It’s been many years since I’ve visited Scotland. Although Emirates has been flying to Glasgow since before I joined, I have never been rostered the flight, so the last time I went must have been as a child on a family holiday!
So you can imagine how pleased I was when I managed to swap my London Heathrow flight for a trip to Edinburgh! It was also a slightly longer layover than usual which was great.
Unfortunately the weather forecast for our arrival was not looking great, and we were greeted with dark, cloudy skies and pouring rain.
Nevertheless, since it was my first time here, I wanted to make the most of my layover and see as much of the city as I could.
It really wasn’t the best weather, so after a couple of hours and a coffee in a nice café, I got the bus back to the hotel, ready to do some more exploring the next day.
Luckily, the weather took a turn for the better, and I awoke to beautiful sunshine streaming through the curtains.
I knew I wanted to see as much of the city as I could in the time available, so decided to do a free walking tour. These are a great way to get a feel for a new city, with a local showing you around.
At breakfast I bumped into one of the other girls from the flight, and she decided to join me, so we got the bus into the city around an hour before the tour started, so we could have some time to go up Calton Hill as well.
Calton Hill is included in the city’s UNESCO world heritage site, and it is a spectacular viewpoint overlooking the city.
Despite the fact that it looks like it’s miles away from the city, it’s actually an easy walk to the top.
We had a wander around the top, admiring the view out to Arthur’s Seat and beyond, and trying not to get blown away by the wind!
From here it was a nice walk through the city towards the Royal Mile, a long street in the centre, which was where our tour would start from.
The tour takes two hours, and if you enjoy it you can leave a tip at the end (which we did, of course!). Our guide Graeme was born and raised in Edinburgh, and knew so many fascinating facts about the city.
The tour covered all of the old town, which included The Royal Mile (where we started), St Giles’ Cathedral, Mercat Cross, Greyfriars Kirkyard and Greyfriars Bobby, The Grassmarket, Edinburgh Castle and more.
There are so many little courtyards that you can reach through tiny narrow streets, that are almost invisible if you don’t know they are there!
We soon reached Edinburgh Castle, although the entrance fee wasn’t included in the tour. I’m sure it’d be very interesting to have a look around inside, so I’ll have to save that for next time if I ever get the flight again.
The history of the castle was really interesting, and of course the views on a sunny day were just lovely.
One of our final stops was Greyfriars Kirkyard (or churchyard), which is supposedly haunted. Our guide had plenty of spooky stories to share!
Despite the tour only being two hours, I feel like we really managed to see a lot of the city. Our guide was so insightful and really brought all of the history to life.
I can certainly see why J.K. Rowling was inspired to write Harry Potter here! Despite the sunny blue skies it was still a rather chilly day, and to warm up our hands we stopped off at a lovely café called The Milkman for a coffee to warm us up, before heading back to the hotel in time for the wake up call.
I absolutely fell in love with Edinburgh, such a beautiful city with so much history. I really hope I’ll be back one day!