Things to Do in Edinburgh

2015-10-30-1446213128-4267013-IMG_5574-thumbGo on a historical walking tour.

A walking tour in Edinburgh is a must as so much of the city’s history is in its streets, hidden in alleyways and market squares. There are loads of tour companies and last minute street tours you can join.

Wander through the shops on Victoria Street.

The collection of restaurants and shops in this colorful bend in the road is one of the hippest corners of the city. The Red Door Gallery is a great spot to grab some local souvenir artwork or take home a Harris tweed bowtie from Walker Slater.

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Picnic in Princes Street Gardens.

If you’re lucky enough to have sunshine in Edinburgh, you have to spend at least one afternoon spread out in these gardens that are in the shadow of the castle. I buy bread, cheese, fruit and wine at the Marks and Spencer Food Hall to share with friends in the park.

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Get your whisky on.

Right on the Royal Mile is a spot I try to pop into whenever I’m in Edinburgh. It is a bar called Whiski. They have live music (often Scottish folk) every night. With over 500 whiskys, they are sure to stock your favorite single malt, but they also offer tastings or “whisky flights” if you’re new to Scotch whisky.

I especially like the flights that highlight the different regions so you can taste the difference between an island malt (peaty/smoky) or a Speyside (usually more smooth).

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Climb a hill for a view of the city.

If you’re feeling energetic, head to the top of Arthur’s Seat for the best views of the city. The walk starts at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Holyrood Park, past the Palace of Holyroodhouse. A smaller hill to climb that also has a great view of the city is Calton Hill. It’s on the opposite side of town from the Royal Mile.

Go to a museum.

There are several great art museums in Edinburgh. My favorite is the Scottish National Gallery in Princes Street Gardens. Bonus: Admission is free. It boasts an impressive collection of both Italian and Dutch masters and of course, famous Scottish artists. Look for William McTaggart’s gorgeous landscape paintings of Scotland’s dreamy west coast. Also free to visit, the National Museum of Scotland is worth a wander just to view the building. It is usually my rainy day back-up plan to any outdoor activities because it is massive.

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There are loads of great tea rooms in Edinburgh, which make it easy to stop multiple times for tea on a rainy day. Valerie Patisserie is our family favorite. Some of the loveliest tea rooms are inside the museums where you can pop in for a slice of cake and some tea to revive you after wandering the exhibits.

Every guidebook to Edinburgh will include touring both Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. These are both great places to visit, but I’ve omitted them because they are already well covered. If you only have one day in the city, you might view these buildings from the outside in favor of a few other choices, especially during the high summer season as they can be very crowded.
Whatever you do in Edinburgh, you are sure to fall in love and want to come back again and again to see the hilltop fort and spires rising up around you.

 

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Ireland’s most unusual tourist attractions

Sky Garden
There are mainstays of any tourist guide to Ireland: Kilmainham Gaol, the Guinness Brewery, the Cliffs of Moher and Newgrange are permanent fixtures on such lists, and rightly so, given their historical significance, natural beauty and access to the black stuff.
While Ireland has a rich tapestry of tourist destinations, there are attractions that we feel don’t receive the attention that they deserve. We’ve put together a short list of some of Ireland’s quirkier destinations that you may wish to consider on your next trip across the Atlantic.

 

Cork Butter Museum

While a butter museum may not sound like a must-see tourist hotspot, the Cork Butter Museum actually tells a very important story about Ireland’s development. The museum’s website describes butter as ‘Ireland’s most important food export’, and as Cork’s butter market was the world’s largest, what better place could there be to learn about something so vital to Ireland’s history? The Butter Museum includes such highlights as a 1,000 year old keg of butter, a tour of butter making through the ages and a comprehensive collection of Irish butter labels.

 

Irish Sky Garden

Located near Skibbereen, West Cork, the Irish Sky Garden is the creation of artist James Turrell. It’s a massive conceptual garden built around a huge crater that contains a central plinth. Lie on the plinth and look upwards and you’ll see the sky framed perfectly by the rim of the crater. Just keep your mouth closed if it’s raining.

 

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

Visiting a cathedral is nothing unusual for a trip to Ireland. More often than not, they’re beautiful buildings steeped in history. Where Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin differs, however, is the bizarre contents of its medieval crypt. Open to the public, Christ Church’s crypts contain a mummified cat chasing a mummified rat (mentioned by James Joyce in Finnegan’s Wake) and the heart of Laurence O’Toole (patron saint of Dublin) amongst other oddities.

