Lonely Planet Writer

Just back from: Edinburgh

Happy as Larry to have made it up Salisbury Crag © Louise Bastock Louise, happy as Larry to have made it up Salisbury Crag © Louise Bastock

Louise Bastock, Assistant Editor at Lonely Planet, is just back from being a big kid in Edinburgh.

Tell us more… I was up in Scotland checking out the Edinburgh Science Festival (sciencefestival.co.uk) for Lonely Planet Kids. The festival theme was ‘building better worldsand it used a cool combination of art and science to get kids stuck into some awesome, thought-provoking activities.

There are plenty of interesting workshops and talks for adults too, but I used my trip as an excuse to be a big kid for a few days – who could pass up the opportunity to make their own sparkly slime?

In a nutshell… Edinburgh is the world’s leading city for festivals so there’s never a dull moment and always a great atmosphere. I love wandering around the streets, checking out all the old buildings, pottering up to the castle and venturing into the old-timey pubs.

Fave activity? I got to try out lots of cool activities at the Science Festival, but my favourites were in the City Art Centre – a massive complex with six floors of workshops for kids. I relived my Brownie-Guide years here, making pongy potions and crafting 3D coral out of card. The Jungle Safari was another really cool immersive activity where you got to explore the sights and sounds of a makeshift jungle and spot wildlife hidden along the trail.

sea pen Having a go at crafting some coral out of paper © Louise Bastock

So, learn anything new? At the Royal Botanic Garden I learnt about some super-smart plants and how they have adapted to survive in their various climates. But on top of that, I learnt about how humans could use these adaptations to help them survive, should you ever find yourself lost out in the wild.

For example, if you find some giant bamboo, you can cut out a segment and use the natural structure of the stalk to make a pot or steamer to cook your food in.

Giant bamboo at the Royal Botanic Gardens © Louise Bastock Giant bamboo at the Royal Botanic Garden © Louise Bastock

Good grub? Aside from haggis, tatties and neeps... Edinburgh has some great international offerings when it comes to food. The weekly market that pops up around the quaint Grassmarket area is a haven for foodies with stalls selling all sorts from colourful Indian curries to Latin American corn breads, Chinese dumplings and more.

My favourite place for a quick bite has to be Elephant and Bagel, a cute coffee shop that serves up the best – you guessed it – bagels! I always go for the classic smoked salmon and cream cheese – mostly for the novelty of seeing them smear on the cream cheese with a trowel.

Arthur's seat Arthur's Seat, just as the sun decided to show its face © Louise Bastock

If you do one thing… hike up Salisbury Crag and Arthur’s Seat. I’ve done this walk loads of times, but whenever I’m in Edinburgh I set my sights on these hills. The walk up this extinct volcano can be challenging at times, but it’s worth it for the utterly breathtaking views of the city. Top tip: don’t just go up and back down again, take some time to explore the surrounding area to discover some Scottish wildlife and the stark ruins of St. Anthony’s chapel.

Louise travelled to Edinburgh with the support of Festivals Edinburgh (edinburghfestivalcity.com). Lonely Planet contributors do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage.