The brogue is light and the history is deep.
Edinburgh is the city around which the politics of Scotland have swarmed for centuries and the Royal Mile has been central to much of it. With Edinburgh Castle at the top of the Mile, the Scottish Parliament at the bottom and many pubs and other features in-between, this road is the place to spend at least one day of a visit to Edinburgh.
Where to stay in Edinburgh
On the corner of George IV Bridge and the Royal Mile is the G&V Royal Mile Hotel Edinburgh formerly the Hotel Missoni. It’s a luxury hotel that focuses on the fun side of life. Doormen in kilts that defy the traditional tartan and rich colours throughout the hotel make it a special place to stay.
What to do on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh
Start at Edinburgh Castle on Castle Rock. You can take a guided tour of the castle or wander through its many sections and rooms on your own. Look for the birthing room where Mary Queen of Scots bore James VI of Scotland who later became James I of England. Look up and see some Victorian graffiti carved into the wall.
After you’ve taken in the views from Castle Rock and fully explored the castle it will likely be noon and time for a wee dram of Scotch Whisky. Heading downhill, away from the castle (which is the only possible direction), you’ll find The Scotch Whisky Experience on your right. They offer a guided tour on the history of Scotch-making as well as a taste of the real thing. In their tasting room they’ll help you explore the aromas and flavours of Scotch that most appeal to your palate so that you can determine your own perfect Single Malt Whisky. And, of course, you can purchase a bottle on your way out.
Next it’s time for a pub lunch. Just a little further down the Royal Mile, tucked into a side street on your left is the Jolly Judge pub. It’s small and dark and full of regulars. It’s a place where you’ll enjoy the real Edinburgh.
After your light lunch continue walking down the street. You might want to pop into a few of the many tourist shops but don’t miss one of my highlights of the Royal Mile, the Scottish Storytelling Centre and John Knox house which will be on your left. The latter takes you to one of the most turbulent times in history when Mary Queen of Scots was forced to abdicate the throne. The former gives you rich and entertaining access to Scotland’s culture through its stories. Stop in and pick up tickets to an evening performance if you haven’t done so before departing on your trip.
Finally, at the bottom of the Royal Mile is the Scottish Parliament. If Parliament is in session you can pop in and observe. I found it fascinating given the current political climate there.
From top to bottom, the Royal Mile has much to offer.
What highlights of Edinburgh do you recommend?