Taylor-Edinburgh-Views10

The Perfect 3 days in Scotland

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Edinburgh is definitely a one-of-a-kind city that I fell in love with. Between the medieval Old Town with gas lamp alleyways to the classical Georgian New Town with all its lovely pubs along with all the Harry Potter inspiration to the hauntingly interesting history, Edinburgh is definitely a city like no other.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

After spending four days in England, I made my way north to Scotland. I based myself in the city of Edinburgh and also made my way to the Scottish Highlands. (I will have another blog post on Scotland’s Highlands.) I truly fell in love with Edinburgh and it became one of my new top 5 favorite cities within the European continent.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

I visited Edinburgh, Scotland during October 2019. In this blog post, discover fun things to do in the unique fairytale of Edinburgh.

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products and services that I have used and like.


Getting to and Around Edinburgh:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

My time in Edinburgh was the last leg of my trip to the United Kingdom. I started off by taking a flight from JFK into London’s Gatwick Airport. I spent two days in London before taking a train to the English countryside where I spent time in Bath and The Cotswolds. From Bristol Airport in England, I took a short and cheap flight to Edinburgh. Coming home, I flew from Edinburgh back to JFK with a layover in Amsterdam.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

During my time in Edinburgh, I mainly walked everywhere and also took Uber when needed. Also in Edinburgh are taxi services, buses and trams. If you are traveling around the country, it is best to rent a car. Since I did a day trip to the Scottish Highlands, I ended up booking a tour through Rabbie’s Tours.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Where to Stay in Edinburgh:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

During my three nights in Edinburgh, I stayed at an adorable Airbnb in the Old Town. All throughout the city are beautiful hotels to suit all budgets along with hostels and HomeAway options.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Fun things to do in Edinburgh:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Walk the The Royal Mile:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

The Royal Mile in Edinburgh is a line of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town. At the top of the Royal Mile is Edinburgh Castle and at the foot is the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The reason why this street is called the Royal Mile is because it was once the processional route for kings and queens.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Located on the Royal Mile are Edinburgh Castle, St. Giles’ Cathedral, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Scottish Parliament, the Museum of Edinburgh and more. The Royal Mile is also where you could get your shopping fix. During my first day in Edinburgh, I went into a wool shop and brought myself gloves. In addition, the Royal Mile is where you could do the Scotch Whiskey Experience if you’re into Scotch. It is rated one of the top experiences in Edinburgh. I personally am not the biggest fan of Scotch, but I have done three whiskey tastings before at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Tennessee; the Jameson Distillery in Midleton, Ireland and I also experienced the Irish Whiskey Museum in Dublin.  

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

If you’re new to Edinburgh, it is cool to catch one of the bagpipers performing on the street of the Royal Mile. As someone who was new to Scotland, it was so cool to see and hear!

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Go Back in History at Edinburgh Castle:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Scotland is a prime destination if you are a castle lover like myself. Located right in the heart of Edinburgh (on Castle Hill) sits the enchanting Edinburgh Castle – one of the oldest fortified places in Europe.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

The origins of Edinburgh date back to prehistoric times. Castle Hill was a prime military spot, so it was there where the Iron Age people built the fort. During the Wars of Independence with England, the castle changed hands many times. In 1314, the Scots retook the castle from the English. The castle’s defenses have evolved for hundreds of years.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Similar to Osaka Castel in Japan, Edinburgh Castle is now a museum that you could visit during your time in the city. It was once home to kings and queens for many centuries. Queen Margaret, who was later recognized as a saint, died at the castle in 1093. Her son, King David I, built the castle’s chapel in her honor. This chapel is Edinburgh’s oldest building and it is here where weddings and christenings are still hosted.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Edinburgh Castle wasn’t always the happiest place. Even the royals were sometimes known to complain about staying there. Life was also grim for many prisoners who were locked up in the vaults below Crown Square. As a formidable stronghold, the castle was the most secure lock-up in Scotland. Between 1757 and 1814, the vaults became home to many hundreds of prisoners of war.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Nowadays, parts of the castle still remain in military use, but it is known as a world-famous visitor attraction and remains an icon in Edinburgh.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Admire the Beautiful St. Giles’ Cathedral:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

As you stroll through the Royal Mile, you cannot miss visiting St. Giles’ Cathedral, a 12th Century Gothic cathedral and parish church of the Church of Scotland. Also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, this stunning cathedral is dedicated to Saint Giles. In the 16th Century, St. Giles’ Cathedral became a focal point in the Scottish Reformation and it is considered the Mother Church of World Presbyterianism.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Do All Things Harry Potter:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

If you are a Harry Potter fan like myself, then you will be in heaven in Edinburgh! In fact, there are numerous Harry Potter tours that you could participate in Edinburgh. You could even find numerous Harry Potter adventures through Airbnb Experiences!

