The Blog

A Local’s Guide to a Staycation in Edinburgh

Edinburgh – Scotland’s magical capital city with enticing history, spectacular sights, and world-renowned attractions to visit, it’s the perfect place for a staycation in Scotland.

VisitScotland caught up with Claire (@alittlebitofclaire, @alittlebitofscotland) who is lucky enough to live in Edinburgh. A mum of two and a budding photographer, Claire loves uncovering all the hidden nooks and crannies of this incredible city and sharing all her finds and favourite places to visit.

View from Edinburgh Castle over Mons Meg © Claire Ferguson

View from Edinburgh Castle over Mons Meg © Claire Ferguson

Often you’ll find me in the Highlands but I thought I’d share my favourite spots and places in the city with you that I have been able to rediscover while travel has been restricted.

Edinburgh is one of the most magical & historical places in Scotland and so, I’ll start by sharing the Royal Mile.

What route do you like to take?

Starting at Arthur’s Seat, I love walking up from the foot of the mile, wandering into White Horse Close to snap that hidden gem that resembles somewhere only faeries would live.
Once I leave there I often enjoy a picnic with the kids in Dunbar Gardens, we’ve seen many weddings take place here which is just so beautiful.

My all-time favourite hidden spot on the mile is Chessels Court. I found this delight in 2016 before I was pregnant with my first, after that I’ve visited with Cailyn, then Casey. I now have many beautiful memories under that heart on the wall. If you use #MyEdinburghHeart you’ll see my little family grow. I’m glad I created this so I can have my own slice of love there too.

INSIDE KNOWLEDGE; Created by the ladies husband when they got back together, he grew this stunning heart on the wall to remind her of his love for her. Now if that’s not romantic I don’t know what is, right?

Now, as you walk further up the mile, when its open of course, pop into St Giles Cathedral – the roof is incredible and one of the most amazing structural buildings in Edinburgh.
After that I would strongly suggest visiting The Writers Museum, Lady Stairs Close and The University of Divinity for all you Harry Potter fans.

Riddle’s Court, would be next on my list, this is a 16th century courtyard, hidden away until recently, now a unique venue for events, studies and not forgetting its historical past. Take a wander to see the stunning wooden stair case and read about this courtyard while you’re there.

The Witchery by the castle, not only is it one of the most dark and delightful places to stay and dine but they often have gorgeous displays in their courtyard that you can pop in and see when it’s quiet.
And now to end the Royal Mile tour you most defiantly want to visit Edinburgh Castle, not just for the views over the city but also to learn about our history. Here are some facts I wonder if you knew about?

  • Edinburgh Castle was built on top of an extinct volcano which formed by an explosion 340 years ago.
  • The castle is said to be haunted by a lone piper, a young boy who was said to have disappeared within the walls.
  • The gun has been going since 1861 and was designed to help sailors keep time. It fires at 1pm
  • There’s a dog cemetery in the grounds which is off limits to the public.
  • The Witches Well, visible on the esplanade, commemorates women who were accused of witchcraft and executed between the 15th and 18th centuries.
© Claire Ferguson

The People’s Story Museum © Claire Ferguson

Top places to visit

I have so many to choose from but let’s go with this for now…..

  • Families; I would strongly suggest a free visit to The National Museum of Scotland.
  • If your children are a bit older, 5 years I would say is best for this but Dynamic Earth is fantastic and very educational.
  • Take a tour of the city on the open top buses, you can hop on and off and your ticket actually lasts for 24hrs so don’t throw it away as you can re-use it if you miss something before the time runs out.
  • Camera Obscura, one of the local spots you’ll just love, it’s fun for all ages and the younger ones will have a great sensory experience. A must see while you’re here in the city.
  • Want to see more of the famous bridges? You can grab a tour bus called “the three bridges tours” or hop on a train to Dalmeny station or a local bus (43) and take a small walk down to Queensferry and enjoy the Maid of the Forth tours which is my local favourite and the only way to see all the bridges from underneath with the family. You can enjoy a drink while on board, take a stop off at Inchcolm island or just enjoy a trip around the Forth. You might even spot some sea life while you’re out.
National Museum of Scotland © Claire Fergusson

National Museum of Scotland © Claire Fergusson

Top places to eat

If you’re in Queensferry then don’t go any further for an ice cream, no seriously, The Little Parlour is the only place you need to go for your fix. Scott and the team do an incredible job at creating cool toppings, always changing flavours and adding treat boxes to the shop that you can order and take home to enjoy! Before you leave Queensferry a trip to Down the Hatch is a must for all things Canadian, over the top and darn right delicious. The BEST shakes, skillets, buffalo fries and insane burgers! Don’t miss this!

If you’re in Edinburgh and in need of a sweet fix then Cuckoos Bakery can be found on Dundas Street or my fave spot at Bruntsfield. They create some incredible occasion cakes but my go to will always be the themed cupcakes or salted caramel brownies with an iced latte. Cuckoos have been part of our life for many years now, from popping in while Cailyn was napping to enjoy a quiet coffee, to helping us with our gender reveal with Casey. You just can’t beat family run businesses!

Pizza Pizza Pizza … we all love it right? Hands down the best in the city is the one and only Civerinos you can head to Hunters Square or grab a take away or slice from Forrest Road. I fully recommend the butter chicken, pepperoni and of course margarita. When we can, grab an Aperol Slushy.

Wanting something else? Then without a doubt the Ivy Edinburgh and Hawksmoor is the place to go for something special. They serve up the best steaks and seafood, the customer service is fantastic and you can enjoy a range of cocktails or mocktails. Also, they host the best displays, last year’s Narina theme at the Ivy was created by my lovely friends who own Wildflowers Edinburgh, they did my Autumnal door and it was absolutely fantastic. You can spot the famous giant nutcrackers outside the Edinburgh Grand which is joined to Hawksmoor. Take a wander through the door for the most spectacular Christmas tree in the city.

© Claire Fergusson

© Claire Fergusson

I hope you’ve enjoyed a little bit of Edinburgh with me!
Claire @alittlebitofclaire @alittlebitofscotland