While I’ve always been enchanted by Scottish accents, I didn’t actually consider Scotland a top destination until my trusty travel buddy Nu put it at the top of her list. Always up for a new adventure, I started researching and realised this was not going to be a compromise on my part – Scotland should be on every travel list.
On our most recent trip to the UK, we could only spare three nights but organised to stay in Edinburgh with one full-day trip to explore the countryside. The four-hour train ride from London made our destination all the more exciting, especially when it crossed the Scottish border and we marveled at the cliffs and buildings along the east coast.
In the weeks leading up to Scotland, Nu had joked that her perfect arrival would include bagpipes and a gent dressed in full highland dress. Lo and behold, when we made our way out of the station, we could hear bagpipes on the wind and after struggling up the steps to the Royal Mile, there stood a bagpiper, kilt blowing in the breeze. It was the first of many surreal and wonderful moments in Edinburgh and Scotland.
We quickly discovered that Edinburgh was an incredibly walk-able city and spent the first and third days discovering streets, sights, and spots, at our own pace. We walked up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle; we explored Calton Hill at daybreak; we strolled through the Christmas Markets and rode the Star Flyer; we marveled at the Royal Museum of Scotland (free entry) and its spectacular view of the city from the rooftop terrace.
Being Potterheads, we visited the Elephant House for afternoon tea (J.K. Rowling spent time here writing The Philosopher’s Stone) and meandered through Greyfriars Kirk (where the author found inspiration for the names of several key characters).
Our tour was a small group of six which picked us up in Edinburgh and returned us 12 hours later. It took us into the highlands, stopping at beautiful towns, in stunning forests, by gorgeous waterfalls, and providing an illuminating (yet brief) history of the country. Our last stop was a distillery in Aberfeldy where we were treated to a tour and several drinks.
I didn’t think Scotland or Edinburgh could live up to the hype surrounding it (I’m yet to speak to someone who doesn’t enjoy everything this country has to offer) but I cannot wait to return. The open friendliness of its people especially makes it easily one of the best place I have ever visited.