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Hi!

I’m Alexandra. An American girl living in Dublin, Ireland. I honestly document my adventures in travel, food, beauty, and expat life on a budget.

Edinburgh City Guide

Edinburgh City Guide

Scott Monument in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland

Ah, Edinburgh. I had visited once before in 2012 but it was a whirlwind of a trip and I don’t even think I was there for a full 2 days. I remember doing Edinburgh Castle of course but honestly that was my only clear memory of my time there so when my mom requested to visit Edinburgh on her last trip over to me I was happy to oblige.

Flights through Aer Lingus were affordable at €94 each roundtrip. This was especially good for June when flights can tend to be on the pricier side. We flew in the morning and I was a little worse for wear after bank holiday drinking. You think I would know not to drink and fly by this point!

Now, I usually travel with P. I have not ever really travelled solo and it doesn’t appeal to me. I know plenty of people who love it and have a great time, and some that even prefer to travel this way, but I have no desire to do so. Traveling with my mom as an adult was different and add in that I haven’t really traveled too much without P for the last few years, I’ve got some travel habits I had to change while with my mom. All that said, it was nice to experience a trip in a new way, with a different person, and at a different pace. P and I tend to be go, go, go on our trips while with my mom, the trip was much more relaxed. We did a lot but at a calmer pace and it was nice to have that one to one time with her that we don’t get much of due to living over 3,000 miles apart from each other.

By traveling with my mom, I did different activities than I would have done with P. I just love to share the experience of a place, the food, the drinks, and the culture with someone. I can see where it could be quite liberating to travel abroad alone, and maybe I will one day, but for now I am happy with the routines and tips I’ve made and picked up along the way. I’m not really sure if anyway reads these long introductions I write before the actual guide but I like to give some context. I always read them on other people’s city guides and feel it gives the reader a better grasp of where the writer is coming from. That said, I never read the introductions that recipes have on them. I want the recipe and that’s it. Some people may feel that way about a guide too and that’s fine. Plus, I am nosey and like knowing why people went to a certain place, who they went with, and why. 

Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh, Scotland

HELPFUL APPS FOR THE CITY:

I never download apps for the cities I am in as I find other travel apps I have fulfill all the needs I have for transports/general queries. Edinburgh was the first city I did this for so I wanted to recommend 3 apps I found to be useful while I was there. 

TRANSPORT FOR EDINBURGH: This is advertised as “Your personal travel assistant for Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams”. Well, they do what they say they’re going to do. The app offers instant departure boards and allows you to quickly search for your destination, and then also gives you step-by-step directions for each step of the trip. I really enjoyed that you could watch your progress in the app as you were moving. If you plan on using the bus or tram while you’re in town, this is a must-have. 

TRANSPORT FOR EDINBURGH M-TICKETS: I am unsure how many cities offer a similar service to this, but every city with public transport needs to have a system like this. If you do buy a ticket from the bus driver in Edinburgh (and a lot of other European cities) you must have exact change to give the bus driver. That can be annoying so an app like this could be extremely useful for tourists and locals. The M-Ticket app allows you to purchase tickets in the app – how handy?! There is a minimum spend of £10 and tickets do expire after 180 days. If you are going to be using public transportation quite a bit while visiting I would highly recommend this app to avoid the stress of having to find the exact change, especially when it is in a currency you aren’t used to!

CITY CABS (EDINBURGH) LTD: If you will be using taxis at all during your stay City Cabs is the way to go. You can book without entering your card information which I liked since I knew I would only have the app on my phone for the duration of our stay. The cabs are very nice and even have Wi-Fi!

WHEN I WENT:

3 full days in June. The weather was actually quite chilly! If I am saying this coming from Ireland, I am sure my American readers would be freezing during a visit if they had the same weather. It was around 50 F/ 10 C but the wind was what made it so bad. I am not sure if that is the norm for that time of year but I definitely didn’t pack correctly for the trip. Thank goodness, I had my trusty denim jacket or I would have been out of sorts. We did hear from locals how lucky we were there was no rain so I will take the cold over that!

