Although I don't subscribe to the commercially driven urge to be romantic on this one day more than other 364 days in the year (or 365 this year, as it's a leap year!) if you are visiting Edinburgh this Valentine's weekend, here is my rundown of a few of Auld Reekie's romantic hotspots!
Among the famous burials here, in the Canongate on the Royal Mile, is one Agnes Macklehose, also known as Nancy, who went by the name of Clarinda in her letters to the poet Robert Burns. It was for Clarinda/Nancy/Agnes that Burns wrote one of his most famous poems, Ae Fond Kiss, after their last meeting before Agnes left Scotland for Jamaica:
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!
I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy;
Naething could resist my Nancy;
For to see her was to love her,
Love but her, and love for ever.
Had we never loved sae kindly,
Had we never loved sae blindly,
Never met—or never parted,
We had ne'er been broken-hearted.
Water of Leith
Enjoy a romantic stroll through the hidden gems of Edinburgh's New Town suburbs. Starting in Stockbridge, follow the water of Leith west and soak up the peace and solitude as you hear the water running by. You'll pass through the Dean Village, a wonderfully maintained historic village, before continuing up towards the two galleries of Modern Art near Belford. A charming rustic adventure in the heart of the city.
Not only the official residence of the current monarch, but also historically a site associated with kings and queens throughout history, including Mary, Queen of Scots. An iconic figure in Scots history, Mary was married three times in her life, although her life was not overall a particularly happy one. Visit her original bed chambers and soak up the medieval atmosphere, in this beautiful and evocative building.
National Museum of Scotland
There are plenty of hidden corners to get lost in at the city's finest museum, but the crowning glory is its rooftop terrace. Accessed via a fairly indirect route of stairs, only a small percentage of the museum's visitors make it up here, meaning you could have the whole terrace to yourself, with 360-degree views out over the whole of the Old Town and Arthur's Seat.
Surgeons Hall Museum
Love is all about heart and soul, and here you'll find plenty of hearts... and many more body parts besides! Okay, so it may not be everyone's idea of romantic, but if your true love is of a medical (or just plain grisly) persuasion, a trip to the recently renovated museum on Nicolson Street could tick all the right boxes.
Still looking for some 'puppy love' this Valentine's Day? Book one of my Tours With Paws, featuring my co-guide Monty, or join a Weekend Explorer Tour...
Edinburgh is a city of different areas and suburbs, each with its own character and charm. Here's an introduction to some of the most popular areas from Gareth Thomas, one of the co-founders of Reserve Apartments, an Edinburgh based holiday let and online booking/web publishing Software Company.
Whether you're looking for a characterful area to stay in, or just somewhere to visit while you're here, check out these highlights...
SOME OTHER AREAS TO VISIT IN EDINBURGH
Known as the ‘Athens of the North’ for its brilliant architecture, Edinburgh is a fabulous city with so much to offer. There's a rich cultural vibe with a long, fascinating Scottish heritage and a stunning naturally hilly landscape that forms the backdrop to this thriving cosmopolitan metropolis.
While there’s no doubt a large number of the city’s main tourist attractions are situated in the heart of the city centre, visitors should consider visiting some of the lesser known areas, which are still within easy reach of Princes Street.
Just a 10 minute walk from Princes Street, Stockbridge is a very quaint district of Edinburgh with bags of character. It still retains its former charm, mingling the old with the new in its buildings, cobbled streets and modern shops. There's a bohemian feel to Stockbridge, offering a home to artists, writers and musicians, with numerous cafes, bars, delis and boutiques, not forgetting the Water of Leith running under the famous Stock Bridge itself, providing some fabulous walks stretching from Leith itself at one end, to the higgledy piggledy Dean Village at the other.
Stockbridge has retained its independent village feel since it was linked to Edinburgh city centre in the mid-18th century, after Edinburgh's Georgian new town steadily expanded northwards towards the villages on the river, including Stockbridge. One of the best features is the Royal Botanic Garden, with its stunning greenery, plants and hothouses. Stockbridge also has a thriving market, open every Sunday all year round.
Morningside has always had a reputation for being the posh, upmarket part of Edinburgh. Home to authors Ian Rankin, JK Rowling and Alexander McCall Smith and within a 10-15 minute walk from the centre, Morningside is nestled at the foot of the Braid Hills with tremendous views of the Pentland Hills. Georgian tenement-style houses feature, as well as splendid Victorian villa-style properties. Particular well-established and original features of Morningside include the Church Hill Theatre, The Dominion independent cinema, and The Canny Man's Pub. The latter's legendary for its art and artefacts that hang from the walls and ceilings and traditional cosy Scottish hospitality and atmosphere.
Partly situated within the city centre The old town is home to Edinburgh's famous tenement buildings as well as Edinburgh University, with its ancient and architecturally beautiful Old College. This is also home to the Royal Mile, which of course is the main thoroughfare from Holyrood Palace, up to the Castle. Both are well worth a visit and warrant at least half a day to do justice to such pinnacles of Scottish heritage and history.
Edinburgh's past can be rediscovered through the narrow closes (alleys) that link various old town streets. Places to visit include St. Giles' Cathedral, the National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish Parliament. The old town also has an intriguing hidden underground world of vaults and secret passages known as Mary King's Close, which can be visited by the less faint-hearted who don't mind dark, enclosed spaces. For shopping, Blackfriars St has a wealth of individual and trendy shops. Restaurants that are renowned include The Tower, The Witchery and the pick of the pubs include The Peartree House and Deacon Brodies Tavern.
Leith is an important historical part of Edinburgh as a major port on the Firth of Forth, which went into decline after the Second World War. It got itself a bit of a seedy reputation in the 1980s and 90s but has undergone a major regeneration since the turn of the 21st century, with new businesses, houses and our own Reserve holiday apartments springing up in the area.
Leith is now thriving with a bustling port that regularly hosts visiting cruise ships and is home to the Royal Yacht Britannia, which is open to the public. There's a terrific shopping centre called Ocean Terminal down by the docks, with a multiplex cinema. The restaurants around the docks are chic, lively and many are top quality, including The Kitchin and Fisher's Bistro.
Check out the wide selection of holiday properties available from Reserve Apartments and book your break in Edinburgh today!
Edinburgh Expert Walking Tours is run by Gareth Davies, an adopted native of Edinburgh since 1998...