As a UNESCO World Heritage Site with many of its medieval structures still intact, Edinburgh tells interesting tales from centuries past. Yet the capital of Scotland is far from being outdated. The city is laden with contemporary art galleries, shops, restaurants, bars, and clubs. Also a constant attraction are its year-round festivals. The people here know how to have fun and they take their parties seriously.
When to Go?
August is when the city descends into enjoyable chaos as it hosts the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The weather is generally pleasant around this time but if rubbing elbows with the crowd is not your idea of fun, visiting the city during spring and early fall is your best bet.
The easiest way to reach Scotland’s capital is through Edinburgh Airport (EDI), which is located 12 kilometres west of the city. For those traveling from within the United Kingdom, train travel to Edinburgh Waverley Station and Haymarket Station near the city center is also an option.
You haven’t been to Edinburgh, or Scotland, if you haven’t visited Edinburgh Castle. A dominant structure in the middle of the city, Edinburgh Castle sits on an extinct volcano and provides a panoramic view of the city. See the castle’s esplanade where executions were carried out in the past and where a monument stands in memory of hundreds of women burned as witches.
From here, walk along Edinburgh’s famous street, The Royal Mile. Immerse yourself in its rich history and feel free to get lost in the many attractions, shops, restaurants, and bars that line the street.
At the end of the Mile, you will find the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where many significant events in the life of Mary, Queen of Scots happened.
And what’s an old city without its fair share of ghost stories? Discover some of Edinburgh’s most haunted and creepiest tales at The Real Mary King’s Close. What was once a lively part of the city now finds itself buried underground 400 years later.
Enter the world of illusions and view moving images of Edinburgh’s development through the years from a fascinating perspective at Camera Obscura and World of Illusions.
Head to Multrees Walk for high-end shopping and bask in five floors of luxury at the only Harvey Nichols store in the city.
Eat and Drink
Scotch Whisky is naturally popular in Edinburgh and you can’t not have at least a dram of it. You can also satisfy your curiosity about how it’s made by joining a Scotch Whisky Experience Tour.
A trendy dining spot along Merchant Street is Under the Stairs, where award-winning cocktails are mixed with great food, soothing music, and a chic interior.
If you are a writer suffering from writer’s block and in dire need of inspiration, The Elephant House may be the perfect solution. Famous authors such as Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall-Smith, and J.K. Rowling have sat writing their novels at this very place, possibly enjoying some tasty snacks and hot drinks while at it.
The Hostel targets tight-budgeted travelers looking for a no-frills, comfortable, and clean accommodation. As they only offer dorm-type lodging, making friends during your stay is an added benefit.
Apartments by Castle on Durham Square are self-catering apartments and provide more privacy and flexibility. They are fully furnished and located near shops so whipping up a romantic dinner would be a breeze.
Rocco Forte Hotels’ Balmoral Hotel is synonymous with luxury: top-notch service, excellent view of the city, Michelin-starred restaurant, and state-of-the-art spa and fitness facilities. It is also just a stone’s throw away from many attractions, designer shops, and Waverley Station.
Here are additional options for where to stay in Edinburgh.