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Explore Wonder 4: The Magnificent Edinburgh Castle in Scotland's United Kingdom History

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About Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is a huge ancient castle on a high rocky hill in Scotland. This place used to be a home for Kings, and a fortress for soldiers, and now it's a fascinating place for tourists from all around the world to visit and learn about Scotland’s past. This fortress was built on top of an extinct volcano which was likely active about 340 million years ago and its boulder known as Castle Rock stands 120 meters above sea level.

Today, Scotland’s most famous tourist attraction is Edinburgh Castle which offers visitors a glimpse of the nation's storied past through its architecture, artifacts, and many breathtaking views. Edinburgh Castle stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and welcomes visitors from around the world to explore and see amazing views of the city from up there!

 

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What factors contribute to Edinburgh Castle being one of the 100 wonders of the world?

Edinburgh Castle is very special and famous all over the world. It's old and sits on top of a big hill called Castle Rock. People have lived there for a long time, and it has seen many important events in Scotland's history. The castle looks amazing with its different styles of buildings, some very old and some newer. Inside, you can see things like the Scottish Crown Jewels and learn about the kings and queens of Scotland. Lots of people visit the castle every year because it's so interesting and you can see beautiful views from the top. It's like a big symbol of Scotland's past and present, and that's why it's one of the 100 most wonderful places in the world.

 

History or story of the wonder

Edinburgh Castle was built way back in the 12th century by a Scottish king named David I a long time ago, and since then, it’s seen a lot! Many kings and queens lived there, battles were fought, and many important events took place within its walls.

Edinburgh Castle has changed hands many times between Scotland and England during the times of war. One famous queen, Mary, gave birth to her son there, later he became King James VI of Scotland and King James I of England. This Castle has survived a lot through centuries of history and Today, it stands as a great place for tourists to visit, offering stunning views of the city and a chance to explore its ancient buildings and treasures. The castle has seen sieges, battles, and changes in ownership, and yet it has remained a symbol of Scottish resilience.

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How to Get There?

The major airport serving Edinburgh is Edinburgh Airport (EDI).To get to Edinburgh Castle from Edinburgh Airport, you have a few options:

  1. Taxi: Taxis are readily available outside the airport terminal. The journey to Edinburgh Castle takes around 25-30 minutes, depending on traffic. It's a convenient but relatively expensive option.
  2. Airport Bus: The Airlink 100 bus service operates between Edinburgh Airport and the city center. The journey takes approximately 30 minutes and drops you off at Waverley Bridge, near Edinburgh Castle. From there, it's a short walk uphill to the castle entrance. This is a budget-friendly option with frequent departures.
  3. Tram: The Edinburgh Trams run from the airport to the city center. The journey to Princes Street (near Waverley Bridge) takes around 35 minutes. Once you arrive, you can walk or take a short bus ride to Edinburgh Castle.
  4. Car Rental: If you prefer to drive, you can rent a car from the airport. The journey to Edinburgh Castle typically takes 25-30 minutes, depending on traffic. Keep in mind that parking near the castle can be limited and expensive, so it's advisable to check parking options beforehand.

Recommendations:

  • Consider purchasing an Edinburgh City Pass or Historic Scotland Explorer Pass, which may include discounted admission to Edinburgh Castle along with other attractions.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes, as there's a steep uphill climb to reach the castle entrance.
  • Check the castle's opening hours and any COVID-19 restrictions or requirements before your visit.
  • Take some time to explore the surrounding area, including the Royal Mile and nearby attractions such as St. Giles' Cathedral and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
  • Bring layers, as Edinburgh's weather can be unpredictable, especially if you're planning to explore the castle's outdoor areas.
  • Arrive early to avoid crowds, especially during peak tourist seasons.
  • Consider joining a guided tour to learn more about the castle's history and significance.

Visa Requirements

To visit the United Kingdom, U.S. citizens do not require a visa. However, if you are outside the USA you may need a visa to enter the country, depending on the nationality and duration of your visit. However, it’s always a good idea to consult before planning, and for travel purposes, check our visa section.

Accommodation

When visiting Edinburgh Castle, it's advantageous to stay in areas that offer convenience, proximity to attractions, and a vibrant atmosphere. Here are some recommended areas to consider:

Old Town

Distance: Within walking distance (0-15 minutes) to Edinburgh Castle.

