The ‘Athens of the North’ is an excellent choice for a traveller seeking variety. Edinburgh is a bustling city, full of history, with countryside tranquillity on its doorstep.
Scotland’s cultured capital has it all. It is an ancient and modern city with an array of great festivals, museums, galleries, parks, gardens, pubs, restaurants and a very famous castle.
Edinburgh Castle is the city’s most famous and most-visited landmark. Sitting high on volcanic Castle Rock, it can be seen from the Old Town and New Town. It dates back to the 12th-century and is still in use today. Walk up to the esplanade via the cobbled streets of the Royal Mile for an appreciation of old Edinburgh. If tartan tourism appeals this is also the place to indulge.
While in the neighbourhood, make a booking at the enchanting Witchery by the Castle restaurant, set in a 16th-century underground building. It takes its name from the many women burned at the stake on Castlehill. These days, the steak tartare is better known.
Downhill from the Castle you’ll find the lively Grassmarket area. Walk down colourful Victoria Street to experience city’s unique structure. Here you’ll find independent shops, bars and restaurants. One thing you’ll notice about this city is the versatile range of drinking and dining options. There is something for all tastes in Edinburgh.
Winding away from the Old Town, via the city Mound, head towards Prince’s Street for a stunning view across to the New Town. Below the Mound sits the National Gallery of Scotland and the Royal Scottish Academy, which attracts some internationally esteemed exhibitions throughout the year.
From the Mound you can see the gothic Scott Monument, which pays tribute to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. Ascend the 200 feet (61 metres) tall tower for panoramic views of the city centre.
The Monument is a good reference point. It sits on Princes Street, along from the tourist office, Balmoral Hotel, Waverley Train Station and by Princes Street Gardens. The Gardens date back to the 18th-century and were created after the draining of former Nor Loch, located here. In summer, it is a great place to relax.
On the other side of Princes Street, sits the New Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dating back to the mid-17th century. Here you’ll find Edinburgh’s elegant Georgian architecture, art galleries, independent shops, bars and cafes. If you take a closer look you might spot former homes of Edinburgh’s literary heroes, JM Barrie and Robert-Louis Stevenson, who once lived here.
Edinburgh has much to offer in and around the city, which extends to the bohemian Shore area, where the Royal Yacht Britannia rests. Take a bus tour before settling on your favourite area to relax and sample a whisky.
Don’t forget to check out the festival calendar before you visit. August is Edinburgh’s biggest festival season.