48 hours in: Edinburgh

We’ve been lucky enough to be able to travel to some far-flung places over the years but despite having visited over 30 states in America, Ollie has never been to Scotland so I felt a trip to Edinburgh for his birthday was a good place to start.

All the holiday planning and booking is down to him usually, so despite being incredibly organised and a lover of all lists I find it quite stressful booking surprise trips.


“It turns out the most difficult thing about booking a trip to Scotland’s capital is deciding where to stay and where to eat because the options are endless.”

We arrived at our stunning Airbnb apartment where our friends had already set up camp, much to Ollie’s surprise. I can’ repeat his reaction on here but largely I think he was pleased about this, as well as the homemade sign at the airport..

Located just near Edinburgh Castle and beautifully designed, the apartment boasts two double bedrooms, a full kitchen, spacious lounge and dining area. Despite being a basement apartment it was filled with light, with huge sash windows in every room.

View of Edinburgh Castle from the apartment

We started Saturday with brunch at Urban Angel which was worth the wait. We tried haggis here and I fully expected not to like it, turns out it’s really nice. We followed our noses to Royal Mile, an absolute must, not that you can miss it. Tartan scarves were bought and bagpipes listened to.

We headed to Edinburgh Castle, nearly got blown over the wall and after a horrible shot of honey whiskey to avoid the rain we were greeted by a rainbow over the cityscape. The castle is really interesting, taking you from the 12th Century to present day, its different uses and how it has changed over time. The views of the city are beautiful from the vantage point. Entry is £18 per adult or £17 in advance on the website.

Late afternoon approached so we went for drinks at Brewdog, it was a birthday weekend after all. Later that evening we headed to The Honours, so called after the Crown Jewels, for some excellent steak and tarte tatin followed by cocktails at Speak Easy, Panda and Sons.

Now although I said I was good at organising things, I may have made an error in booking a gin tour for 12 the next day…a breakfast at Dishoom sorted us out beforehand though so we headed to the Summerhall Distillery for the Pickering’s Gin Tour. It’s well rated on TripAdvisor, rightly so, and the hour tour took us through the history of gin and the company itself. Worth a visit.

We spent the afternoon wandering the city, heading towards Arthur’s Seat which I hear is well worth the walk if the sky is clear. It wasn’t so we spent the afternoon exploring Grassmarket, independent food stalls at Food and Flea Market and the outskirts of Parliament Square.

What I’d describe as a liveable city, Edinburgh is small and friendly. The shopping is good too, with a mixture of independent retailers and some well-known high end brands. Possibly a few too many novelty gift shops for my liking!

All in all, it was a great way to spend Ollie’s birthday, I think he had the best time.

Fact file:

Flights from Southampton to Edinburgh cost £125pp with Flybe. Our friends got the train from London which was a similar price.

Air Bnb – As I’ve mentioned the apartment was incredible and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Listing is linked above.

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