We had one full day in Edinburgh after arriving the evening before to the Pearlview Guest House. After a scrumptious breakfast (with homemade marmalade and bread!) we started our day.
Our plan was to visit Edinburgh Castle and see what there was to see along the Royal Mile. We opted to take the bus into the city center rather than try to drive and park.
Just as with Stirling Castle, we were able to enter without a wait with the Scotland Explorer Pass. Worth every penny!
Edinburgh Castle was markedly more crowded than Stirling Castle within the same time of opening. Even though it was larger than Stirling, we spent about the same amount of time touring the castle (2 1/2 hours). Highlights included St. Margaret’s Chapel, the Scottish crown jewels and seeing the birth room of King James VI (who later became James I of England…who Jamestown, Virginia is named for. Having just visited Jametown the prior summer, this was oddly thrilling.). There was also a spot along the outer wall where the crown jewels were hidden during WWII. Very interesting!
We also had the privilege of viewing a puppet show that was confusing, alarming and hysterical all at the same time.
After the castle, we strolled up and down the Royal Mile, going into shops that caught our eye. We passed a whisky bar and my husband went in for a small tasting. We also made a quick stop at Giles Cathedral. It was impressive-looking from the outside and we wanted to see the stained-glass windows inside.
Our wanderings took us behind Edinburgh Castle for another impressive view. We were getting hungry and wanted to find a place for lunch. Many years ago when I visited London, my friend took me to Wagamama. It was a memorable experience. After finding out there was one nearby, I convinced my family they wanted noodles for lunch.
Wagamama wasn’t exactly as I remembered, but we were seated quickly and it had a good vibe. Everyone made a good choice in their ordering and we had a great meal.
We left Wagamama stuffed and took a walk while we looked for our next stop. It turned out to be a fun playground with an awesome view of the castle in the background. I looked at a map and saw the National Gallery was not far from the playground. We headed there and my family politely pretended to care about the paintings I was excited to see. I tried to move quickly through the gallery for their sake (maybe a half hour? forty-five minutes, tops). There weren’t any must-see (for me) paintings, but some well-known artists and beautiful Scottish landscapes. I loved how quiet it was and how easy it was to view a painting without having to wait for a spot or move to give someone else a look.
Patient family members were rewarded with an ice cream stop after the gallery. As we ate we took a closer look at a beautiful tower we’d seen a few times that day. It was old, detailed and looked as though views at the top would be amazing. I’m sure they would have been, but I only made it half-way up. It was windy and the two-way stairs were about 2 feet wide in some places. My brave family made it all the way.
Up next? At about 4:30 I decided that we HAD to visit the National Museum. A great idea, but by the time we walked over it was 4:50 and closing time was 5:00. Since many Edinburgh museums are free, we went in anyway. My husband asked a docent what we could see in 10 minutes. His reply, “Well, Dolly the sheep is over there” made the short trip worth it. Dolly the world’s first cloned sheep indeed lives at the Scottish National Museum, albeit in stuffed form.
10 minutes later the museum did in fact close and we decided to call it a day. A short bus ride and we were back at our B&B. We took a stroll along the beach across the street. We ordered in and spent the rest of the evening relaxing, packing and planning our last morning in Scotland.