A 3-Day Itinerary for Romance in Edinburgh, Scotland
Three days of romance in…Edinburgh? When you think of the great romantic cities of Europe, your thoughts may go to L’Amour de Paris, the seductive allure of Venice, the sensual heat of Barcelona, but not Edinburgh, Scotland!
Oh, but yes! Edinburgh presents a surprising romantic magic all its own. There’s gourmet dining to stimulate the senses; a spectacular storybook castle looming over the city; a literal street of delights called the Royal Mile; picturesque St. Andrews nearby; and plenty of body and soul-warming Scotch whisky!
Writer Sir Walter Scott referred to Edinburgh as “The Empress of the North” and fellow Scotsman, Robert Louis Stevenson, wrote, “Edinburgh is what Paris ought to be.” My husband and I discovered the romance of Edinburgh during a glorious three-day dream escape.
While we love traveling with our darling kids, an occasional getaway for just the two of us is a special treat. For all of you couples out there, here are my most favorite romantic finds in Edinburgh and neighboring St. Andrews. So get ready for romance. Note: Because I am also a mom, I just couldn’t help myself so I have included some kid-friendly attractions, identified with an asterisk (“*”).
Most Romantic Things to do in Edinburgh, Scotland in 3 Days
Day 1: A Hand-in-Hand Stroll Through History
I’m not sure about all of you, but for me, there is nothing more romantic than transporting yourself back in time to an elegant, but simpler world.
So to start your Edinburgh journey with a fabulous introduction to its deep history, grab your honey and indulge in an imagination-inspiring walking tour* of Old Town. (Note: Pay as much or little as you wish.)
Edinburgh bursts with historical attractions, breath-taking castles and magnificent mansions; the city is a historical jewel. Among others, we visited the the Palace of the Holyrood*, still used by the current Royal Family. After touring the elaborate, glamorous interior, we leisurely strolled around the lush grounds which provide you with the ideal vista of the towering hill in the distance called Arthur’s Seat. “Outdoorsy” types can hike all the way up this mountain and find an unparalleled view of the grand city below. We opted instead for a slightly easier (although still strenuous) route up a paved path to scenic Calton Hill*, home of many spectacular photogenic monuments, including an incredible looming unfinished replica of the Parthenon in Greece!
Before dinner we went from Old Town to “New Town,” which is not so new! We loved meandering through the quaint streets with discoveries around every turn. For a pre-dinner cocktail, choose between one of the many colorful local pubs or, like us, visit the classically old-world, grand cocktail bar, called The Dome.
Dinner was an event! We were lucky enough to secure a precious reservation to dine in Speigeltent, a dramatic pop-up, experiential gourmet dining venue set up during the Edinburgh Food Festival. It was truly a one-of-a-kind, surreal experience, created by the Glasgow-based caterers, Section 33. Sitting in a red velvet, circular carousel-themed room, we indulged in a foodie’s dream! A sumptuous five-course locally-sourced menu, perfectly paired drinks, and talented live musicians, including Calum Ingrum and DopeSickFly.
Even if you’re not there during the food festival, the gourmet dining offerings in Edinburgh are abundant. One suggestion: head to elegant DiVino Enoteca for a romantic evening of authentic Italian cuisine with a fabulous wine selection, top-notch service and a meal you won’t soon forget!
To end the night right, we headed off to “live it up” at the dynamic, bustling Grassmarket Section of town where lively music and colorful pubs abound. If the weather cooperates, you will be sure to find people spilling out of the pubs into the plaza for a never-ending celebration.
Day 2: A Day of Royalty, A Night of Spirits
Get out there and continue your romantic journey by hopping on Edinburgh Bus Tours’ Majestic Tour Bus*. My husband and I cuddled up next to each other and enjoyed the narrated open-top, double-decker ride through the areas of Edinburgh which we were not able to visit on foot.
Our trip took us all the way to the Queen’s former floating royal residence, the Royal Yacht Britannia*. As you stroll aboard this mega-boat, you can just imagine Charles and Diana honeymooning on the open seas! You can also envision what life was like for the hundreds of military officers who served on this luxurious yacht. The fascinating audio tour of the Royal Yacht (included in the admission fee) brings its unique history to life! For a special treat, have lunch or drop in for a tasty scone and tea at the yacht’s picturesque Tea Rooms*.
