Edinburgh, Scotland was just a short plane ride from London, and as always, it felt especially exciting to land in a place that was completely new to us. We arrived in the late afternoon and took a bus to get into the city, led by master planner Bridgette. We got off in New Town, which is central Edinburgh, and ended up walking a few miles before we finally arrived to our Airbnb.
This was the first time that we booked an Airbnb Plus, which is categorized as a type of home that has exceptional quality, comfort and style. We were so impressed from the minute we walked into the home, where a bench was situated right next to the door for us to remove our shoes, a coat rack was conveniently placed for us to remove our coats, and a beautifully furnished home that greeted us!
The entire place was sparkling clean, with all the amenities a guest would need, and a perfect blend of comfort and style. We definitely ranked it as one of the best Airbnbs we’ve ever stayed at!
Bridge didn’t have much plans for us in Edinburgh, so we spent most of the week exploring on our own. It was really relaxing because we were able to sleep in, cook many of our meals at our Airbnb, and explore the city at our own pace. I think this pace was especially perfect for such cold temperatures, when all you want to do is snuggle under the covers!
Our friend Fiona recommended a free walking tour with Sandemans New Europe, which Bridgette signed us up for, and we were so surprised at how much we loved it! Perhaps we had very low expectations since the tour was free, but we found out this tip-based pricing was the company’s tactic to attract more tourists. Sandemans actually go through a rigorous testing process to vet their tour guides ahead of time to ensure their knowledge in history and culture, their articulation skills, amongst other things, which explains why the tour was exceptionally good!
In fact, we were so impressed with our tour guide that we immediately signed up for a paid tour with him that same night! It was a tour about the dark side of Edinburgh, where we learned about all real life tales of witches, body snatchers, and cannibals. It was a very intriguing tour, and felt especially spooky and mysterious when we walked through a cemetery in the dark!
For the rest of our week in Edinburgh, we took our time exploring the city by foot, and ended up discovering quite a few gems. We got to see a gorgeous sunset from high up on Calton Hill, we spent hours playing and learning at the FREE National Museums of Scotland, we browsed through some super cute boutiques in Old Town, we spent a whole afternoon touring the majestic and historical Edinburgh castle, we took turns taking photos of each other on the beautiful cobblestone streets of Circus Lane, and we spent our last evening at a huge Christmas Market in New Town!
Food is always a priority for us when we travel, and one of the things we enjoy doing is trying local dishes. For Scotland, that would be their Irn-Bru soda, Haggis, Neeps & Tatties, and Cullen Skink. I know, the names alone already sound a little frightful. The descriptions are even more frightening. Haggis is a savory pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt. It’s banned in the U.S., which made it more pertinent that we give it a try while we had the opportunity to do so!
Our verdict? We’re glad we gave it a try but we decided that we wouldn’t ever want to eat it again, haha. Cullen Skink is a hearty soup that is traditionally made with smoked haddock, but there was a strong fishy taste to it so we didn’t care for it much either.
One place we did love was a pie shop that we stumbled across. We were simply looking for a place to have a little snack and to keep warm when we came across the Piemaker in Old Town. We shared a small mushroom and chicken pot pie and it was so amazingly delicious that we ended up going back again the next day, and the day after!
We also stumbled upon a few other lovely cafes/restaurants, and I even had the best fish and chips ever at a small local restaurant right across from our Airbnb! Sometimes, spontaneity can bring us all sorts of delightful surprises.
Edinburgh turned out to be the perfect destination for us to explore at a slower pace. On our last evening there, the largest Christmas Market in Old Town Edinburgh opened for business, and we had such a fun time perusing through the stalls and indulging in yummy food like cheese fondue in a bread bowl. What a great way to end our time there!