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solo traveling in Edinburgh - where to stay and what to do?

Hi all,
I'm 23, female, planning on spending 2 nights in Edinburgh in mid September. Can anyone recommend a good b&b or another affordable lodging situation? I just want a bit of company, something safe, and close to the attractions. I'd also like some recommendations on things to do - for reference, I like museums, hiking, pubs, parks, walking, etc. Also, I'm going to Glasgow for 3 nights after Edinburgh (I've got that lodging situation down though.)

Sidenote: This is my first time traveling alone abroad, so any and all advice would be great! I've read Rick Steves' travel tips but welcome to hear anything else someone can add.

Thanks!

Posted by
6671 posts

My wife and I stayed four nights in the Priestville Guest House just off Dalkeith Road, a couple of miles south of the center of Edinburgh. It was comfortable and affordable, about a block from the bus that goes right to the center. Certainly safe, and a very good breakfast. It's one of the Rick Steves recommended lodgings in that area. Not as convenient to the sights as a hotel nearer the center, but perfectly fine for us.

The National Museum of Scotland is excellent, you could spend most of a day there but you won't have time. Edinburgh Castle is well worth seeing. The Scottish National Gallery is a very good art museum. We also enjoyed Gladstone's Land, a restored 17th-century house on the Royal Mile, and the 18th-century Georgian House on Charlotte Square in New Town. Arthur's Seat, an ancient hill between central Edinburgh and Dalkeith, is a good hike with rewarding views. With only one full day for sightseeing, you'll have to pick your priorities with care.

If you're a fan of Ian Rankin's "Rebus" mysteries, the detective's favorite Oxford Bar is on Hill St. in New Town. We also visited a pub called "The Last Drop" where the gallows used to be (get it?) in Grassmarket. But there are lots of good places to eat and drink all over the place.

Posted by
4355 posts

In addition to what Dick said, we enjoyed Holyrood Palace.

I will add that the busses were easy to use and they ran frequently. I used Google Maps, which proved accurate for bus directions. I also downloaded the app from the bus company. Buses had wifi. :) I also downloaded an off-line Google map for Edinborough, so we never worried about getting lost or having to use data. So if you find a place to stay close to a bus stop, don't worry too much about being central.

We found people to be friendly, helpful, and it felt very safe.

Posted by
3122 posts

I did a lot of solo traveling in my young-adult years. Scotland is probably among the safest places, in terms of people not regarding you oddly for being an unaccompanied young woman. You can easily strike up conversations with shopkeepers, people sitting near you in a pub, fellow passengers on the bus, etc. However, the usual cautions apply just as you'd do in the USA when going out after dark, not letting anyone pour your drink when you're not watching, being offered a ride, etc. Actually I once had a close call after accepting a ride in broad daylight from a young-ish professionally dressed man driving a nice BMW in a small town in Germany. I had to jump out of the car when he stopped at a red light. Just saying.

OK, back to Edinburgh. Someone on this forum recommended the Inverleith Hotel and it was really nice, safe and quiet with extremely helpful staff, but it is about a 10-min bus ride from The Mound and the Royal Mile. It's right by the Botanical Garden, if that interests you, and it's walking distance to at least 3 pubs/restaurants and a coin laundry as well as a petrol station that has an ATM.

The RS guidebook lists quite a few places closer to the Royal Mile. The B&B / guest house type of accommodation really seems to be prevalent in Edinburgh. A friend of mine stayed at the hostel and she said it was noisy but other than that fine.

With just 2 days in Edinburgh, you could spend 2 days working your way from one end of the Royal Mile to the other. Not that you'd necessarily want to, but there's enough to see that you could -- the castle at the top of the hill and Holyrood at the bottom, with tons of attractions in between. The National Museum is huge; I could also imagine spending all of 2 days in there.

If you want to get out of the city, you can take the bus to Rosslyn Chapel, which has a nice café and gift shop and offers free tour commentary a couple of times a day. Plan at least an hour each way not counting waiting for the bus. If you buy a day pass for the bus, you can use it again in the evening to go somewhere for dinner.

Be prepared for rain and chilly temperatures, though the Scots often say September has the best weather of the year.

Posted by
2652 posts

Oxford bar is in Young Street not Hill street and is well worth a visit.when I was a young man women were not even allowed in the place,things have changed since then.

Posted by
1344 posts

You might consider a hostel instead of a B&B - more young people to meet. As far as I remember there is a hostel right next to the Royal Mile. It doesn't get any more central than that.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you all for your helpful responses! I decided to go with a hostel, mostly for budget reasons. Glad to know I'm relatively safe and welcomed in the area. I did download the offline map of Edinburgh which I think will come in handy as I won't be using any cell data when I'm abroad.

Posted by
2652 posts

BTW loads of free wifi in Edinburgh, buses and trams have it, takes a few minutes to get on line but easy enough and they are experimenting with free wifi in the city centre not sure if it is live yet.Just about every pub and café has free wifi as well as the main shopping malls.

Posted by
47 posts

We were in Edinburgh earlier this month and loved our stay at Kingsway Guest House (www.edinburgh-guesthouse.com). The owners Lizzie and Greg were so helpful in orienting us to the city, suggesting good places to eat, etc. Its a short bus ride from the Royal Mile, within walking distance of Arthur's Seat and close to many great restaurants.

I agree with the others that the National Museum of Scotland is a must-see. If you're a fan of JK Rowling, be sure to stop at The Elephant Cafe which is a block away. Its where she wrote the first Harry Potter book. Have a great trip!

Posted by
5678 posts

It was me that recommended the Inverleith, and one reason is that they have a residence bar--it's quite petite, but you can have a nice single malt whisky and chat with the desk manager. Since I first stayed there, I've gotten more comfortable going to pubs on my own. I also like the neighborhood and that it was friendly. There is a neighborhood pub too. I also liked it because it got me away from the hustle and bustle, but I could get to the H&B very quickly. The Royal Botanic Garden is very nice! I would take the bus up to the Royal Mile, and then walk back in the afternoon. Sometimes I would walk back up to New Town for dinner.

I will second any recommendations about the excellence of the Museum of Scotland. It's very good. But if you've only got a day, I would take care not to spend the whole day in it! You should go to the Castle. It is a museum in and of itself. And the views of the city are fantastic. I really enjoyed Gladstone's Land on the Royal Mile and The Georgian House in New Town. It gives you an interesting contrast between the medieval city and the more modern Georgian city.

If the weather is good, you should climb Arthur's Seat. I recently saw some pictures a friend took while climbing it and they were fantastic.

Don't be afraid to eat on in the restaurants alone. I had to learn to do this in the US as I was a sales rep traveling to all the highpoint of Northern Indiana and didn't want to do room service in the Holiday Inn every night! No one looks askance. And today, you can just whip out your e-reader and it doesn't matter how dark it is. I have found that if I sit at the bar in the pub I am more likely to meet people. I've always felt safe doing this in Scotland. You should look for pubs with sessions for traditional music as that gives you something to chat about. Sandy's Bells in Edinburgh is one.

In Glasgow, the first place I would go is the new Riverside Museum. I saw the old transport museum and am dying to see this one! Also, the Tenement House Museum is very interesting. (And BTW there is a tenement house museum in NYC as well. It too is excellent!) Of course, there is Kelvingrove which is worth visiting for the organ alone! Don't miss the Cathedral. It's smaller than many, but very old with a rich history.

Pam