So, it seems I'm about to spend six weeks in Edinburgh, right over top of the fringe festival. I was hoping to pick the brains of anyone who had been in the city during the festivities who could point out the highlights, must-sees, and suggest some places to go to occasionally get away from the crowds. I have been to Edinburgh before, but it was in December when things were nice and quiet.
Any opinions would be much appreciated.
I would certainly suggest a rail trip over the Forth Rail Bridge and take a bus return over the road bridge, spectacular scenery.
One of the lesser known museums is the Writers Museum, Lady Stairs House, Lady Stair's Close, Lawnmarket; not far from the train station, walk along Market Street to North Bank Street and Bank Street to find it.
With an unlimited day ticket on the buses you can get about a lot, maybe visit the Zoo.
Take a trip to see the Falkirk wheel lifting sailing barges and boats to different canal levels.
An interesting day trip is to visit Stirling and wander in the town, meet the people.
Have a relaxing meal ... try a Haggis in a restaurant. Get it fried not boiled to really appreciate this savoury traditional dish.
Please let me know if this helps and if you enjoy your visit.
Gun cuireadh do chupa thairis le slainte agus sonas.
(May your cup overflow with health and happiness.)
Thanks for your reply! That all sounds wonderful, and most of it I had never heard of. They're all definitely going on the list.
Stirling was already on my list. I'm hoping to spend a weekend there when I'm done in Edinburgh. I have friends who are very fond of castles. I have seen many, many photos...
And I'm not sure I'm quite brave enough for Haggis, but we'll see. Sometimes I surprise myself. I did eat camel and pigeon in Morocco and both were yummy...
Haggis is not as bad as you may think. Actually, I really liked it. You gotta try it at least once, if for no other reason than to say you did it. . . But you may surprise yourself, so don't be afraid
You'll love Stirling. The castle is beautiful. The town is lovely, also. However, I just took a day trip there, so I can't comment further on the town, but if you're a bit of a castle buff (like me) then you'll love it
My time in Edinburgh was too short (5 nights). You're lucky you get six weeks ! It is such a beautiful place, so much character and romance. I never got to any of the things that bob flinn suggested, either, but they sound charming. I only saw the main sights. However, for a peaceful afternoon, especially if you like nature, head to the Royal Botanical Gardens. Have a picnic on the grass. And then explore
Also, if you haven't seen it yet, Edinburgh Castle is steeped in history and quite beautiful, as well. The audio tour, I found, was quite good. You may have already seen it, though, and in April it was crowded, so, during the festival, it may be extremely crowded . . .
Haggis is amazing. Go to the Last Drop i the grassmarket for best Haggis around.
Stirling is nice but 2 days is way too much. The Castle is way overpriced too, and not worth it. Doune castle and Campbell Castle are both in the area and much nicer.
Id suggest renting a car for 2 days instead (but book early) and head away to see remote castles and abbeys on the Borders or up around the west coast.
If you want specific castle information ask me on PM, I can help. Iv been to about 40-50 Scottish Castles, Abbeys and Tower Houses
As far Edinburgh, The best tent - Spiegel Tent - was closed last year. Not sure this year. If thats not open I dont bother going out to the Fringe really. And you cant really escape the crowds in August. I live here and I try to just stay in doors!
When I finished college I moved to Edinburgh from Ireland for a 6-month 'working holiday' to take a break and have a bit of fun. This September, I will have been here 5 years! I'm still finding new streets and hideaways in Edinburgh and I'm constantly getting surprises after all this time.
If you are a castle buff, I would recommend visiting Craigmillar Castle (along with Edinburgh and Stirling of course!), it's about 3 or 4 miles south of Edinburgh. It's a beautifully preserved medieval castle with build starting in the early 1400s. I took a cycle out one afternoon and I basically had the whole place to myself as it is a little off the beaten track, it was great!
Roslin Chapel (made even more famous by Dan Brown) is also a few miles outside Edinburgh. You can easily get a bus from the city centre (I *think* it's the no. 15). There is a lovely mapped walk around this area which also takes in the walls of Roslin Castle (build in the 1300s). There is very little left of this castle but it's always nice to have a look anyway. If you search for 'Roslin Glen Walk' you will get the route! It takes between 2 and 3 hours to complete.
I agree with Bob, the Forth bridges are well worth a visit. South Queensferry is a stunning little town on the south side of the bridges where you could spend a few hours and grab a bit of lunch. From here, you get a superb view of the Forth Rail Bridge (and the road bridge) but the town itself is just as nice.
If you do make it up to Stirling and you have a few days, a drive through 'The Trossachs' is a must. The 'Dukes Pass' is a nice road which will take you up through the hills. This area has stunning scenery and will present you with several lochs, heading west all the way to Loch Lomond. If you like trekking/hiking this area is worth a look as there are so many trails, it would be impossible to mention them all.
Back to Edinburgh and on a Saturday morning you can get up early and visit the farmers market on Castle Terrace (I think it finishes at noon). You cannot beat a hog roll smothered in apple sauce to start the day!
I agree with Bob about getting the bus ticket, I've found the Lothian bus service in Edinburgh to be fantastic! You can get almost anywhere in Edinburgh on them and they run very regularly. If you are going to be here 6 weeks and will be using the bus a lot (in honesty it's usually a bit mad around festival time and sometimes it can be quicker walking!) you can get bus card which used to work out at just over a quid a day for unlimited travel - this can also be used on the airport bus.
As for the festival itself, it is an impressive spectacle. The Royal Mile will be choc-a-bloc with street performers of all kinds, comedians and improv performers trying to get a break will be inviting you to free lunch time shows (these are completely hit and miss and I've been to a few shockers. Some so bad that if you didn't laugh you would cry!). It is so big and varied that it would be impossible to recommend any particular shows. Grab a Fringe guide when you arrive and you can spend a few hours over a coffee trying to decide on what to go and see.
Edinburgh is definitely a city that you discover as opposed to see.
Oh, check out Surgeons Hall as well if you aren't squeemish (?)! They usually have an open day in August which will make for some interesting sights!
Have a great time!
Wow. So much great advice. I will have to dig through it all and put together an itinerary. I do have car rental and some driving through the countryside on my list.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer!!
Loch Lomond is absolutely breathtaking, so if you can get up there, it is definately worth it. I just saw it through a bus window on my way to the Isle of Skye, but I couldn't keep my eyes off of the amazing scenery. Everything will be so green in August. It would be a shame to miss the countryside in Scotland, so I'm glad it is on your list Enjoy it!
I agree with bluewaav and coldwarspy as well. You have to try haggis while you are here. It's delicious!
Haggis Pizza - Best invention ever!