South Queensferry (tours to Edinburgh), Scotland, UK cruises

As you set sail upon the River Forth to South Queensferry, you’ll witness the magnificent rail bridge and its interlaced metalwork, spanning the cold waters of Firth of Forth estuary in the distance.

Explore Queensferry from Hawes Pier, and then head east to explore Scotland’s beautiful cultural capital Edinburgh, where highlights include Holyrood, the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle.

Queensferry is somewhat defined by the road and rail bridges which stand either side of the town, dominating the skyline. The town slopes up from the shore and so the streets are intriguingly stepped to cope with the gradient, with one side much higher than the other. The houses are colorful, the shops quirky and the streets very narrow.

South Queensferry, known as ‘The Ferry’ to locals, is a pretty town with winding lanes and historic attractions. Inchcolm Abbey is one of the top attractions in the town as it is one of the best preserved monastic buildings in Scotland. The 12th century abbey also provides stunning views across the coastline of the River Forth. You are also well advised to admire the Forth Bridge, an incredible cantilever railway bridge and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is only a 20 minute ride to Edinburgh from South Queensferry and this outstanding city is a different proposition altogether. The incredible architecture and majestic buildings seem to spill over from the extinct volcano now known as Arthur’s Seat. Edinburgh Castle crowns the city on top of the hill and has done so for well over a thousand years. Scottish monarchs commissioned these grand buildings as demonstrations of their wealth, power and sophistication.

Edinburgh is truly a shopper’s paradise with luxury brands, big department stores and exclusive boutiques. Princes Street offers shoppers an uninterrupted view of the castle and the old town landscape with shops only populating one side of the street. All the flagship department stores are represented, and every Saturday there is a traditional farmers’ market selling local produce and crafts.

Whenever you feel like a break from shopping, there is a diverse range of tea rooms, chic bars and traditional pubs to choose from. Food in Edinburgh is as varied and exciting as you would expect from a cosmopolitan capital. It has some of the best authentic international cuisine to satisfy everyone’s taste. For a flavor of the traditional, try the local specialty of haggis. Made with minced meat, oatmeal, suet and spices and boiled in the stomach of a sheep, haggis is an acquired taste but a must-try for visitors. Scottish shortbread and whisky are two more palatable delicacies to try in Edinburgh.

For the more curious spirits, beneath the bustle of the streets lies a network of tunnels and vaults that form a labyrinthine network of rooms and dwelling places dating back to early Georgian times. Today there are guided tours and ghost walks in the tunnels, some of which have recorded some very curious and unexplained phenomena. The vaults are unique and remind us of the city’s intriguing, colorful and mysterious past.