Next, we returned to town for one of our trip’s highlights. We entered and explored the magnificent, historic Edinburgh Castle*. We began with the intriguing free 30-minute guided tour. Then, we were captivated by the glorious Crown Jewels. (I hoped it would give my hubby some hints for a birthday gift.) We spent hours drinking in the history, beauty and breathtaking views of the entire Castle. Magical! Tip: Consider booking fast track tickets to save time.
We spent the rest of our picture-perfect afternoon strolling hand-in-hand along the one-of-a-kind Royal Mile*. We shopped for souvenirs, did some great people-watching, shared some café time and took a peek into the grand St. Giles Cathedral. For some fun and whimsy, visit the Camera Obscura* – an interactive science museum known for optical illusions which we thoroughly enjoyed (even somewhat guiltily without our kids).
This was an epic Edinburgh day! And the evening brought still more romance. We had a memorable visit to the Taste of Scotland experience at The Scotch Whisky Experience. After taking a Disney-esque ride which gave an overview of the whisky-making process, our expert guide entertained and educated our group. He led a Whisky Tasting that “intoxicated” both the mind and the body by explaining the regional differences in Scotch whisky. The “grand finale” of the experience was a visit to the Chapel of Whisky, where we ogled the dramatically displayed 3,384 bottles of the unopened magical elixir, the largest private collection in the world! Note: there are various tour lengths and prices from which you can choose.
Our experience was crowned by the extraordinary dinner of modern Scottish cuisine at romantic Amber* (awesome kids menu too). As you leave Amber, sneak a kiss while you take in the nighttime views of the Castle and Royal Mile lit up at night. Ah, romance!
Day 3: A Trip to Spectacular St. Andrews
Now, if you really want your hubby to love you forever, head to “the golf Mecca of the world” — the legendary St. Andrews! And by the way, you’re going to love it too! We hopped a bus and enjoyed the whole trip experience (about 1-2 hours).
When you arrive you’ll find the birthplace of golf, The Old Course. It goes all the way back to the 1400’s…amazing! We jumped right in starting with a round of “high-end mini-golf” at the St. Andrews Ladies’ Putting Club course known as The Himalayas*. Great fun and a bargain at just 3 Euros per person for equipment and 18 holes. Throughout all of St. Andrews you’ll be surrounded by breathtaking views of the Northern Sea and the gorgeous town. Note: If you visit on a Sunday, St. Andrews’ age-old tradition permits the public to walk the course, even picnic on it!
But there’s more beyond the links. Depending on your interests, spend the day visiting the beach (and maybe reenacting the famous “Chariot’s of Fire” running on the beach scene). Or, tour the Castle Ruins* and peek into the Museum Preservation Trust* which depicts the “olden days.” For a true taste of romance, meander through the collegiate grounds of St. Andrews where Will and Kate fell in love!
For a fabulous climax to your romantic day, indulge in a delicious gourmet seafood feast, dining at top-rated Tailend* (kids menu too). We were blown away by our superbly prepared langoustine, flavorful Thai seafood curry, huge grilled prawns, perfect battered haddock, delicious tender scallops; tasty fish tacos, and…a big plus…never-ending servings of the absolutely best “chips” we had on our trip to Scotland! Be sure to try their Gin Specialty Drinks. I recommend the Elderflower and Raspberry concoction!
Great Hotels in Edinburgh
A great gem is the fabulously refurbished art deco DoubleTree by Edinburgh Hotel City Centre. We loved its spectacular views of the castle and convenient location within walking distance of the Royal Mile and the Grassmarket area. Note: If you are lucky enough to be in town on the first Thursday of the month, head up to the Doubletree’s SKYbar for a toast while gazing at the unbelievable city views.
Another excellent option is the recently-opened, completely renovated Hilton Edinburgh Carlton which is on the North Bridge leading to the Royal Mile! This beautiful hotel is an ideal home base for couples (and families too).
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Lisa was provided with discounted and/or complimentary meals and admission to a few of the attractions/restaurants so that she could try them and review them for your information. Lisa chose the above restaurants and attractions based on their top-rated reviews.
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