OK, so you may think I am mental but in my bid to travel the world sometimes you have to do crazy things! So with my two younger sisters and my mother in tow the four of us set out for a day trip, YES, a day trip to Edinburgh.
We found return flights from London Gatwick to Edinburgh for £50 per person on Easyjet and cheap car parking at the airport. We did have to leave home at 4:45am so an early night was essential but we were in Edinburgh city center before 9am after landing and taking the Airlink 100 bus, which leaves every 10 mins and takes 25 mins and costs £7.50 return each.
For our first stop we walked straight to the Elephant House cafe for breakfast, which is famous as it is where JK Rowling is alleged to have sat and started writing the first book of the Harry Potter series. There are lots of Harry Potter references all over the cafe and as my youngest sister is a huge fan it just seemed a place we could not consider missing! From here we were a short walk down to St Gile's Cathedral, which has free entry and is well worth popping into.
We then wandered down the entire length of the famous Royal Mile before hitting the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Admission is £11.60 per person and cheaper for students. I would thoroughly recommend picking up a free audio guide as it really brought this interesting and historical palace to life. Do spare a little time to wander through the manicured gardens as they are beautiful.
Next up was a walk up hill to the Scott Monument, commemorating Sir Walter Scott, which is also the largest monument dedicated to a writer in the world. Admission is £3 and whilst there are lots of steps and thin passageways I would recommend a journey up just for the impressive views over the city.
Finally, our exhausted little feet were rested for a good couple of hours for lunch! There are loads of places to try in Edinburgh but we went for Browns as you always know you will be looked after and the food will be good.
After lunch we took a brief wander around Princes Street Gardens and the little gallery housed there, with free entry before making the climb up the hill to Edinburgh Castle. We bought tickets prior to our visit online for £16.50 per adult to avoid the queue on arrival. The castle was really interesting and was brought to life by our guide on one of the free tours that depart from the castle gate at regular intervals. The views over the city are also astounding from here.
Our final stop was a tour of The Real Mary King's Close. It's £13.95 per person and you tour in a group with a time slot, I would book before you visit to ensure availability and the tour will last for one hour. This was very touristy and incorporated some "ghost stories", however, it was also interesting as you could really see the old streets of Edinburgh and how the city has been built up therefore creating these underground areas.
Finally, it was time to head back to the bus, which is right next to The Real Mary King's Close and back to the airport. After a smooth journey home we were in bed by 11:30pm! It was an exhausting day but we really did encompass the best of Edinburgh, we saw, experienced and learnt a lot and it was so much cheaper than needing overnight accommodation!