The following Edinburgh packing list was submitted by Katie Doyle. See all female packing list posts.
Just the other day, a friend of mine posted a photo taken in Edinburgh on Instagram. As I scrolled over it, I was hit with the familiar tumultuous combination of envy‐lust‐heartbreak that usually accompanies an unexpected glimpse of your frustratingly attractive ex‐boyfriend (either on social media or in real life).
My affair with Edinburgh was short, but it’s been one that I haven’t been able to stop gushing about since I experienced it.
The city has a certain quality that is impossible to describe; yet at the same time, it’s exceedingly obvious why it captures the attention of artists, travelers, and historians from all over the world. The cozy cafes in Grassmarket (like the Elephant House Café, known as a writer’s haven for J.K. Rowling as she penned Harry Potter), the view of the Firth of Forth from the castle, the expansive National Gallery, the haggis with ‘neeps ‘n’ tatties—everything about it made this girl fall in love. I’m aware that it sounds outrageously sappy, but I also know I’m not the only traveling lady who feels such a visceral connection to this city.
There are a few ways you can prepare to crush hard on Edinburgh whilst packing for your winter adventure to the Scottish capital.
A raincoat is a good idea, and a warm raincoat is an even better one. While it doesn’t snow often, Edinburgh gets its fair share of wind. You’ll be much more comfortable on those drizzly winter days if you have some rain boots or waterproof shoes, too (ones that are good for walking in).
I wore a lightweight, time‐ and climate‐tested, waterproof North Face jacket during my January trip there. Given the weather in southern Scotland at the time, it was perfect for my visits to both the east coast and Glasgow, on the west. It didn’t rain TOO much, but I had some warm, comfy slouch boots to get me around. There is so much exploring to do outside, so you’ll be happy you brought your go‐to coat and shoes for whatever the weather throws at you!
I have a few tank tops that are versatile for layering up wherever I go, and I packed two for my weekend trip to Edinburgh. They’re perfect to throw under a cardigan to go out during the day, or to wear with a sweatshirt when you go to bed to help insulate you under flimsy hostel sheets.
A sweater or two, along with a couple of shirts in various styles, will suffice for the weekend. I wore layers all day long, but I don’t get cold too easily, so a dressy top under my trusted North Face jacket was an easy selection for going‐out attire. If you’re more susceptible to feeling chilly, more layers might keep you happy on those cool winter nights.
>>See more packing tips for winter travel here.
Staples and Standards
Bring your pants, leggings, shorts and tights — whatever Euro‐style traveling staples you prefer. The city has a metropolitan vibe, yet it’s home to so many students and travelers that the fashion benchmarks are somewhat fluid.
A friend and I went to a service at St. Giles, an ancient cathedral located on the Royal Mile, so we used our backpack‐wardrobes to come up with more conservative outfits for that occasion. You may want to look nice for the photos, too, because you know your mom is showing off your travel blog (or your Instagram account, or your Twitter) to all of her friends, am I right?
Underwear and Socks
One set of pajamas
Another traveling favorite — bring one or two so you can mix it up as you transition from day to night. Keep in mind that you can add accessories on‐the‐go, depending on your budget: I bought a wool scarf in Edinburgh that I still wear to remind me of Scotland.
Hat & Gloves
You’ll be glad you brought these while you’re exploring the castle or strolling around the Old Town during those wintery Edinburgh days.
If you’re concerned about the baggage limit on your RyanAir flight into Edinburgh, yet carry everything you need with you all at once without lugging your (slightly heavy) backpack everywhere, bring an over‐the‐shoulder bag or purse for day‐ and nightwear. This way, the backpack can stay in the hostel and you can take the necessities out and about with you. I alternate between two Coach over‐the‐shoulder bags, one suede and one leather, which are my default practical and fashionable options.
A good pair of sunglasses will come in handy when the sun decides to make an appearance, which it will hopefully do sometime over the weekend!
Makeup bag, toothbrush, the usual weekend amount of the usual travel‐sized toiletries will be plenty. I’m a big fan of travel‐sized dry shampoo, which takes up much less space in your bag and also doesn’t violate any liquid restrictions while you’re flying. You can get a couple of days out of a small bottle, so it’s pretty handy to have if you’re open to alternative hair care methods.
I had a few U.K. destinations on my list when I visited Edinburgh, so I brought a pack of face wipes with me. These helped reduce the number of liquids in my bag and were good for temporary skincare, although I prefer a more vigorous skincare routine when I’m not traveling.
UV rays are sneaky. I have a sun allergy, so I always bring sunscreen with me, no matter where I’m headed—even when my destination has a reputation as rainy as Scotland. Even if you don’t burn easily, it’s a good idea to keep your skin protected.
Adapter for charging everything in U.K. sockets — a must‐have for Europe.
Editor’s note: The UK has different plug styles than mainland Europe, so you’ll need a different adapter.
iPod & headphones for long train or plane rides into or out of the city.
I can’t recommend enough the value of bringing a good camera. You’ll want to remember everything that made you fall in love with the city, as you look back at images of the landscape, the candids of you and your friends on nights out (particularly if Australia Day is happening while you’re there, speaking from experience), and the unique architectural creations scattered all over Edinburgh.
Extra memory cards for the camera
Spare batteries and chargers
Thoughts on Laptops
As I wrote this list, I wasn’t sure what I would say when it came to writing about laptops and tablets. I’m a writer, so having a laptop reassures me about recording my reactions to a place soon after I experience them, and I can also upload my photos and videos to ameliorate worry about running out of space on my memory cards. I was frustrated to discover that I can no longer recall whether I brought my own laptop to Edinburgh, but that discovery led to some other ones as I spent time thinking about it. If I can’t remember it, how important of an item could it have been?
What I’ve finally decided is this: if you’re going to Edinburgh for the weekend, you don’t need a laptop — maybe a tablet, for travel planning purposes. You definitely shouldn’t be working (which, believe me, is hard for a writer); you should be out enjoying the incredible place you’re in! If you are like me and MUST get your thoughts out, buy a journal from a shop near Princes Street and park it in a café on a rainy afternoon. That’s how I would embrace Edinburgh if I go back.
And you never know — maybe whatever you end up writing will be as successful as Harry P. himself.
Have any other tips for what to pack for Edinburgh in winter? Add them in the comments below.
Enjoy free entry to 78 of Scotland’s top attractions with the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass – a flexible sightseeing pass that allows you to visit the sites that interest you most.
2-Day Highlands and Loch Ness Tour from Edinburgh – $190.42
Join our knowledgeable and fun driver-guides on a Highlands and Loch Ness 2 day tour from Edinburgh and explore the dramatic scenery of Glen Coe and the Great Glen. Take a cruise and visit a whisky distillery if you wish and learn all about the Jacobites at Culloden Battlefield.
About the author: Katie is a writer and videographer who chronicles her travels on Where in the World is Katie Doyle? from wherever she happens to be, which is currently in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. A winter in France, a summer on Cape Cod, with road trips and fishing expeditions in between—she’s up for anything and will tell you the story about it later. Check out www.kadoyle.com and follow @ladykatherined.
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