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

J.K. Rowling, also known as the author of Harry Potter is originally from Edinburgh and wrote the world’s favorite wizard stories at various locations throughout the city. If you love cute and cozy cafés, I highly recommend checking out The Elephant House. This is where J.K. Rowling wrote her early manuscripts. During a colder afternoon in Edinburgh, I made my way inside The Elephant House where I grabbed a hot chocolate. I also made my way into the bathrooms where you could see all of the Harry Potter graffiti. It’s actually super cool to see. Another café to visit in Edinburgh is Spoon Café on Nicolson Street. It was co-owned by J.K. Rowling’s brother-in-law and a lot of the Harry Potter books have been written there as well.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Another famous spot in Edinburgh is Greyfriar’s Kirk. Did you know that it is completely normal to just chill out in a graveyard in Edinburgh? During a beautiful day, you will see people having picnics with wine and students will come here to study. Greyfriar’s Kirkyard is one of the most famous graveyards in the world for a few reasons. Bobby was a Skye Terrier whose owner was John Gray for the last two years of the elder man’s life. After Gray passed, Bobby guarded his grave in Greyfriar’s Kirk for 14 years and people would come to bring him food and other comforts. The story behind this little dog spread worldwide and inspired Disney to release a film on Bobby’s life in 1961. Another reason why this graveyard is famous is because J.K. Rowling would stroll through here regularly and subconsciously get inspiration from the tombstones. Old Scottish names like McGonagall (Professor Minerva McGonagall) and Riddle (Lord Voldemort) were featured in Harry Potter books and movies.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Known as the inspiration behind London’s magical shopping thoroughfare, Diagon Alley (in Harry Potter), Victoria Street is where you will find numerous Harry Potter shops where you could purchase your own wand, buy Harry Potter and specific Hogwarts house apparel (I’m a Ravenclaw) and indulge in the novel’s candies such as the chocolate frogs. My personal favorite shop was The Boy Wizard.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Although the location of Hogwarts was never officially determined, rumor has it that J.K. Rowling based the magic school on George Heriot’s School in the city centre. This school has a system of four houses and also hosts an on-going house competition every year, just like Hogwarts does (quidditch).

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

The Balmoral Hotel is one of Edinburgh’s most luxurious accommodations and highlights J.K. Rowling’s story from rags to riches. She started her writing in Edinburgh cafés, but completed the last scenes of her final book in one of the hotel’s grandest suites, Room 552.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

A fun thing to do in Edinburgh is visit the city’s latest escape room called The Dark Lord Resurrection. It is also fun to visit The Dog House, a fun pub where you could drink butterbeer! I went to this great bar during an afternoon in Edinburgh and loved the vibes. There was artwork everywhere, dogs were roaming around (because you could bring your dog there, hence the name) and everyone was very friendly. It was my first time trying butterbeer and it definitely did not disappoint. It is consisted of Fosters and syrup.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

If you love Harry Potter and are looking to spend some money, I recommend staying in the famous Harry Potter Apartment at 265/5 Canongate in the Old Town. The living area of this luxury apartment resembles the Gryffindor common room and the two bedrooms take inspiration from a Gryffindor dorm room and a carriage from the Hogwarts Express.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Walk through the National Museum of Scotland:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

A must-do during your time in Edinburgh is visit the National Museum of Scotland located in the Old Town. One of the best aspects about this museum is that it is FREE! (During my time in Edinburgh, Mietta Rossi took me on a photography tour through Airbnb. She showed me a lot of cool places I wouldn’t have thought to go to on my own such as this great museum. Click here to book a photography tour through Airbnb Experiences.)

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

What you must do at this wonderful museum is visit the Grand Gallery, which is known as one of the most beautiful spaces in Edinburgh and it makes for great photos! It is in the Grand Gallery where you could see the Giant Deer skeleton, the massive skull of Moby the whale and the machinery used to smash atoms.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Other great things you must see and do at the National Museum of Scotland is hear the Millennium Clock chime on the hour; see the Lewis chess pieces (as seen in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone); learn about Scotland’s royalty; explore the wonders of nature in the Natural World galleries; visit Dolly – the first cloned mammal to ever be created from an adult cell (Dolly is the most famous sheep in the world); walk through the Fashion and Style gallery; uncover the darker side of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and don’t miss the mysterious Arthur’s Seat coffins and lastly, don’t forget to go to the roof terrace of the museum to catch spectacular panoramic views of Edinburgh.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Hike Arthur’s Seat:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Another reason why Edinburgh is so cool is because it is the only city where there is an extinct volcano located in the middle of it! Arthur’s Seat forms most of Holyrood Park and you could do a hike to the top and catch views of Edinburgh and the North Sea.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

During a late morning in Edinburgh, I did the hike to Arthur’s Seat and it was absolutely breathtaking. The hike itself isn’t too strenuous and there are different trails that you could do. The trail from Holyrood Palace is definitely the easier trail, but I decided to do the one closest to my Airbnb, which was definitely more challenging (I needed the workout though because that delicious pub food catches up to you). It was super windy, but so worth it and you cannot miss out on visiting Arthur’s Seat during your time in Edinburgh.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Participate in a Ghost Tour:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is one of the most haunted cities in the world. If you are someone who loves a good thrill or are interested in ghosts, this is definitely something you need to do when you’re in Edinburgh. I have down a few ghost tours before: two in New Orleans, one in Charleston and one in Savannah. But the haunted tour I did during my time in Edinburgh was definitely the scariest one I’ve been on.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

