To say I was excited to head to Scotland this summer is a bit of an understatement. Who doesn’t like scotch, bagpipes, and some of most beautiful scenery in all of Europe?! This was the first trip that I have taken with my mother in I don’t know how long, and I was so happy to be able to bring her along. For us to be able to step away from our everyday lives and explore a country we’ve both been dying to visit was a dream come true – Scotland far exceeded all of my expectations! I was fortunate enough to be able to parter with Norwegian Air and the team at Visit Scotland for this trip. Both teams took amazingly good care of me, gave me plenty of tips & suggestions for my stay in Scotland, and treated me with all the hospitality you would expect from the Scots. For that, I am eternally grateful.
To start – you may have heard about sales on flights to Europe that are as low $99. Yep! Traveling to Europe is now cheaper than taking Amtrak from BOS – NYC. More often than not, I hear from friends who want to travel that flights to Europe are just too expensive. But, now that Norwegian Air is expanding their service out of New England, it has become more achievable than ever to make it to Europe without busting open our piggy banks. As an added bonus, there are flights out of Providence (PVD), for those who live in the southern part of New England, who don’t want to trek to Boston to make a flight. You can book here based on your budget, whether it be $100 or $500. And guess what, flights to EDI are still $99!
If you are planning on taking a trip with Norwegian Air, know a few things:
- This is a budget airline, so pack a pillow/blanket, eye mask, and some snacks if you want the most comfortable flight.
- If you are someone who gets hungry on flights, you can pay for your meal in advance when you book. It may not be super necessary for the red-eye, as it is best to sleep as much as you can, but for the flight back, could be a good move.
- There is no First Class, but a little extra leg room never hurt anyone. Paying a fee to upgrade into an Exit Row seat isn’t entirely unreasonable. I did this for both my mom and I and it was totally worth it.
- If you’re flying out of PVD, get there with plenty of time. Because these flights are so popular, check-in takes a bit of time. Expect long lines, and know that, god forbid, you get there a little late, you will be bumped up in line if you’re cutting it close.
- There is WiFi on the flight! I got a good amount of work done on both of my flights to and from EDI. If you’re looking to get some work done, or just peruse Instagram, you can!
If a trip to EDI is in your future – scroll down for a recap of my first two days in Scotland with some ideas of where to stay, eat, and explore!
For our first night in Edinburgh, we stayed at a cute, and well-situated spot, Hotel Du Vin. This spot is filled with character, and close to some of the most popular sites in the city! Edinburgh in general is a very walkable city, and this is a perfect location to start and finish your day. Rooms are super cozy – and in typical Scottish fashion, each room is outfitted with an amazing bath, cozy beds, and a hint of tartan plaid (in case you needed reminding of where you were). Some sites close by include:
- The Royal Mile
- The University of Edinburgh
- National Museum of Scotland
- Edinburgh Castle
- Mary King’s Close
- Scott Monument
- The Writer’s Museum (super cool!)
- St. Giles Cathedral
Another amazing spot close by is Sandy Bells. If you love live music, like me, and just good vibes in general, you absolutely have to head here to listen to local musicians in ‘sessions’. There isn’t any photography or videography allowed (although I may have snuck a Snapchat), but the experience of sitting down with a pint and listening to traditional music being played was one of my favorites in the city.
Another thing to note about Edinburgh is that they have an amazing food scene! I am going to do an entirely separate post on all of my food experiences throughout Scotland, but wanted to share a couple of quick stops that we made in between sightseeing. Our first meal was at an awesome gastropub called The Scran and Scallie. The cocktails are fantastic, and the fare is hearty and thoughtfully prepared. This was just the type of comfort food we were looking for in our first few hours in Edinburgh. For breakfast the next morning, we went to Spoon – named one of the Best Hangover Cafes in the city. The place is eclectically designed and their breakfast definitely hit the spot. If you’re looking for a cafe to work out of, this is a perfect place to post up, but it is open to all types. In our time there, we saw a bachelorette party, some folks working remotely, and very few tourists (which to me is always a good sign).
Another little known fact about Edinburgh, and Scotland in general, they love their gin. Martini lovers rejoice! Sure, Scotch seems like the natural spirit to gravitate to on a trip like this – and I like Lagavulin and Laphroaig with the best of them. But, there are so many amazing gin distilleries popping up that we had to check one out. We headed over to Summerhall, which is a multi-arts complex and events venue in an old veterinary school building – cool, right?! Even if you don’t have a desire to check out a gin distillery, this place is worth visiting. The tour we went on was with a small outfit within Summerhall: Pickering’s Gin. You learn about how two gin lovers started from an old (read: super old) gin recipe from India, and built a sought-after gin that is perfect for a gin & tonic. Of course, you get to do some tasting, and it’s a good way to kick off your evening.
Alas, we couldn’t stay in Edinburgh forever. We traveled elsewhere throughout the country, and finally stayed in Edinburgh for one more night (those blog posts are coming soon!) and then it was to the airport back home. The Edinburgh Airport is super easy to navigate (Note: there is a bit of walking, especially if you’re returning a car), and their security team has the checkpoint down to a science. Still, give yourself at least 90 minutes if you’re traveling back home, so you have plenty of time to grab a final drink before hopping your flight. If you have any questions about traveling to Edinburgh, definitely don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Happy to answer any questions below! Additionally, Visit Scotland offers a great amount of resources for your travel. They also have a dope Instagram if you’re looking for any inspo for your next trip!