Call me a cynic, but I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. To me, love isn’t about giving cheesy gifts to your significant other, dining at expensive and overrated restaurants, or grandiose displays of affection. True romance is subtle, charming and often unexpected. It’s something that builds over time, and certainly can’t be crammed into a single day.
So with that in mind, don’t fret if your Valentine’s Day in Edinburgh didn’t live up to expectations (that is, if you bothered to celebrate the Hallmark holiday at all). If you really want to sweep your love off his/her feet, here’s where to go and what to do. Just be sure to keep the spark sizzling by spreading these activities out over the course of your stay.
By that I mean bask in your true love’s presence as you stroll hand-in-hand down the cobbled Royal Mile. The ancient street will set the mood as you peruse its countless shops, cafes and museums and marvel at the medieval architecture. Get here early in the morning to avoid the crowds, and be sure to explore the Royal Mile’s many narrow alleys, where you can always sneak away to steal a kiss.
Picnic in the Park
Even if it’s cold outside, an outdoor homemade meal is always a charming alternative to sitting in a packed restaurant with dozens of loud tourists. Head to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Princes Street Gardens or Charlotte Square in the New Town, where you can then do a spot of shopping on posh George Street. My personal favorite is the secluded St. Bernard’s Well in Stockbridge. A luscious valley surrounds this round Roman-style temple, whose “miraculous” mineral waters are purported to have cured arthritis, back aches and even a case of blindness.
Give a Rose on Rose Street
Sometimes romance isn’t about quiet, private moments of passion – its about laughter, drinking and boisterous fun. Head to Edinburgh’s quaint yet lively Rose Street, tucked away between George Street and Princes Street. It’s home to several social hot spots, where locals and visitors alike partake in the Rose Street Challenge: stopping for a drink in every bar, pub and restaurant on the street. Romance your date by surprising her with a rose (or any type of flower) at each stop on your drunken excursion.
Watch the Sunset
Cheesy perhaps, but still the quintessential way to bring a poignant end to a lovely day. Climb the picturesque Calton Hill and after exploring its unfinished National Monument (a replica of Athens’ Parthenon) and the similarly impressive Nelson’s Monument, lie down on a blanket and cuddle as you sip champagne and take in the panoramic views of the city.
Scare Her Socks Off
This may seem like a strange suggestion, but I had one of my most romantic moments while on the City of the Dead tour of Greyfriar’s Kirk. The tour guide’s far too realistic stories and chilling warnings about the violent Mackenzie Poltergeist literally sent me running into the arms of my love while we were on our first date. Obviously, we’ve been inseparable ever since.
Recreate Wuthering Heights
Experience Edinburgh’s “wild moors” (or the closet thing to it) by climbing the Salisbury Crags. While you’re at it, role-play and pretend your Heathcliff and Catherine.
‘Elope’ in Gretna
OK, so this option obviously would be an overnight trip. But if you’re dying to get hitched this small town by the Scottish border has been traditionally linked to quickie weddings thanks to the country’s liberal marriage laws (at least compared to the English). But if you’re a foreigner, you still have to fill out the proper paperwork a few weeks in advance (don’t worry, it’s not that complicated).