I did my ghost tour through City of the Dead and they were amazing! I highly recommend doing The Double Dead Walking Tour, which is what I did. The tour goes into two of the most haunted places in the world – the South Bridge Vaults and the Covenanter’s Prison in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard. When I signed up for this tour, I had to agree that this tour could’ve caused genuine physical and mental distress and that I was participating at my own risk. Children under the age of 12 are not allowed and this tour is definitely not suitable for those with a physical (or mental) condition nor for women who are pregnant. After hearing this, I got a bit anxious, especially because I was on my own, but the group was larger so I tried to stay in the middle of the crowd as much as possible. I tried avoiding standing in the front, back or on the sides.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

The Old Town of Edinburgh is built over another very old part of the city called South Bridge. The bridge offers three closes (Marlin’s Wynd, Peebles Wynd and Niddry’s Wynd) that once dominated an area considered to be Edinburgh’s poorest and most run-down quarter.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh was also a fearful and superstitious place at the turn of the 18th Century. People feared a lot of things and the man-made barrier around the outskirts of the city forced Edinburgh residents to live on top of one another. With a non-existent sewage system and an overcrowding population, Edinburgh became a disease-thriving, toxic wasteland that caused a lot of people to become very ill. The South Bridge ended up becoming home to the very poorest and most disreputable sections of society in Edinburgh. This included immigrant Irishmen and Highlanders seeking refuge from the clearances, mercenary landlords and even body snatchers. It was also the place where those who fell ill were thrown into to prevent everyone else from getting sick. With a lack of light, air, heat, ventilation, sanitation and a slow, steady seepage of water from the cracks, the bridge made this area unlivable and left many to die.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

City of the Dead tours are one of the only operating tour companies in Edinburgh that goes down into the South Bridge Vaults. These spaces lost none of their original atmosphere and I definitely felt very uncomfortable during my half hour down there. It is very dark, claustrophobic and damp. This tour was also the first ghost tour I’ve done where I actually got to experience first-hand paranormal activity. We heard very faint knocking sounds, footsteps and a sense of unease in the vaults. It was nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. I personally couldn’t wait to get out of there. It has been said that people have gotten knocked out on the tour, have gotten scratched and also bruised. City of the Dead takes no liability to what happens to people on their tours because they cannot stop the ghosts.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

After visiting the vaults, we made it to the most haunted graveyard in the world – Greyfriar’s Kirk. Even though this graveyard is popular amongst locals, there is still paranormal activity going on. One of the biggest hauntings in Greyfriar’s Kirk is George MacKenzie, called the MacKenzie Poltergeist, who is said to be one of the most aggressive and active paranormal figures. 

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Known during his lifetime as a ruthless persecutor of the Scottish Covenanters during the Presbyterian movement, MacKenzie’s spirit was released in 1999 when a homeless man looking for a spot to sleep broke into his final resting place, called the Black Mausoleum.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

The Covenanters’ Prison was once home to an estimated 1200 unfortunate members of a failed anti-government revolution in 1679. The conditions at this prison were so brutal that only 257 of the prisoners came out alive. It is said that George MacKenzie’s spirit has caused 450 documented attacks in modern day, 140 people have collapsed and he is even responsible for the death of a local psychic. He usually targets someone in a tour group and will bother them to the point where the person is forced to leave. Thankfully, nothing happened to me during this tour.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Enjoy the Edinburgh Foodie Scene:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Edinburgh is renowned for a lot of great pubs, restaurants and cafés. Below is a list of places I ate at during my time in the city:

Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar: Known as one of the most photographed British pubs in Scotland, Greyfriar Bobby’s Bar is located in the heart of Edinburgh in Candlemaker Row. Like I talked about above, the pub is in remembrance for Bobby the dog, so the pub is also dog friendly! During my time at Greyfriar Bobby’s Bar, I savored a chicken and mushroom pie with chips (fries) and a Scottish ale on the side. It was delicious!

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Vittoria on the Bridge: Like I have mentioned in my other UK blogs, Britain has a lot of amazing Italian restaurants. During my first evening in Edinburgh, I was craving pizza, so I went to Vittoria’s and got a delicious personal pie with prosciutto and rocket (similar to arugula). It was delicious and I totally recommend this wonderful restaurant when you are visiting Edinburgh.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

La Barantine Victoria: Owners of a boulangerie-pâtisserie in Northern France, Céline and Vincent decided to leave everything and pursue their Scottish dream in 2010. They opened up a lovely French café on Victoria Street! I came here for breakfast one morning and loved how adorable and warm it was. I had a Madeleine pastry, which was a chocolate chip cake with a caramel filling. I also enjoyed a few macaroons on the side. It was so yummy!

