Planning a trip takes time and a fair bit of planning, especially these days. So I’ve popped together a wee list for you to make your trip to Edinburgh a bit easier this year. Edinburgh is a magical city full of history and amazing people and incredible spots to photograph. Here are my top tips for your visit to the capital this year!
PICK YOUR SEASON
Edinburgh is beautiful in every season, and you’ll swear you love each one more than the last, you might even be lucky enough to get them all in one day.
April-May is when the city is in full bloom and you can spot the blossoms and magnolia’s, the spring fills the city with colour right before the summer. Summer, around June onwards is a little busier and has the Edinburgh festival which normally brings around 2.4m extra people to the city for a handful of weeks, Autumn, September onwards is my favourite, has the most beautiful colours and cooler weather and the city looks like something out of a romantic novel. And of course there’s Winter, the coldest months in Edinburgh January and February. Scotland is a cooler country anyway but parts of Scotland can drop to -25C, it’s the quietest time to visit Edinburgh.
BRING A BROLLY
I am a massive lover of Edinburgh in the rain, I think it gives it an extra layer of beauty on top of its already incredible historic buildings and forever changing skies. It’s well known weather in Edinburgh can be a wee bit unpredictable, with the possibility of all 4 seasons in one day, it’s not uncommon to have snow in April. But no one quite believes it until they get here, so get ahead of the game and pack an umbrella or some kind of waterproof in your backpack, it’s most likely you’ll need it at some point during your visit.
WEAR SENSIBLE SHOES
Not sure if you’ve seen, but Edinburgh is a hill, it’s said to be built on 7. You can do the 7 hill challenge and climb them all in one day if that takes your fancy. A lot of the streets are cobbled and if you are going to be spending the day walking around you’ll want to be as comfortable as you can. And you never know, the desire to climb Arthurs Seat, just one of the extinct volcanoes in Edinburgh, might take you for a sunset stroll… good to be prepared.
HOP ON A BUS
Edinburgh has an excellent transport system, and one of the quickest ways around the city is by bus, or tram. The local buses are easy enough to navigate and have their own app so you can easily find out where you are going and which bus will take you there. They accept the correct change AND contactless. The more modern buses have digital screens which will tell you each stop you are at, or you can ask the driver who will be happy enough to call out when you get to yours. You’ll find a range of tour buses too that are specifically for tours around the city, you can hop off at your favourite spots and hop back on before heading to the next one.
WAKE BEFORE THE CITY DOES
If you want images without crowds and the city to yourself for a while, its best to get up and head to your chosen spot(s) early. The city starts to wake from around 8:00am or earlier weekdays and closer to 10am weekends. The crowds roll in for the daily commute and things start to get hectic quickly. You’ll get a beautiful sunset view from Calton Hill or Salisbury Crags. And if you want to start the day off right and a little bit early, I can’t recommend enough climbing either of them to watch the sunrise. Take a breakfast picnic or a flask of hot chocolate with you and enjoy!
MIND THE TIME
One of our favourite things to do, as locals, is watching the tourists jump at the one O’clock gun, we rarely get caught out with it and you’ll see a few check their watch to make sure their times match. The One O’clock gun goes off every day at 1pm from Edinburgh Castle, it doesn’t fire on Christmas Day, good Friday or Sundays. You can get an excellent view from Princes Street gardens or from Edinburgh Castle itself.
TAKE A BREAK
Not much beats a coffee shop, especially one with a view, and that’s something Edinburgh isn’t short on. The city is filled with independent little cafes with some of the best coffee in town. You can see a few of my favourites here: The Best Coffee spots in Edinburgh. Grab a cinnamon bun and people watch while you take a load of your feet and plan your next stop.
GET OUT OF THE CENTRE
The old town can get overwhelmingly busy and sometimes, a bustling Royal Mile filled with tourists sometimes calls for a wander out of the city centre where it’s a little quieter. Dean Village is a peaceful little escape with a beautiful walk along the Water of Leith. You can saunter along, grab a coffee and visit Circus Lane while you are there. Stockbridge is a pretty little spot that leads its way to the Botanical Gardens, or the National Portrait Gallery. It’s a must see if you are in the city.
BOOK A TOUR
There are so many tours available in the city, from the under ground vaults, to the old closes, Harry Potter and walking tours too. Booking a tour on one of your first days can help you get your bearings in the city, then you can head off and revisit your favourite spot and grab a bit of lunch. I recommend with the current restrictions that not only for tours but for most places to eat too, that you book ahead just incase. Things can get full quickly and you wouldn’t want to be left disappointed.
DON’T FORGET YOUR CAMERA
Edinburgh is so romantically beautiful, there are so many photo opportunities and it’s crammed with architecture, there really is history on every single street in the city. Some buildings date back to 12th Century and are amazing to see, so you’ll want to make sure you have some sort of camera with you. It doesn’t matter if its a fancy one, or if you are simply using your phone, but you’ll be disappointed if you leave it at home.
PAY YOUR PIPER
A wee bonus tip for you! Always carry some change, the Pipers can be seen and heard on many streets and fill Edinburgh with beautiful sounds that adds to the ambiance of your visit. The unwritten rule is – if they were good enough to make you stop and listen, pop some change in their case.
Please check restrictions and bookings before you visit to save disappointment. Safe travels and enjoy your trip!