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first time in edinburgh

Things To Do While First Time in Edinburgh, Scotland

I have to admit, it took me a while to decide if I should write something about my first time in Edinburgh, or not. So far, it was the most eventful trip I ever had, but that a story is for another time.

Usually I avoid writing about where I’ve been, because of safety reasons. I don’t ever write ‘live’ about my travels.

Since this trip was so… let’s say, interesting and Edinburgh touched my souls deeply, I thought it’s only fair to share.

We didn’t have a lot of time to visit everything we wanted, due to some medical issues and I was not allowed walking too much, so we choose to go for the most “attractive” spots.

Edinburgh is a cold, Gothic city and many would say it’s not their type. But I felt in love with it. It might seem grey, but it’s mysterious, elegant and vibrant at the same time.

Have a Walk on the Royal Mile

The Royal Mile is the most famous street in the entire city and probably the main attraction for tourists.

royal mile edinburgh

This beautiful street used to be the main artery of the Old Town. And yes… you guessed it, it is approximately one mile long.

The Royal Mile pretty much will help you get the whole vibe of the city. You get lots of restaurants, amazing buildings, churches and some serious Hogwarts vibes.

Visit Edinburgh Castle

Another iconic spot, you shouldn’t miss while you’re in Edinburgh for the first time is the castle which inspired Hogwarts gounds.

The castle is situated at one end of the Royal Mile and is the real-life Hogwarts. You can visit the Edinburgh Castle for £19.

first time in edinburgh

Even though we couldn’t visit it at that time, it give the city a spectacular scenery. If you are a Harry Potter fan, you should definitely go to the Princes Street and be amazed how much the castle resemblances with the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

J. K. Rowling lived in Edinburgh, so the city is filled with great Harry Potter sports. Which brings me to the next point…

Greyfriars Cemetery

You might think that suggesting to visit a cemetery is simply weird. But this cemetery is quite famous among Harry Potter fans and not only. Here’s why:

  • Tom Riddle is buried here – the real guy who inspired J. K. Rowling for her absolute evil character in the Harry Potter series
  • it’s extremely old – people are buried there since the 16th century and the architecture is stunning
  • it’s related to the beautiful story of Bobby

Tom Riddle Tomb

Tom Riddle was not the most evil wizard of all times. Before the name became so famous, it was a military man’s name. His actual name was Thomas Riddell – but I guess you can spot the resemblance.

To find Tom Riddle’s grave, take the right path from the church when entering the cemetery . When you reach the old stone arch, sharp right, go straight and turn right again when the alley splits in two. You’ll reach a stone wall and Thomas Riddell’s stone grave is on the wall. Not in the corner (the prettier looking one) but the little on the right. It’s super easy to miss it.

Also, there is a McGonagal and a Moodie buried here. Told you there’s a lot of Harry Potter in this city!

Greyfriars Bobby

Dog lovers, get a huge box of tissues because this will melt your heart!

Outside Greyfriars Kirkyard is a small statue of a schmall Skye Terrier with a golden nose. He’s Edinburgh’s best friend and his story is truly heart melting.

Greyfriars Bobby statue in edinburgh

It’s said that Bobby’s owner died only after 2 years of having Bobby. The small dog got to outlive his owner for 14 years, time he spent on his owner’s grave. People were so impressed by him that started to take care of him and when he died, he was buried under the gates of the cemetery. 

Everyone’s petting Bobby’s nose in hope of good luck. It’s worth to give this good boy a quick pet anyway.

Shop on Princes Street

The modern twin sister of the Royal Mile is the perfect spot for shopping. 

Not as iconic as the Royal Mile, Princes Street offers an amazing view of Edinburgh Castle and the old town. Not to mention, if you’re into shopping, this is the spot for you.

Other beautiful street (with a couple of Harry Potter relates shops) worth visiting is Victoria street. Quick tip: climb the stair on Victoria street and you’ll reach the Royal Mile.

victoria street edinburgh
Victoria Street in Edinburgh

Listen to a Bagpipe Player

A trip to Scotland wouldn’t be complete without a quick bagpipe concert. 

bagpipe player in edinburgh

There is always someone playing the bagpipe on the Royal Mile, especially in the evening. They might be loud and not the most pleasant sound for some of us, but it’s not something you come across everyday.

Buy Scottish Cashmere

Until I visited Scotland, I had no idea they were so crazy about cashmere.

Some of the pieces might be pricey, but it’s a local product that they are extremely proud of. Not to mention the quality and how pretty the skirts are.

Also, almost all of them have Princess Diana‘s face on the label – not sure why.

Visit the Old Town Vaults

Probably best known as Mary King’s Close, the old underground neighbourhood of Edinburgh is full of dark history. From how and why it was initially set until it was abandoned because of the plague, its whole existence is fascinating.

A guided tour costs £15.

Check Out the Best Views

This is one of my biggest misses from the trip. 

I live in a city where we have a beautiful view of the city from a hill. So, if there are beautiful spots for an amazing view – and it’s free – you should definitely go for it. The hike will worth a lot when you get on the top.

view from princes street edinburgh

Unfortunately I was not allowed to hike while we were visiting, but some friends who live in Edinburgh highly recommended:

  • Arthur’s seat or
  • Calton hill

I googled to see views from these hills and they are breath taking. These will be the top things to do on my list when I’ll get back.

All the small things

If you’re visiting Edinburgh for the first time, you can’t leave without trying some local food and drinks!

So, while you’re in town make sure you:

  • have a traditional Scottish breakfast
  • have tea with some shortbread
  • taste the famous Scotch right from the source

Have you ever been to Edinburgh? Which were your favourite spots in the city? Let me know in the comments below!

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