Introduction to Edinburgh
Scotland’s compact capital is crowned by a castle and surrounded by hills, making it one of the most beautiful cities in Britain. The city’s stunning architecture and long history makes it popular with visitors all year round, but it’s in August when the population really swells, with visitors flocking to be entertained at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. Edinburgh is a green city with numerous parks; the Royal Botanic Gardens make for a pleasant stroll, and Arthur’s Seat offers superb views of the sea, surrounding hills, and the city itself. The city is also known for its literary credentials – including Sir Walter Scott, Irvine Walsh, and of course Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling.
An extinct volcano with great views of Edinburgh and its surroundings
To enjoy some of the capital’s history, visit Edinburgh’s famous castle overlooking Princes Street, then take a stroll down the cobbled Royal Mile. Holyrood House will appeal to those who appreciate architecture, while right next door is the new Scottish Parliament, an eye-catching (though controversial) building which cost £430 million to complete – ten times the original estimate!
Art lovers are spoilt, with the National Gallery of Scotlanddisplaying a collection of European paintings and sculptures dating from the Renaissance, as well as the National Gallery of Modern Art for those who enjoy more recent creations.
Our Dynamic Earth is the perfect place for young families and takes visitors on a journey through the planet’s past, present and future with interactive exhibits and impressive technology. For the grownups, the Scotch Whisky Experienceis a great introduction to the history and process of making Scotland’s most famous drink.
Known as the ‘festival city’, there are several major events throughout the Edinburgh calendar, including The Edinburgh Fringe,which is the world’s largest arts festival, attracting actors, dancers, comedians and musicians from all over. Edinburgh is also renowned for its Hogmanay festivities, a New Year celebration where Princes Street becomes the venue for one massive party and over 4.5 tonnes of fireworks light up the city skyline.
Eating and drinking in Edinburgh
Like any capital city, Edinburgh boasts top international cuisine, as well as plenty of home grown fare. Stockbridge is a classy area known for small independent shopping (think cheesemongers, butchers and delicious delis) and The Shore area in Leith boasts some high-class eateries and some excellent pubs renowned for their fish dishes.
The Royal Mile area and beyond is home to some very old and grand pubs. The Grassmarket and Morningside are lively areas popular with students, whilst George Street’s collection of chic bars and clubs are frequented by the trendy crowd. Hotels in Edinburgh range from luxurious five-star to plenty of hostels for travelling backpackers.
Edinburgh is not known for its scorching summers, but tends to have a fairly moderate climate. As with most of the UK, the weather is changeable, with sun, snow and showers all possible in a single day, but long periods of a single weather type are unusual. Wind is the city’s most consistent weather type due to its position between the sea, the Forth Estuary and the mountains.
If you want to see Edinburgh in full swing then come during August when the Fringe Festival is in top gear, or at New Year when Hogmanay draws thousands. Be aware that you will need to book your flights to Edinburgh and hotels well in advance during these periods. Spring, early summer and autumn are quieter (and cheaper) times to visit.
Flights to Edinburgh
land at Edinburgh Airport which is only 12km from the city center and served by a dedicated airport bus which frequently departs throughout the day. A new tram system currently in construction will also link the city centre to the airport and is expected to be completed in 2014.