Imagine that you’ve got a day to kill in Scotland’s capital, you lucky thing. Despite being slightly biased since I’ve lived here for the past three-and-a-bit years whilst studying at university, I reckon it’s one of the prettiest and vibrant cities I have visited. This is an itinerary of how I would spend the perfect day in the Burgh.
9am – Time for breakfast. There is really only one place to go for a fry up in town. Snax Café is frequented by builders and taxi drivers, which I think is always a sign of a good food establishment. The only downside to this hidden treasure on Buccleuch Street is the length of the queues, but it is little wonder everyone flocks there on a Sunday morning for a hangover cure since the ‘Bigger Breakfast’ and a cup of tea is available for under a fiver.
10am – Catch the bus to Morningside. This pretty residential area is one of the most affluent in Edinburgh. If you look further beyond the main road (turning off into Springvalley Gardens) you will discover a Wild West-esque street. Enjoy a wee wander round the independent gift shops and stop for a coffee break in Project Coffee.
11am – Hop back on the bus and head over to the National Museum. This magnificent building hosts many interesting exhibits, and, there is plenty to keep you occupied for the rest of the morning. There is usually a paid exhibition on too, for those keen culture vultures.
12 noon – It’s most likely that you’re still full from breakfast so to work up an appetite, take a walk up the extinct volcano that is Arthur’s Seat. Grab a couple of sandwiches and have a picnic at the summit whilst enjoying the beautiful outlook over the city. This provides arguably the best viewpoint out over the Lothian region.
2pm – Head back down to ground level and have a look round the Leith area. Although this part of town gets a bad reputation from the likes of ‘Trainspotting’, it’s actually quite pretty in parts. When you reach the waters, stop off at Mimi’s Bakehouse for a cheeky cake and cup of tea.
3pm – Make your way back up to Princes Street and have a quick look round Harvey Nichols. If you wander up to the top floor, you’ll see the Chocolate Lounge, which is like a sushi-bar-type café complete with conveyor belt, except that the food is all made of chocolate and other sweet treats. If you can resist this temptation, then climb up Scott Monument. Not for the claustrophobic or the faint-hearted, but the walk up the 287 steps is definitely worth the effort for the views alone. Even better, you get a certificate for the scrapbook too.
4pm – Your legs will now be tired, so catch the bus over to Stockbridge to nip into the National Galleries of Modern Art. The two galleries are across the road from each other and house some latest artworks from Scottish artists.
5pm – It’s getting nearer tea-time, so again, grab a bus back into town (probably the best idea is to buy a day ticket with Lothian buses) and book a table at The Red Squirrel on Lothian Road. This cute restaurant serves excellent pub grub at more than decent prices, and has a good range of drinks too.
7pm – As the day draws to a close, hop over the road to The Filmhouse to catch an independent, quirky film. The sweets available are far more reasonably priced than those on offer at the larger cinema chains, and the staff are much friendlier too.
Obviously this is a tiny portion of the activities on offer in Edinburgh. You could spend a day in itself just lingering leisurely around Princes Street Gardens. Edinburgh has a wealth of secrets waiting to be explored; I still get a bit of a buzz when I find a side-street shortcut that I’ve never realised before. It might not be as big as Glasgow, or as cosmopolitan as London, but don’t write Edinburgh off. It’s a gem.