The National Museum Of Scotland
Visit Edinburgh car-free
Scotland is a place for wild sceneries and long distance walks. Nevertheless, there are times when you can’t go outside, or you just want to settle down for an onsite visit. This week is about 3 places you can visit in Edinburgh. Therefore they are car-free. If you happen to carry with you some more or less substantial luggage, then you will maybe appreciate to let them in a safe place. Even with our small backpacks, we have difficulties with repeated long walks. And it is not very convenient in crowded places anyway. Not to mention that some public places won’t let you in with heavy bags. Then you’ll be pleased to know there’s a perfect place to let your useless weight for day walks right into the heart of the city.
Place your bags in a locker at the Edinburgh Bus Station. There are other places with lockers available for few hours, but this one is the cheapest. We had 4 25l-backpacks which fit, with jackets, in a medium locker very easily. See here for exact location.
After getting rid of our bags, we headed to The National Museum of Scotland. We were really happy with this choice. It happens to be a very diversified museum. There are rooms and subjects suitable for any interest and everyone in the family. From history to fashion, going through natural history and other sciences, you name it you have it. It’s not a huge museum, so the visit won’t take long if you are in a hurry. Depending on what you want to visit, you can modulate your time very easily by choosing to visit only some selected areas.
For this second visit, let me take you to the famous Edinburgh Castle
The problem is that famous goes with people, lots of. Anyway, with my son being passionate about history and my daughter Googling every touristic place before leaving home, we would not avoid it.
I believe we managed quite well in the end: a pleasant tour with a little bit of everything. The time we chose to visit Edinburgh was not the most touristy one, but there are places where you can’t avoid the crowd all the same. So the challenge was to find the suitable spots in order not to wait for hours before going in. We didn’t want to spend much more than two hours there. On the castle website, you have a very convenient “Itineraries” section that will help you choose what fits best your tastes. There is an app downloadable too available at the bottom of the page here, but I didn’t try that one.
A 90 minutes visit and a coffee.
We made our itinerary, but it was mostly a “Just an hour” one plus the crown jewels, and a stop in the Redcoat Cafe. Adding some more time for the photos, that took us two hours. The view from the Cafe is fantastic. You can enjoy the city while sipping a good tea or coffee. However choose your timing well because the tables where you can sit close to the windows are limited. Make sure not to miss the prison, and St Margaret’s church, which is a delicate jewel in that strong fortress.
Enjoy the view!
That may sound a little bit easy, but the view from the castle is impressive. Most high points have a fantastic view of cities, but this one is ideally situated. You also have the opportunity to access great sights of the smaller streets of the old town from outside the castle walls. The point is that you are above the streets, but not too far so that you can take some exciting details of the houses.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse
A less famous Royal place to visit in Edinburgh is the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This one is part of the Royal Collection Trust. It means, for the non-English readers, that this place belongs and is used by the Royal Family, but when it is empty, it is now open to the public. The Collection trust helps to maintain the Windsors real-estate. In my point of view, it allows each one to enjoy some important and beautifully restored pieces of the art and history of the United Kingdom.
Check-out the 1-year pass
We did not choose to visit the Palace only by chance. In August last year, we booked tickets for Buckingham Palace in London. By choosing combined tickets, once you’ve done your first visit, you have one-year free access to other Royal buildings: Windsor Castle and Edinburgh Palace. Watch out carefully the details for validity!
Visit and Audioguides
Once you have your tickets, you can enjoy the Palace. You have available audioguides which are very convenient. If you take photos, don’t forget that they are not permitted inside, but anyway, there are nice shots to do in the gardens and the abbey. Don’t miss it; I was captivated by the atmosphere. To take your photos properly, I hugely advise taking the headphones with your audioguide. I didn’t, so to prevent my family from waiting too long, I missed a good part of the comments.
Why the Palace?
I enjoyed this Palace because of its quality and diversity. There is a huge part of both Scottish and Scottish vs English history to understand here. We were impressed by the Portrait Gallery. Don’t miss it, though that would be difficult because it’s quite long. I will use the official website words about it: “Perhaps the most striking space within the Palace is the Great Gallery, lined with Jacob de Wet’s portraits of the real and legendary kings of Scotland, commisioned by Charles II.” That said, what we liked was to compare the portraits, the evolution along the centuries of the clothing and attitudes, etc. The visit can take various time, as usual, it’s up to you, but in less than two hours you can have a good idea of everything presented.
Fancy a last walk?
If you have some (lot of!) energy left after that, you can hike up to the top of Arthur’s Seat. The beginning of the footpath is across Queen’s Dr, along with the Palace. For more info see my post about it here.
If you need more about Edinburgh: