Get Up & Go: Edinburgh

Sitting on the banks of the stunning Forth of Firth, Edinburgh is a city full to the brim with hidden gems, cultural events and delicious restaurants. For me, the best way to see this historic city has always been on foot, so here’s my guide to the best places to take a wander and take in the city.

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Must see: A canon’s view
Edinburgh Castle can be seen from all directions sitting high on Castle Rock. It’s central in most Edinburgh skylines, but to see what those who defended the ancient town of Edinburgh against invading armies saw you can climb up and enter the defensive walls yourself. Steeped in history and stories of old it isn’t hard to imagine Edinburgh Castle alive with the sounds and smells of armour, horses and armies. See the splendor of the Scottish crown jewels before taking a walk around the ramparts and looking down the barrel of a cannon towards the Firth of Forth and Calton Hill. It’s said that a canon from Edinburgh Castle could fire a ball two miles away.

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Favourite activity: Exploring the old town
For me, exploring in any new city is wonderful, the mystery of what might be around the next corner is what I love, but just be sure to pick up a map before you go! Edinburgh’s old town is a maze of hidden walkways and narrow paths that lead to unexpected delights. From the Castle walk down the Royal Mile turning right at the roundabout and a few yards along to some steep steps which lead you down and out onto the picturesque Victoria Street. Packed full of interesting wee shops and eateries this cobbled street curves down from George IV Bridge to the Grassmarket. Find a bargain or one off piece of art, or indulge in the heavenly edible treats as you make your way down to the market square before bedding down for the night in our nearby Travelodge Edinburgh Central Hotel.

Best view: Museum roof
Edinburgh is a city of hills, steep climbs and fantastic views wherever you look, but one of my favourites is one many a visitor may not know about. On Chambers Street lies the stunningly designed and recently refurbished National Museum of Scotland. The educational attraction is a mine of information, travel through Scotland’s history and see the wonderful exhibits inside, it’s all free to visit and there is a great restaurant on the ground floor.

For an amazing 360 degree view of Edinburgh’s skyline take the lift to the 7th floor roof garden. Information signs tell the names of the buildings you can see in each direction and benches take the weight off as you take in the wonder of being amongst the rooftops of Edinburgh.

Eating out: Hula Juice Bar and Gallery
Edinburgh is blessed with many wonderful and varied eateries, from Michelin star fine dining to delicious morning after greasy spoon cafes! My main advice would be to explore, take a chance and discover your own culinary highlight amongst the cities cobbled streets.

One such highlight for me is Hula, situated on the corner of the previously mentioned Victoria Street and Grassmarket under the shadow of Edinburgh Castle.
Famed for their healthy and delicious detox juices and smoothies they also serve the best coffee and sinful bacon butties, traybakes and muffins to address the balance.
The bright and welcoming interior is also a thriving art space, with ever changing exhibitions from local artists keeping the look fresh and contemporary. I love to pop in for a bite to eat and a look at the artwork.

City walk: Arthurs Seat
A city walk with a difference. In roughly thirty minutes you can go from the centre of Edinburgh’s old town to the vast green space of Holyrood Park and high up onto Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano which lies just a mile East from Edinburgh Castle. Relatively easy to climb, the 251 m (823 ft) peak provides more stunning views of the city and is the perfect way to clear away the cobwebs after a night out. If you can’t make it to the top then there is a road that circles the hill and takes around an hour to walk at a gentle pace. Take time to sit by Dunsapie Loch and feed the swans a little bread. Look out for the heron who is often seen fishing here too.

For more information about Edinburgh take a look at our Get Up & Go Guide

The Edinburgh Sketcher

About The Edinburgh Sketcher

Mark Kirkham is an illustrator and designer based in Scotland and the creator of sketch blog the EdinburghSketcher. He uses ink, watercolour, pencil, oil paint, charcoal and collage to bring his visions to life.