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Scotland: Edinburgh and Kelso Top Attractions

Updated: Jan 18

Scotland: Castles and Countryside- Travel Tips for navigating Scotland's many attractions.

Scott Monument at night
The Scott Monument, Downtown Edinburgh

I've wanted to visit Scotland since I was a little girl, my husband not as much. The castles have always been the main draw for me. After visiting I learned there are so many more amazing things to do and see. We both left wanting to return.

Our First Stop: Kelso

The drive from Northern Wales to Kelso took us about 5 hours. This may have been the most beautiful drive we have ever done. We found ourselves oohing and awing over every change of scenery. I'm not sure there is anything like the lush green fields and low walls of the Scottish countryside.

We reached our first destination, the SCHLOSS Roxburghe by mid-day. They just expanded and now have a total of 78 rooms. We stayed in the Historic Manor portion of the estate and were greeted with every comfort imaginable. The owners just finished adding on 58 modern rooms, and 12 cottages. On site it a golf course, a spa and 5 restaurants and bars. If you're looking for a place to get away and relax, this is it. This was our favorite place we stayed on this trip. It's perfect for a guy's trip, or a romantic getaway. We celebrated our 10-year anniversary while we were there, and the staff went above and beyond for us. They scheduled an in-room massage (this was before the spa was open, so they had to find massage therapists to come out just for us) they also sent one of the staff members into town to buy me flowers.

Schloss Roxburghe Hotel, Kelso Scottland at dusk
The Schloss Roxburghe Entry

Next up: Edinburgh

For our stay in Edinburgh we were looking for a more affordable hotel in the heart of the city. We found it in the West Wing apartments by the Linton Collection.

View over Edinburg
The View from the top floor of the West Wing Apartments

The apartment was spacious and comfortable but a word of warning there is no elevator.

We booked through a third-party website that didn't mention that little tidbit. We ended up dragging 150+ lbs. of luggage up three flights of stairs. That was my workout for the trip. The apartment was large and welcoming and offered some beautiful views of the city.

We had a rental car but ended up walking just about everywhere since everything was fairly close. The hotel was half a mile from the Edinburg castle which we took advantage of by doing a walking tour of the castle.

A lot of our time in the city was spent exploring the local shops, distilleries and ogling at the historic architecture. One quick pit stop we made was the Scott Monument. This was one of the first things we saw when we came into the city, you can see the picture above that shows how show stopping this monument really is. You can do guided tours of the monument, but we were satisfied with just seeing it from the street.

One thing we didn't expect in Scotland was many of the restaurants required reservations. We made the mistake of showing up to a couple places without booking anything and we were turned away.

Our favorite dinner in Scotland was at Miller & Carter, a steakhouse in the middle of the city. I got the grilled salmon filet with grilled broccoli and mushroom and white wine & crème fraiche sauce. My husband picked the rib eye with a side of lobster. Both were amazing and if you're looking for a fancy dinner for a special event you can't go wrong with this place.

Day Trip: Aberfeldy (In the Scottish Highlands)

We really wanted to make it to Inverness, but we ran out of time. Our compromise was to take a day trip to Aberfeldy, home of- you guessed it Aberfeldy Whisky. While still technically in the highlands this was at the southern most tip of the highlands. It was a very small city, and because of the time of year we went there wasn't a lot of businesses open. the drive was worth it, but our stop here was brief. We grabbed some food at a small cafe, did a walk around the town and stopped by the Aberfeldy distillery, which unfortunately was closed the day we went. Then we turned around and headed back to Edinburgh.

Last stop: St. Andrews

While in Edinburg we made a last-minute decision to spend a day in St. Andrews. My husband is a huge golfer and since St. Andrews is the home of golf, he had to play The Old Course at St Andrews Links. There are 7 courses in St. Andrews, with the Old Course not only being the oldest of them, but the first golf course in the world. The course is a links style course with beautiful scenery and challenging hazards.

The Old Course at St. Andrews
The Old Course at St. Andrews

If you are not a pro or a scratch golfer, it's best to visit during the summer because the wind that rolls off of the ocean makes play difficult for even the best golfers. Also don't plan on using a golf cart on the course as they are reserved for people with conditions, so plan on walking the course. Inside the Links Clubhouse is the Tom Morris Grill. The food was top notch, and the fish and chips were some of the best we had on this trip.

Once the game was out of the way we headed into town to do some exploring. The town of St Andrews has a vibrant atmosphere due to the location of St Andrews College, nestled in the very heart of the town. After exploring all the shops, we found ourselves at St. Andrews Cathedral, also known as St Rule's Church, which lies at the west end of town. According to Historic Environment's website "St Rule’s Church was likely built around 1130, as the first place of worship in Scotland for the newly arrived Augustinian canons... When the cathedral was finally dedicated in 1318 – in the presence of Robert the Bruce, by then king – it was by far the largest church in Scotland." Although little of the Cathedral still remains it's easy to see by the ruins how impressive the cathedral once was. We spent the better part of the day in town.

Scotland ranked very high on our list of countries we've visited. The scenery was unlike anything we have seen, the people were overwhelmingly friendly, and our history nerd sides were satisfied. Out of the three countries we visited in the United Kingdom it's safe to say Scotland was our favorite.

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