Edinburgh’s seaside and affectionately known as ‘Porty’ by Edinburghers, this former Victorian resort has plenty of faded charm and – crucially during August – the chance of a bit of peace and quiet. Of course, on hot days you’ll be sharing the beach with rapidly reddening locals desperate for some sunshine, but on most days you can claim a patch of pebbles for yourself. Walk, rollerblade or bike down the esplanade (you could even cycle all the way to Musselburgh using the Coastal Path), and call in at one of the city’s cosiest pubs, the Espy. Handy if it starts chucking it down with rain while you’re having a paddle, the Espy has a robust menu of food, cocktails and hot toddys, as well as a cubby hole of board games in the back room.
How to get to Portobello
The easiest way to get to Portobello, Lothian bus no. 26 from Princes Street.
Portobello Beach Image: Lee Kindness, CC BY 2.0..
Within walking distance of the major Edinburgh attractions but far enough that you can block out the sound of the Royal Mile street performers, this ruined Medieval fortress is awash with bleak Scottish drama and wind-battered turrets. Although no longer habitable, it’s a remarkably well-preserved fifteenth century castle, with its very own Mary Queen of Scots claim to fame – it was here that Mary fled when her favourite, Rizzio, was murdered at Holyrood Palace. Before you get back on the Edinburgh sightseeing trail, head for a pint or a bite at traditional pub, the Sheep Heid Inn in Duddingston, while you’re round this side of Holyrood Park.
How to get to Craigmillar Castle
Bus no. 49 or 42 heading south of the city, down Dalkeith Road. The 42 also runs through Duddingston Village if you’re going on to the Sheep Heid.
Officially the Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill Nature Reserve, the focal point here is Blackford Hill, home of the University of Edinburgh’s Royal Observatory. Check the Visitor Centre website to find out dates of their Public Astronomy Evenings this year, for fascinating tours and the chance to use the powerful telescopes to observe the heavens. During the day, the hill has a handy map at the top telling you which of Edinburgh’s many other peaks you can see off in the distance. Take the stiff but short climb up, or follow the gentler walking routes around Blackford Pond and the ‘Braid Burn’ – the stream which runs through the nature reserve. You might even spot an otter, a kingfisher or a heron in these peaceful wetlands.
How to get to Blackford Hill
Lothian buses can drop you off near various different entrances to the reserve. For Blackford Hill and the Observatory, take the 41 from The Mound, or for the Hermitage of Braid western entrance, jump on a 11, 15, 15A or 16 from Lothian Road.