8 Amazing Reasons Why You Should Visit Edinburgh At Least Once In Your Lifetime

A great destination for a day trip or a longer holiday, Edinburgh has a lot to offer in terms of things to do and sights to see. The city is especially appealing to those seeking architectural beauty, curious landmarks, and immersion in the Scottish way to be.

When it comes to things to do in Scotland, you’re really only limited by your imagination – the historic part of Edinburgh is filled with many charming street scenes. The medieval Old Town will win you over with its quaint Scottish pubs and bars, narrow, winding streets and centuries-old buildings.

There is always a huge amount going on to welcome and entertain visitors from all over the world, so join me on a tour around Edinburgh’s best bits and discover eight of the many reasons to love Scotland’s capital city.

Greyfriars Bobby Bar, Edinburgh

#1. Edinburg’s Art Scene

Home to the biggest art festival in the world, and many unique contemporary Art Galleries, Edinburgh’s art scene is truly incredible and ahead of the game. You can start by visiting the National Portrait Gallery – with masterpieces from Turner, Rembrandt and Botticelli, and a huge selection of portraits of Scots. It’s filled with various artists and you could easily spend hours wandering around not only looking at the art but also amazing details in the building.

There are many contemporary art galleries that showcase the best and brightest work in Scotland and beyond. Here are a few worth checking out:

Arusha Gallery – The Arusha Gallery prides itself on exhibiting beautiful images and objects covering a range of mediums, including architecture, theatre design, and cinematography, as well as music and literature.

The Laurel Gallery – The Laurel Gallery can be found in Stockbridge in Edinburgh and specialises in showcasing work from local Scottish artists. Here, you can expect to find a range of paintings from local artists, as well as works in a variety of other mediums.

Fruitmarket Gallery – Located in the centre of the city, the Fruitmarket Gallery showcases the work of some of the world’s most renowned contemporary artists. Admission is free, with the gallery stating that it wants to provide visitors with an intimate encounter at no cost.

Dovecot Studios – This century-old tapestry studio is set in the heart of Edinburgh and comes with a rich history. Today, it works with a range of contemporary tapestry artists, who create rugs and textiles for exhibitions and private collections.

Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh

#2. The Incredible Architecture

Edinburgh is recognised around the world for its beautiful architecture.

Century-old castles, cobbled streets and old houses make the city a truly unique and one of a kind experience if you are an architecture lover. You can Admire St Giles Cathedral which dates back to 1124, visit the oldest part of Edinburgh Castle, St Margaret’s Cathedral or be in awe of the Gothic architecture at Scott’s Monument, affectionately dubbed the Gothic Rocket by Edinburgh natives.

Wander around Royal Mile and make sure you explore the enclosed courtyards with some of the quirkiest and oldest buildings in the city like Tweedale court dating back to 1576 which you can recognise from Outlander was the location of the bustling marketplace visited by Clare and Jamie.

Take a walk around New Town that was built out of necessity due to the overcrowding of the Old Town to see an asymmetrical arrangement of wide streets and row after row of Georgian buildings with wrought-iron balconies, attic room windows, balustrades and fanlights.

You’ll see that most of the buildings here are made from white sandstone and once were the homes of the elite, with doctors and lawyers residing here.

Step inside a former bank building on George Street, now a Weatherspoons pub to admire its ceiling, make sure you wander around the most stunning streets, designed by Gillespie Graham – Moray Place and check out Thistle Court.

Read More: A Beginner’s Guide to Edinburgh: The Best Attractions in the City

Ramsey Garden, Edinburgh

#3. The thriving food & drink scene

Believe it or not, the Scottish capital is one of Europe’s most award-winning cities from a culinary standpoint, and with its long history and contemporary flair, Edinburgh offers a plethora of gastronomic experiences to choose from.

First-time travellers should be sure to try the traditional dishes that are a source of Scottish pride such as Scotch Pie, potato Scone or Lorne Sausage.

You may not be brave enough to try haggis, a warm meaty dish made from sheep pluck, but afternoon tea at luxurious Georgian Tea Room The Dome is a good place to start.

Local restaurants are moving with the times and embracing the fine regional produce on offer.  Scotland’s capital city also boasts an impressive range of dining options with more restaurants per head than any other city in the UK. This includes five Michelin-starred restaurants – second only to London.

