Home to under half a million people, Edinburgh is Scotland’s hilly capital. Full of culture, history, and numerous tourist attractions, Edinburgh is Scotland’s jewel. I had the pleasure of visiting Edinburgh a few weeks ago, and I am still in awe of the beauty and richness of the city. As someone who hasn’t visited Scotland before, I crave to return soon.
Every crevice of Edinburgh is laced with its dark history. A history that I quickly became familiar with during the first night of my stay, when I joined The City of The Dead Tour. Edinburgh is built on top of the Underground City of the Dead—also known as the Edinburgh Vaults. The vaults are a series of chambers built near the South Bridge in the 1700s. Many argue that the bridge is cursed, as the first person that crossed the bridge was dead in her coffin. But that was only the beginning of the cursed things that would happen in this location.
We stood in darkness for a few minutes, anticipating some ghostly presence
Since homelessness was illegal during the 1700s, many people fled to the vaults to escape punishment. An underground city developed in the vaults- full of smugglers, criminals, prostitutes, and families. As our tour guide told us the story of the vault in the darkness, I felt chills run down my spine. The most terrifying part of the tour was when our tour guide turned off the lights as we stood in darkness for a few minutes, anticipating some ghostly presence.
This part of the town is the ‘Old Town’. During the 1700s, the Old Town became an increasingly dilapidated, overcrowded slum with high mortality rates. As a result, there became a clear divide as richer locals crossed the bridge to the ‘New Town’, rebuilding their lives there.
With every step you take, you are constantly reminded of Edinburgh’s rich, but dark, history.
Edinburgh is renowned for its castle- and rightfully so. Edinburgh Castle is gorgeous, and if you are planning on visiting Edinburgh, it should be your priority. Not only is the view beautiful, but there are also numerous attractions you can visit within the castle. The attractions include The Great Hall, St Margaret’s Chapel, and The National War Museum.
If you’re feeling brave, you can attempt to climb Arthur’s Seat, which takes about two hours to climb. Unfortunately, since I visited Edinburgh during the snowy weather, I had to settle for Calton Hill, which still delivered a beautiful view of Edinburgh.
If you’re craving an interactive and intriguing attraction, I’d recommend The Edinburgh Dungeon. This attraction features a live show with actors as well as interactive rides, forming an unforgettable experience.
If your budget is limited, Edinburgh is fascinating to explore for free. Full of medieval architecture, Edinburgh certainly oozes ‘dark academia’ vibes. Free to enter, the Scottish National Gallery is a must for art lovers. The museum explores centuries of Scottish art, history, and culture.
As a Polish person, I had to visit the Wojtek the Soldier Bear Memorial, located in the central park. Wojtek was a cigarette smoking, beer-drinking bear that fought alongside the Polish soldiers during WW2 to help fight the Nazis. The statue is an official commemoration of the relationship between Poles and Scots.
If you were to reduce Scottish food and drink to only two parts, you would probably say Haggis and Whiskey. Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to try either during my trip. But I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of food options in Edinburgh. Outside of Edinburgh Castle, there was a stall that served Haggis, and even offered a vegan version (which I sadly did not have the chance to try). If you’re keen to explore Edinburgh’s drinking scene, there are multiple locations to do so. This includes The Scotch Whiskey Experience, Royal Mile Whiskies, and Whiskies Rooms.
Overall, Edinburgh is a charming city that offers something for everyone. It is no surprise that it is known as one of Europe’s most beautiful destinations.
In-article image courtesy of Daria Paterek. Permission for use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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