Travel

Edinburgh – My Favourite Place with UKBreakaways

The lovely people over at UKBreakaways are holding a competition for bloggers to share their favourite place in the UK with such passion it makes the judges (and everyone else) want to visit it! Being an obsessive city hopper and enthusiastic traveller, I obviously had to enter, especially since there are some fab prizes on offer;
  • 1st Place – £250 in cash
  • 2nd Place – £100 in UKBreakaways vouchers
  • 3 x runner up prices of UKbreakaways vouchers
Of course, I want to win so I can put the £250 away for my holiday in April, but it would be so nice to have a break in the UK as I have a list as long as my arm of cities I’ve yet to explore including Oxford and Cambridge, Bath and Brighton. and you all know I can never say no to a visit to London!
It’s so easy to enter to, especially for someone like me who enjoys writing about places I have/want to visit. You simply write a post, much like mine, all about your favourite place in the UK. It has to be your own work and of course be brimming with passion for your chosen place. I like to think I always write with passion on my blog, so again, a walk in the park. You must of course mention UKBreakaways who are running the competition.. then finally tweet two friends inviting them to take part before finally confirming your entry with @UK_Breakaways with the link to your entry. The closing date is the 31st August, giving you plenty of time to complete your entry (don’t you REALLY hate it when people share a fab competition the day BEFORE it ends? CRUEL!) 
So today I’m persuading you all to come to Edinburgh.. not just because I will be able to come and see you, but because it is without a doubt my favourite city in the UK and I feel so bloody lucky to live such a short train ride away. It is such a fantastic place with something for everyone and it holds my most favourite festival ever, The Fringe every August.. yes I already have what I want to see this year highlighted in my Filofax. For my entry I am going to give you ten of my favourite things about Edinburgh. Which I have to be honest, is REALLY hard as there is are lot of things I love about the place.
ONE: The Fringe
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest arts festival in the WORLD! For someone who has a passion for theatre, like myself, you MUST MUST MUST take some time to go one summer. There is everything from comedy (of all kinds might I add, from improve to stand up), musicals (my personal theatre), drama (again of all genres, some classical and some modern and a LOT written by up and coming writers), dance and even childrens theatre. The atmosphere on the Royal Mile is awesome, I can spend hours walking up and down watching street performances and talking to people flyering for shows. There are pop up bars if drinking is more your thing, and we can’t forget about the Lady Boys of Bangkok who are there every year without fail. There is constant entertainment from first thing in the morning until late at night. Everyone really takes on the festival spirit and Edinburgh is definitely at it’s most alive during this time of year. I know a lot of local’s HATE when it’s Fringe season, because the city overflows but for me, it’s my favourite time of year and I always try and go for even just one day. This year it’s running from 1st – 25th August, go and get #unbored. 
TWO: The Elephant House
Fan of Harry Potter? Well The Elephant House boasts to be the “Birth Place of Harry Potter.” Why? Because JK Rowling did frequent the little quaint coffee shop during the early years of her writing. Of course that is the main reason I love it, that and the fact fans have COMPLETELY grafettied the loos (myself included) It’s a wonder to behold.. but because despite it’s fame, it’s still very reasonably priced and although the queue is often out the door, the staff are efficient and accommodating, even for someone pushing a pram around! I have never waited more than 5 minutes for a seat. The lattes are perfect and I really recommend the sandwiches. The atmosphere makes me think of the wizarding world, it’s simply magic. 
Also.. if you get a seat by the window, the view is amazing.

THREE: The Culture & History
This is much less specific, but one of the main reasons I really love Edinburgh is because of the rich history. Although I never studied history at school, being brought up in a town with such an important history has made me love living in places with stories, and Edinburgh has some of the best historical stories in all the country. If you want a “fun” way to experience the history, I recommend the Edinburgh Dungeons, especially if you like a scare. You can find out all about the grave robbers and The Legend of Sawney Bean. I often went as a child and it was hilarious. There are also fantastic ghost walks at night in the underbelly of the city if you really want to scare yourself stupid. If that’s not the sort of thing you’re into there are day time tours that guide you past Greyfriars Bobby Statue & the Kirkyard (which is probably my all time favourite story from Edinburgh’s history). If you go when the weather is bad, I really recommend the Museum of Edinburgh or even the Museum of Scotland (which you should go to anyway because it’s a fine piece of architecture!)
FOUR: Edinburgh Castle 

