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a two-day itinerary in Edinburgh

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Can anyone suggest a detailed two-day itinerary (including the route and places to eat) in Edinburgh?

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    >>Can anyone suggest a detailed two-day itinerary (including the route and places to eat) in Edinburgh?<<

    No ;)

    There are more than two days worth of things to see so what one person suggests for your two days might not be the best choices for you. Why not put together what you think you want to see/do. And we can help squeeze it all in.

    In general though -- the Royal Mile from top to bottom is a must. With the Castle, Camera Obscura, Whisky centre, St Giles Cathedral, several museums and Holyrood Palace is one very FULL day.

    Re restaurants -- what is your budget and what sort(s) of food

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    some of this is a bit out of date,, so take with a pinch of salt and check:-

    Edinburgh is a mixture of a wonderful late mediaeval city with a planned Georgian New Town, and modern bits round the edges. A visit to the Castle is a must, and a hike up Arthur's seat (a hill in the centre of the town above Holyrood Palace) will give you magnificent views out over the whole of east central Scotland. The approx. 1/2 mile hike provides a commanding view of the city, castle, sea, and surrounding countryside.
    Castle Hill is the most westerly end of the Royal Mile. Directly below the Castle, to the south, is the Old Town -- tightly wound streets, buildings piled on each other (often literally). On the west side of the Castle is Edinburgh's commercial area. To its north is Princes Street Gardens, directly below the Castle, with the New Town section of the city just beyond. The New Town is built on grid-plan streets with plenty of restaurants, and shopping. To the east of the Castle runs the Royal Mile -- the High Street (which becomes the Canongate) -which runs from the Castle down to the Palace of Holyrood House at the east end of the Mile.
    The Castle includes all manner of interesting things: from the Scottish military history museum to the Great Hall to the Honours of Scotland to the Stone of Scone, a humongous cannon called Mons Meg – made in Mons, Belgium; nicknamed in Edinburgh. The Great Hall was the hall where the Scottish kings held court before the Union of the Crowns in 1603. The Honours are the Crown Jewels -the sword, sceptre and crown of Scotland- which were considered redundant in 1707 as part of the Treaty of Union, when the parliaments merged. Sir Walter Scott (author of Rob Roy, Ivanhoe, and others) led the movement to rescue the Crown Jewels and in 1818, he unearthed them from the chest in which they had lain within Edinburgh Castle since the signing of the Treaty
    The Stone of Scone, also known as the Stone of Destiny, is literally the crowning place for the Scottish kings because that is where they sat when they were crowned. It is now in Edinburgh Castle after a short (750 year) stay in England, having originally been used at Scone in Perthshire, where 42 Scottish kings or queens ascended the throne.
    The Castle has great views over Edinburgh, some nice museums, too many shops for good taste and plenty to wander around and enjoy.
    The Royal Mile is split into two halves by the North Bridge: High Street above and Canongate below. North Bridge leads over some streets below the Royal Mile (on the lower parts of Castle Hill and its surrounds) and into the eastern edge of New Town. High Street contains about 70% of the shops, pubs, activities, etc. of the Royal Mile including the vast majority of souvenir shops, Scottish trade shops (BUY YOUR TARTAN HERE), whisky shops, etc. Canongate leads down to Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament.
    Mary Kings Close, near the top of the Mile, is a street which, in the middle ages, was on ground level but when the great plague came to visit Scotland (and Edinburgh in particular) it hit the place hard. The worst section of the city was right in the heart of the 'Old Town', where the present City Chambers are nowadays. This street was known as Mary King’s Close (after an advocate’s daughter so the story goes) and the local authorities, the kind beings that they are, decided to seal both entrances of the street up with everyone still inside. This street was rediscovered many years later and now you can take a tour down there. WARNING - they tell you that because of the many people sealed alive down there that there are ghosts aplenty. Tours can be arranged from the Royal Mile.

