Edinburgh, Scotland

Tuesday, 7:00 am – 7:00 pm

May weather: Average temps of 63°/49°F. Record temps of 84°/28°F. Average precip of 1.6″.

Currency: Pounds Sterling (£). Three Scottish banks issue their own banknotes.

The actual port is in South Queensferry; we tender in.

What really happened for us

I was not feeling well when we docked, so we slept late, left the ship to get some food and ice cream (and regretted even leaving the ship).  We’ll have to see Edinburgh another time–I was here once in the 80s and was looking forward to going back.  Next time.

Getting to Edinburgh

There are multiple ways to get to Edinburgh from South Queensferry.  My research says a cab is about £22.  If that’s the case, it’s a much less expensive option for 2 or 4 than the Princess “excursion” which is just a bus ride into Edinburgh–at $69/person.  There are also train, shuttle,  and bus options–all of which are less expensive than the ship’s options.   We’ll probably get with another couple and take a cab–spreading the cost out over 4 of us is pretty reasonable per person.

Possible bus tour vendors

I’ve been reading about Ho Ho bus tours (Ho Ho = Hop On, Hop Off) and will look into that as a possible way to get around.  They seem reasonably priced–about £13 for the day and you can walk a bit less so you can see a bit more!

Places we might visit

Edinburgh castle: I love castles.  I love castles in all countries.  I’ve been to the Edinburgh castle (over 20 years ago) but Stan never has, and I’m sure we’ll go see it.  The castle guards the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny.  The many other attractions include the Great Hall, Royal Apartments, Scottish National War Memorial and three military museums. Other sights and sounds include the firing of the One o’Clock Gun and the oldest building in Edinburgh, St Margaret’s Chapel.  Open 9:30 – 6:00 pm.  Admission: £16.  Tickets can be bought in advance on-line. Included in the Scotland Explorer Pass. Admission includes a guided tour, when available.

Walking tour: The Edinburgh route, which starts outside the Tourist Information Centre on Princes Street, right next to Edinburgh Waverley station, passes by some of the most significant historical and cultural highlights of the both the city’s New and Old Towns, including: Princes Street; St Andrew’s Square; George Street; Charlotte Square; Princes Street Gardens; Grassmarket; Edinburgh Castle; The Royal Mile; St Giles’ Cathedral; Parliament Hall; John Knox House; Canongate Kirk; Holyrood House; Holyrood Palace; and Calton Hill.

The views from The Scott Monument require climbing lots of stairs (287).  We might do it anyway.

There’s a Royal Botanic Garden.  In May, it’s possible that lots of things will be blooming.

The Camera Obscura and World of Illusions sounds interesting.   It’s on the Royal Mile near the Edinburgh castle, so it would be an easy thing to add on, location-wise.  They recommend 2-3 hours for a visit.  I’m not sure we’ll want to spend the time.  Open 9:30 – 19:30.  Admission: £11.95.

Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano and is the highest point (251 meters above sea level) of Holyrood Park.  TripAdvisor reviews indicate that the view is incredible and the hike up is 30-60 minutes.  If the weather is clear, we could climb it for the views.  (I’m starting to wish we had more than one day in Edinburgh!)

Other ideas

The Edinburgh zoo has giant pandas.  That’s tempting, although we did get to see giant pandas on our trip to Japan last year.

Lots of sites mention Our Dynamic Earth.  I visited their website and read reviews on TripAdvisor. The website features lots of pictures with kids and families and the website reviews lean towards this being a kids’ activity more than an adult one.  We’re going to pass on it.


If you are planning to visit the city in May, The Imaginate Festival fills the city with some of the world’s best theatre for children and young people. Running across 6 venues city wide, including major venues such as the Traverse theatre and Dancebase, it welcomes performers and artists from all over the world during the week-long festival, which runs from 6th- 13th May 2013. The programme of events for this festival will soon be announced so check back on the website for details.

Properties included in the Explorer Pass:

  • Blackness Castle
  • Cairnpapple Hill*
  • Craigmillar Castle
  • Crichton Castle
  • Dirleton Castle and Gardens
  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Linlithgow Palace
  • Seton Collegiate Church
  • Tantallon Castle
  • Trinity House Maritime Museum*
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