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Edinburgh: the city of contrasts

The skyline of Edinburgh is unforgettable, with its towering castle and old world charm. It’s a compact city that is easy to explore and the surrounding countryside and coastline is scenic and picturesque. Sounds perfect for a motorhome road trip.

Castle and crag, the history of Scotland’s capital

Edinburgh grew around its Old Town until the late 18th century, and this medieval heart of the city still has a distinct atmosphere from the iconic Edinburgh Castle at the top of the Royal Mile to the Grassmarket below, where public hangings formerly took place.

At the bottom end of the Royal Mile, in the middle of the city, is a dormant volcano, 251m above sea level. Arthur’s Seat is the remains of a 2000-year-old fort at the top. The view is not to be missed. Right next to the fort is Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the Queen in Scotland.

Edinburgh Castle is a definite must-see. Overlooking Princes Street Gardens that were once a loch, stands Scotland's most famous castle. At the centre of Scottish life for more than 900 years, Edinburgh Castle was one of the strongest fortresses in the kingdom. Here you’ll find the Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny and unparalleled views. Time your visit for the deafening One O’Clock Gun, part of a tradition that once set maritime clocks.

It’s not all history and stonework, though. The other half of the city centre is the Georgian New Town, where the shops are at their best. Also,modern architecture such as the Scottish Parliament sits alongside the beautiful baroque buildings. There are monuments to writers all over this UNESCO City of Literature so find inspiration at gourmet tea and coffee shop the Elephant House, loved by Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin and JK Rowling.

Camping accommodation in Edinburgh

Mortonhall Caravan & Camping Park is peaceful, even when busy. There is a pub and restaurant on site and friendly staff. It has access to a bus stop nearby so is great to get into the city. Edinburgh Caravan Club Site is close to the coast and has welcoming staff. Buses run every 10 minutes into the city during the day, and every half hour in the evening.

Just west of Edinburgh is Linwater Caravan Park. It has good facilities and lovely walks nearby. Situated on the outskirts of Edinburgh is Drummohr Caravan Park. It has 108 pitches and an excellent bus service into Princes Street.

Eating out in Edinburgh

Leith is home to some of Edinburgh’s most welcoming and best quality restaurants. The Ship on the Shore is seafood heaven with a delicious bowl of chowder, catch of the day and steamed Shetland mussels. Ondine is also seafood-inspired, yet a little more refined. Feast on the sea bream curry or roast shellfish platter. The dishes are all exquisite, but you can’t beat their oysters.

Kweilin’s food is spectacular. Their eight treasures duck has to be tried. Again, the menu is seafood heavy and the prices might be a little higher than your average Chinese restaurant. Dusit is a Thai eatery in Thistle Street, nestled between boutique designers and champagne lounges. A little fancier than your everyday Thai, some dishes can even be ordered with venison for that Scottish twist on a classic. For a delicious dinner that won’t empty your wallet, head to BiaBistrot. They have a locally sourced menu with dishes of venison carpaccio, glazed pork belly and perfectly cooked fish. The daily set menu is a bargain at £9.50 for two courses.Authentic Spanish tapas can be found at Tapa in Leith. For less than a tenner, you can try patatasbravas, meatballs or aubergine drizzled with honey.

Pack the camper and take a day trip

Empty beaches, unspoilt nature reserves and quaint fishing villages are dotted along the coast outside Edinburgh. Stretching from the village of Belhaven to the north of the River Tyne is Belhaven Beach, with sheltering sand dunes, rich salt marsh and colourful grasslands. It’s a great spot for walking, picnics and sunbathing, and has spectacular views across the Forth Estuary.

Linlithgow Palace is the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. Step inside the ruins only minutes from the historic, cobbled high street of Linlithgow. Just an hour from Edinburgh is the town of Crieff. It’s here you’ll find Scotland’s Oldest Distillery – The Glenturret Distillery. Novices and whisky enthusiasts alike will enjoy the tours, with a chance to see the Guinness World Record for the largest bottle of whisky.

Dirleton Castle is around 30km east of Edinburgh. A pretty and romantic castle with architectural history stretching back for 700 years, it is best known for its fantastic gardens. Tantallon Castle is a formidable stronghold set atop the cliffs on the Firth of Forth. Crichton Castle is a large and surprisingly sophisticated castle, tucked away beyond the village of Pathhead. The foreboding Blackness Castle, built in the 15th century, was once a garrison fortress and state prison.

When in Scotland, you must pay a visit to the beautiful Highlands and try to spot Nessie swimming in the Loch Ness, near Inverness. Dundee and Perth, are two other coastal cities not to miss. Finally, if you are in the mood for some shopping, you should make your way to Glasgow.

Expect the unexpected weather wise

Famous for its many festivals, Edinburgh is a great place to visit any time of the year. Edinburgh’s climate is most comfortable for the camping traveller from May to September. That said, the weather in Edinburgh is always changeable and visitors should expect both sunshine and rain, whatever the season.

Where to hire a camper

  • Bunk Campers are located 15 minutes from the airport and offer transfers. Their fleet is large and you can choose to drop off your camper in another city.

  • Spaceships’ Edinburgh depot can be found at The Workship, Union St, which is around 25 minutes in a taxi from Edinburgh Airport. The team there have great advice on local itineraries and the right vehicle for you.

  • McRent are the ‘campervan experts’ and are located just 6km from the airport at Ratho Coaches Newbridge Inudstrial Estate. Their vehicles have top-of-the-range fittings and McRent have an outstanding international reputation.

  • Pure Motorhomes UK pride themselves on the quality of their campers and RVS, while not compromising on service. Check them out at Motorhome Republic.

  • Compass deal in motorhomes and campervans, across a variety of brands that come in all shapes and sizes. 


Handy hints for the wild camper

  • Choose an area you really want to see, with plenty of things to do during the day

  • Bring a good map.

  • Make sure you take any essentials if you’re you’re heading out of the city, as chances are you may not be able to pick stuff up locally

  • It can get very cold at night, so bring extra-warm clothing