Scottish delicacy: haggis! Are you brave enough to try it? You’re looking at under £20 for a main, but considering most of your day has been low-cost, it’s time to flash the cash a little.

518bc9440b3f2(After a long, cheap day it’s time to reward yourself with a lavish meal at The Dome. http://www.luxuryscottishwedding.co.uk)

There’s just one last stop before you head home. This one is a bit further out, around a 50 minute walk from The Dome, but you would’ve noticed this on your travels. The final and most famous stop is Arthur’s Seat, the 251m high extinct volcano that sits in the middle of Edinburgh. Because of its location, a taxi is probably the quickest route. Take one to Dunsapie Loch and then there’s only a 30 minute climb where you can work off the lunchtime calories. It offers an amazing panorama of the entire city best enjoyed in the summer evenings. If you go during other times of the year, it might be best to have this as one of the first stops made.

And now it’s time to head back home full of happy memories – but before you leave, don’t forget to buy some famous Edinburgh rock for the journey home!