WHERE TO STAY:

RAMSAY’S BED & BREAKFAST: We stayed at Ramsay’s for three nights for €300. I have stayed in some B&B’s where the breakfast is a coffee machine and a granola bar, but that is not the case at Ramsay’s. The breakfast was fantastic. I am talking restaurant quality here. The only downside to the breakfast was that I didn't try any of the amazing brunch I am sure Edinburgh has to offer! The owners, Norrie and Sharon, are everything you could hope for in owners of a quaint B&B. They even won Four in a Bed (a guilty pleasure of mine)! From Ramsay’s we were only a short bus ride into town (at the time of writing this, cost of a single journey ticket is £1.70) or a leisurely 20-minute walk into the main part of town.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK:

VITTORIA RESTAURANT: If you stay at Ramsay’s I would highly recommend Vittoria for lunch or dinner. I know I am recommending Italian food in Scotland, but it was tasty and affordable! We went for lunch and they had an amazing lunch deal which is offered Monday to Friday from 12pm until 5pm. It is only £12.95 for 2-courses and the food was delicious. If you like calamari you have to start with the calamari fritti!

The Beehive Inn in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
The Beehive Inn in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

THE BEEHIVE INN: This is in The Grassmarket which is a historic marketplace in the Old Town of Edinburgh. The dining room offers amazing views of The Grassmarket, not a bad site to see while having a meal and a drink. The sharing platters are the perfect light lunch to keep you fueled during your exploring. If you’re lucky enough to get some sunshine try to get a seat outside! 

TRIBECA: Confession: I love to eat cheeseburgers in every country. While I do encourage you to try local cuisine or a restaurant that is a favorite to locals in the area, I am also not one to knock eating food I would have at home too. I say this because while a burger is pretty standard, different places do them differently. Plus, sometimes during travel you may just want something more familiar after trying all the local culture has to offer. We went to Tribeca for dinner and were more than pleased. This is a good option too if you stay at Ramsay’s as it is so close! 

THE BOOKING OFFICE: I wouldn’t normally recommend a Wetherspoon’s because they’re a chain and let’s be real, the food isn’t great. However, the drinks are cheap and the location of this particular one is why I am recommending it more than anything else. It is on Waverley Bridge which is where the bus tours start and begin. More than anything, The Booking Office is a reliable little location to hang out before or after a tour. 

WHAT TO DO:

I purchased the Royal Edinburgh 48-Hour Attractions Ticket for mom and I which comes with entrance to three attractions as well as access toEdinburgh's hop-on-hop-off bus tours for 48 hours from the first use. The tickets were €128.20 for the both of us but I found the price-tag to be worth it. I had never done a hop on-hop off bus before quite frankly because I had pre-judged them as being hokey. While I wouldn’t pay to do them on every trip they’re an option I would definitely be open to doing again in the future.

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EDINBURGH CASTLE: As I previously mentioned I visited the Edinburgh Castle on my first trip but as it was included in the cost of the Royal Edinburgh 48-Hour Attractions Ticket and my mom had never been, we did it. When in Edinburgh, right? I knew what to expect going in but my mom thought we were going into an actual castle. It is more like a fort just in case you’re thinking the same thing! It is definitely worth visiting for stunning city views of Edinburgh if nothing else.

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HOLYROOD PALACE: Maybe I am a complete idiot but I had no clue this was The Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh. The palace is open throughout the year and can be found at the end of the Royal Mile. You will get to see where historic figures such as Mary, Queen of Scots used the palace and how it is used today for The Queen to carry out official engagements. My favorite was the State Apartments, especially the Royal Dining Room!

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ROYAL YACHT BRITANNIA: This yacht was once the ocean-based home of The Queen and the Royal Family for over 40 years, sailing over a million miles around the world during its time in use. Now docked in Edinburgh, it is the perfect boating attraction to visit that you are guaranteed to not get seasick from! An audio guide is included on the tour that does a fantastic job of telling the ship’s fascinating history. Be sure to visit the Royal Deck Tea Room after the tour for a much-deserved cup of tea! 

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HANTED HISTORY BUS TOUR: If you love history or are interested in learning more of some of the darker side of Edinburgh’s history this is the tour for you. The overall content of the tour and our guide, Rhona were phenomenal. Rhona was everything you want in a guide on this type of excursion. She was accommodating to my mom not being able to go upstairs on the bus so she split her time equally between upstairs and downstairs which I appreciated very much. She never broke character and eloquently shared some of Edinburgh's haunted history with us! The tour is short and definitely worth part of your evening if you are looking for something different to do while in Edinburgh. 

After visiting Edinburgh for a second time, and having visited Glasgow previously as well, I would really like to see more of Scotland. If you have any suggestions for places I should visit, please let me know!You can leave me a comment below, send me a DM on Instagram, message me on Facebook or send me a tweet on Twitter. Don’t forget to follow me on Bloglovin' and Pinterest too!

*all images original to Candid Alexandra

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