I first visited the Scottish capital 10 years ago on a brief day trip when I was at university, during which time I saw a little of the Royal Mile, Holyrood Palace… and that was about it. Since then I’d been keen to go back and properly explore the city.
Home to two dormant volcanoes, Edinburgh is a hilly, delightful city steeped in history. The old town with its narrow medieval alleyways and beautiful grey stone buildings has a mystical, enchanting charm and it’s impossible not to contemplate its influence on JK Rowling, one of the city’s most famous residents, in writing the Harry Potter series. At times I felt as though I could be walking down Diagon Alley or exploring parts of Hogwarts.
Arthur’s Seat, meanwhile, the large dormant volcano at the bottom of the Royal Mile overlooking Holyrood Palace, feels a world away from a bustling capital city (above). It’s easy to forget you’re in the middle of a city while walking through the park admiring the ancient geology and enjoying the fantastic views over the city and the Firth of Forth from the top of the striking peak.
History and geology aside, Edinburgh is also a great place for foodies. Almost every plate of food I had in the city, whether a bowl of soup, a slice of cake or a mound of mussels, was delicious and I rarely had a bad gastronomic experience. The portion sizes were also very generous.
Among the best cafés and restaurants I visited were Hendersons, a vegetarian cafe and restaurant that serves mouthwatering salads and delicious breakfasts; the tiny Wellington Coffee with its great coffee and hot chocolate (served with a glorious chunk of marshmallow on the side), and giant scones and croissants; Tom Kitchin’s lively gastropub The Scran and Scallie; and charming French restaurant, Chez Jules. The food at Café Portrait at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery was also first rate.