The star of Scotland, Edinburgh is equal parts pristine fairy tale and thriving modern metropolis. While the city may be shrouded in cold and fog for most of the year, you’ll be welcomed with warm hospitality and humor by the local Scots. Walk into a pub and you’ll walk out with a whole new crew of friends. Edinburgh is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, featuring incredible Georgian architecture, a towering castle on a hill, beautiful bridges, and stunning natural beauty just outside the city limits. While kilts and bagpipes certainly have their place in this city, Edinburgh is a fully modern enclave with plenty of culture, shopping, and dining options to suit the tastes of everyone.Sean Connery, Mark E Smith, Arthur Conan Doyle and J.K. Rowling have each called this city home - and once you arrive, you’ll be tempted to join them, settling in this most bewitching city! Either way, Edinburgh has the way of staying in your dreams long after you’ve left.
Where to Stay
Edinburgh is a small and easily walkable city - no matter where you’re staying, if you can’t get to your destination on foot, it will only be a short cab ride away. For maximum convenience, consider an apartment in Edinburgh’s Old Town, which will give you easy access to the sites of Edinburgh as well as Waverley Train Station. A studio in the Grassmarket area is a stylish place to be based. Alternatively, this Old Town apartment has the ultimate view of Princes Street and the Princes Street Gardens. Bringing the whole family? Consider an elegant Georgian townhouse, just off George Street, that can accommodate 18 guests in its seven bedrooms. The grand piano and marble fireplace are two fine amenities. If you don’t mind being further from the center of town, consider a home with its own private indoor pool - a perfect escape for Edinburgh’s wild weather. You’ll find Wimdu apartments from the Old Town to the New Town, from Leith to Grassmarket, and up and down the Scottish coast. No matter what you’re looking for, there’s a place for you here in this glorious city.
- J.K. Rowling spent time writing Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone at Edinburgh’s Elephant House cafe.
- Edinburgh was named UNESCO’s first City of Literature in 2004 and its Old and New Towns were designated World Heritage Sites in 1995.
- Edinburgh was the first city in the world to have its own fire brigade.
- Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is one of the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve celebrations and street parties.
- “Auld Reeky,” Edinburgh’s nickname, comes from the days when residents would burn coal and wood for heat, creating a smoky atmosphere.
Top AttractionsFrom the moment you step into Edinburgh, the city’s eponymous castle will catch your eye, dwelling atop a rock, overlooking the city. Visiting Edinburgh Castle is a must, for its history as well as its views. Spend time along the Royal Mile checking out the shops and architecture. Whisky lovers will delight in the Scotch Whisky Experience, a museum devoted to Scotland’s most famous spirit. Across the street is the Camera Obscura, a fun museum devoted to optical illusions.
Some of Edinburgh’s most famous architectural sites are the Scott Monument, St. Giles Cathedral, the Scottish Parliament Building, and the buildings of both the Old Town and New Town. If you’re lucky enough to have nice weather, climbing Arthur’s Seat is a rewarding trek with the best view of the city. Greyfriars Bobby is one of the city’s mascots: after the death of his master, he spent each day at his grave. See his statue in the Old Town. Alternatively, get to know the quiet side of Edinburgh with a walk along the Water of Leith, leading to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
Shopping and CultureIf you’re looking for a tartan or some shortbread, perhaps a kilt of a sword to finish off your fully Scottish outfit, check out the boutiques and shops of the Royal Mile or the shops of the New Town. Year-round, your best museum offerings are the National Museum of Scotland, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. But for maximum culture, be sure to come for one of Edinburgh’s world-famous festivals. Each August, Edinburgh explodes with theatre for the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe, as well as the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Edinburgh Book Festival. During this time, Edinburgh is a sea of celebration. In the winter, it’s all about Hogmanay - Edinburgh’s New Year’s celebration and home to the world’s biggest New Year’s street party. From the torchlight procession of December 30 to the wild concert and continuous fireworks of the evening to the Loony Dook, the traditional New Year’s Day plunge in the icy ocean, it’s hard to picture a bigger or better New Year’s celebration than Edinburgh’s.
Eating and Drinking:It would be a crime to visit Edinburgh without trying haggis! The ultimate Scottish dish, haggis is a selection of minced offal of a sheep boiled in the animal’s stomach and served hot. It’s far better than it sounds, and perfect when served alongside “neeps and tatties,” or turnips and mashed potatoes. Try it at World’s End in the heart of the Royal Mile. A late night stop at a chippy (fish and chips house) is a Scottish rite of passage. Check out Bene’s, another Royal Mile establishment, on the Royal Mile, and finish your enormous fish and chips takeaway with a deep-fried Mars bar. Edinburgh does comfort food splendidly, and no place does it better than Mums, just around the corner from Greyfriar’s Bobby. You’ll find more bangers and mash than you ever knew existed. Try the pork leek sausages and horseradish mash with caramelized onion gravy. Beyond the traditional Scottish fare, Edinburgh’s coastal location leads to an excellent seafood restaurants. You’ll find a great concentration of them in the Leith neighborhood. Try the fresh seafood at The Ship on the Shore; the seafood platters at Loch Fyne are also wonderful.
Thinking something more ethnic? You’re in luck. Edinburgh particularly excels at Indian food, with Raj and Suruchi leading the pack. For excellent Thai food that’s a cut above, hit up Dusit. And if you like your Mexican food fused with a bit of Scotland, don’t miss the haggis quesadillas at Illegal Jacks.
Getting Around:Edinburgh Airport, located eight miles (12 km) west of the city center, has direct connections all over Europe and as far away as New York City. The Airlink 100 bus will bring you to Waverley Bridge in about 25 minutes.Waverley Train Station is the main train station of Edinburgh with frequent connections to London, Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, and throughout Scotland. Further away from the center is Haymarket Train Station, the first stop on most journeys departing Waverley.
Edinburgh Bus Station has bus and coach connections to destinations throughout Scotland, England, and Wales.For traveling within Edinburgh, a number of bus routes circle the city center. Taking a cab? Be sure to strike up a conversation -- Scottish cabbies are legendarily garrulous and will talk your ear off.