Why: Staying in the Old Town puts you right at the heart of Edinburgh's historic charm. You'll be surrounded by cobbled streets, medieval architecture, and iconic landmarks like the Royal Mile and the Grassmarket. This area is ideal for immersing yourself in Edinburgh's rich history and culture, with easy access to the castle and other attractions.

Grassmarket:

Distance: Within walking distance (5-10 minutes) to Edinburgh Castle.

Why: Grassmarket is a lively and picturesque area filled with pubs, restaurants, and boutique shops. It offers a vibrant atmosphere day and night, with street performers and historical tales adding to its charm. Staying here provides easy access to the castle and allows you to explore the surrounding area's eclectic mix of shops and eateries.

New Town:

Distance: A bit farther (15-20 minutes' walk or a short bus/tram ride) to Edinburgh Castle.

Why: New Town offers a more spacious and elegant environment compared to the bustling streets of the Old Town. Here, you'll find grand Georgian buildings, upscale boutiques, and trendy cafes. While it's a bit farther from the castle, New Town's sophisticated ambiance and proximity to Princes Street Gardens make it an attractive option for those seeking a quieter retreat after a day of exploration.

West End:

Distance: Within walking distance (15-20 minutes) to Edinburgh Castle.

Why: The West End strikes a balance between historical charm and modern amenities. It's home to cultural institutions like the Scottish National Gallery and the Usher Hall, as well as trendy bars and restaurants. Staying here offers easy access to the castle and a more relaxed atmosphere compared to the bustling Old Town.

Haymarket:

Distance: A bit farther (20-25 minutes walk or a short bus/tram ride) to Edinburgh Castle.

Why: Haymarket is a bustling area with excellent transport links, making it convenient for exploring Edinburgh and beyond. It's known for its diverse dining options, vibrant nightlife, and proximity to attractions like the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. While it's a bit farther from the castle, Haymarket offers a dynamic urban experience with easy access to public transportation.

Ultimately, the best area to stay depends on your preferences for atmosphere, convenience, and budget. Each of these areas offers its unique appeal and provides a memorable base for experiencing the wonders of Edinburgh Castle and the city beyond.

Language and Culture

When visiting Edinburgh, the predominant culture is Scottish, with its unique customs, traditions, and way of life. Here are some aspects of Scottish culture and language that you should be prepared for:

Scottish Culture:

  • Hospitality: Scots are known for their warm hospitality and friendliness. Expect to be greeted warmly and treated with kindness and respect.
  • Tartan and Kilts: Traditional Scottish attire includes tartan patterns and kilts, especially for special occasions or events.
  • Food and Drink: Scottish cuisine features hearty dishes like haggis, neeps and tatties, and Scotch broth. Don't miss trying Scottish delicacies like shortbread, whisky, and Aberdeen Angus beef.
  • Music and Dance: Scotland has a rich musical heritage, with traditional music such as bagpipes, fiddles, and ceilidh dancing being popular. You may encounter live music performances or ceilidh events during your visit.
  • Festivals and Events: Edinburgh hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, including the famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh International Festival, and Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) celebrations.

Scottish Language:

    • English: English is the primary language spoken in Edinburgh and throughout Scotland. However, you may encounter Scottish accents and regional dialects that differ from standard English.
    • Scots: Scots is a distinct language variety spoken by some Scots, particularly in informal settings or rural areas. It features its own vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation, which may differ from standard English.
    • Scottish Gaelic: Scottish Gaelic is a Celtic language spoken by a minority of Scots, primarily in the Highlands and Islands. While English is more commonly used in urban areas like Edinburgh, you may encounter Gaelic signage or hear Gaelic being spoken in some regions.

Overall, embracing Scottish culture and language adds depth to your experience in Edinburgh. Being open-minded, respectful, and willing to engage with local customs and traditions will enhance your visit and foster memorable interactions with the people of Edinburgh and Scotland.

Fun facts about the country

      • Edinburgh Festival: The world’s largest art festival is hosted at Edinburgh Castle,the Edinburgh Festival,along with other festivals like the Edinburgh International Festival.
      • Golf: Scotland is known as the birthplace of modern golf, with St. Andrews known as the Home of Golf.
      • Bagpipes: Scotland is popular for its traditional musical instruments, the bagpipes are often played at events and ceremonies.
      • National Animal: Scotland’s national animal is the Unicorn. Even though unicorns are imaginary creature but still special to Scottish people and are a sign of Scotland.
      • Nessie’s Home: It’s a famous big, deep lake in Scotland. Some people believe that a mysterious creature named Nessie lived there.
      • Giant Inventors: The television, telephone, and steam engine that we use today all are inventions of Scotland.

