5 ‘Must Do’ Activities in Edinburgh

Howdy from Texas, y’all! I made it. 

15+ hours of travel time, a sprint through Heathrow, no sleep, and a lost luggage later…and I’m here!

Aside from being completely jetlagged, I’m happy to be back visiting friends & family.

Especially my two precious nieces.


Although my journey in Edinburgh has been put on a pause, I miss the city a lot.

Especially because there’s so much more I need to see, do, eat, photograph. I’ve done a lot of the popular activities in Edinburgh–Climbing Arthur’s Seat, having a beer in Frankenstein Pub, exploring through the Castle

But there’s so many great (& maybe still slightly touristy) things to do in the city that I’d highly recommend to visitors and travellers passing through. Here are a few of my favorites–

1. James Christie Photography Tour

When I first started this blog, I was completely new to photography. I had read a bit online about the manual settings on a DSLR, but I was still unsure about using them. Now I do my best to shoot in only manual mode when possible and have taken some amazing photos.

That is thanks to James and his photography tour in Edinburgh. As you’ll see on his website and on his glowing TripAdvisor reviews, this tour gives you a unique introduction to Edinburgh with a renowned photographer.

James teaches you how to use your DSLR, point and shoot camera, even iPhone camera to get quality photos when traveling and also gives you a walking tour of the city.

view of the Castle from Grassmarket, taken during my tour

view of the Castle from Grassmarket, taken during my tour

2. Spoon Cafe and The Elephant House

For all you Harry Potter fans out there, Spoon Cafe (originally known as Nicolson’s Cafe) is where JK Rowling wrote the first novel in the series.

Although Elephant House is better known as JK Rowling’s choice writing spot, there is a plaque on the corner of Nicolson Street showing that Spoon Cafe’s spot was actually the ‘birth place’ of Harry Potter.

Both are great local cafes and Elephant House makes a yummy Irish Coffee.

3. Rooftop @ National Museum of Scotland

Aside from being completely fascinating, the National Museum of Scotland boasts a wonderful treasure with its rooftop terrace (my full post on the museum here) for free. With 360 degree views of the city, you can see nearly the entire city from Arthur’s Seat, to Calton Hill and the Castle.


If you’re in Edinburgh in the fall/winter, I bet the terrace would offer some gorgeous sunset views over the city on a clear day. The museum is open until 5 and with a 4pm or 4:30pm sunset, you’re good to go!

4. The Sheep Heid

The Sheep Heid has been serving Edinburgh since 1360. That’s right. 1360. It’s Edinburgh’s oldest pub that’s still a favorite by locals. With great food, history, and a charming atmosphere stopping for a pint here is a no-brainer if you’re visiting (or if you’re a resident!).

5. Gin Tasting @ 56 North

Did you know that around 80% of the world’s gin and vodka is produced in Scotland (or so I read on the interwebs). This is of course including gin favorites such as Hendrick’s and Tanuqeray.

At the afternoon ‘tea’ at 56 North you’ll be lead through a gin tasting and tonic matching alongside delectable sandwiches and pastries to complete the G&Tea (my full G&Tea experience here).

gin on gin on gin

gin on gin on gin

Gin plays a large role in British history so learning more about ‘Mother’s Ruin’ is a lovely way to immerse yourself in the Scottish culture, don’t ya think?

What activities do you recommend in Edinburgh?

  • Woohoo! Welcome back to the States and I’m glad you had a safe trip (and two adorable littles to greet you)! I can’t wait to go to Edinburgh sometime in the future and put this lovely list to work πŸ™‚

    • Thanks! Happy to be back.

      I can’t recommend Edinburgh & Scotland enough for a holiday trip. Hopefully my blog helps convince you πŸ™‚

  • Welcome back to Tx! I’m definitely going to be adding these to my Edinburgh “to do list”! Scotland is at the top of my travel list and I am hoping to go in a year or 2! πŸ˜€

    • Thanks! It’s good (but HOT) to be back.

      I would definitely recommend visiting Scotland. It’s a beautiful country and there’s so much to do!

      Thank you for reading

  • Ali

    I have been there, and I loved it! So beautiful. Thanks for the trip down memory lane πŸ™‚

    • It’s an amazing city isn’t it? Glad to have brought back some memories for you. Thanks for reading!

  • Sign me up!

    • Hi Michelle, thanks for stopping by my blog! Hope you enjoyed it

  • Hi Pristine. I’m stopping by from Texas Women Bloggers. I’d love it if you would share this post on my Wherever Wednesday Linky!


    • Thanks for coming by my blog!

      I’m happy to link up. Thanks for sharing!

  • I want to visit Scottland so bad!!! I will pass on the Gin tasting though. πŸ˜‰ LOL

    • Definitely recommend adding Scotland to your travel bucket list!

      I was never a huge fan of gin before I moved to Scotland actually and now I love it. Thanks for reading!

  • pmoppins

    The gin tasting sounds like so much fun! We lived in Southwest England for 8 years and loved it. πŸ™‚ I know you’ll treasure the memories of Scotland forever.

    • Wow, 8 years? What a great experience!
      Funny enough, I’ve been to Northern Ireland and Scotland, but still not really to England.

      We did take one trip to Rochdale for a friend’s birthday for a weekend but obviously not to see sights, just to see friends.

      Thanks for stopping by and reading

  • These sound awesome! I will definitely be adding some of these to the others you recommended! Thanks again and I’m glad you had a safe trip back to the States πŸ™‚

    • Thanks! Glad I could help. Looking forward to reading about your trip

  • Lovely post, and great tips. The Elephant House Cafe is the only one of these places I actually visited, so will have to plan a trip back to try the others: the photography tour sounds right up my street! My highlight on a short weekend break has been the climb to the top of Calton Hill – such an amazing view is well worth the trek. But really, Edinburgh is so lovely, there’s not just one favourite thing to recommend πŸ™‚

    • Thank you! And thanks for reading my blog.

      I agree that Edinburgh is amazing. There’s still so much that I want to do and see. A short weekend break is definitely not enough– you need to plan another lovely trip back πŸ™‚

  • LondonKiwiEmma

    Love this post – makes me yearn for another trip!

    • Thanks you! With all the blogs I read I am constantly yearning for MORE TRAVEL!

  • Thanks so much for linking up both your Philippines post and this on on Wherever Wednesday! I featured them both on this month’s “highlights from last month.” I hope you’ll link up again.

    Edinburgh seems like a beautiful city. So many places I wish I could visit! Well, at least I got out of state this Thanksgiving…visited Colorado for the first time. Gorgeous. I’ll be posting about it soon (probably on Wacomom.blogspot.com, my other blog).


    • Not a problem, Gale. I always enjoy linking up with other blogs. Thank you for sharing my posts! Looking forward to seeing your Colorado pics. I’ve only been once

  • This is awesome!! I am debating my summer 2014 plans and Scotland&Ireland is a big possibility. I will be stalking all your awesome posts if I do end up visiting! Great tips and photos!!

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