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

The Witchery by the Castle: If you are looking to have a fine dining experience in Edinburgh, I recommend visiting The Witchery, which is known as Edinburgh’s prettiest restaurant. Situated right by Edinburgh Castle, The Witchery offers stunning décor, legendary food and an award-winning wine list. During my time here, I had an omelette with lobster and crabmeat in a delicious langoustine sauce. It was the best omelette I ever had.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Maki & Ramen: Throughout Edinburgh are great Asian fusion and noodle eateries. You will definitely not have a problem finding a Japanese, Thai or Chinese restaurant in this city! During one of my nights in Edinburgh, I ate at Maki & Ramen where I had a delicious yaki soba dish with chicken. This place also had cool décor!

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

The Wild Yarrow: This great restaurant offers a farm-to-table Mediterranean cuisine in the heart of Edinburgh. It is here where you could find gyros, souvlaki and more.

The Brew Lab: Known to have some of the best coffee in Edinburgh, The Brew Lab is a cool coffee shop that offers a hipster and rustic vibe in the city. The café attracts many university students and is a great place to get work done.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Visit The Writer’s Museum:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

If you are a writer like myself, you definitely have to visit The Writer’s Museum right off of the Royal Mile. This great museum celebrates the lives of Scottish Literature. You could read all about Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Throughout the museum are portraits, rare books and personal objects. It is definitely a cool site to see.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Do a Day Trip:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is perfectly situated to do a day trip throughout the rest of Scotland. Below is a list of fun day trips:

  • The Scottish Highlands, Lochs & Castles (The best way to hear Scottish stories, see Scottish nature and visit amazing castles. I did my tour through Rabbie’s Tours.)
  • Glasgow (Another large city in Scotland that is famed for its Victorian and art nouveau architecture. It is also where the Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet and the National Theatre of Scotland is housed.)
  • Hogwarts Express to the Highlands (The best way to feel like you’re in Harry Potter.)
  • Aberdeen (Known as the ‘Granite City’, it is here where you could see beautiful castles such as the lovely pink Castle Craigievar.)
  • Cramond (A suburb of Edinburgh where J.K. Rowling resided before her fame.)
  • Another great thing to do beyond Edinburgh is visit the Isle of Skye for a weekend.  It is the largest island in the Inner Hebrides archipelago and it is a great place to see lochs, mountains and even the Northern Lights.
Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

I hope you all enjoyed reading about fun things to do in Edinburgh. If you have any questions about my time in Edinburgh or general questions about my UK trip, please email me at info@browneyedflowerchild.com.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Basic Facts of the United Kingdom (England):

Currency: British Pound, UK Capital: London, Scotland Capital: Edinburgh

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*Anything could happen during your travels. Always make sure you are insured in case there are unforeseen circumstances such as lost luggage/theft, natural disasters, personal liabilities and more. Click here to get insured for your next trip.

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12 Comments

  1. Aswani Kurra on November 3, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    The photos are so beautiful Taylor! It looks amazing! 🙂

    • Taylor Deer on November 3, 2019 at 11:32 pm

      Thank you Aswani and it is such a great city! 🙂

  2. Kim Deer on November 3, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    I found this blog to be very educational with a lot of unique interesting facts ~loved learning more about the Harry Potter author, the history behind Edinburgh in regards to the prisoners and very sick residents and how they left them to die in underground vaults. Loved your descriptive experience of visiting these haunted vaults. Loved how graveyards in Edinburgh are occupied during the day as if they were parks. And enjoyed all your mouthwatering food photos ~ photos were amazing by Mietta Rossi ~ awesome blog ~ love mom xoxo

    • Taylor Deer on November 3, 2019 at 11:32 pm

      Thank you so much mama! <3

  3. Beth on November 4, 2019 at 2:32 am

    So informative and educational! I love all your photos too 🙌 so glad you loved the city & got to do so much there!

    • Taylor Deer on November 4, 2019 at 8:48 am

      Thank you so much Beth! It was definitely a great time. 🙂

  4. Jen on November 9, 2019 at 2:27 am

    This is a wonderful introduction to the city, as a local you sometimes don’t think about what a newcomer to Edinburgh might want to experience! All great places to visit, the museum is one of my favourite places ever since childhood. Spoon is also actually owned by a lovely lady I know and I agree it’s a beautiful spot. Fun fact: I used to shop in the same supermarket as JK Rowling when I was a student. Mostly for 10p noodles and frozen peas. Anyway, loved your guide and some great daytrip recommendations too!

    • Taylor Deer on November 11, 2019 at 10:28 am

      Thank you so much Jen! That is so awesome you grew up in Edinburgh! It’s such a wonderful city and that is so cool that you used to shop at the same grocery store as JK Rowling! 🙂

  5. World of Lina on November 9, 2019 at 8:25 am

    Edinburgh looks gorgeous! I’ve heard so many great things about it and I’d love to visit it 😍

    • Taylor Deer on November 11, 2019 at 10:29 am

      Yes, it’s such an amazing city Alina! You would love it for sure! 🙂

  6. Elena Pappalardo on November 9, 2019 at 11:58 am

    Ahhh, Edinburgh is so beautiful!! That AirBNB looks super cozy, too! I will def keep it in mind for a future visit 🙂

    • Taylor Deer on November 11, 2019 at 10:30 am

      It really is an amazing city! I loved staying in that Airbnb. It was so perfect for a solo traveler like myself. 🙂

