We went to Edinburgh, Scotland for a weekend in November and absolutely loved it. We actually took the kids out of school and left on Thanksgiving Day — Matt is on a US holiday schedule even here, so he had a long weekend and we wanted to make the most of it. The kids’ school was great about us taking them out for a day.
Even though Edinburgh is only a few hours drive from us, we found really, really inexpensive plane tickets (under $250 total for six people!), so we flew there. The flight was just over an hour long — so quick and easy! Since there are six of us, we usually can’t fit into one hotel room, which can make hotel accommodations expensive. In general, we now skip hotels entirely and just use AirBnB — WE LOVE IT!
The place we rented for our weekend in Edinburgh was absolutely perfect–close enough that we could walk to the main downtown area near Edinburgh Castle and the Christmas Market, with plenty of space for all six of us. Plus we had a kitchen and living room so we could really relax during our downtime. This picture above is the view from the kitchen window our first morning — definitely a wonderful start to our Edinburgh vacation. Below you can see the kids having breakfast before we headed out for the second day. I highly recommend this property if you’re going to Edinburgh, and the host was really helpful and lovely!
We set out our first morning in search of something to eat before heading to Edinburgh Castle. Matt got the “Scottish Breakfast” which included haggis. We all tried a bite. Not my favorite, honestly, but it was better than I anticipated it being and I’m glad I at least tried it. When in Scotland, after all!
From breakfast, we headed to Edinburgh Castle, stopping first in the Prince Street Gardens to play on the playground. We really do seek them out everywhere we travel; it’s a good way for the kids to burn energy, have fun, and stay engaged and excited about where we are and what we’re doing. Thirty minutes on a playground buys Matt and I a few hours of happy kids, so it’s well worth it.
Edinburgh Castle is really, really cool. It overlooks the city from it’s perch atop an extinct volcanic hill. It looks like it just grew sort of organically out of the rocky hilltop. We walked up the paths along the steep hill to get there, which was really cool — it just kept getting bigger and bigger the closer we got, and the views from the hillside and atop the castle were amazing.
The castle, obviously, was really big and there was lots to explore — we did part of a guided tour, but then broke away to check it out on our own.
The weather turned pretty nasty part way through the day, though, so then we mainly stuck to the indoor exhibits rather than get blown off our feet by the wind and rain. No one minded because there was plenty to do inside, and we’re hoping to go back to Edinburgh in warmer weather and explore the exterior of the castle a bit more.
We walked the Royal Mile, checked out some really cool shops, bought tartan scarves for all the kids, and then headed to the Christmas Market. I already wrote all about it, but I’ll just say it again: Edinburgh Christmas Market is a fairy tale and if you can EVER, EVER go to it, you should.
Coincidentally, one of my good friends from college, Leah, and her husband were also in Edinburgh that weekend! They are living in London for a year, and we hadn’t had a chance to get together yet, but we met up at the Edinburgh Christmas Market! So fun.
The next day was windy, rainy, and cold again, so we planned some indoor fun. We went to a really amazingly cool museum called Camera Obscura. It’s the white tower on the upper left hand side of the picture above, and it was AWESOME. Located on the Royal Mile just outside the Edinburgh Castle grounds, it was basically 5 stories of optical illusions, brain teasers, and puzzles.
We spent hours there and everyone loved it. It was really cool and I highly recommend it as an indoor option if you’re visiting Edinburgh with kids.
When we left Camera Obscura, we were all ready for lunch, but the nasty weather had sent a lot of people indoors and we couldn’t find any restaurants with seating for 6 people and less than an hour wait. So we went to Pret a Manger, got sandwiches to go, and took a cab back to our apartment. This is why Airbnb is so great — we were able to hang out there for a while and watch a movie (we were all cold and ready to take a break), we could enjoy our lunch without stress, and then we got cleaned up and headed back out a bit later when the weather cleared up.
We were only in Edinburgh for 2.5 days, but we really loved it — even though the weather was cold and rainy, no one complained even once and we had a great time. We’re really looking forward to going to back to Scotland again!