Draped across a series of extinct volcanoes and rocky crags and sandwiched between the Firth of Forth and the flat landscape of the Lothians, Edinburgh is Scotland‘s most handsome and charming city.
Perfectly blending tradition and modernity, the city is split into the old and new town, neatly divided by Princes Street, Edinburgh’s main thoroughfare. The old town has retained its medieval feel with winding lanes and cobbled streets, while the new town – itself over 200 years old – is characterised by broad streets lined with neoclassical buildings.
At the heart of the old town is the Royal Mile which runs from Edinburgh Castle, perched atop Castle Rock, all the way down to Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official Scottish residence. This side of the city is steeped in history and littered with monuments such as St. Giles’s Cathedral and the Scott Monument, but it is also home to a handful of modern museums and galleries including the Scottish Parliament Building, whose iconic steel, oak and granite design has been quite the talking point among residents and visitors alike.
Edinburgh was once referred to as a ‘hotbed of genius’ and the new town, influenced by the ideals of the Scottish Enlightenment has an altogether different feel. Here you’ll find beautifully preserved 18th and 19th-century buildings and a wealth of independent boutiques, galleries and antique shops.
Scotland‘s capital is an incredible picturesque city and there are plenty of vantage points from which to admire the skyline. Climb to the top of Calton Hill or Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags for sweeping views across the jumble of rooftops and church spires. For a totally different experience, head down to the waterfront at Leith or to the quaint seaside towns of Cramond and Portobello.
No introduction to Edinburgh would be complete without mentioning the Fringe, a three-week programme of theatre, comedy, dance, music and spoken word. It is the largest arts festival in the world and plays host to some of the biggest names in the industry as well as the next big artists, waiting to be discovered.
When to go
Edinburgh can get incredibly busy in the summer, espcially during August when the Fringe festival draws crowds from all over the world. The weather in Scotland can be unpredictable, but spring, early summer and autumn are your best bets for sunny skies and fewer crowds.
What to do
- Delve into the city's history at Edinburgh Castle, which houses the National War Museum of Scotland and the Crown Jewels
- Discover its world-class musems and galleries, including the National Museum of Scotland
- Immerse youself in modern poilitics at the Scottish Parliament Building
- Climb Arthur's Seat or Calton Hill for spectacular views over the city
- Explore the nearby seaside towns of Cramond and Portobello