    Incidentally, there are a bunch of themed walks run from the Mile, pretty much to suit all tastes.
    Various closes and wynds connect the Royal Mile the city below. The closes tend to be narrow enough to touch the walls on both sides and are steep (often with stairs) and they are all over the place. Buildings on the Mile were erected over the alleyways such that you now have attached structures with a close tunneling under one part of one or two buildings. In the closes and wynds were built tenements– multistory stone apartment buildings.
    Edinburgh was one of the first cities to build four and five-story (or more) tenements. It also walled itself off in the 1500s such that an area just one-mile long and about ¼ to 1/3 mile wide comprised all of Edinburgh.
    Edinburghers until the late 1600s had no indoor plumbing -- instead they'd toss their human waste from their homes every night at 10 pm, yelling "Gardey loo!" as a warning (from gardez l'eau -- beware the water).
    It’s redolent with histories and stories.
    For example, William Burke and William Hare turned a profiteering venture into a mass murder scheme. In the early 1800s, Edinburgh University scholars were delving into the mysteries of human biology by dissecting cadavers, but only executed criminals could be used, and each doctor could only have two bodies per year from the executed, although they had hundreds of students. The university researchers offered bounties for fresh bodies. Burke and Hare ran a ramshackle lodging house with their wives and one lodger died. They took the body from its casket to Dr. Robert Knox, who paid them nearly £7/10/- – a huge sum – no questions asked. The two lads then hatched a new scheme: plying lodgers and hookers with drink, killing them, then bringing the bodies to Dr. Knox for money. The scheme fell apart when a prostitute’s body showed up on Dr. Knox’s table and many of his students recognized the nude body that they’d seen before. The authorities investigated, learned that Burke & Hare had been seen with her in a pub, arrested Burke and Hare and obtained a confession from Hare. Burke was executed and his body sent to a rival of Knox (who had claimed ignorance and got off scot-free), who removed the skeleton whole and displayed it at Edinburgh University (where it remains today). Burke’s skin was cured and used as leather. Hare was reportedly lynched and blinded by a mob.
    You’ll see, on the Royal Mile outside St. Giles Cathedral a heart shape in the cobblestones of High Street. This is the Heart of Midlothian and symbolizes the old Tolbooth where criminals used to be publicly displayed against the building that had stood on that spot. The accused would be tacked against the building by their ears for three days before their “trial” and passersby would throw insults, or rubbish at them or spit on them. Today, the Heart is the only place in Edinburgh where it is legal to spit – it’s now “good luck.”
    At the bottom of the Mile is the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the ruins of Holyrood Abbey. The Palace is still a crown property, and the Royal Family uses it when it so chooses, A palace has stood on the same spot since King David I of Scotland erected the first structure there in 1128. Not the increasing ornate-ness of the columns in the inner courtyard from boring Doric on the ground floor, to semi-ornate Ionic (ram-horn shape at top) on the second floor where the various meeting and dining rooms are, to very ornate Corinthian on the top floor where the Royal apartments are. Inside the Palace, great rooms, art, furniture, etc., but more importantly, the gory stuff: including the spot where Mary Queen of Scots’ Italian secretary was found murdered by lackeys of her second husband, Lord Darnley – you can still see some of the blood stain in the wood.
    The Abbey is a ruin of where the Scottish royalty had been buried until the late 1600s.
    Across from the Palace is a large structure of meandering design and a conceptualistic lack of concept. It has random integration of stone, metal, glass and wood and extends for more than a block up into the Canongate away from the Palace. It includes contemplation alcoves built into the building that jut out over the street and tiki-hut sticks acting as wood finishes on its outside awnings.
    The structure is the new Scottish Parliament building – an unmitigated disaster of poor financial planning, but spectacular architecture.
    In the New Town, in Charlotte Square you’ll see the residence of the Scottish First Minister and the one-time home of Joseph Lister. Lister was a surgeon who used carbolic acid in a solution as an antiseptic in surgery and to clean surgical instruments – the pioneer of antiseptic use. Listerine is named after him.
    The former Royal Yacht Britannia is berthed at Leith, Edinburgh's port, and can be visited by the public. Some of Edinburgh’s best restaurants are in Leith. The Museum of Scotland in the centre of the City is pretty good, for the architecture as well as the exhibits.
    Edinburgh is also a great shopping city. The best places to shop include the West End, the area around Victoria Street and the Grassmarket, and Stockbridge.

