The real reason I go to Scotland is for the wine gums. Ha Ha, kidding (kind of). Ok, the reallllll reason is for the accents and the scenery. Well, if I’m being honest it’s more so for the accents. Also, to hopefully run into Jamie from Outlander.
When I had the chance to take a sneak peek of Edinburgh during my time in Scotland this summer I knew I’d be back. Luckily, I already had an upcoming trip planned. My summer adventures to Scotland were all about exploring Glasgow, but the fall was spent spent exploring Edinburgh.
A trip combined with both business and pleasure!? I’m all in! But where will I decide where to stay!? Luckily, I had some assistance on this front. I found the coziest area called Dalry. The area was scattered with a variety of unique shops, mouthwatering restaurants, traditional pubs, and cozy coffee shops. Not to mention the river canal was a five minute walk, so this was the perfect place to head out on a run. That is if it wasn’t raining (which it did an awful lot on my trip).
Over those two weeks in Edinburgh I drank, explored, and ate my way through Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Fort William.
If you find yourself in Scotland and while you’re there your tummy is growling:
The Piecebox. HELLLOOO, pancakes, scones, muffins, cookies …and caffeine. This is every bakery lovers dream spot. This cozy cafe was located right around the corner from my bnb and was highly recommended by my host. I was found stuffing my face and drinking lots of cups of tea and coffee, so I can recommend it as well! This was a dangerously easy place for me to escape to. I created a Piecebox obsession and found myself a cafe office a few times. Breakfast is a healthy obsession, right!?
Montpeliers. When I didn’t need to be on campus working with the Uni I found a lot of wee breakfast work spots. “Monti’s,” as the locals call it, offers the best banana butterscotch pancakes. I know some people can’t stomach sweet eats early in the morning, but my tummy doesn’t discriminate.
Threebirds. When your brunch game is still going strong. This wee spot is located in Dalry. Threebirds offers both modern British dishes and sharing plates. I stuck with my eggs benedict because who shares food!? I’m Joey from FRIENDS when it comes to sharing food. B DOESN’T SHARE FOOD! Disclaimer: Threebirds is quite small so if you fancy checking it you might want to book ahead!
Frederick’s Cafe. I almost missed this hidden gem. Luckily, I had a work meeting here or else I would have missed out on a great experience. Frederick’s is situated in an old victorian building right in the hustle and bustle of the city centre. This is a great place to prepare for your shopping around the corner on Princes Street, or the best place to unwind after a small shopping spree. Once you climb the stairs up to Frederick’s Cafe the beautiful and vibrant colors of the room catch your attention!
The Fountain. Want a pub with a modern twist!? My bnb host and I ventured here after an evening of climbing. It was our reward after a successful (first time climb for me) climb. Plus no one was dropped from meters above! So cheers to successful climbing adventures, traditional British food, and a pint or two!
Henderson’s Cafe. This was definitely not a place that I would have considered and not because I don’t like vegetarian or vegan dishes. An old college friend who now lives in Edinburgh recommended it! A 5-year reunion and a delicious vegetarian meal!? Yes, please.
Fun Fact: Henderson’s Cafe is the UK’s longest running vegetarian restaurant. The restaurant also sits behind the famous shop and deli (which opened in 1962!) Stop in to support a local business!
The Real Food Cafe. If you are traveling between Glasgow and Fort William and need a little pick me up. This is a great stop for locals, visitors, bikers and hikers who are traveling along the West Highland Way!
Garrison West. We made sure to load up on our carbs, since we had Ben Nevis to hike the next day. You might be walking in circles to find this place, like we were, because it’s tucked away off of the main Street in Fort William. This beautiful stone cottage like restaurant/pub offers a cozy atmosphere with a great selection of food and drinks. Perfect spot to stop if you are on your way to hike Ben!
Mhor 84. This was BY FAR my favorite restaurant of the trip. And no, not because it offered pancakes, scones, or any other sugary treats. I guess you could call this our victory dinner for conquering Ben Nevis that day! Mhor 84, which is right off of A84 (where the reference is said to come from), has a rustic, yet modern feel with it’s white walls, vintage china and deer antler chandeliers. Be sure to check out Mhor 84 and maybe even stay in one of their seven simple ensuite bedrooms (some even have a mountain view!)
