Tales of a City Girl

Edinburgh: a worthy contender for London’s crown?

There aren’t many places I would choose to live in England right now other than my beloved London. Kent? Done that. Essex? Meh. The North? So North-y. But there’s just something about Edinburgh. Or maybe I’ve drunk too much whisky. You decide.

My trip to Edinburgh was originally supposed to be something else entirely if I’d been allowed to run in the marathon. As it is, my ankle scuppered those plans, so we were free to explore all that Edinburgh has to offer. And boy does it have a lot.

There’s only one way a discerning tourist would look to travel around Edinburgh, really – and that is on a hop-on hop-off bus tour. There’s nothing like the freezing Scottish wind in your hair and a tinny voiceover system explaining Edinburgh’s history and attractions (and a whole lot of stuff about J K Rowling’s favourite haunts) to kick off a trip. At £15.00 a pop for 24 hours, prices are fairly steep, but for a princely roof skimming tour of Edinburgh’s cobbled roads and windy park-lined streets, I’d say it’s worth every penny.

Towering above everything in Edinburgh is the castle – a looming presence which seems to be ready to devour you at the end of every street. We chose not to pay to go inside, instead admiring its views and domineering qualities from outside its inner sanctums. For those who do wish to get under the skin of Edinburgh and learn her history, tickets are £16.50.

We had slightly different attractions in mind and chose to visit the Camera Obscura museum instead. This museum is packed full with five floors of disconcerting illusions and bizarre discoveries, including a nausea-inducing vortex tunnel. At the top the camera obscura itself is housed, which allows you to look out over the whole of Edinburgh from a birds-eye point of view.

You also can’t leave Edinburgh without enjoying a dram or two of whisky and if, like me, you’re clueless about your whisky types then a stop at the Scotch Whisky experience is in order. For £15 (everything in Edinburgh seems designed around the £15 price point) you are taken on what can only be described as a fairground ride designed to show you the process of making whisky. After this, you may sample a whisky of your choice in the illustrious golden glow of 3,384 whisky bottles.

For those looking for a calmer side of Edinburgh, Holyrood Park and the infamous Arthur’s Seat provides the perfect getaway. 822ft high, Arthur’s Seat offers panoramic views over the sprawl of Edinburgh below with blazing patches of gorse, and is a great way to spend an afternoon working those glutes and getting an ice cream to celebrate on the way back.

Edinburgh is fast-paced, frenetic and lots of fun for a weekend away, but is also surrounded by some really raw and rugged countryside and wild beauty. London may still be my number one, but Edinburgh has muscled a space in my heart.