    Think of using the hop-on, hop-off bus for transport.

    It’s a fabulous place for pubs, some of which have particular slants. The two best places in Edinburgh for folk music are 2 pubs (surprise!) One is the Tron and the other is Sandy Bell's. Sandy Bell's also used to produce a news-sheet "Sandy Bell's Broadsheet" and I think they still do, which lists all the folky stuff going on all over Scotland. One other, a bit more touristy, is the Ensign Ewart which is situated near the entrance to the Castle - can't miss it. Walk along the length of Rose Street (or just nip up for a look) whilst it’s busy in the late evening and just take in the atmosphere. Great pubs (not all in Rose Street) include the Café Royal, the Barony, Mathers, the Diggers (posh name the Athletic Arms), the Roseburn, Bert’s, and the Abbotsford

    In the northwestern suburbs, in Davidson's Mains there is a baronial (i.e., circa 1895 but looking very medieval) house called Lauriston Castle. The tours are great, as this "castle" has secret passageways, a library bookshelf that hides a secret door, etc. From Davidson's Mains it is a very short (7-8 minutes) drive to Cramond, which has a yachtsman's harbour, the mouth of the River Almond, a medieval church (Cramond Kirk) and the remains (in the churchyard!) of Rome's northernmost garrison fort. It is one of the most important places in Stevenson’s “Kidnapped”

    A random list of things to see includes:-
    The New Town-planned grid Georgian -makes Bath pale by comparison
    The Royal Mile -Medieval route between the Castle and Holyrood palace
    The Castle
    Valvona and Crolla -best deli in the UK
    Greyfriars Bobby - statue of dog who sat at his master’s grave for decades
    The Meadows - huge park in the town centre
    Dean Village - working men’s planned village
    The Scott Monument -Gothic Sky rocket memorial to Queen Victoria’s favourite Scottish author
    Calton Hill –Observatory. It’s on the northeast side of town and gives great views over Edinburgh and Leith.. There are monuments to Scottish Philosopher Dugald Stewart, Adm. Horatio Nelson and many others.
    Arthur's Seat -see above
    Holyrood- Palace and Park - Queen’s Scottish town house and big garden
    The New parliament - this trip can be arranged. There is a visitor's gallery at the Scottish parliament and you can get tickets from (would you believe) the ticket office! There is no dress code.
    The Museum of Childhood - on the Royal Mile
    Cafe Vittoria - neighbourhood Tally restaurant. Very down to earth.
    St Giles Cathedral - on the Mile. Scene of Jenny what’shername’s tantrum. Crown tower
    Parliament House - where the big wigs hang out (what a terrible pun)
    Make sure you visit the National Museum of Scotland (Chambers St) in Edinburgh.
    Gladstone’s Land, -mediaeval close off the High Street (the Mile)
    John Knox’s House on the Mile
    The Malt Whisky Heritage Centre at the top of the Mile
    Go to Deacon Brodie's pub and understand why it's called that
    Eat in the Grassmarket and shop in Victoria Street


    Plus there are great restaurants, gardens and parks. If it's atmosphere you like try The Witchery. The prices are a little steep, but the food is good and it's right beside the castle. (as far as atmosphere, the name says it all)

    Other great restaurants include Stac Polly, Café Hub, Browns, Le Sept, Est Est Est, Bann’s, Henderson’s, the Kalpna, Viva Mexico, Shamiana, the Siam Erewan, the Loon Fung.

    At the moment the best restaurants in the city are Martin Wishart and Kitchen. But there are really nice places to eat, everywhere.

    This is a city heaving with museums. I believe I have mentioned the National Museum of Scotland and the Museum of Childhood. In addition there are:-
    The National Gallery and Royal Scottish Academy
    the National Portrait Gallery
    The Gallery of Modern Art
    The Dean Gallery
    The Georgian House
    The City Art Centre
    The Fruitmarket Gallery,
    The Collective Gallery
    The Printmakers’ Workshop

    The City Council runs a free shuttle bus between the big museums

    Or you can go to the Zoo; Dynamic Earth(mixed reviews- haven’t been myself), or the Botanic Gardens.

