My husband and I are planning a trip to London and Edinburgh this October. I read the threads about driving vs. train, not sure which we'll chose (he likes driving in foreign countries). Are there festivals/attractions/museums we need to see during our 4-6 days in Edinburgh? We like art, museums, walking tours, etc. and Rosslyn chapel is already on my list. I'd also like any tips on restaurants- especially ones favored by the locals. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
When you just mention the two big cities, nobody will make a case for driving versus a direct, 5-hour train (www.nationalrail.co.uk). But if you plan small-town and rural stops along the way, then that can be the advantage of the car.
I was in England and Scotland in May-June. While there I learned that the heather blooms in September in Scotland. Perhaps if you go in early October, it will still be blooming. I was sorry I missed it.
My trip was entirely by public transportation and taxi, but I did go on a Hairy Coo tour out of Edinburgh which was fun and got us out into the countryside without having to drive myself on tiny narrow roads...with limited visibility...in a right hand drive car. I was on other small tours in both England and Scotland where I sat in the passenger seat up front. The freakiest part was not going clockwise around traffic circles. It was turning right across traffic and having the right (inside) lane be the fast lane. Not counting taxis, I spent over 30 hours riding with other drivers and never got used to that.
It seems like the Royal Yacht Britannia, docked in Edinburgh, is rarely mentioned. I took the bus out and back, coped with the cold and windy rain, thoroughly enjoyed seeing it and even bought a T-shirt, a rarity for me.
My favorite part of the castle was St. Margaret's Chapel, the oldest building in Edinburgh.
I stayed at the Hedges and ate my evening meals close by. I don't think there were many tourists at those restaurants. They included Kushi's (Indian) and Jolly Ristorante (Italian). They were within easy walking distance and almost across the street from each other. Unfortunately, I wasn't in Edinburgh long enough to try any of the other great-looking places close to my lodgings.
A major bus hub is between the Hedges and those restaurants and other stops are right across the park from the Hedges. Also within walking distance is a good place to do laundry. I was lucky enough to be there when kids got out of school nearby. The manager gave them each a "wee biscuit" and didn't tolerate the bigger kids trying to take more than one.
We had a fabulous Edinburgh day taking the bus to Rosslyn Chapel, then stopping in briefly at the National Museum on the way back to book dinner in the Tower Restaurant. We then had time to catch a bus back to our hotel and freshen up, and arrive at Tower Restaurant to enjoy a high-class dinner with commanding view of the Castle and city skyline.
In October it gets dark early (we were there in May) so your dinner view will probably be the after-dark version. Even though it is a high-end restaurant, some of the customers were wearing jeans and other casual clothing.
A day pass for the bus means you can go all the way to Rosslyn & back, get off & on, come back for dinner etc. without having to pay any more.