Read More: 12 Amazing Things You Have to See and Do in Beautiful Edinburgh

Victoria Street in the Old Town has to be one of the most photographed locations in the city. 

#4. Haunted Places

Scotland has long been associated with supernatural spectres, and ghost sightings and strange happenings have been reported across the country. Taking part in a walking tour is one of the best ways to find out about the gruesome tales that have been passed down the generations.

While most of them are more myths than hard facts, it’s a great way to understand more about the city.

Described as “one of the scariest places on earth” and “Scotland’s most haunted cemetery,” Edinburgh’s Greyfriars Kirkyard ancient resting place also contains the Covenanters’ Prison and the tombstone of Thomas Riddell Esquire, the real inspiration behind a famous Harry Potter villain, Voldemort.

You can also take a tour of the Edinburgh Vaults, hidden beneath the busy Old Town and see the series of chambers under the South Bridge, which dates back to the 1700s. Having been home to notorious criminals, as well as the poorest within society, the vaults are rife with legends and paranormal activity.

One of many pretty streets in Stockbridge, Edinburgh

#5. Scottish Culture

What is it that makes the Scots Scottish? Is it the clans, beautiful landscape, the bagpipes or is it whisky?

Scotland’s culture can be traced back almost a thousand years and it’s just as alive today as it has ever been. With remarkable buildings dating back hundreds of years, being the home of one of the most famous universities in the world, there’s an awe-inspiring piece of Scottish culture and tradition at every turn.

Whether you choose to see traditional Scottish Highland and ceilidh dancing, experience the breath-taking reality of a hundred pipers skirling in uplifting unison or marvel at Victorian tenements, Edinburgh won’t let you leave without a sizeable dose of good old Scottish culture.

If you want an interesting experience during your stay in Edinburgh, the Loony Dook is not to be missed. On New Year’s Day, thousands of people don fancy dress and make their way down to the Firth of Forth river. Starting at South Queensferry, the costumed crowd of people then plunge themselves into the freezing waters.

To experience true Scottish culture, you can take part in many cultural events such as the annual celebration of Robert Burns’ life, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo or the Scottish Storytelling Festival.

One of many shops along the Royal Mile.

#6. Edinburgh’s Museums

If you are looking for a fun day out that includes history, culture and adventure all in one, you should check out one of the many excellent museums in Edinburgh. The city has museums that celebrate everything from childhood and money to famous local authors and notorious graverobbers.

The National Museum of Scotland underwent an extensive refurbishment which restored the original splendour of the Grade A listed Victorian building and introduced new, modern detailing such as cast-iron balconies and a soaring glass roof which, together, create an awe-inspiring ‘birdcage’ structure.

Head to St Cecilia’s Hall & Music Museum which is a  concert hall that is also home to one of the most important historic musical instrument collections in the world. While the Concert Room regularly hosts concerts, the Music Museum has 400 instruments from across the globe.

Edinburgh is proud of its writing and publishing heritage and it has a museum celebrating the lives of some of its leading literary lights. The Writers Museum, accessed via the Makar’s Court, is a museum dedicated to the lives of Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns.

Edinburgh Castle at night.

#7. Edinburgh Festivals

There are 12 big festivals held in Edinburgh every year, and the biggest event is The Edinburgh Festival and Fringe.

Edinburgh’s population swells to more than double when people come from all over the world for the summer festivals. During the month of August, everything from small side-street venues to large concert halls brims with artists and festival-goers. This is because Edinburgh is home to the world’s largest arts festival – the Festival Fringe!

Established in 1947, the Fringe has become a world-class cultural event, taking place annually, over the month of August and drawing artists and visitors from all around the world. The festival’s open access policy allows anyone to participate and the shows range from comedy to dance to theatre to music and much more.

Hogmanay, which is the Scottish word for the last day of the year or New Year’s Eve, is also an amazing time of year to visit Edinburgh when the world’s biggest celebrations take place and play host to some of the world’s biggest parties! It dates back to 1993 and has evolved to become one of the greatest outdoor celebrations of New Year’s Eve in the world, lasting for about 3 days.

The Dome is one of Edinburgh’s most famous landmarks.

#8. The Fascinating Scottish History

Edinburgh has a rich history that dates back to the 7th century AD. Every street in the city is crammed with character, and there are so many hidden nooks and crannies that you’ll never be short of surprises. 

