A ‘twenty-something’ guide to Edinburgh

We’ve tried it all out, so you can go and make the most of your trip.

It inevitably had to be arctic temperatures and forecast of snow the weekend my boyfriend and I took a trip to Edinburgh. This article won’t bore you with an hour-by-hour account of our trip but what it will do is fill you in with useful tips that every ‘twenty-something’ should know before visiting Edinburgh

Decent hotel with great views of Edinburgh Castle

Imagine waking up to this view? As we’ve only visited Edinburgh once, we can’t compare with any other accommodation in the city but we were so pleased with our choice of hotel located in Grassmarket.

The view from our hotel room.

It was pretty central with Edinburgh’s famous historical Victoria St (pictured below) just a minutes walk away and it was also easy to get to the more ‘studenty’ area of bars located on Cowgate.

Victoria Street – Photo by me!

We booked in late November and got a ‘January Saver’ deal, it was good value for money and the offer meant that we had our room upgraded to castle view (worth asking or checking when booking).

Apex City Hotel

We know we got lucky with this deal but would recommend staying at Apex City Hotel (it has a sister hotel Apex Grassmarket Hotel two doors down which also looks good). If you’re driving, they also have parking which is a rarity for a hotel in the Old Town. 

Worth the climb

On a fair weather day we would, without doubt, recommend the climb to Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park.

The view from the top – Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood Park

With the foot of the extinct volcano starting at Holyrood Palace, it’s really a must see view of the city, providing you are fit and well. From the foot of the climb to the summit it took us about an hour with the descent taking around 45 minutes.

The path to climb to Arthur’s Seat.

We picked the perfect day to climb, a chilly but sunny day meaning the burning legs cooled quicker than they would in summer and you had a clear view for miles at the top. This was undoubtedly our favourite experience of the weekend (and we’re not usually the outdoorsy type!)

Edinburgh Castle

With great views of the city, you might like to venture to Edinburgh Castle.

Entrance to Edinburgh Castle

We felt compelled to pay to enter the castle but if we were to go again probably wouldn’t bother. It’s £18 per person and we probably only stayed for just over an hour. It’s an extra £3.50 for a headset tour guide, which we begrudged paying but probably would have made us more invested and interest in what was around us. We found ourselves queueing for things that weren’t worth seeing (its the British in us) and all-in-all felt like it was something you HAVE to do but don’t necessarily enjoy. If you’re on a budget I’d skip this part and just have a little wonder around the entrance, where you still get to see the great views of the city.

The Royal Mile

Starting from the Edinburgh Castle and ending at Holyrood Palace, the Royal Mile is a real must-see and almost makes you feel like you are stepping back in time. Filled with nostalgia and lots of Scotland theme souvenir shops it really gives you a feel of the old city.


I love shopping and of course, expected great things from a capital city! We had a lovely afternoon shopping (well, maybe my boyfriend enjoyed it less so) on Princes Street and also around the smaller boutiques in the Old Town. As it was January we found a couple of bargains and of course picked up some traditional shortbread to take back to our work places!

Bars and nightlife

Due to the timing of our trip (the weekend before January payday!) we decided against clubbing as we only really enjoy this when it’s really busy (don’t want a Neil from Inbetweeners moment). We decided to head out to a few pubs and bars instead on the Saturday and were pleasantly surprised!

Three Sisters in Cowgate (also tied to Edinburgh Napier University Union) was a really cool venue. As well as the indoor pub, it had a festival vibe with the outdoor bars and large screens playing sports. We both agreed that this was the place to be on a summers evening with a cold cider in hand.

Imagine this in the summer!

Our little bar crawl lead us to, Stramash, a bit further down the street which had much cheaper food and specialised in live music. We also love Spatch on Hunter Square, great service and loads of gin choices!

Edinburgh Gin Distillery

One thing I certainly regret not doing was the Edinburgh Gin Distillery tour. Unfortunately you MUST book in advance for a spot on one of their tours and we, sadly, didn’t realise this before going. If you’re heading there on a weekend they were booked up for a couple of months, so check before you go!

Indian cuisine heaven

We love Indian food and stumbled past Ronaq on East Market Street one evening so we booked a table for the next night. The restaurant is really modern and we were drawn in by the unusual floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking Princes Street.

Not the best photograph I’ve ever taken but I couldn’t wait to tuck in!

Apart from the gorgeous decor, the food was delicious and the service was so quick I wondered how many chefs they must have in the kitchen. We’d definitely go back!

Over priced steak, don’t bother 

We would be lying if we said everything about our trip was perfect and unfortunately (on our 5 year anniversary) we ventured to The Chop House on Market Street which claims to be ‘Edinburgh’s best steak restaurant’ according to their website.

Fillet Steak from The Chop House

Now you wouldn’t usually go here on a limited budget but as it was our anniversary, and we LOVE steak, we went for it. Although the fillet steak looked lovely on the plate, it was over cooked (I like it medium-rare) and cost us a £36 NOT INCLUDING SIDES. This, believe it or not, was not their most expensive steak.

‘Instagrammable’ surroundings.

In our eyes, it just didn’t live up to expectation but the location and venue was instagramable at least.

All in all, a fabulous trip, that we really enjoyed despite on a small budget.  We hope this helps plan your next trip to Edinburgh!

Follow me on Instagram: @iamgabymendes

Published by Gaby Mendes

Your 20s wing woman!

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