Leave a Comment





Taylor-Edinburgh-Views10

The Perfect 3 days in Scotland

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Edinburgh is definitely a one-of-a-kind city that I fell in love with. Between the medieval Old Town with gas lamp alleyways to the classical Georgian New Town with all its lovely pubs along with all the Harry Potter inspiration to the hauntingly interesting history, Edinburgh is definitely a city like no other.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

After spending four days in England, I made my way north to Scotland. I based myself in the city of Edinburgh and also made my way to the Scottish Highlands. (I will have another blog post on Scotland’s Highlands.) I truly fell in love with Edinburgh and it became one of my new top 5 favorite cities within the European continent.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

I visited Edinburgh, Scotland during October 2019. In this blog post, discover fun things to do in the unique fairytale of Edinburgh.

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products and services that I have used and like.


Getting to and Around Edinburgh:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

My time in Edinburgh was the last leg of my trip to the United Kingdom. I started off by taking a flight from JFK into London’s Gatwick Airport. I spent two days in London before taking a train to the English countryside where I spent time in Bath and The Cotswolds. From Bristol Airport in England, I took a short and cheap flight to Edinburgh. Coming home, I flew from Edinburgh back to JFK with a layover in Amsterdam.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

During my time in Edinburgh, I mainly walked everywhere and also took Uber when needed. Also in Edinburgh are taxi services, buses and trams. If you are traveling around the country, it is best to rent a car. Since I did a day trip to the Scottish Highlands, I ended up booking a tour through Rabbie’s Tours.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Where to Stay in Edinburgh:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

During my three nights in Edinburgh, I stayed at an adorable Airbnb in the Old Town. All throughout the city are beautiful hotels to suit all budgets along with hostels and HomeAway options.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Fun things to do in Edinburgh:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Walk the The Royal Mile:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

The Royal Mile in Edinburgh is a line of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town. At the top of the Royal Mile is Edinburgh Castle and at the foot is the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The reason why this street is called the Royal Mile is because it was once the processional route for kings and queens.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Located on the Royal Mile are Edinburgh Castle, St. Giles’ Cathedral, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Scottish Parliament, the Museum of Edinburgh and more. The Royal Mile is also where you could get your shopping fix. During my first day in Edinburgh, I went into a wool shop and brought myself gloves. In addition, the Royal Mile is where you could do the Scotch Whiskey Experience if you’re into Scotch. It is rated one of the top experiences in Edinburgh. I personally am not the biggest fan of Scotch, but I have done three whiskey tastings before at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Tennessee; the Jameson Distillery in Midleton, Ireland and I also experienced the Irish Whiskey Museum in Dublin.  

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

If you’re new to Edinburgh, it is cool to catch one of the bagpipers performing on the street of the Royal Mile. As someone who was new to Scotland, it was so cool to see and hear!

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Go Back in History at Edinburgh Castle:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Scotland is a prime destination if you are a castle lover like myself. Located right in the heart of Edinburgh (on Castle Hill) sits the enchanting Edinburgh Castle – one of the oldest fortified places in Europe.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

The origins of Edinburgh date back to prehistoric times. Castle Hill was a prime military spot, so it was there where the Iron Age people built the fort. During the Wars of Independence with England, the castle changed hands many times. In 1314, the Scots retook the castle from the English. The castle’s defenses have evolved for hundreds of years.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Similar to Osaka Castel in Japan, Edinburgh Castle is now a museum that you could visit during your time in the city. It was once home to kings and queens for many centuries. Queen Margaret, who was later recognized as a saint, died at the castle in 1093. Her son, King David I, built the castle’s chapel in her honor. This chapel is Edinburgh’s oldest building and it is here where weddings and christenings are still hosted.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Edinburgh Castle wasn’t always the happiest place. Even the royals were sometimes known to complain about staying there. Life was also grim for many prisoners who were locked up in the vaults below Crown Square. As a formidable stronghold, the castle was the most secure lock-up in Scotland. Between 1757 and 1814, the vaults became home to many hundreds of prisoners of war.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Nowadays, parts of the castle still remain in military use, but it is known as a world-famous visitor attraction and remains an icon in Edinburgh.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Admire the Beautiful St. Giles’ Cathedral:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

As you stroll through the Royal Mile, you cannot miss visiting St. Giles’ Cathedral, a 12th Century Gothic cathedral and parish church of the Church of Scotland. Also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, this stunning cathedral is dedicated to Saint Giles. In the 16th Century, St. Giles’ Cathedral became a focal point in the Scottish Reformation and it is considered the Mother Church of World Presbyterianism.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Do All Things Harry Potter:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

If you are a Harry Potter fan like myself, then you will be in heaven in Edinburgh! In fact, there are numerous Harry Potter tours that you could participate in Edinburgh. You could even find numerous Harry Potter adventures through Airbnb Experiences!

