Our Two-Day Itinerary in Edinburgh (Part 3) | Exploring the Rest of Royal Mile

The city of Edinburgh has two well known areas, they call it the Old Town and the New Town. Most of the tourist attractions can be found at the Old Town which is also considered the historical and medieval part of the city. The New Town on the other hand was the result of an expansion made during the 18th century since the Old Town was beginning to be overcrowded. It was named as such since it was “new” during that period, but not at present time. Classical Georgian style buildings dominate this part of the city, which apart from being a residential area, it also houses some restaurants and shops. 

View of Old Town from Calton Hill

View of New Town from Edinburgh Castle

A trip to the Old Town won’t be complete without strolling it’s main street called the Royal Mile. It runs from the Edinburgh Castle down to the Holyrood Palace. During our first day, we explored the castle area, so on the second day we wandered through the other side.

Our first destination was Calton Hill. It doesn’t require a lot of endurance to climb this hill as there are stairs and walkways. Once you reached the top, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of the city. In here, you can also see and visit some historical landmarks such as the Nelson Monument, National Monument and Dugald Stewart Monument.

View from Calton Hill

Tourists roaming around Calton Hill

Nelson Monument

National Monument – Scotland’s national memorial to the Scottish soldiers and sailors who died fighting in the Napoleonic Wars. It was modelled upon the Parthenon in Athens, however it remained unfinished until now (Wikipedia). FYI: the girl who’s trying to climb the monument is not me (haha).

Dugald Stewart Monument

Afterwards, we went down and walk for around 15 minutes to reach the Holyrood Palace. This is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. We didn’t went inside, as I was thinking that it would be the same with their residence in London, so we just took a picture of it outside. Due to this, I cannot comment if it is worth seeing.

Holyrood Palace – It was not crowded when we were there.

A little walk to the side of the palace is the Holyrood Park which is usually the starting point for the uphill climb to Arthur’s Seat. It is known as the main mountain in the city. According to some reviews that I’ve read, it will usually take 30 to 40 minutes by foot to reach the top depending on your body built and on the route that you will take. For more information on the routes, you may click on this link. Tep and I agreed not to do the hike as there are a lot of activities planned for the rest of the day and we were already satisfied with the view that we saw at Calton Hill (great excuse.. haha). They said that it is relatively easy to climb this mountain, so if you decided to do it, make sure to be there either during sunrise or sunset, as the view is at its best. Also take note that during summer, sunset happens between 8:30 to 9:30pm.

Arthur’s Seat is the main peak of the group of hills in that area. The cliff or the rock edge that you see at the right is called Salisbury Crags.

A closer look of Salisbury Crags, which by the way is also a famous site to climb.

At the lowest point of Arthur’s Seat.

We decided to go back to the city center by riding a bus. We immediately went straight to the St. Giles Cathedral, a Presbyterian Church known as the principal place of worship in the city. It got an impressive structure, beautiful stained glass windows and relaxing atmosphere, despite the huge crowd. Once inside, don’t forget to check out the Thistle Chapel and be amazed with its magnificent detailed design. An hour or two is already enough to visit the whole Cathedral.

Facade of the Church.

Interiors and Stained Glass windows

Some pictures from the Thistle Chapel

These are the places we explored on the first half of our second day at the city. We planned to do a lot of things during that day, as Edinburgh got plenty of activities to offer to its tourists. You can read the rest of the places we visited on my next blog.

What you Need to Know:

  1. A trip to Calton Hill is free of charge. If you want to go up the Nelson Monument, there’s an admission fee of GBP 5.
  2. The admission ticket for the Holyrood Palace can be bought online or at the ticketing office for GBP 12.50. Certain discounts apply if you are a student or a senior citizen. Opening times vary depending on the season. Please visit this site for more information or for online ticket purchase.
  3. If you decided to hike the Arthur’s seat, then it is a must to wear comfortable shoes. You also have to bring waterproof jacket and dress in layers as the weather keeps on changing. Don’t forget to bring water as well.
  4. Entrance to St. Giles Cathedral is free of charge. However, if you want to take pictures inside, you have to pay a photo permit amounting to GBP 2. They will give you a sticker which you must put anywhere visible.
  5. In order to make the most out of your visit, I strongly advise strolling through the Royal Mile and be mesmerized with its stunning architecture. There are a lot of shops, restaurants and attractions to see as well along the way.
  6. Always wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking on cobbled stone pavements and steep alleys.


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