Edinburgh Destination Guide
It's modern and it's ancient; pretty but rough around the edges. It's an international city, yet also a uniquely Scottish one. Home to a great number of historic places of interest, Edinburgh is a city you can take fast or slow. Whether it's a rare sunny day or a live comedy show, the city always seems to be celebrating something – whenever you visit Edinburgh, a festival will likely be taking place. It's hard not to get caught up in the buzz of things, but still there's always a quiet Whiskey bar to retreat to and reset the pace. There's nowhere in Britain quite like Edinburgh and you'll quickly come to realise why people love this city often referred to as “the Athens of the North”.
One of Europe's most beautiful cities wrapped across a series of rocky hills, you'll find all manner of sights to see Edinburgh. Old Town is the first port of call for most visitors and is where you can explore the medieval Royal Mile, climbing in altitude with a grand goal – the imposing Edinburgh Castle. To escape the frantic castle crowd, jump in a taxi and head east of the city centre to Craigmillar Castle. Alternatively, if you've packed your walking boots, the short climb up Calton Hill will take you to a trio of iconic monuments including The National, Nelson and Stewart Dugald monuments.
Eat and Drink
The city of Edinburgh incorporates many different smaller areas, each offering unique hideaways for a bite or a pint. Home to many of the city's leading attractions, Old Town makes the logical starting point for your gastronomical tour of Edinburgh as it houses several traditional pubs and bars with centuries-old back stories. Close by is New Town where George Street, in particular, has a plentiful supply of modern bars and sophisticated restaurants. In New Town you're as likely to find Indian and Italian as you are haggis. For an alternative to the tourist-heavy areas, head to Leith – Edinburgh's port situated on the shore of the Firth of Forth.
Where to Stay
As one of Britain's most popular tourist destinations, Edinburgh has a world-class selection of accommodation to choose from. Historic hotels such as the Balmoral and Presrtonfield are still widely renowned, while a burgeoning scene of design hotels including 21212, Tigerlily and Le Monde continue to grow in popularity. For the best of the budget hotels, check out one of the Travelodge’s offerings, although Hotel Twenty is hard to beat on both price and location. Just remember to book well in advance if you plan on visiting during Edinburgh Fringe Festival or around Hogmanay.
Pack a few extra pounds for your sightseeing days as the Edinburgh shops are known to tempt many a tourist! The city's main shopping street is Princes Street and is where you'll find chain stores such as Topshop and H&M. One block north you'll find the pedestrianised Rose Street. For more unique finds, head to Cockburn Street, George Street, Victoria Street and the Grassmarket in Old Town. Of course, you won't want to leave Edinburgh without a bottle of Scotland's first drink – right along the Royal Mile a trove of Whiskey sellers can be found, with many offering tastings.
Edinburgh Like a Local
While it may be true that the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is as famous as the city itself, summer in the “festival city” involves much more than Edinburgh's yearly celebration of everything avant-garde. As well as Hogmanay, the Scottish celebration of New Year, add to the events calendar a whole range of local shindigs including the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival and Edinburgh International Film Festival. Summer is when most festivals take place and visitors flock to the region, so plan ahead to appease the holiday budget.