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

J.K. Rowling, also known as the author of Harry Potter is originally from Edinburgh and wrote the world’s favorite wizard stories at various locations throughout the city. If you love cute and cozy cafés, I highly recommend checking out The Elephant House. This is where J.K. Rowling wrote her early manuscripts. During a colder afternoon in Edinburgh, I made my way inside The Elephant House where I grabbed a hot chocolate. I also made my way into the bathrooms where you could see all of the Harry Potter graffiti. It’s actually super cool to see. Another café to visit in Edinburgh is Spoon Café on Nicolson Street. It was co-owned by J.K. Rowling’s brother-in-law and a lot of the Harry Potter books have been written there as well.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Another famous spot in Edinburgh is Greyfriar’s Kirk. Did you know that it is completely normal to just chill out in a graveyard in Edinburgh? During a beautiful day, you will see people having picnics with wine and students will come here to study. Greyfriar’s Kirkyard is one of the most famous graveyards in the world for a few reasons. Bobby was a Skye Terrier whose owner was John Gray for the last two years of the elder man’s life. After Gray passed, Bobby guarded his grave in Greyfriar’s Kirk for 14 years and people would come to bring him food and other comforts. The story behind this little dog spread worldwide and inspired Disney to release a film on Bobby’s life in 1961. Another reason why this graveyard is famous is because J.K. Rowling would stroll through here regularly and subconsciously get inspiration from the tombstones. Old Scottish names like McGonagall (Professor Minerva McGonagall) and Riddle (Lord Voldemort) were featured in Harry Potter books and movies.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Known as the inspiration behind London’s magical shopping thoroughfare, Diagon Alley (in Harry Potter), Victoria Street is where you will find numerous Harry Potter shops where you could purchase your own wand, buy Harry Potter and specific Hogwarts house apparel (I’m a Ravenclaw) and indulge in the novel’s candies such as the chocolate frogs. My personal favorite shop was The Boy Wizard.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Although the location of Hogwarts was never officially determined, rumor has it that J.K. Rowling based the magic school on George Heriot’s School in the city centre. This school has a system of four houses and also hosts an on-going house competition every year, just like Hogwarts does (quidditch).

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

The Balmoral Hotel is one of Edinburgh’s most luxurious accommodations and highlights J.K. Rowling’s story from rags to riches. She started her writing in Edinburgh cafés, but completed the last scenes of her final book in one of the hotel’s grandest suites, Room 552.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

A fun thing to do in Edinburgh is visit the city’s latest escape room called The Dark Lord Resurrection. It is also fun to visit The Dog House, a fun pub where you could drink butterbeer! I went to this great bar during an afternoon in Edinburgh and loved the vibes. There was artwork everywhere, dogs were roaming around (because you could bring your dog there, hence the name) and everyone was very friendly. It was my first time trying butterbeer and it definitely did not disappoint. It is consisted of Fosters and syrup.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

If you love Harry Potter and are looking to spend some money, I recommend staying in the famous Harry Potter Apartment at 265/5 Canongate in the Old Town. The living area of this luxury apartment resembles the Gryffindor common room and the two bedrooms take inspiration from a Gryffindor dorm room and a carriage from the Hogwarts Express.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Walk through the National Museum of Scotland:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

A must-do during your time in Edinburgh is visit the National Museum of Scotland located in the Old Town. One of the best aspects about this museum is that it is FREE! (During my time in Edinburgh, Mietta Rossi took me on a photography tour through Airbnb. She showed me a lot of cool places I wouldn’t have thought to go to on my own such as this great museum. Click here to book a photography tour through Airbnb Experiences.)

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

What you must do at this wonderful museum is visit the Grand Gallery, which is known as one of the most beautiful spaces in Edinburgh and it makes for great photos! It is in the Grand Gallery where you could see the Giant Deer skeleton, the massive skull of Moby the whale and the machinery used to smash atoms.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Other great things you must see and do at the National Museum of Scotland is hear the Millennium Clock chime on the hour; see the Lewis chess pieces (as seen in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone); learn about Scotland’s royalty; explore the wonders of nature in the Natural World galleries; visit Dolly – the first cloned mammal to ever be created from an adult cell (Dolly is the most famous sheep in the world); walk through the Fashion and Style gallery; uncover the darker side of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and don’t miss the mysterious Arthur’s Seat coffins and lastly, don’t forget to go to the roof terrace of the museum to catch spectacular panoramic views of Edinburgh.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Hike Arthur’s Seat:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Another reason why Edinburgh is so cool is because it is the only city where there is an extinct volcano located in the middle of it! Arthur’s Seat forms most of Holyrood Park and you could do a hike to the top and catch views of Edinburgh and the North Sea.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

During a late morning in Edinburgh, I did the hike to Arthur’s Seat and it was absolutely breathtaking. The hike itself isn’t too strenuous and there are different trails that you could do. The trail from Holyrood Palace is definitely the easier trail, but I decided to do the one closest to my Airbnb, which was definitely more challenging (I needed the workout though because that delicious pub food catches up to you). It was super windy, but so worth it and you cannot miss out on visiting Arthur’s Seat during your time in Edinburgh.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Participate in a Ghost Tour:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is one of the most haunted cities in the world. If you are someone who loves a good thrill or are interested in ghosts, this is definitely something you need to do when you’re in Edinburgh. I have down a few ghost tours before: two in New Orleans, one in Charleston and one in Savannah. But the haunted tour I did during my time in Edinburgh was definitely the scariest one I’ve been on.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