Dublin Christchurch

Indian Sculpture Park

Victoria’s Way in County Wicklow is home to ’33 black granite stone sculptures and three bronzes…ranging in size from 5ft 6ins to about 15ft’. The creation of a wealthy German with a love of the Far East is behind the Indian Sculpture Park, which contains a number of stunning pieces of art. Please note that the park closes during the winter.

 

St. Michan’s Mummies

A return to the crypts for this attraction, this time at St Michan’s church in Dublin. Deep down beneath the church lie the mummified remains of some of Ireland’s most influential families of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Some of the remains lie in incredibly ornate coffins, and all are in remarkable condition due to the dry air beneath the church. If you’re going to visit one large collection of mummies while you’re in Ireland, make it this one.

 

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DUBLIN GARDEN FESTIVAL AT CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL

dublin-garden-festival-logoBringing the outside inside! Friday 13 – Sunday 15 June, 2014

Featuring THE BEST OF IRISH GARDENING TALENT

Diarmuid Gavin :: Dermot O’Neill :: Helen Dillon :: Gerry Daly and lots more…

Christ Church Cathedral is delighted to announce its first ever  garden festival.  From Friday 13th until Sunday 15th June 2014, Christ Church Cathedral will be transformed into a stunning floral arcadia with contemporary and classic arrangements designed by some of Ireland’s most talented and award-winning floral artists. As a leading tourist destination, every year we welcome thousands of visitors through our doors to either visit a site of unique heritage or to celebrate with us. We look forward to welcoming many more to enjoy the spectacular array of floral displays that will fill the medieval building with colour on the festival weekend, when we will truly bring the outside inside!

Inside, a spectacular array of floral displays will fill the medieval building with colour. What could be more stunning than to witness thousands of flowers displayed in one of the finest cathedrals in Ireland? Visitors will receive gardening advice from renowned and much loved personalities from the world of gardening and horticulture. Outside, adorning the grounds will be horticultural displays, Irish food produce, urban gardens, birds of prey, a petting zoo, craft demonstrations, live entertainment and an outdoor artisan food tent full of gourmet food including afternoon tea.

Each day, a number of talks entitled ‘Gardening With The Experts’ will take place in the Cathedral’s historic South Transept featuring a host of prolific expert gardeners discussing everything from money-saving composting to creating your very own urban garden. The line-up is as follows:

Friday 13 June

11am: Helen Dillon | 2pm: Matthew Jebb | 3pm: Christopher White | 6pm: Fiann O Nuallain

Saturday 14 June

10am: Kitty Scully | 12.00pm: Fiann O Nuallain | 1.30pm: Dermot O’Neill | 3.00pm: Christopher White | 4.30pm: Gerry Daly | 6.00pm: Jane McCorkell

Sunday 15 June

1pm: Diarmuid Gavin

Music will fill the cathedral each day including recitals, bird song and much more. The stellar voices of Christ Church Cathedral Choir will perform a special concert at 3.30pm on Sunday with Benjamin Britten’s beautiful unaccompanied work, Five Flower Songs. This beautiful and enchanting work continues to be a delight while the open-air songs have all the summer charm their title promises. A beautiful and unforgettable afternoon awaits all who attend.

Whether you are visiting on your own, as a family, with group of friends or even in a coach-full, the Dublin Garden Festival at Christ Church Cathedral can guarantee a fantastic day out. With something for everyone and fun for all the family, don’t miss this unique event right in the heart of the city.

Open Friday 13 and Saturday 14th from 9am until 9pm and Sunday 15th from 12.30pm to 7pm. Admission – €12 / €10 conc. 2 Day Pass – €20/€16 conc. 3 Day Pass – 30/€25 conc. Groups of 10 or more: €8.50. Children under 12 go free.  Early Bird offer available now on Ticketmaster: €10 / €16; 2 Day Pass: €25. 3 Day Pass  – €30. offer ends 6th June.

For further information, please visit www.dublingardenfestival.ie

 

Powerscourt Voted no. 3 in the World’s Top 10 Gardens by National Geographic

Powerscourt Gardens has been voted No. 3 in the World’s Top 10 Gardens by the National Geographic!
This news comes just days after being awarded a 2014 Certificate of Excellence by Tripadvisor, an award for businesses that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on the site.

These fantastic reviews will give both Powerscourt and the travel trade more reasons for travellers to visit Ireland.

Powerscourt House
Powerscourt House