Currency

The currency used is the British Pound Sterling(£).

Other Unique experiences around Scotland

      • Stay in the lighthouse: Scotland has lighthouses that have been converted into cozy accommodation areas, you can stay there and experience breathtaking views of the sea.
      • Experience Harry Potter tour: There are locations in Scotland that inspired the Harry Potter books and movies, such as the Glenfinnan Viaduct and Elephant House cafe in Edinburgh.
      • Stay in Bothy: A Bothy is like a little room, you can stay there when you are out exploring the countryside. It’s a cool place to experience Scotland's wild and beautiful landscapes up close.
      • Experiencing A Steam train journey: It's an old-fashioned train instead of modern trains with electricity. You can travel on this train and enjoy the views out the window as you travel through beautiful landscapes.

Best time to visit Scotland

      • Spring(March to May) and Autumn (September to November)
        During these months the weather is mild and less crowded. Visiting during these months is more preferable because this time allows you for a more enjoyable toure, exploring the castle and its surroundings without the large crowd.
      • Summers(June to August)
        The weather in summer is mild with average temperature ranging from 12 Celsius to 20 Celsius. This season is a super crowded and popular time for tourists to visit. Summers offers longer daylight hours, providing more time to explore the place and its surroundings.
      • Winters(December to February)
        The weather is cold in winters with average temperature averaging between 1 Celsius to 6 Celsius. The castle is less crowded as compared to the summer weather. Some parts may be fully accessible due to weather conditions. The days are shorter in winter with fewer daylight hours.

Souvenirs to buy

Scotland offers a wide range of unique and traditional souvenirs that reflect its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. Here are some popular souvenirs to consider buying in Scotland:

      1. Tartan Products: Tartan is a traditional Scottish fabric with various colorful patterns, representing different Scottish clans and regions. Consider purchasing items such as tartan scarves, ties, blankets, or even kilts as authentic Scottish souvenirs.
      2. Scottish Shortbread: Scottish shortbread is a delicious buttery biscuit that has been enjoyed for centuries. Look for locally-made shortbread cookies in charming tins or boxes, perfect for sharing with friends and family.
      3. Highland Cow Memorabilia: The iconic Highland cow, with its long shaggy coat and distinctive horns, is a symbol of Scotland's rugged landscapes. You'll find a variety of Highland cow-themed souvenirs, including plush toys, keychains, and mugs.
      4. Celtic Jewelry: Celtic design motifs, such as knots, crosses, and spirals, have long been associated with Scottish heritage. Consider purchasing handcrafted Celtic jewelry pieces, such as necklaces, earrings, or brooches, as timeless keepsakes.
      5. Scottish Woolens: Scotland produces high-quality woolen textiles, including sweaters, scarves, and blankets, known for their warmth and durability. Look for garments made from authentic Scottish wool or cashmere for a cozy and luxurious souvenir.
      6. Bagpipes and Accessories: Bagpipes are an integral part of Scottish culture and music. While purchasing a set of bagpipes might be impractical for most visitors, you can find smaller items such as miniature bagpipes, keychains, or tartan-covered accessories.
      7. Harris Tweed Products: Harris Tweed is a handwoven fabric produced in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, known for its durability and distinctive designs. Look for Harris Tweed jackets, bags, or home furnishings for a stylish and authentic Scottish souvenir.
      8. Isle of Skye Sea Salt: Produced on the rugged Isle of Skye, this gourmet sea salt is harvested from the pristine waters surrounding the island. Consider bringing home a jar of Isle of Skye sea salt to add a taste of Scotland to your culinary creations.
      9. Scottish Literature: Scotland has a rich literary tradition, with renowned authors such as Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Pick up a book of Scottish poetry, a classic novel, or a collection of Scottish folktales to delve into the country's literary heritage.

These are just a few ideas for souvenirs to buy in Scotland, but there are many other unique items to discover during your visit. Whether you're exploring historic cities, scenic landscapes, or charming villages, you're sure to find the perfect memento to remember your time in Scotland.

Did this blog excite you? Explore our low-cost flight and hotel options to book a flight and add this marvel to your completed Wonder of the World bucket list. Leave a comment below, ask a question, or share your excitement with others. Your Scottish adventure awaits!

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