The Auld Enemy and the Auld Alliance meet in Auld Reekie
There may only be two Scotland home matches scheduled for the Six Nations this season but the battles between the ‘Auld Alliance’ (Scotland and France) and ‘The Auld Enemy’ (England) are two of the most anticipated fixtures on the 2018 calendar. So, if you’re planning a trip to ‘Auld Reekie’, a.k.a. Edinburgh, this spring why not make the most of your visit and treat yourself to a mini-break?
With over 30 museums, a royal yacht, a palace, a castle, four Michelin-starred restaurants and more than 700 pubs to visit the biggest problem you’re going to have is choosing what to see in just one weekend. Thankfully we’ve done the legwork for you and come up with a shortlist of options so that you can spend more time soaking up the sights and less time sifting through the tourist guides.
History and Architecture
Edinburgh’s origins can be traced back to the early middle ages when a hill-fort was first established on Castle Rock. Edinburgh’s boundaries now stretch a great deal further but at the heart of it all is the Old Town, dating back to medieval times. At the centre of the old town is the Royal Mile with Edinburgh Castle at one end and the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the other. If you want to spend your weekend appreciating the history of Edinburgh then this is your starting point.
Edinburgh Castle – is situated on a volcanic plug, formed around 340 million years ago, know as Castle Rock. The oldest part of the existing castle is know as St Margaret’s Chapel and was built during the 12th century by David I and dedicated to his mother Queen Margaret. Discover the Great Hall with its magnificent wooden roof or visit the Stone of Destiny, the controversial Scottish stone that is still used in the coronation ceremonies for the monarchs of Great Britain. The Crown Jewels, Royal Palace, National War Museum and the Regimental museum of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are all housed within the castle premises but the stunning panoramic view of Edinburgh City is worth the visit alone (weather dependent of course!). If you’re in the castle at one o’clock don’t be taken aback by the sound of canon fire – as the One O’clock Gun is fired daily from the Mill’s Mount Battery within the castle (except on Sunday).
Palace of Holyroodhouse – is the official Scottish residence of Queen Elizabeth II and has served as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scotland since the 16th century. The palace houses the 16th century historic apartments of Mary Queen of Scots and the Queen’s Gallery – which displays some stunning works of art from the Royal Collection.
St Giles Cathedral – the High Kirk of Edinburgh, is also situated on the Royal Mile. With its extraordinarily detailed carvings and painted fittings the stunning Thistle Chapel lies at the south-east corner of the church. If you’ve got a good head for heights then for a small fee you can join a roof top tour.
Tours and Attractions
Edinburgh may we’ll be famed for its rich history and stunning architecture but it also offers some truly memorable tours and experiences. If you have the time we highly recommend venturing up to Leith, Edinburgh’s port to the north of the city. Leith’s industrial roots have given way to a drastically redevelopment and now it boasts some of Edinburgh’s best bars and restaurants and of course the Royal Yacht Britannia.
The former royal yacht of the British monarch is now permanently berthed in Leith where it is open to visitors from 10am until 3.30pm. Discover what life was like on board Her Majesty’s floating Royal residence – taking in the understated elegance of the state apartments.
The Royal Botanical Gardens can be visited on the route to or from Leith (we recommend the ‘hop-on-hop-off-bus’) and is the perfect place to take a stroll while reflecting on the highs and lows of the rugby result! The gardens were established in 1670 to grow medicinal plants and are now a world-renowned centre for plant science. Covering an expanse of around seventy acres it boasts over a quarter of a million individual plants and around 13,000 different species.
If you’re looking for something a little quirky then a number of companies offer underground tours and ghost walks. Journey through the largest system of underground caverns in Edinburgh at the Blair Street Vaults, explore Mary King’s Close with its warren of hidden streets frozen in time or, if you’re feeling brave, join the underground ghost tour in the South Bridge Vaults.
A taste of Scotland
If your idea of a perfect weekend is less about adrenaline filled ghost tours and more about thrilling your taste buds… Edinburgh won’t disappoint. Conveniently located at the top of the Royal Mile you can join a whisky tour at the Scotch Whisky Experience – housing the world’s largest collection of Scotch whisky, or dine it their Amber restaurant while sampling the extensive whisky menu.
If you like a restaurant with atmosphere then The Witchery, hidden in a collection of historic buildings at the gates to Edinburgh Castle, is the venue for you. Choose between dining in rooms that resemble scenes from Hogwarts or the candle-lit secret garden. For a more modest meal the Tower Restaurant on top of the Museum of Scotland offers one of the best views in the city.
If dining out is less about the venue and more about the menu then look no further than 21212. Serving an eccentric and flamboyant menu with a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, its difficult to leave this restaurant without a smile on you face. However, if you prefer more traditional fine dining there’s always the option of The Kitchin. Serving predominantly Scottish ingredients, cooked using classical French techniques, resulted in it earning its first Michelin star in less than six months of opening; so if you’re celebrating the rugby results why not indulge in one of their truly decadent tasting menus (booking in advance is recommended).
If you haven’t yet booked your tickets for one of the Six Nations Scotland home fixtures and would like to start planning your weekend away, then please contact a member of our team on 0203 816 1000 or click on one of the links below to find out more about our hospitality packages:
Scotland Home Fixtures – Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Scotland v France – Sunday 11th February 2018 – Kick Off: 3:00pm
Scotland v England – Saturday 24th February 2018 – Kick Off: 4:45pm