If you find yourself in Edinburgh and your tummy is full, but you’re just feeling a wee bit thirsty…
For the coffee drinkers: All of the above restaurants had exceptional tea and coffee, but if you are keen on trying a few others out then I also highly recommend Castello Coffee and the Pantry! If you make it all the way to Fort William, on the main street there is the cutest and coziest cafe called the Wild Cat. This is a perfect stop after a successful hike up Ben Nevis. Treat yourself to a scone… or five!
For those who may be keen for a pint…
The Captains Bar. A cozy wee pub close to the Royal Mile, The Captains Bar is a genuine Scottish bar with great live music. They usually play traditional folk songs and some days it’s more acoustic- be sure to bring your singing voice! The bar is very VERY small, so you may not want to go here if you plan on catching up with a friend you haven’t seen in several months (unless you’re ok with catching up with them between sets!)
Dragon Fly. The Dragon Fly is described as an elegant, bar lounge located in Edinburgh’s Old Town. Cocktail are their speciality. Cozy up under the oversized chandeliers in this 20’s-style cocktail bar, while you wait for the friendly staff to make you one of their “unusual” cocktails.
Biddy Mulligans. Be sure to check out this pub on your evening adventures (or day adventures) in Grassmarket. A rustic Irish tavern, with live music, and friendly people- you can’t go wrong! Be sure to try a Baby Guinness if you haven’t already tried one!
Bennet’s Bar. To be honest, we wandered into this pub after a very sweaty hot yoga session. My bnb host and I made a deal: hot yoga and then a beer to rehydrate. This pub had a great mix of tourists and locals. Also, if you are a whisky fan they have a great selection!
When you need some retail therapy…
Whether you are into vintage, second hand, designer, or unique independent shops, Edinburgh has it all! I stuck more to the independent, vintage and second hand, since I don’t get enough of that in Oslo. Be sure to check out Bruntsfield, Grassmarket, Newington and Prince Street. A couple of my favorites included: Clementine, Herman Brown, Lackdhu, Everyone’s Designs, Dandelion & Ginger, Curiouser & Curiouser, and W. Armstrong & Son.
And last, but not least. If you need to work off all the tea, scones & cakes...
For all your hiking, running, climbing, and downward dogging:
Ben Nevis. If you get the chance to get out of Edinburgh and road trip to Fort William, you must add the highest mountain of the British Isles to your Scottish bucket list. Whether it is raining, sunny or snowing, you can hike Ben in any condition. It took us about 2.5 hours to make it up and down, and that was in September. December/January would be a whole different ballgame with rain, snow, or ice! Always be over prepared!
Alien Rock. “Scotlands Climbing Capital Centre.” I guess this is Scotland’s first indoor climbing centre and it has been around since 1994. Whether you are a novice climber, like me, or more experienced, like my bnb host, this is a great place to try something new or challenge yourself with a new route!
Run Edinburgh. One big fail on my part was not running/hiking up to Arthur’s Seat. Unfortunately, I was planning to do this on my very last day, but I was hit hard with the flu! Over the course of my two week stay in Edinburgh I did get a chance to explore the city in my running shoes. For those who wish to lace up their runners and maybe see more of the city by foot I recommend heading over to the Meadows.
Meadowlark Yoga. For those who need a little more zen in their day. This was a great yoga studio located on the other side of the meadows, which offered a variety of yoga classes. Since Edinburgh was a little rainy and dreary during my two-week stay, the heated classes really hit the spot.
As always, I have a few places on my list that I didn’t get to visit. So hopefully I’ll get to knock those off my Scottish bucket list next time! I love having the ability to experience life in a new place. Even if it was only for two weeks. I’m filled with such gratitude to be able to meet new people, explore new places, and experience new cultures.
For those who have been to Edinburgh, what was your favorite part of your trip!?
Life is meant for spectacular adventures.
Let your feet wander, your eyes marvel, and your soul ignite.