I did my ghost tour through City of the Dead and they were amazing! I highly recommend doing The Double Dead Walking Tour, which is what I did. The tour goes into two of the most haunted places in the world – the South Bridge Vaults and the Covenanter’s Prison in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard. When I signed up for this tour, I had to agree that this tour could’ve caused genuine physical and mental distress and that I was participating at my own risk. Children under the age of 12 are not allowed and this tour is definitely not suitable for those with a physical (or mental) condition nor for women who are pregnant. After hearing this, I got a bit anxious, especially because I was on my own, but the group was larger so I tried to stay in the middle of the crowd as much as possible. I tried avoiding standing in the front, back or on the sides.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

The Old Town of Edinburgh is built over another very old part of the city called South Bridge. The bridge offers three closes (Marlin’s Wynd, Peebles Wynd and Niddry’s Wynd) that once dominated an area considered to be Edinburgh’s poorest and most run-down quarter.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh was also a fearful and superstitious place at the turn of the 18th Century. People feared a lot of things and the man-made barrier around the outskirts of the city forced Edinburgh residents to live on top of one another. With a non-existent sewage system and an overcrowding population, Edinburgh became a disease-thriving, toxic wasteland that caused a lot of people to become very ill. The South Bridge ended up becoming home to the very poorest and most disreputable sections of society in Edinburgh. This included immigrant Irishmen and Highlanders seeking refuge from the clearances, mercenary landlords and even body snatchers. It was also the place where those who fell ill were thrown into to prevent everyone else from getting sick. With a lack of light, air, heat, ventilation, sanitation and a slow, steady seepage of water from the cracks, the bridge made this area unlivable and left many to die.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

City of the Dead tours are one of the only operating tour companies in Edinburgh that goes down into the South Bridge Vaults. These spaces lost none of their original atmosphere and I definitely felt very uncomfortable during my half hour down there. It is very dark, claustrophobic and damp. This tour was also the first ghost tour I’ve done where I actually got to experience first-hand paranormal activity. We heard very faint knocking sounds, footsteps and a sense of unease in the vaults. It was nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. I personally couldn’t wait to get out of there. It has been said that people have gotten knocked out on the tour, have gotten scratched and also bruised. City of the Dead takes no liability to what happens to people on their tours because they cannot stop the ghosts.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

After visiting the vaults, we made it to the most haunted graveyard in the world – Greyfriar’s Kirk. Even though this graveyard is popular amongst locals, there is still paranormal activity going on. One of the biggest hauntings in Greyfriar’s Kirk is George MacKenzie, called the MacKenzie Poltergeist, who is said to be one of the most aggressive and active paranormal figures. 

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Known during his lifetime as a ruthless persecutor of the Scottish Covenanters during the Presbyterian movement, MacKenzie’s spirit was released in 1999 when a homeless man looking for a spot to sleep broke into his final resting place, called the Black Mausoleum.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

The Covenanters’ Prison was once home to an estimated 1200 unfortunate members of a failed anti-government revolution in 1679. The conditions at this prison were so brutal that only 257 of the prisoners came out alive. It is said that George MacKenzie’s spirit has caused 450 documented attacks in modern day, 140 people have collapsed and he is even responsible for the death of a local psychic. He usually targets someone in a tour group and will bother them to the point where the person is forced to leave. Thankfully, nothing happened to me during this tour.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Enjoy the Edinburgh Foodie Scene:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Edinburgh is renowned for a lot of great pubs, restaurants and cafés. Below is a list of places I ate at during my time in the city:

Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar: Known as one of the most photographed British pubs in Scotland, Greyfriar Bobby’s Bar is located in the heart of Edinburgh in Candlemaker Row. Like I talked about above, the pub is in remembrance for Bobby the dog, so the pub is also dog friendly! During my time at Greyfriar Bobby’s Bar, I savored a chicken and mushroom pie with chips (fries) and a Scottish ale on the side. It was delicious!

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Vittoria on the Bridge: Like I have mentioned in my other UK blogs, Britain has a lot of amazing Italian restaurants. During my first evening in Edinburgh, I was craving pizza, so I went to Vittoria’s and got a delicious personal pie with prosciutto and rocket (similar to arugula). It was delicious and I totally recommend this wonderful restaurant when you are visiting Edinburgh.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

La Barantine Victoria: Owners of a boulangerie-pâtisserie in Northern France, Céline and Vincent decided to leave everything and pursue their Scottish dream in 2010. They opened up a lovely French café on Victoria Street! I came here for breakfast one morning and loved how adorable and warm it was. I had a Madeleine pastry, which was a chocolate chip cake with a caramel filling. I also enjoyed a few macaroons on the side. It was so yummy!

