If you have read my Dublin, Ireland post, then you know we headed straight to Edinburgh, Scotland! We also went to St. Andrews for my amazing brother's graduation from his PhD program at St. Andrews University. My goodness, Scotland is the perfect place to visit in the winter. We stayed in the heart of Edinburgh on Princes Street, pretty much a 15 minute walk to everything you'd want to do (the Royal Mile, Old Town and New Town). We stayed at the Hotel Indigo which has a view of the Edinburgh Castle. They have an amazing bar called Juniper with the coolest drinks I have ever seen, as well a restaurant that we did not get to try since we were at the bar... Time to explore! Read on to see our favorite adventures from the trip.
Christmas Market: Since we went right during Thanksgiving, Edinburgh had a beautiful Christmas Market set up. Actually, they had a few but the German Christmas Market was literally across the street from our hotel! This place was so magical. There was a Ferris Wheel, Mulled Cider, Pretzels and so much more! I'm pretty sure we went almost every day that we were there. We made friends, drank hard cider and ate amazing food. Did I mention the booths? There were so many vendors selling wool scarves/sweaters, gloves, jewelry, candles, etc. What else could you want?
The Scotch Whisky Experience: In my mother's words, "a thousand times yes." This place was incredible. First, the restaurant. Okay, this might sound weird but you need to go to the Amber Restaurant & Whisky Bar and try the Vegetarian Haggis. Now, the actual Haggis terrified me once I found out what was in it (if you're brave enough to find out, click here). The Vegetarian Haggis was one of the best dishes I had while in Scotland. After we ate, we met with our tour and started off on a ride. You enter a cart with your friend/partner and you move along as you see how Scotch is made. Very engaging and fun! Moving on to more important things. Whisky. Now, I wasn't a fan of the Irish Whiskey (notice the difference in spelling), but the Scotch was amazing. We sampled 4 types of Scotch and viewed a showcase of almost 3,500 bottles of unopened Scotch, including the 6 oldest bottles in the world! If you are ever in Edinburgh, this has to be on your list.
Palace of Holyroodhouse: So my boyfriend and I are slightly obsessed with Mary Queen of Scots (have you watched Reign?! Go watch! Well, after you've finished reading...). This is where she stayed after she left France. Queen Elizabeth II stays there for the first week of every summer and her granddaughter was married there. We were able to see the courtyard, drawing room, Mary Queen of Scots' apartments, and some breathtaking views. This is a must for anyone visiting Edinburgh. Make sure to check out the Scottish Parliament right across the street!
St. Andrews: Another great area to visit while in Scotland is St. Andrews. The train station was directly across the street from our hotel and it only took an hour to get there. It is such a cute town with only 3 streets! There are a bunch of pubs and oddly enough, Italian restaurants. They love Italian food! The University of St. Andrews is absolutely stunning and they recently celebrated their 600 year anniversary! Did I mention Will and Kate met there too? Now, we were obviously there for my brother's graduation but there are so many unique things to see! St. Andrews is right on the water so you have beautiful views of the ocean. Right on the coast is the St. Andrews Castle and the St. Andrews Cathedral. Are you a golf lover? Old Course in St. Andrews is one of the oldest golf courses in the world!
Wow, what a trip! This truly was the most incredible vacation I have ever been on and I wouldn't change a single thing. Have the adventure of a lifetime like we did and you won't regret a single thing. Enjoy it all and make sure to say "Cheers!" when you are given a drink! You'll be talking like a Scot in no time!