Edinburgh & Side Trips in 1 Week
With more time, you can see some of the picturesque countryside that surrounds the capital of Scotland. I have devised these trips for travel by car.
Day 1: The Royal Mile & Old Town
On your first day, head straight to the Royal Mile in Edinburgh's Old Town. It stretches from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Along the way you can stop at the historic Gladstone's Land or St. Giles' Cathedral, as well as the modern Scottish Parliament building. Be sure to wander down at least one of the narrow alleys and passageways that extend down the hill on either side of the Royal Mile, like ribs from a spine. Also, if you have time left over, check out the Grassmarket and take a detour to the Museum of Scotland.
Day 2: New Town & Scotland's National Galleries
Having a grip on Edinburgh's Old Town, it's time to move to the city's New Town, which dates to the late 1700s. Begin with the Princes Street Gardens and then move on to George Street, with its panoply of shops and stylish bars. Climb up to Calton Hill at the eastern end of New Town for the views, and from the western side of the district, take in Charlotte Square or wander down to Stockbridge on the Water of Leith. If you're still going strong, you can follow a path along the Water of Leith to the Dean Gallery, part of the capital National Galleries of Scotland. Catch the shuttle bus to any of the others, including the National Portrait Gallery or the main National Gallery of Scotland, back on Princes Street Gardens.
Day 3: To Leith & the Southside
It's your last day, so let's move out of the city center and head to the sea. First stop, however, is the marvelous Royal Botanic Garden, where you might well spend a few hours wandering about the verdant paths. In Leith you'll find the original port of Edinburgh, once an independent town in its own right. Two big attractions of Leith are its pubs and restaurants - several of which are considered to be among the city's finest. Come back toward central Edinburgh, but detour south to the Meadows and see some of the fine residential neighborhoods of Marchmont or Bruntsfield and get an idea of how Edinburghers live.
Day 4: Kingdom of Fife & Linlithgow
If you're up very early and it's a dry day, you might scale Arthur's Seat, the ancient volcano that rises up above Edinburgh. From there you can see across the Firth of Clyde and the so-called Kingdom of Fife -- your next destination. First head north to the seaside town of St. Andrews, about a 1-hour drive once you're out of Edinburgh. World famous for its golf, this seaside town is also an important historic site of Christian pilgrimage and home of the first university in Scotland. You might wish to come back south along the coast, stopping briefly, if you're interested in Scottish art, to see the excellent Kirkcaldy Museum, with its priceless collection of the Colourists, Joan Eardley, and even a Vettriano. After this, you should have enough time to head back across the Forth (20 minutes) and get to Linlithgow and its ancient palace, the birthplace of one of Scotland's most iconic figures: Mary, Queen of Scots.
Day 5: East Lothian Coast
In the morning, head east out of the city for the town of North Berwick and its popular Scottish Seabird Centre, where, thanks to a host of video cameras dotting the nearby islands and coastal cliffs, you can see a range of avian and sea-life colonies. Other highlights of the region include two castle ruins, the romantic Dirleton, in the cute village of the same name, as well as the magnificent Tantallon on bluffs above the sea. Golf buffs may want to see Muirfield, although others will settle happily for a stroll around nearby Gullane village and its sandy beaches.
Day 6: South into the Borders
Make another early start and head south toward Melrose, which takes about 1 hour by car. This village has Melrose Abbey, which has inspired many - including writer Sir Walter Scott. His home, Abbotsford, is next on the agenda. This mansion has a host of historical artifacts collected by Scott, and it is where he wrote many of his most enduring tales. Next up is the oldest continuously inhabited home in Scotland, the alluring Traquair House.
Day 7: Edinburgh's Other Attractions
Take it easy - you've had a busy week. It's time to see some of the other attractions that Edinburgh has to offer. Take in any museums or galleries not yet hit, such as the Writer's Museum. How about the Edinburgh Zoo? Or if you really enjoyed The Da Vinci Code, then you had better make the pilgrimage to Rosslyn Chapel on the southern fringes of the city. Otherwise, just hang out in Old Town or New Town.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.