It won’t be hard to find exciting things to do in Edinburgh; even just walking around the city, both in the old town and new, you’ll find yourself delighted by the local charms. But is there anything you should not do in Edinburgh? So, to make sure you don’t get stuck hitting the same old tourist spots, and end up missing out on some of the local hits, here are 5 essential tips you need to know when in Edinburgh!
Don’t avoid haggis
Haggis is probably the most famous dish that Scotland boasts, up there with the likes of the deep-fried mars bar. It’s a kind of savory pudding, made mostly with sheep meat, oatmeal and lots of pepper and other spices.
Try not to focus on the ingredients too much, since this is what most nay-sayers find “gross” about it. Aside from the haggis itself, you’ll usually also get neeps and tatties (mashed turnip and mashed potatoes), and it is often included in a Full Scottish Breakfast.
Not only will trying it wins you points with locals, but it’s actually really very tasty, and you probably won’t find much else like it on your travels. So, you might as well give it a go! If the ingredients are putting you off, vegetarian haggis also comes highly recommended. If you’re even more reluctant, haggis crisps are also a thing, and might ease you into this delightful flavor!
Don’t get ripped off on the Royal Mile
The Royal Mile is absolutely a tourist trap. There are tonnes of bars and restaurants, and many more shops full of tourist tat. That’s not to say that there aren’t great finds on the Mile too, for example, at Monteith’s you can find one of the best examples of seasonal Scottish cuisine, and top-quality cocktails.
However, many of the touristy shops especially are not only really expensive but also just not as original and high quality as some of the independent stores around town.
For example, if you’re looking for an old-time feel, W Armstrong & Son vintage stores are absolutely filled to the brim with classic vintage finds. There are three stores dotted around Edinburgh, including one on Grassmarket, which is just a short walk down Victoria Street from the Mile.
Make the most of its museums
The National Museum of Scotland is great, it’s full of history and super interactive for kids and adults alike. The room full of animals (stuffed, fossils, and models) is always a family favorite.
Even better, it’s free! However, wonderful though it is, you’d seriously be missing out if this was the only museum or gallery that you visited. For example, if you’re looking for something a little more unusual, Surgeons' Hall Museums will definitely take your fancy. Think odd things in jars.
Discover Edinburgh's art scene
For the artsy, the Scottish National Gallery is always full of beautiful and historic Scottish artworks, and also regularly features more eclectic collections and the work of students.
For more art, you can stroll on down to the Portrait Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art or the Fruit Market Gallery (which, by the way, has a fantastic café called Milk). Or, if you want to get to know more about the fascinating city that is Edinburgh, the Museum of Edinburgh is certainly for you, and again, is free!
Discover its local neighborhoods
Much in the same way that you should avoid the overly touristy Royal Mile (other than, of course, to see its stunning old architecture) you should also avoid just sticking to the city centre in general. Edinburgh is actually comprised of quite a few neighbourhoods, each with a different feel and look.
For example, if you want to be by the water or take a wander along a beach, Leith and Portobello are a must. Stockbridge and Dean Village are also incredibly beautiful areas, Dean Village in particular seems more like an ancient medieval land than Edinburgh!
Bruntsfield and Morningside also have a totally different more residential vibe, and are filled with gorgeous cafes and pubs, for the days when you want to relax a little.
Don’t take a bus tour
Edinburgh is really not that big, and yet the double-decker tourist buses are still to be seen zipping around the city. Sure, you’ll get a great amount of information about the city, and yes of course when it’s raining the bus tour might be a preferable option.
However, if you really want to get a feel for Edinburgh, it absolutely must be done by foot. Part of what makes Edinburgh so special is its complicated, and admittedly at times hard to navigate, system of winding cobbled streets and closes.
Just walking from place to place you will become aware of this mesmerizing city. If you are keen to have a more informative experience, this can very easily be done on foot.
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