The beautiful buildings that remind me of when I lived in Cambridge, the endless small shops and cafes and just the enjoyment of being outdoors.. Edinburgh offers something for everyone and a real charm too.
Last minute flights from London Luton were from £29 each way, thanks Easyjet (but not for your horrendous delays.. I’m talking 11pm, been waiting 4 hours for our flight to turn up… but hey ho)
Where to stay and where to train:
Now there are so many lovely hotels situated centrally, most are familiar chains and not what I would class as cheap. Edinburgh is actually spread out into many areas but as a whole not too tricky to get from A to B on foot so no matter where your hotel is you are likely to be in amongst some form of life. If you are not one to be fussy over fancy pillows and flat screen tvs then there are many hostels in Edinburgh as well as B&B options that offered a much cheaper rate, but depending on the time of year you may find yourself a nifty hotel deal anyway. Edinburgh was magical at Christmas but probably one of the most tourist swarmed times with the famous Christmas markets being a top hit.
We stayed in the Marriott hotel which was handily around the corner from ‘The Gym’, a good space with all main equipment needed for a weights session. One tip would be pre pay online for your pass to use the Gym as it is not particularly clear when you get there on how to enter without a code, especially if you hit it up at unsociable hours. This gym is hidden within what seemed like an office building but a huge area with squat racks, resistance machines, a functional weights area and all the cardio machines you could require. Our hotel also had a small gym with two treadmills which were great for fasted interval sprints pre brunch but unfortunately not much else!
Prior to arrival in Edinburgh I did research other places to train in Edinburgh and to my surprise there was not a great deal available. Other gyms were Fitness First and Virgin Active but if you’re swooping to Edinburgh on a short term visit these will be harder to drop in for a few sessions without paying a premium.
Things to do:
Edinburgh is reasonably small in terms of the key spots to visit so you certainly get your steps in.
Carlton Hill was a great walk which did not involve too much uphill steps but you still got to see some incredible views of both sides of the city, and well worth it for the photo with the columns!
If you like a good trek then Arthurs Seat is a steep incline walk up to get some peak mountain views. Just a tad challenging after a leg day session however rewarding for those views. You may need to use google maps to find this as we did not find the signage particularly clear however if you do Carlton Hill it is around 20 minutes from here to the bottom of Arthurs Seat. You are more than likely to see many others heading in the same direction and on arrival you’ll see the masses walking the hill. You do not need hiking boots, we both wore trainers. I would not advise doing this walk in the rain as it could be a slippy slide!
The typical Edinburgh castle was pretty cool to visit. It is tourist swarmed and tickets are around £20 to go inside but it is one of those things you have to do if you are in Edinburgh!
The Dome – We unfortunately did not get a chance to visit The Dome as we booked our trip last minute and tickets for this place sell thick and fast. Essentially it is a beautiful medieval styled building with a dome shaped ceiling that is supposedly breath taking inside. People book to eat inside the restaurant here or have drinks. I wish we got to see it – another excuse to go back! You can book tickets directly through their website but be warned, it is fully booked up to 3 months in advance.
Grassmarket is a really fun area with many different shops, cafes (Hula juice bar) all here. It had a market on whilst we visited over the weekend. We liked hanging out here.
– ‘The street of light.’
Where to eat:
I could list so many and I only visited for a few days.. The Scottish love their food and so many different cultures of food too. The offering is endless.
One I will never forget, La Favourita.
This hands down is one of the best pizzas I have ever had. The menu is humongous with every option of pizza you could ever need, all the pasta, and of course what I makes a perfect menu, pages of desserts!
You could watch the chefs kneed and toss the dough for each pizza which gave a real authentic experience (Italy in Edinburgh…), all the waiters and waitresses seemed to be Italian. This family run business was full of customers at 3pm on a Sunday so it was a popular hit for locals. We opted for 2 x 14” pizzas which were probably too big but got polished off nicely, followed by banoffee pie and chocolate torte. Both incredible.
Not one to be missed!
Elephant and Bagels was a cute little bagel shop which is covered in drawings and pictures of elephants inside. The outside looks like an old school building with ornate lettered shop name which made it look like it had been around for centuries. Perhaps it had? They had a great selection of bagel filling options, with all different breads, every choice to build your perfect bagel.
Lovecrumbs does not really look like much upon arrival. When you walk through the doors however you are greeted with the warming smell of fresh coffee and your eyes are met with a display of indulgent cakes, slices the size of your face and every flavour combination. It has quirky decorations with floral vines on the walls, books and a lit up led lettered lights at the back in pink. Make sure you stop buy for an afternoon slab of cake and on your way here be sure to snap the castle on the hill, we saw one of the best views from this location.
For the more health conscious there are many cafes and always ‘healthier’ options in all restaurants.
Hula Bar is decorated like a jungle inside with tropical wallpaper and again one hell of a cake a pastry display. In here you can find acai bowls, all the veggie and vegan options and one of the finest matcha lattes with raspberry sprinklings on top that your money can buy!
The Scottish seem to love a curry so on research we thought we would try out.. Mother India’s cafe is regularly fully booked so if you are keen to go make sure you reserve a table. Whilst waiting we also were informed by another customer they had travelled from Wales just for this meal so we had high expectations. Due to the restaurant being booked out in the evening we went for lunch. The menu is tapas style where by you order many smaller dishes between a group. I actually felt I had experienced better curries and cheaper curries at home, perhaps eating curry mid afternoon was not the best idea. It was less heavy having the smaller dishes but just became very expensive. Also note what we consider as a naan they call a pita bread – was not quite the same as the greasy naan you get from your local Indian. Not the most satisfying!
Soderberg Bakery Shop – There are so many dotted around city, filled with Swedish cakes and pastries. They also serve pizza and brunch! Be sure to try the raspberry and custard cinnamon swirl.
The Pantry – This place has not been around for long but on some Instagram research the food looked insane as well as the menu. Waffles, pancakes, eggs and veg combinations.. inside it is a stylish cafe, with all the quirky décor you could need. Our meal blew is away – look out for their specials board and their porridge is extremely filling but so delicious!
Blue Bear Café
Loudons – The elaborate but well written menu gives you some Scottish brunch takes on the classic benedicts including a black pudding and haggis combo! There gingerbread and apple and blackberry French toast was one to remember.
Brew Labs Coffee
The Caffeine Drip
If travelling from London you will find that flights are more expensive from Heathrow and Stansted, Luton airport is where you can find the rates at their cheapest and are predominately with Easyjet. Be warned though, delays are regular with this route so don’t cut things fine with journey times and work the next day!
Taxis from the airport to your hotel will typically be around £20 as the airport is about 40 mins from central Edinburgh. Be sure to factor this into your budget.
Hotels as previously mentioned are mainly all above £100 a night but this will depend on the time of year and how fussy you are with being upmarket or not!
Chain gyms are no more than £10 for a drop in, but maybe weigh up what you would rather spend money on. If you would rather pay a little extra for a hotel with a good gym then you will not need to pay for gym passes!
You can get around everywhere on foot, so ditch the uber and walk off those pancakes!
Foodie stops I wish I had time to hit up:
Wedgwood – Tasting menu I was eager to try!
Make sure you walk around and get a good feel for the city. There are so many quirky vintage shops, boutique shops and great sights to see. I preferred not having a packed out itinerary for Edinburgh other than for food (obviously) as it was just a nice place to explore without time constraints. Get your workout in early doors so you can enjoy the day.
Take an umbrella and warm clothes if visiting in the winter, like England the weather is unpredictable and you want to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. Check the weather before you decide on what day to do Arthurs Seat too!