Being over 900 hundred years old and brooding atop an impressive 700 million-year-old extinct volcano called Castle Rock Edinburgh Castle is the most sieged castle in all of Europe. It’s where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to her only child and it’s a place brimming with history.

This iconic symbol of Scotland is a must-see on a trip to the city as it is a great place to start in understanding the region’s rich history. As you walk around its many rooms and corridors, don’t be surprised if you sense eerie vibes or hear ghosty whispers – Edinburgh castle is one of  Scotland’s most haunted places.

One of the best places to learn about Scottish history is The National Museum of Scotland. The collections relating to Scottish culture, history, and antiquities is very impressive and educational.

Looming over the city from the top of The Royal Mile is Edinburgh Castle.

#9. Well Maintaned Green Spaces

With an abundance of city centre gardens and local parks, it’s safe to say that nature abounds in the Scottish capital, and if you are an outdoors person, there are lots of green spaces you can visit as well as a distinct volcano known as Arthur’s Seat you can climb during your visit.

The location is featured in many books and films including T2 Trainspotting and One Day. It is relatively easy to climb and there are different routes, depending on ability level. The fastest ascent is from the east, where a slope rises above Dunsapie Loch.

The International Green Flag Award, the equivalent of a Blue Flag Award for beaches, is granted to parks around Scotland that enable exercise and benefit mental wellbeing, as well as provide a safe space for playing.

In 2019, the Capital impressively scooped the largest number of green flags of any local authority in Scotland, which were welcomed news to all the outstanding parks staff and communities who look after one of Edinburgh’s most treasured assets.

Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Now, over to you!

Have you been to Edinburgh?  Let us know in the comments below!

Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Edinburgh and have travel-related questions.

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68 thoughts on “8 Amazing Reasons Why You Should Visit Edinburgh At Least Once In Your Lifetime

    1. Thanks so much, Sheree 🙂 Scotland’s capital is one of the most stunning cities in the world and there’s so much to see and do – from its imposing castle to the otherworldly setting of Cramond Beach. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. An opera performance at the Festival Theatre must have been an amazing experience. Thanks for sharing the link, I look forward to reading your post about it. From what I’ve heard, Edinburgh is the perfect backdrop for a brilliant student experience. The city is full of things to do, with daily events in comedy, theatre, literature, film, dance, music, sporting events and so much more there’s a never-ending choice of places to unwind with friends after a hard day’s study. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva

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  1. A good list that is hard to deny from the city of my heritage. We have been lucky enough to visit twice and it never disappoints. The city of Edmonton near us has the 2nd largest Fringe Festival ion the world. Only Edinburgh’s is larger. Have a happy week Aiva. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love its spectacular collection of medieval and classic architecture, including numerous stone decorations. This is the very reason for people calling it the liveliest city in Europe. I was fortunate to experience the Fringe for three consecutive years and I can safely say, it’s a festival unlike any other. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva

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  2. I lived in Edinburgh for a year, it’s a fabulous city. So much history and so much to do and yet the hills, beach and villages are just a stones throw away.

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    1. Living in Edinburgh is an experience unlike any other. I was fortunate enough to live there for a few years too, and I found that one of the wonders of living in Edinburgh is its intimate atmosphere. In its suburbs, in particular, it feels more like a friendly, cosy village than a sprawling metropolis. The central areas lie close to one another, and it’s a great city to get around on foot. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva

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  3. Great list! I’ve visited a few times over the years but never for long enough to fully immerse myself in its history – I’d love to go back. The vantage point of that last photo is stunning!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Casey! From the atmospheric cobbled streets of the Old Town to the beautiful Georgian avenues of the New Town, Edinburgh is a city of contrasts blending shopping, historic attractions, gardens and plenty of restaurants and cafes where you can relax. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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  4. I just love visiting Edinburgh and never tire of the city whatever the season. Whenever we are visiting around Christmas we like to have lunch in The Dome in George Street as a special treat and to marvel at its magnificent interior and beautiful decorations. A great list with lots of good suggestions of things to see and do Aiva. Have a good week. Marion xx

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    1. Same here, Marion! I’ve been revisiting Edinburgh for the past decade and still find plenty of things to see and do. Having lunch at the Dome is an experience to remember, especially around Christmas time when the venue is decorated and the tree is up. It’s a truly spectacular sight to see. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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    1. I am glad to hear you would be interested in visiting Edinburgh. Edinburgh’s stunning cityscape is one of the dramatic contrasts. From the refined elegance of the New Town to the Old Town’s tangled web of medieval streets, these two complementary parts of the city offer visitors an ever-changing perspective alongside countless fascinating historical and cultural attractions. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva

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  5. That’s a great summary of reasons to visit Edinburgh. We will be visiting this spring, so we are definitely saving and revisiting all of your wonderful articles about the city. I love haggis, so I am quite happy to dive into authentic Scottish cuisine. The Dome, however, sounds more like Sladja’s place. We also love to walk around cemeteries, so the haunted graveyard will surely be on our list.

