The most populated area in Scotland is located north of Lake District National Park and just south of the Highlands. The countries’ two biggest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, both have about 500,000 inhabitants, and are only one hour apart. On the way north, we stopped in Glasgow, while going south we stopped in Edinburgh, admiring its iconic hilltop castle.
We parked our rental car in the St. Enoch Shopping Centre, one of many malls in Glasgow, and went on our way. Once outside, we decided to walk along Bucharan Street, the main boulevard. As it was an early Wednesday morning, it was still quiet outside, apart from the coffee shops who opened their doors early to serve thirsty commuters.
After a few minutes, we went off the main street towards George Square. The square is home to the Glasgow City Chambers, home to the local government. In front of this building, you can see the Cenotaph, a memorial dedicated to World War I victims. Around the square, you will also find a series of statues of former Prime Ministers.
Walking back towards the shopping area, you will stumble upon the impressive St. George’s Tron Church. It is the oldest building in the area, dating back to the early 19th century. In recent years, the church was refurbished as the structure of the tower had gotten too weak.
As we only planned for a quick stop, we already turned back towards our car. Tucked away Argyle Street, you can see a glimpse of Glasgow Central Station. It is a few decades older then the Tron Church, and with over 30 million passengers the busiest station in all of Scotland.
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. The Old City, with its iconic castle at the end of the Royal Mile, is located on a hill and towering above the rest of the city. We took on of the many alleyways from where we parked our car, up to the Royal Mile.
The Royal Mile is the street starting at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, at ground level, leading up all the way to Edinburgh Castle on the hill. It is the busiest street in town, and large parts of the street are pedestrian-only. Apart from shopping, many landmarks are located along the Royal Mile.
One of the landmarks is The Hub, the highest building in Edinburgh. Looking at the building, you’d expect it to be a church, but rather it is home to the Edinburgh International Festival, an annual performing arts festival. Until 1979, however, the building was indeed a church.
At the end of the Royal Mile you will find Edinburgh Castle. This iconic castle can be seen from all over town, making for a great strategic position back in the day. Despite the rather steep entrance price (£17), it is definitely worth a visit.
Many of the buildings on the castle grounds are accessible, like the watch towers, residencies, and castle prison. The castles’ Great Hall has some remarkable weaponry on display, from full body armor to early gunpowder units.
As the castle is located on a hill, it offers the perfect opportunity to admire the surrounding landscape. From Holyrood Park to the National Monument of Scotland on Calton Hill, to the North Sea, the views are spectacular.
Once you are done looking around, wait for the cannons to be fired, every day at 1pm, except Sundays. For us, it was the sign to start walking down The Royal Mile to our car, to continue our journey south.
We, Mark & Herta, are currently backpacking through Europe, and eventually planning to settle in London. Beyond that? The possibilities are endless.Read Mark & Herta’s full story.