Probably the first thing people think of when they hear Edinburgh is the castle. Built on top of an extinct volcano and can be seen from most places, it really is without a doubt the symbol of the city. Although personally I find it tad on the expensive side to get in (especially when a lot of the museums are free/cheap) but the view is probably worth paying for. It’s breath taking. Not only that, but it’s home to the Scottish Crown Jewels. Yes, Scotland have their own set and in my opinion, they’re much prettier! Apart from the view and following on from the above point, the castle is steeped in historical exhibitions and you can learn a lot from your visit. Not just about the castle itself. You can also have a look in the old cells, which still terrify me as my dad shut my sister and I in one as children. At one o’clock their is a gun fired from the castle which originally started as a way for shipping to set the maritime clocks used to navigate the globe (how is that for a bit of history trivia, you can thank me when it comes up in a pub quiz!)
FIVE: Museums Galore 
Before moving on from the history related points, the selection of museums in Edinburgh is boundless! If you’re like me and enjoy a quite wander around a museum and a little bit of education to keep the brain fresh, you’ll love what Edinburgh has on offer.. my personal favourite, unsurprisingly is The Museum of Childhood. Free to get in, a great gift shop (come on, we all know that’s the most important bit) and a huge selection of toys from throughout the ages. I love it all except the room with all the creepy dolls! I’ve already mentioned the museum of Edinburgh and Scotland… but there is also Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art & National Gallery (another of my favourites, especially the Lowery pieces although I haven’t been in a while so they might not be there anymore) and I better not forget about Dynamic Earth which is bloody awesome! I can’t wait to take Little Miss there. And my dad would kick me if I didn’t mention the Scotch Whiskey Experience, definitely something for the lads, although I hear it can be fun for the lasses too. Not so much a museum, but definitely one of my absolute favourite days out in Edinburgh, Camera Obscurer & The World of Illusion, I can assure you it’s worth the entry fee! I’m hoping to take Hayley there next time she’s up, I haven’t been since I started the blog but it will one day have a whole entry dedicated to it!
SIX: Shopping in Grassmarket
 Moving on from the history, just incase I’ve put you all asleep. My favourite place to stay, eat and more importantly shop in Edinburgh is the Grassmarket. Just off the Royal Mile this place is brimming with fantastic little independent shops.. Firstly you MUST visit Armstrongs Vintage Emporium. It’s my new life ambition to go in there and do a “montage” like in The Sweetest Thing because they have some AWESOME stuff. So far I’ve only been brave enough to try on the hats but the best way to describe it is THE CAVE OF WONDERS of vintage shopping. As a lover of quirky dresses I’m always in Lady Jojos Boutique and another of my favourites for the quirk is The Red Door Gallery. Everyone ALWAYS buys something from there when I go in. There is something for everyone and you will spend money! And once you’re done head to Mamma’s Pizza where you have to try cactus on pizza, it’s honestly not as bad as it sounds! 
SEVEN: Christmas in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is definitely in it’s prime during the Christmas season. It’s just beautiful especially if you’re lucky enough to go when it’s light snow fall (not loads, because then it just gets slippy!) Everywhere is lit up and there is an awesome market on Princes Street with loads of craft stalls and a huge ice rink and big wheel. During my teens I often went up to go ice skating with friends and of course to load up on Christmas presents from the market. Like everywhere during the festive period, the atmosphere is wonderful especially as night starts to fall. I go every year and i’m yet to find a market I love as much (although Lincoln does come close!) The good things about Edinburgh’s market is it’s only for a much longer period of time meaning if you go during the week it’s not too busy and you can have a relaxed look around. 
EIGHT: Princes Street
 I’ll admit in the past this was never top of my list on reasons I liked to visit Edinburgh, but as more stores have arrived I enjoy a day shopping on Princes Street as much (if not more) than a trip to the Metrocentre. From a huge Topshop to Urban Outfitters and of course Primark and H&M… the only thing missing is that Disney Store they shut down. From Princes Street it’s a quick walk to the Waverly Centre (and station) St James Centre, Harvey Nicks and only a street over from George Street where you’ll find much more choice stores like Paperchase and Space NK.
NINE: Much to Munch
One of the best things about Edinburgh is the fact there is so much choice in places to eat all through the city, not just in the centre. I can’t think of a time you could visit and not have somewhere new and fantastic to go and eat, from chains such as my beloved Hard Rock Cafe to Nandos, TGIs, to places you would only find in Edinburgh. Every time I go I’m on the hunt for somewhere new to eat for my Where Amy Ate feature but I definitely rate Candy Bar and The City Cafe for value for money. And I recommend for other places you check out Kirsty at Indigo Buttons as she always shares the most AMAZING food she eats while living there (I’m not envious, honestly… ) 
Also open for places to eat while I’m up in a couple of weeks.. I’ll need some fuel before I mad dash around Primark for last minute holiday bits!
TEN: Surrounded by Beauty
My final favourite thing and number one reason why Edinburgh should be on your list of places to visit before you die is the fact, for a city, Edinburgh is beautiful. People talk about the beauty of Paris and Florence but Edinburgh is up there in my opinion. As soon as you step out Waverly Station you’re greeted by the magnificent castle and the architecture surrounding it. You can see the green of Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park, you look down Princes Street and you cant miss Scott Monument and Princes Street Gardens. Just walk down Cockburn Street and into the Grassmarket and see all the colourful store fronts. Take an open top bus ride around the city and you’ll see it all for £13. Yes people talk about the rough areas of the city but you just need to watch Sunshine on Leith to know it’s not just the centre that is beautiful. 

And of course… lets not forget those beautiful bearded men in kilts with those scottish accents.. they’re beautiful too.. 
I do see Edinburgh through the eyes of a tourist because I haven’t ever lived there… but there is no denying she’s one hell of a city!
Have you ever been to Edinburgh? Have I persuaded you to visit it yet?
To view in detail how to enter the UKBreakaways’ competition, click here.
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