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

The Witchery by the Castle: If you are looking to have a fine dining experience in Edinburgh, I recommend visiting The Witchery, which is known as Edinburgh’s prettiest restaurant. Situated right by Edinburgh Castle, The Witchery offers stunning décor, legendary food and an award-winning wine list. During my time here, I had an omelette with lobster and crabmeat in a delicious langoustine sauce. It was the best omelette I ever had.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Maki & Ramen: Throughout Edinburgh are great Asian fusion and noodle eateries. You will definitely not have a problem finding a Japanese, Thai or Chinese restaurant in this city! During one of my nights in Edinburgh, I ate at Maki & Ramen where I had a delicious yaki soba dish with chicken. This place also had cool décor!

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

The Wild Yarrow: This great restaurant offers a farm-to-table Mediterranean cuisine in the heart of Edinburgh. It is here where you could find gyros, souvlaki and more.

The Brew Lab: Known to have some of the best coffee in Edinburgh, The Brew Lab is a cool coffee shop that offers a hipster and rustic vibe in the city. The café attracts many university students and is a great place to get work done.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Visit The Writer’s Museum:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

If you are a writer like myself, you definitely have to visit The Writer’s Museum right off of the Royal Mile. This great museum celebrates the lives of Scottish Literature. You could read all about Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Throughout the museum are portraits, rare books and personal objects. It is definitely a cool site to see.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

Do a Day Trip:

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is perfectly situated to do a day trip throughout the rest of Scotland. Below is a list of fun day trips:

  • The Scottish Highlands, Lochs & Castles (The best way to hear Scottish stories, see Scottish nature and visit amazing castles. I did my tour through Rabbie’s Tours.)
  • Glasgow (Another large city in Scotland that is famed for its Victorian and art nouveau architecture. It is also where the Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet and the National Theatre of Scotland is housed.)
  • Hogwarts Express to the Highlands (The best way to feel like you’re in Harry Potter.)
  • Aberdeen (Known as the ‘Granite City’, it is here where you could see beautiful castles such as the lovely pink Castle Craigievar.)
  • Cramond (A suburb of Edinburgh where J.K. Rowling resided before her fame.)
  • Another great thing to do beyond Edinburgh is visit the Isle of Skye for a weekend.  It is the largest island in the Inner Hebrides archipelago and it is a great place to see lochs, mountains and even the Northern Lights.
Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh
Photo by Mietta Rossi

I hope you all enjoyed reading about fun things to do in Edinburgh. If you have any questions about my time in Edinburgh or general questions about my UK trip, please email me at info@browneyedflowerchild.com.

Fun Things to do in Edinburgh

Basic Facts of the United Kingdom (England):

Currency: British Pound, UK Capital: London, Scotland Capital: Edinburgh

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12 Comments

  1. Aswani Kurra on November 3, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    The photos are so beautiful Taylor! It looks amazing! 🙂

    • Taylor Deer on November 3, 2019 at 11:32 pm

      Thank you Aswani and it is such a great city! 🙂

  2. Kim Deer on November 3, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    I found this blog to be very educational with a lot of unique interesting facts ~loved learning more about the Harry Potter author, the history behind Edinburgh in regards to the prisoners and very sick residents and how they left them to die in underground vaults. Loved your descriptive experience of visiting these haunted vaults. Loved how graveyards in Edinburgh are occupied during the day as if they were parks. And enjoyed all your mouthwatering food photos ~ photos were amazing by Mietta Rossi ~ awesome blog ~ love mom xoxo

    • Taylor Deer on November 3, 2019 at 11:32 pm

      Thank you so much mama! <3

  3. Beth on November 4, 2019 at 2:32 am

    So informative and educational! I love all your photos too 🙌 so glad you loved the city & got to do so much there!

    • Taylor Deer on November 4, 2019 at 8:48 am

      Thank you so much Beth! It was definitely a great time. 🙂

  4. Jen on November 9, 2019 at 2:27 am

    This is a wonderful introduction to the city, as a local you sometimes don’t think about what a newcomer to Edinburgh might want to experience! All great places to visit, the museum is one of my favourite places ever since childhood. Spoon is also actually owned by a lovely lady I know and I agree it’s a beautiful spot. Fun fact: I used to shop in the same supermarket as JK Rowling when I was a student. Mostly for 10p noodles and frozen peas. Anyway, loved your guide and some great daytrip recommendations too!

    • Taylor Deer on November 11, 2019 at 10:28 am

      Thank you so much Jen! That is so awesome you grew up in Edinburgh! It’s such a wonderful city and that is so cool that you used to shop at the same grocery store as JK Rowling! 🙂

  5. World of Lina on November 9, 2019 at 8:25 am

    Edinburgh looks gorgeous! I’ve heard so many great things about it and I’d love to visit it 😍

    • Taylor Deer on November 11, 2019 at 10:29 am

      Yes, it’s such an amazing city Alina! You would love it for sure! 🙂

  6. Elena Pappalardo on November 9, 2019 at 11:58 am

    Ahhh, Edinburgh is so beautiful!! That AirBNB looks super cozy, too! I will def keep it in mind for a future visit 🙂

    • Taylor Deer on November 11, 2019 at 10:30 am

      It really is an amazing city! I loved staying in that Airbnb. It was so perfect for a solo traveler like myself. 🙂

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