Kilts, castles and cobbled streets are at the heart of Scotland’s most popular city
Visit Edinburgh for sweeping Georgian terraces and medieval cobbled alleyways, crowned by a crag-top castle. Amidst all the history and stunning architecture, you can enjoy an array of annual festivals and a vibrant night scene.
Princes Street forms a dividing line running east to west through Edinburgh city centre. To the north are the Georgian terraces of the New Town and the spruced-up port region of Leith which is now home to swanky waterfront apartments and a selection of chic restaurants. To the south of Princes Street is the medieval Old Town with labyrinthine alleys leading the way to one of the city’s top attractions, Edinburgh Castle. To the east lies Holyrood Park, the tallest of Edinburgh’s seven hills and home to extinct volcano Arthur’s Seat.
Scotland’s capital is one of the most visited cities in the UK and seamlessly blends old and new.
The Old Town offers numerous tourist attractions along the stretch known as the Royal Mile. This cobbled, historic section of town is home to the Scottish Parliament building, the Scottish Royal Academy showcasing works of local artists, and the contemporary Talbot Rice Gallery. In the New Town, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to shops, restaurants and drinking dens. If you’re prepared to travel a bit further out, be sure to stop in Leith to visit the Queen’s ex-home, Royal Yacht Britannia, moored at the Ocean Terminal.
When to go?
August is the busiest month in Edinburgh when festival fever hits with a vengeance. The Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival take over every performance space in the city, with a packed programme of music, comedy, theatre and dance. The Military Tattoo is Edinburgh’s most spectacular August offering when servicemen showcase quick-fire manoeuvres alongside marching bands and late-night fireworks. Book your B&B early if you want to be in on the action!
How to get there?
Situated eight miles west of the capital, Edinburgh Airport flies nine million passengers each year. Low-cost carriers offer a speedy and affordable route to Edinburgh from most major UK airports, with flights taking around an hour.
Edinburgh is a compact city, so you can squeeze a lot into a short break. The cobbled Old Town has landmark sights including dramatic Edinburgh Castle. Take a stroll through the peaceful Princes Street Gardens, see centuries of fine art at the National Gallery of Scotland or sample some traditional Scottish tipples on The Scotch Whisky Experience or a Literary Pub Tour.
If you’re feeling energetic, take a walk up Holyrood Park to 823ft-high Arthur’s Seat, a volcano dormant for 350 million years. The sweeping city views will make the walk worthwhile! Alternatively, pay homage to Edinburgh’s golfing history with a round at the Musselburgh Old Course, the world’s oldest, using original 19th-century clubs.
If you’re looking for souvenirs, Grassmarket is the place to shop with bohemian stores selling everything from vintage clothes to malt whiskies. The packed Princes Street is filled with popular high-street chains, or head to George Street for chic boutiques. Edinburgh offers an array of night-time activities. Sample some whiskey at cosy wood-panelled bars in the cobbled streets of Grassmarket, take a trip to Leith where you can sip your tipple overlooking the water, or take in an opera at Usher Hall.