Scotland was always in my bucket list so when some friends came to visit us in Northern Ireland we decided it was time to go to Edinburgh. The trip was at risk as it was heavily snowing, even though it was March. I remember my friends were so happy with the snow (as in Portugal this is a phenomenon that doesn’t happen very frequently unless you go to the mountains) that they didn’t care if the trip was cancelled, though I didn’t share the same opinion. Fortunately, our flight was able to depart without incidents and take us to this beautiful and magical place. Let me share with you some of the things we did there.
We decided to walk to the old town as our hotel was well located and not far from the city centre. Walking allows you to have a better sense of the place. This beautiful castle rises at the top of a hill (long ago a volcano) overlooking the city. The majestic castle from the 12th century was the stage of several conflicts between Scotland and England through times. This place transpires history. You will be able to see the crown jewels, the place where royalty used to have their banquets, the royal apartments and visit the room where Queen Mary gave birth to James the VI of Scotland who became King of England. Visit the St. Margaret’s Chapel which is the oldest part of the castle and also don’t miss out on the National War museum.
This is also the right place to enjoy the superb views of the city which were even better at the time we visited it as we had unobstructed views of the mountains covered in snow.
I would suggest you visit the castle as soon as it opens at 9.30 am as this is the number one attraction in Scotland, so it gets crowded.
For more information to plan your visit regarding opening times, prices and tours available visit the website https://www.edinburghcastle.scot/visit.
Royal Yatch Britannia
This was part of my husband’s list to visit the famous ship where Queen Elizabeth and their family made so many trips. I must admit that it surprised me. I really enjoyed seeing how life was on board this famous five deck ship that for 44 years took the royal family to several places around the world. I really enjoyed the decoration. I was expecting something more sumptuous, but I was gladly surprised to find very elegant decoration which reflected the good taste Her Majesty had. Thinking that I had the chance to stand where important leaders and celebrities like Sir Winston Churchill or Nelson Mandela once were was a privilege. I also enjoyed seeing the machinery’s room and the operations room, this is a floating Buckingham Palace.
For more information regarding times and prices click the link https://www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk/
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
As the name states you can enjoy amazing experiences of optical illusion and mind tricks through a five-floor building from the 17th century. This is the right place to spend a great time with your family and have a good laugh. I really enjoyed the camera that allows you to see Edinburgh live
Enjoy the rooftop terrace with a 360-degree panoramic views over Edinburgh and take great pictures.
For more information regarding timetables and prices click the link.
The Real Mary King’s Close
Visiting the Real Mary Kings’s close at Royal Mile will take you back in time to the 17th century where people from lower social classes used to live in these labyrinthic streets. The poverty and poor conditions that these people lived in were overwhelming, it feels like an underworld. When the bubonic plague hit Edinburgh in 1645 a lot of people were decimated by the worst plague this city has ever experienced. During your visit you will have the chance of learning more about life during this perilous time. Find more at https://www.realmarykingsclose.com/
The Scotch Whisky Experience
Just beside the Edinburgh castle you find the Scotch Whiskey Experience. I don’t like whiskey but knowing this is a famous drink proudly appreciated by Scottish we decided to give it a go. I can assure you won’t regret it even if like me you are not an expert. The place is really nice with a vast collection of 442 whiskeys to choose from. You will learn more about all the steps in the production of good Scotch whiskey and have the chance to taste the famous whiskey. Did you know that some whiskeys are stored in the same pipes as the ones we have in Portugal to store our famous Port Wine?
For more information follow the link https://www.scotchwhiskyexperience.co.uk/
National Museum of Scotland
The National Museum of Scotland is free of charge and here you can enjoy the history of Scotland since prehistoric times to the present day, a huge collection of animals and their evolution throughout times, be amazed with the wonderful innovations and discoveries, learn more about the ancient Egyptian civilization and so many other things. That’s the perfect place to take your family and spend a lovely day.
You can find more information at this link: https://www.nms.ac.uk/national-museum-of-scotland/?item_id=
If you are looking for the perfect photograph this is the right place to visit. Calton Hill is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and like the Edinburgh Castle it is also located at the top of a hill which is an extinct volcano. There are some monuments in this site like the Scottish National Museum that see a replica of the Athenian Acropolis (its construction started in 1816 and it’s unfinished though you still can appreciate the twelve columns at the place; it’s a memorial to remember those who died in the Napoleonic wars), the Nelson’s monument (a column with the shape of a upturned telescope is a homage to the British admiral) and an Observatory (in memory of a famous professor and astronomer called Thomas Henderson who discovered how to measure the distance of the stars).
This is the right place to admire a sunset overlooking the city and the hills surrounding it.
Loch Ness, Glencoe & The Highlands
We dedicated a full day to do a trip to the Scottish Highlands. This was one of the highlights of this trip. The journey started without snow but as we started approaching the highlands it started to snow. We started to see some cars pulled on the side of the road due to the heavy snow. The bus had to stop, and we weren’t sure if we could keep going at that stage. We took the opportunity to step out of the bus and experience the heavy blizzard. We were absolutely delighted, neither of us had ever seen so much snow. We couldn’t keep our eyes open. Unbelievable! The bus driver got the information that after the mountains there was sun, so he decided to risk it and indeed it seemed we went to a different dimension, suddenly, a shine sun and no snow at all. I thought it was only in Northern Ireland that the weather could change so quickly, but apparently, I was wrong.
During our trip we stopped at Kilmahog where the famous hairy highland cattle with a golden colour live. They are a beauty indeed.
The tour also included a visit to the famous Lock Ness where we did a cruise trip. We tried to spot Nessie, the monster, but he was shy and didn’t show up. You might be luckier!
Enjoy the beautiful scenery and natural wonders surrounding the ruins of Urquhart Castle near Inverness. This castle has witness history unravel throughout centuries particularly the disputes between English and Scottish.
I know there is much more to explore in this mysterious country with dramatic scenery, breathtaking landscapes and cities that transpire history. This was just the beginning. I’ll definitely be going back.