    It’s awash with places to walk, sporting facilities, cinemas, theatres, music venues, and stunning architecture.

    Walk through the new town with a proper guidebook to how it was all done (free except for cost of book- probably somewhere on the web).

    Good day trips out of the city would include:-

    1/ To the south you are about an hour's drive from the Borders; lovely rolling hills and some lovely stately mansions including Abbotsford which was owned by Sir Walter Scott- whose memorial is in the middle of Edinburgh's main shopping street, and which can be climbed for the view over the gardens and up to the Castle.

    2/ The Forth Rail bridge is worth driving past. The estuary of the Forth widens to superb beaches (with wonderful links golf courses behind them ) and in Fife you have St Andrew's, home of golf (the beach where they filmed the opening sequences of Chariots of Fire?). Just over the river (the Forth) Dunfermilne is on your left. Robert the Bruce, the hero king who won Bannockbrn is buried here in Dunfermilne Abbey (although his heart is buried at Melrose in the borders); go back onto the main road and you will shortly come to Loch Leven, where Mary Queen of Scots was locked up in the castle on the island (v. romantic…..the story of the escape- she then fled to her cousin in England for succour. She locked her up for 20 years then beheaded her.(perfidious Albion!) There is a very pretty bird reserve at Vane farm on the south side on the loch.
    3/ Dechmont Law near Livingston, West Lothian. Site of an attempted alien abduction of local forester Bob Taylor in 1979. This is the only UFO site in the world where the local authority have acknowledged what went on there and have erected a plaque accordingly.
    4/ Anstruther, Fife. Visit the fishing museum, then have the best fish in the world for your lunch. After that drive along the coast to Largo, home of the 'original' Robinson Crusoe. When Daniel Defoe wrote about Robinson Crusoe, he was writing about a real person. His name was Alexander Selkirk and he came from Largo in Fife. Defoe was an English spy up in Scotland in the 1700's and nicked the story. That area of Fife is well worth a visit
    5/ Go slightly further west and see New Lanark, a model community built by social philanthropist Robert Owen; and it's near the Falls of Clyde for scenery.

    6/ Whisper it not in Gath- go to Glasgow for shopping and culture (and you can do it by train)

    7/ Linlithgow Palace, followed by Bannockburn- battle site, where we beat the English- and Stirling. Linlithgow is one of my favorite castles and can be done in a quick afternoon visit along with St. Michael's Church.

    8/ Golf- pick any one of half a dozen gorgeous courses in superb scenery.
    9/ Drive eastward along the coast through East Lothian to North Berwick and Dunbar. North Berwick is a great seaside village featuring a beach, Bass Rock, and Tantallon Castle. Dunbar has a great seaside castle ruin. This drive is about 40 miles roundtrip from Edinburgh. The Sea Bird Centre at Aberlady is now a lovely and interesting addition on this route

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    Tons of great info . . . Now you can take the many MANY suggestions from sheila and pick a few for your 2 days in Edinburgh ;)

    Like I said - hard to give you an itinerary since there is enough to fill MUCH more time than you have. (are you still going to the Lakes, Liverpool and York? - if so, maybe cut one and add more time for Edinburgh)

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    Really tons of info. Thank you very much, Sheila and Janisj! Yes, after Edinburgh, we're going to the Lakes (3 days), Liverpool (2 days), Cotswolds (3 days) and then back London and spend the rest of days in London and the surrounding towns.

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    Shiela--thanks for such a detailed information on Edinburgh. I am excited to learn so much as I will be in Edinburgh in just a few days.

    Can you share some shopping tips and areas where we can find Scottish items. I really don't like to shop in the touristy section, but like to go a little bit out somewhere to find a shopping center where the locals hang out.

    I am planning to purchase some heather gem jewelry and some Scottish treats.

    Thanks for your help.

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    Day 1 Castle, Royal Mile, World's End Pub, Holyrood House,

    Day 2 Greyfriars Kirk, National Gallery of Scotland, lunch at Cafe Royal, George Street and Charlotte Square, back up Princes Street and Gardens to Jenners Department Store. Shop.

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