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    1. Hi, Leighton! I am glad to hear you are planning on visiting Edinburgh soon! I am also gal to hear that I am not the only one who’s fascinated by graveyards – in Edinburgh, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to old and haunted cemeteries. I find that there’s no better way to grasp a city’s history than to tour its churchyards and cemeteries. From the Soldiers’ Dog Cemetery and the Mackenzie poltergeist of Greyfriars Kirkyard to the Canongate Kirk where Robert Burns’ famous mistress Clarinda is buried, you are sure to have a memorable time exploring the city’s burial grounds, and I can’t wait to read all about it. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva

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    1. Edinburgh’s bustling city centre is a sight to behold offering visitors an extraordinary blend of shopping and fascinating historical and cultural attractions alongside magnificent architecture. We are fortunate to live nearby – it only takes 40 minutes to get there from Ireland West Airport which means I can easily catch an early morning flight, meet my friends for lunch, visit a few museums and be back home by 9 pm. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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  6. Looks like you tacked on an extra point for Edinburgh…more of a reason to go! My two-night stay in the Scottish capital hardly did the city justice, so I’ll need to make a return someday!

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    1. Thanks so much, Rebecca 🙂 Edinburgh’s city centre ranks as one of the most handsome in Europe. With its elegant streets set against the dramatic silhouette of Edinburgh Castle and the medieval turrets and spires of the Old Town, Edinburgh’s city centre offers visitors an exciting fusion of shopping, dining and architectural splendour. I hope you get to return one day 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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    1. Thank you kindly, Linda 🙂 Edinburgh is recognised around the world for its beautiful architecture, from the medieval characteristics of the Old Town to the classical Georgian New Town and more recent developments like the Quartermile and New Waverly Arches and they are all a sight to behold 🙂 I hope you get to visit Edinburgh one day 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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    1. You would love to explore Edinburgh, Diana 🙂 Edinburgh is small for a capital, which means there’s a real village feel here. With a towering castle overlooking the city as well as the cobbled-stoned streets of the Royal Mile, Edinburgh is also the perfect blend of old and new – a city full of adventure waiting to be discovered around every corner. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva

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  7. What a great number of reasons to visit – I am particularly taken with Edinburgh’s architecture and museums, plus I never say no to a nice meal and lots of wine 🙂 It really is such a beautiful city and your photos capture that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much 🙂 One of the main reasons why I love visiting Edinburgh is its variety of museums and galleries. It’s one of the things I miss the most on Ireland’s West Coast. In Edinburgh, you’re spoilt for choice by the enormous range of museums located in and around the city centre, easily accessible on foot. There are more than enough to keep you busy for days on end, whether you’re into art, science, history museums or all three, the city has all you could want and more. You might also be surprised at just how many free museums Edinburgh is home to. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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    1. Thanks so much, Jo 🙂 Edinburgh truly is an astonishing city when it comes to the comforting atmosphere it provides. With its old historic buildings, small alleys, cosy pubs and Cafés, it feels like home…away from home. And no matter where you are from, with so many nationalities present, you will never be alone. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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    1. I don’t think I can hide it anymore. There is just something about Edinburgh that constantly pulls me back. I think the process of learning to love a city is a lot like learning to love another human: It doesn’t always happen right away. Sometimes you’re not sure. But if you’re patient, persistent, and willing to be a little bit vulnerable, you might just fall head over heels. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love Edinburgh, we went in 2019 and it’s one of my favorite memories! We did a ghost tour that was a lot of fun, my favorite was exploring the castle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad to hear you had a fantastic time in Edinburgh! Thanks to its spectacular rocks, rustic buildings and a huge collection of medieval and classic architecture, including numerous stone decorations, it is one of the most stunning cities in Europe! Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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    1. Thanks so much, Francisco. Many different cultures, nationalities and ethnicities are melting together and creating the unique multicultural vibe of Edinburgh. Reflected in the diverse art scene, infamous Festivals, vibrant fairs and markets the city deserves its title “the beating heart of Scotland”. No matter where you are from, or when you come to visit, there is always something going on. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much. You would love it as Edinburgh is not only one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, it is a city with a fantastic position. The view falls on all sides – green hills, the hint of the blue sea, the silhouettes of the buildings and the red cliffs. It is a city that calls you to explore it by foot – narrow streets, passageways, stairs and hidden churchyards on every step will pull you away from the main streets. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva

