Edinburgh: A Hike Through the Fascinating City

– by Brendan Reid, Editor –

Edinburgh is a beautiful city, day or night

There’s something to be said about a city that combines modern streets, medieval marketplaces and scenic cliffs all into a single two-hour hike. Edinburgh is one such city. I recently had the chance to live in Edinburgh for a four-month stretch, and in that time I got to know the nuances of this wonderfully diverse place. Whether you want to shop, explore the crevices of history, relax in the fields or party the night away, Edinburgh has you covered. It is a unique city and well worth a visit, whether you are just passing through or staying for any length of time.

Princess Street at night

Princes Street: Monuments, Gardens and Castles

A good place to get your bearings in Edinburgh is Princes Street. Lined with shops and restaurants, this is a good place to stock up for your journeys. Here stands the Scott monument, a towering gothic spire dedicated to writer Sir Walter Scott. This landmark that can be seen from just about any point in the city. From here you can head North to Rose Street and its lively marketplace, or head along the south bridge, and find yourself at the Royal Mile, which is the

Walter Scott Monument

Walter Scott Monument

true center of Edinburgh. If you head east up the road, you will find yourself at the castle. A prime tourist attraction, Edinburgh castle is a truly phenomenal sight, and a tour within its walls will teach you a great deal about the city’s history.

The Royal Mile: Center of Everything

Along the Royal Mile are countless tour guides waiting to take their next group through the winding streets. If you are feeling brave, you can join them and explore the haunted underground vaults, or if that’s not your cup of tea, you can join one of the many pub-crawls and meet people from all over the globe. The Royal Mile connects directly to the Cowgate, which is lined with bars, pubs, and clubs, and this in turn leads to the meadows, which is a sprawling park perfect for a cookout or frisbee match. The park is a wonderful place to be on a sunny day, and just one of Edinburgh’s many green spaces.

Edinburgh's Royal Mile is the true center of town

Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is the true center of town

Hikes and Hills

If you head west on the Royal Mile away from the castle, you will eventually find yourself at Hollyrood Park. This park is home to Arthur’s seat, a truly impressive cliff that juts out of the center of the city that is free for you to explore. To hike to the very top takes the better part of 45 minutes, but the journey is worth every step. It is a fantastic workout, and the view is one you’ll be hard pressed to forget. Near Hollyrood are Blackford Hill and Calton Hill, providing more excellent hikes within walking distance of the Royal Mile.

A view of Hollyrood Palace from Calton Hill

The Fringe Festival

Edinburgh is as diverse in its population as it is in its architecture, and people from all across the world can be found in its bars and streets. One of the most exciting times to visit Edinburgh is during the annual Fringe Festival, which takes place for nearly the entire month of August. It is a celebration of the arts, particularly theater, comedy and music. During the festival the population of Edinburgh doubles, and the pubs stay open even later. It is a truly incredible time, and should not be missed if you are in Edinburgh for the summer.

Performers in the Fringe Festival, 2013

Performers in the Fringe Festival, 2013

Such is just the beginning of what Edinburgh has to offer. It is a city that rewards exploration, and so much can be discovered with a simple walk through its streets. You will have a blast whether you are traveling solo or with friends, and Edinburgh can serve as the starting point to other destinations in Europe. Whatever the reason for your visit, it is a place you won’t easily forget.

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