To ease our post-Christmas blues, my other half and I embarked on a romantic road trip to Edinburgh before the reality of back-to-work hit home. From filling our bags to the brim at Scotland’s famous shopping destination, Princes Street, to eating like the locals do at Edinburgh’s favourite foodie hot-spots, our trip up north did not disappoint…
The drive –
On a good day (we travelled noon on Sunday), the journey takes just short of four hours from Sheffield to Edinburgh. It’s usually a clear run on the motorway but we’d recommend taking the scenic route when you reach Newcastle (if you like to admire the pretty towns and villages along the way – we recommend a stop off at Jedburgh). There’s plenty of selfie stop-off points along the drive too – from The Angel of The North to the ‘Welcome to Scotland’ / ‘Welcome to England’ reverse stone, and the ‘Last café in England’ where you may need to stop for an overdue toilet break and well needed cup of English tea.
Stay central –
If you don’t mind travelling mid-week (Sunday nights are the best for bargains) then you can stay in a four star central hotel for well under £100. But travel on a weekend and you’ll be over the £100 mark unless you manage to bag a deal on a last minute travel website.
We recommend a stay at the new four star Mercure Hotel at Edinburgh Quay. It’s a five minute walk to the castle and in less than ten minutes you’ll reach the popular shops and bars on Princes Street.
Shopping on Princes Street –
With views of the castle to your left and an endless line of leading high street names to your right, it’s a serious shopper’s paradise. I’d recommend starting at the most southern point of the street, then walking to the most northern point – where you’ll find all of the big brands and department stores along the way – then return via the backstreets where you’ll find an array of independents. If, like me, you tend to treat yourself to something touristy to wear back home, then head to the souvenir shops where there’s every shade of tartan scarf you could think of. Or perhaps an Edinburgh memorabilia mug.
Fancy some haggis and tatties?
If you want to eat like the locals do, then try Scotland’s speciality dish – haggis and tatties! Translated to Yorkshire, Sheep’s stomach and potatoes, is available in most restaurants, eaten for lunch and/or dinner. You’ll also find a traditional Scottish breakfast on the morning menus – almost identical to an English fry-up, but with the addition of fried haggis.
I’d recommend a stop of at Ryan’s café for breakfast – affordable and service with a smile; while for lunch/dinner, treat yourself to something tasty at Khloe bar and restaurant – a ‘wee’ bit more expensive, but worth the investment given the luxurious décor and sophisticated surroundings.
Sightseeing at the castle
Dominating the city skyline, be sure to plan in some time to explore Edinburgh castle. Although stunning by day, the castle comes in to its own when lit up at night.
The castle houses the Honours (crown jewels) of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny, the famous 15th century gun Mons Meg, the One O’ Clock Gun and the National War Museum of Scotland. Book on to a guided tour provided by the castle stewards, or opt for an audio guide tour available in eight languages. A tourist must-see – don’t forget to grab a selfie with this stunning backdrop!