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I really wasn't expecting Edinburgh to be so beautiful! What a difference compared to Buenos Aires, where the style was all over the place in terms of architecture (younger city + no building codes + people wanting to copy Paris, London, and Madrid styles = no uniform look). Edinburgh's main flavor is sandstone. For us, the amount of tourists was kind of shocking (and rather off-putting). I think this mostly has to do with the fact that we didn't really come across any in Buenos Aires. However, as we've continued through Europe there have been just as many (if not more) tourists.
Things we did there:
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The Edinburgh Castle
It'll be the first thing you see in the city, as it's situated up on a hill. There are free tours every half hour. You can buy tickets online, and I would recommend going before 11:00 AM or after 2:00 PM. We got up early and took the free 30 minute guided tour. I heard the audio tour is great and wish we'd had time for that. There is so much to see here- the oldest Crown Jewels in the British Isles, the Stone of Destiny, National War Museum, Military Prison, etc. There are also great views of the city.
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The castle to this day remains an active military site and home to The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo held annually in August. Above, you can see the seating being disassembled.
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Free audio tour by Rick Steves, one hour in duration. Walk down the mile long road, down hill, from the castle to Holyroodhouse Palace. See old buildings and listen to history.
An expensive, hour-long tour. It was cool to see the close (alleyway) from the 17th century and hear about the historical figures that lived or visited here (Mary Queen of Scots spent her last night alive in one of the buildings). You can even see the first indoor toilet installed in Edinburgh here! Unfortunately this was an instance where our English-speaking guide had such a thick accent that it was difficult to understand him at times.
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You could spend forever here- it's HUGE. Also, it's free (though donations are welcome!) We enjoyed the history of Scotland exhibits, but there are many other different things to enjoy. Before you go, make sure to head up to the terrace and enjoy the view.
A port city that is a 45 minute walk from Edinburgh. We went for lunch and walked around a bit.
A hike of the city with views. Highly recommended. Wear proper shoes and bring water 😋
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I cannot recommend the Jeffery Street whisky tasting experience enough. Hector took us on a highly entertaining journey through the history of whisky and Scotch while we tried several different varieties. I learned to enjoy whisky here- before it always felt like drinking fire. Now I can say I actually enjoy it. Three of us shared two tastings- about 10 different scotches in total. For three lightweights, that meant we left totally buzzed. Oops.
DWNTGB (Do We Need To Go Back) Rating
Edinburgh is such a cool, unique city. Yes, it was my second time in Edinburgh, and I've seen most of the big sights. However, it's a great launching pad for Scotland, and it's just a fun place to be. I'd love to go back and spend more time just hanging out there.
I definitely want to come back for the Military Tattoo and also for any of the many other festivals held here.