A sunny day in Edinburgh? Call it a miracle, if you please, but I prefer to call it a perfect excuse to hike up to Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park.
Located right in the heart of Edinburgh, Holyrood Park is a truly remarkable example of grassy Scottish highlands. Originally a Royal Park in the 16th century, the park, now open to the public, features several astonishing hills, quarries, crags, and lochs (lakes). The highest of these hills is Arthur’s Seat, summiting at 251 meters, making it the highest point in Edinburgh.
The hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat isn’t a typical walk in the park, but it’s nothing too strenuous either. Regardless of your skill level, the hike is more than worth it. The beauty of the park never ceases to impress the entire way up, and the panoramic views of the city from the peak are a juicy reward.
In Edinburgh, things are given simple names. The Royal Mile, for example, runs one Scots mile long and ends on each side at a royal landmark (Edinburgh Castle on the west side and Holyrood Abbey at the east). If you’re a visitor to Edinburgh, you’ll probably be spending quite a bit of time here. Typical Scottish gift shops, whisky shops, bars, cafes, restaurants, etc. can be found on this series of streets that comprise the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, as well as several notable city landmarks.
St. Giles’ Cathedral, High Kirk (Church) of Edinburgh
There’s one easy way to spot a tourist on the Royal Mile, and no, it’s not simply the “I ♥ Edinburgh” t-shirts (why anybody would wear a t-shirt in Scotland is beyond me anyway). Located outside of St. Giles’ Cathedral is the Heart of Midlothian. What was once the location of the Old Tolbooth, where public executions took place, is now the location of… a lot of spit. That’s right, the Heart of Midlothian (pictured below) symbolizes the heart that marked the doorway to the Old Tolbooth Prison in the 15-18th centuries. The public would spit on the heart to show their disgust towards criminals. Keeping the tradition alive today, locals spit on the heart, which is now engraved into the sidewalk, for good luck; tourists walk right through it. I chose to partake in the former option. There’s something oddly rewarding about watching tourists walk through your own saliva. I proudly left my mark in Edinburgh.
Heart of Midlothian
There’s a lot going on in Edinburgh’s Old Town, and the Royal Mile is at the heart of it all. Bagpipes and harps fill the air with delightful Scottish sounds, complementing the hustle and bustle of the busy street(s). A stroll along the Royal Mile is well worth your time, but be sure to make your way off the beaten path as well. There’s much more to Edinburgh than meets the eye, and there’s certainly more to Edinburgh than the Royal Mile.
Scotland’s capital city is a beautiful and lively one. Windy roads and dark alleyways pave the way through a city of bagpipes, cashmere kilts, and Scotch whisky. Gothic architecture is not uncommon along with a variety of other alluring buildings, including castles, spires, and cathedrals. Parks, cemeteries, and underground vaults give the city a haunting feel, and it’s got a haunting history to boot, with plenty of witch killing and body snatching. To top it all off, the entire city is easily accessible by foot. To use any other form of transportation is entirely unnecessary for a visitor. Beautiful Edinburgh is one of a kind, and any traveler in the United Kingdom would be a fool not to visit.