With finals on the horizon, my brain has been racing all over the place. From one assignment to the next, to running wild. It never fails that as soon as it’s time to buckle down for the semester, my mind starts to wander back to my empty suitcase and if I could go anywhere for a weekend where would I go? It makes me long for the London days when we would take off for a weekend adventure as soon as we could get away.
With my longing to get away, I decided to do another addition of my London day trips, but London weekend trips edition.
Scotland Weekend Getaway
How to Get There:
Scotland is an amazing, beautiful country with a rich history. You also get this experience without ever leaving Great Britain, weird right? You can fly or take the train to get to Edinburgh to start your weekend adventures.
Flying out of London can be tricky on a budget, you either have to plan more time to save more money or spend a little more to save time. You can take a bus for about £14 to any of the airports, but they will take about an hour and a half to two hours from central London (so plan accordingly!). Or a car service will cost in-between £25-35 and take about thirty-five to forty-five minutes. The flight itself will take about and hour and a half to get from London to Edinburgh. It will take about another bus ride to get into Edinburgh.
I did not take the train from London to Edinburgh, but it would take about the same time as flying and all the extra travel time. You would leave from King’s Cross and it would take about four hours via a direct train to get to Edinburgh Waverley Station. The best part is that the station is right in the heart of the city and you walk of the train to Princes Street and a view of Edinburgh Castle.
I would suggest leaving Friday night after class or work or plan on staying till Monday morning, just to get two full days in Scotland. That way you feel like your entire weekend is dedicated to traveling to and from Scotland. Once you arrive, depending on when you get in, you may just have enough time to stop at a pub and get a drink or some haggis!
For your first full day, get up bright and early before the rest of the city and get out for a tour of the highlands. Covering about 50% of the country with lochs, rising peaks, and unimaginable scenery. You will see the most amazing sights in the Highlands like Glen Coe, Lock Ness, and Ben Nevis. The tour of the Highlands was one of my highlights from our trip to Scotland. I highly recommend if you are going to Scotland for longer than a weekend to extend your visit and discover more. You can book tickets in advance with small group tours like Rabbie’s.
For your last day, it’s time to get up and hit the city. To start off your morning, grab some tea or coffee and hike to either of the best views of the city: Calton Hill or Arthur’s Seat.
Make sure you take in the city. Once you spend some time on top of Edinburgh, head over to Old Town to The Elephant House for some breakfast, that is, if you’re a fan of Harry Potter. The café has become a bit of a legend and the bathrooms are quite iconic.
There is so much to see and do in Edinburgh: Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile, St. Giles Cathedral, Calton Hill, Arthur’s Seat, The Royal Botanic Garden, Scotch Whiskey Experience, Scott Monument (you can climb to the top!), etc., the list goes on. If this at all seems daunting to you, there are some great guided walking tours in Edinburgh that you can do that will guide you through the city and give you the history as well. One I have done in several cities across Europe is Sandemen’s free walking tours. They have fantastic guides that know the city and the history. Are you waiting for the catch? Like why is the walking tour free, it can’t really be? It is really free, the tour leaders just ask for tips because that is their salary. They do not get paid to do the free walking tours other than the tips they make. But honestly, I have found out of the handful I have taken, their company does the best job.
After another long day of nonstop sightseeing, exploring, and discoveries it will be time to hit the pub one more time and head back to London.
I hope this weekend guide will help inspire you to plan out a weekend getaway to Scotland and the Highlands, or give you a much needed distraction from the nearing finals that are upon us. Good luck to everyone with both!
Xx A Traveler’s Bliss
Mulled wine and yuletide
Winter is my favorite time of the year! I love the cold air, the layer of frost on the windows, and the snow. I love the snow. It always seems to make Chicago sparkle and turn a postcard city into a hallmark card. There are so many things you can do in the city that are just ten times better to do in the snow and make the cold worth every frozen toe.
Starting every year before Thanksgiving and running till Christmas is the annual Christkindlmarket, inspired by the Nuremberg markets in Germany that began in 1545. It is held at the Daley Plaza, where Dearborn, Washington, and Clark Street meet. You can smell the food and sweets before you can see the market. There is beer, mulled wine, cider, chocolate, baked cheese, schnitzel, pretzels, and so much more food. Most of the food vendors are cash only and the vendors selling goods; like a traditional wooden cuckoo clock, German lace, or paper stars, have a minimum for credit cards.
Who doesn’t want to ice skate while it is snowing? It is like the perfect winter combo. There are two ice rinks in Chicago: the ice rink in Millennium Park in front of the Bean and the rink at Maggie Daley Park. Both are free and open to the public, if you bring your own skates, or a $12-14 skate rental. And don’t worry! Locker rentals are also available at each for $1-2. Ice skating and snow, who knows, you might even see a proposal or two.
After skating at either Millennium Park or Maggie Daley, head over to the Bean to see one of Chicago’s most iconic, and touristy, attractions covered in a layer of snow. There is usually less of a crowed surrounding the usually packed landmark and it has a great view of the ice rink below, the city, and the Christmas tree.
There is never a limit to what you can or cannot do in Chicago on a snowy day. Here is just a sample of what else is in store for your snow day adventures:
Christmas tree at Millennium Park
Christmas tree at Wrigley Building.
Walking Down Michigan Ave with all the Christmas lights
ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo
Grant Park walks for snowball fights and snow angels
River Walk by Buckingham Fountain
Horse & Carriage ride by the Magnificent Mile
There is never a shortage of thing to do and see in Chicago, especially when the lights are twinkling and the snowflakes are flying. Just remember, don't stand too close to the curbs when your waiting to cross the street, the buses can be quite unforgiving when they blaze by.
xx A Traveler's Bliss
(hey - hey you. click the bliss above... do it.)