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  9. Oh, I’ve read so many times about Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh … and your post is just reiterating how beautiful it really is 😊.
    Lovely picture of the Edinburgh Castle at night, as well as The Dome. It’s truly a city with a rich history (wow, over 900 years old)!
    Thanks for all the exciting info and beautiful pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Corna. Edinburgh still remains one of my favourite cities! A visit here will be well worth it, considering the numerous things you can do and see. Most of the structures in the Old Town have remained in their original form over the years. Charming medieval relics are plenty in this section of the city. In contrast, orderly Georgian terraces line the streets of the New Town. The general urban scenery is a blend of ancient structures and modern architecture, which gives the city a unique character. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Magnificent Edinburgh. So much beautiful surprises. Thank you for such a wonderful adventure. Motivates me to travel again outside the U.S. Have a happy weekend my friend. Blessings to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much 🙂 Edinburgh is a beautiful city filled with stunning geology. Its diverse landscape is worth seeing, as it transforms from the volcanic Pentland Hills in the south to the seaside resort of Portobello in the East. To get a birds-ey view of the city, you can scale Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano, which is one of the most popular attractions. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. I hope all is well with you and your family. Sending you warm greetings from Ireland 🙂 Aiva xx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Ribana. Edinburgh is nothing short of a picture-perfect postcard when it comes to pretty city skylines and dramatic sweeping views. If there’s one thing, I haven’t tried yet, it’s the famous ghost tours, I just can’t bring myself to do it! On our last trip, I tried to persuade my husband to join a tour, after all, Edinburgh is often considered one of the most haunted cities in the entire world — and anyone who has been will be hard-pressed to argue, but he refused! Maybe next time. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva

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    1. Thank you kindly 🙂 The proud Scottish capital boasts stunning architecture, endless winding streets, full of flowers, and majestic castles. You can take a stroll through the city and be charmed by its own blend of tradition and modernity. Outside the city, incredible nature awaits, which you simply mustn’t miss. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva

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    1. Given how cold and miserable it is in Scotland in January, it always amazes me that there are plenty of hardy souls who brave the elements to take part in this annual tradition by dressing up in the wackiest outfits they can find, marching through the streets of South Queensferry and then throwing themselves into the Firth of Forth. The cold water would for sure cure a hangover. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much and I hope you get to visit Edinburgh one day as the beautiful capital of Scotland has plenty to offer. The hub of attraction provides exciting events and welcomes visitors all year round. In winter snow often covers the historic architecture, which can be observed from various hills surrounding the city. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Glenys! Yes, you would love Edinburgh as the Scottish capital is a centre of culture and the arts, and is especially well-known for its festivals. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Exciting adventure lists. So many magnificent discoveries, Art, Architecture, culture. A dream travel indeed. Thank for sharing Europe through your eyes and experience. I hope to see some of these one day. Thanks. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much 🙂 Edinburgh, a magical city with winding cobblestone streets, medieval castles, and colourful shops that inspired the Harry Potter books is a must-visit for anyone interested in history, lovely architecture, and culture. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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    1. Thanks so much, Alisa. The haunted aspects of the city are something I cannot bring myself to explore deeper; the graveyards are spooky enough during the daytime and so are the little alleyways! The last time we were in Edinburgh, I tried to persuade my husband to go on a ghost tour, but he refused! Maybe one day. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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    1. They say that Edinburgh Underground Vaults are one of the spookiest places to see and during your visit, you can learn about murders, witches and the people who inhabited this scary place ( if you are brave enough, of course)

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    1. I hope you get to visit Scotland one day as the rolling countryside, bustling cities, icy mountain peaks and charming villages all combine to provide an excellent destination for your cottage holiday in the UK, whether you’re looking for an action-packed break, a cultural adventure or a relaxing retreat. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

      Liked by 1 person

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