The Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Edinburgh in 48 Hours

I had a sneaking suspicion that I would fall head-over-heels in love with Edinburgh – and I wasn’t wrong. With its cobbled lanes, pub-lined streets, castles and ancient buildings, Edinburgh has so much character and history. Since we were there while the Fringe Festival was on we were also totally sucked into the energy and colour that surrounded us; everywhere we went there were street performers, shows going on and crowds of happy sightseers.

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Unfortunately, we only had a mere 48 hours to enjoy all that Edinburgh has to offer so we decided to forego the festival and pick out a few key sights to visit and tours to join. Despite the fact that the weather was pretty abysmal and we found Edinburgh a pricey city to visit, we hope to return there to explore more of the attractions, experience the festival properly and hopefully celebrate Hogmanay in 2015. Here’s what we did manage to cram into our first 48-hour visit to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Streets

Edinburgh Castle

We couldn’t visit Edinburgh without seeing its most famous landmark. Although I prefer more ruinous castles like Urquhart which we visited in Loch Ness, it was still interesting to walk through the ancient castle, see the banquet hall and the underground prison and take a look at the Scottish Crown Jewels (even though they’re not as spectacular as the jewels in the Tower of London). You also get a great view from the top of the castle and can look out over the city to the sea beyond.

Edinburgh Castle

Lion Statue at Edinburgh Castle

View of Edinburgh from the Castle

City of the Dead Tour

I was eager to take a City of the Dead Tour to see the South Bridge Vaults, the underground chambers where the city’s poorest people used to live. I felt claustrophobic almost immediately upon entering the vaults; we stood in one of the brick-walled caverns in darkness listening to tales of the people who had lived in these cramped chambers amid disease and filth; how many were cooked to death when a huge fire ravaged the city above.  I was relieved to get back above-ground, where we were led to Greyfriars Graveyard for more scary stories, bloody history and a big scare that literally made us scream out loud!

Edinburgh Sunset

Arthur’s Seat

After fuelling up with a delicious veggie breakfast at Central Café, as recommended by the guys from Hungry Escapades, we set off on a Sunday-morning hike up to Arthur’s Seat, the biggest hill in Holyrood Park. The walk turned into a bit of a battle against the fierce wind and by the time we got to the top I had to hang onto the rocks to steady myself as we took in the fantastic views over the city.

Climbing up Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh

Andrew on Arthur's Seat

View from Arthur's Seat

Edinburgh Dungeons

I’m a big fan of the Dungeons in London, so since the Edinburgh Dungeons were offering discount visits while the festival was on we decided to get out of the cold and enjoy a bit of fun and some unsavoury history. The format was pretty similar to the London Dungeons, lots of comedic scares, talk about torture and boat and drop rides; there were also sections about the legendary Scottish cannibal Sawney Bean and gravediggers Burke and Hare.

View from Edinburgh Castle

Literary Pub Tour

One of the best ways to see Edinburgh’s old town is by exploring its pubs, as we found out when we took the Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour. Led by two characters Clart and McBrain, who have starkly different views on Edinburgh’s literary figures, we were taken to some of the city’s oldest taverns to learn about the writers who frequented them, including Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Some of the pubs were too busy to actually get in and sometimes the pace of the performance made the information difficult to absorb but it still made for an interesting evening and we had a nice walk around the key points of the city; if you’re not all that interested in literature though I wouldn’t recommend the tour.

Me at The Beehive Pub in Edinburgh

Robert Louis Stevenson Quote in Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour

Edinburgh in 48 hours, Pinterest

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  • Kellie
    Posted at 15:46h, 04 September Reply

    I’m so glad you loved Edinburgh as much as we do. You went at a great time of year, its always full of buzz when the festival is on. It’s our ‘if we have to go back home’ we’ll go there.

    I’m so jealous that you got to go to the City Cafe, it’s one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had!

    • Amy
      Posted at 05:33h, 05 September Reply

      Thanks for the recommendation Kellie, we loved that breakfast and the walk up Arthur’s Seat afterwards was just what we needed 🙂 We can’t wait to go back to Edinburgh one day.

  • Emily
    Posted at 12:40h, 05 September Reply

    We loved Edinburgh and I would love to go back to Fringe festival even though it is probably crazy busy and prices are even more inflated!

    • Amy
      Posted at 14:58h, 05 September Reply

      I would love to go back for the festival too. You’re right though, prices for accommodation in particular seemed on a par with London!

  • Catherine
    Posted at 22:35h, 05 September Reply

    Ah, I love Edinburgh too! Only ever spent 48 hours there in total, but it’s somewhere I will definitely return to one day. Did you by any chance see/visit the Camera Obscura museum? Without a doubt it is the best museum I have ever been to, so would definitely recommend it! Keep thinking I should write a post about it, so keep your eyes peeled for more!

    • Amy
      Posted at 08:20h, 06 September Reply

      We did see the Camera Obscura Museum Catherine but we didn’t have time to visit; it sounds great though and we’ll make sure we visit next time we’re in Scotland. I’m looking forward to reading your post about it 🙂

  • Alyson
    Posted at 15:34h, 06 September Reply

    Hi! I love Edinburgh, so much fun, particularly at festival time. We did the spooky cities of the dead tour too, good fun.

    • Amy
      Posted at 04:36h, 07 September Reply

      I think the City of the Dead tour was my favourite, such good fun! We have so much more to see when we eventually get back to Scotland.

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    Posted at 23:04h, 06 September Reply

    Edinburgh was one of the highlights of my time backpacking through the UK in 2005 and it’s a place I’d really like to go back and explore as I don’t think that I fully appreciated just how beautiful and interesting it is at the time. Now that I’ve traveled more, I think I’d be better able to see it for the unique beauty that it is! I know some people say that it has become overly touristy, but I definitely think there’s a reason so many people enjoy visiting! In between all the Harry Potter sightseeing we did (because JKR used to live there and we had to visit her favorite haunts!) we also did a tour of Mary King’s Close (spooky!) and we did that exact same fantastic literary pub tour too! Good to hear that Clart & McBrain are still out there sharing the love of Scottish lit as well as a good pint!

    • Amy
      Posted at 04:45h, 07 September Reply

      Hi Steph, glad to hear you got some HP sightseeing in; we tried to go the The Elephant House cafe where JKR used to write but it was so busy we had to take our hungry bellies elsewhere. We will definitely be back in Edinburgh one day 🙂

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