A historical and cultural melting pot of Scotland is one way of defining Edinburgh. With its majestic castles, cobbled alleyways, high-spirited festivals and rustic charm, history buffs are quite gung-ho about its wealth of medieval fables and architecture — making it the second most visited city in the United Kingdom after London.
Edinburgh offers two distinct locales — the Old Town, atop which is the mighty Edinburgh Castle and several other fortresses; and the New Town, built in the 18th century in response to the overcrowding of the Old Town. Together, they feature a seamless blend of old and new, depicted through heritage sites, Michelin-starred restaurants, a vibrant nightlife and live entertainment.
Explore the bygone era:
Bookmark the Edinburgh Castle as it tells tales of its time as a military fortress. Highlights include the Great Hall displaying weapons and armour from the past; The Royal Palace; Prisons of War and St. Margaret’s Chapel. Don’t miss the One O’Clock Gun here, fired every day except on Sundays, on Good Friday and on Christmas Day. You can also hire a venue in the Edinburgh Castle for your grand nuptials or civil ceremonies.
Another notable attraction is the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence when visiting Scotland. Get a glimpse into the time and lives of Mary, Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie who once made this palace their temporary home. Next to it is the Holyrood Abbey, which was used to be one of the grandest medieval abbeys in Scotland. Amongst the many Insta-worthy spots here is Palace Gardens that is set against the backdrop of Arthur’s Seat hill.
Understand the history of Scottish paintings at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. On display are masterpieces by legendary artists like Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt and Vermeer.
Dine the Scottish Way
Deem your trip to Edinburgh incomplete without the quintessential Scotch Whiskey Experience. Set up on the top of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, this place guides you through the production and heritage of Scotland’s national drink. Indulge in whiskey tasting and blending sessions or enrol yourself in a one day Scotch whiskey training course.
Do you know Edinburgh houses more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other part of the UK outside London? One among these is the The Kitchin that specialises in British seasonal cuisine tweaked with French cooking techniques. Another fine-dining establishment is Castle Terrace, headed by Edinburgh-born Dominic Jack. Nestled underneath Edinburgh Castle, this restaurant serves the best of Scotland’s seasonal fare.
Pub crawl across George Street and Rose Street in New Town, bustling with cocktail bars. There is Voodoo Rooms, situated in the city centre which is known for classic cocktails, rums and tequilas. Indulge in a range of Scottish cask ales, the finest malt whiskey and beers at The Abbotsford in Rose Street. Pocket-friendly tipples can be enjoyed at Three Sisters, an Irish pub in the heart of the Old Town.
Edinburgh by night
From theatres to comedy clubs and live music bars, Edinburgh’s zippy nightlife is one thing that you shouldn’t miss on your trip here. Groove nightlong to jazz, acoustic, blues and roots at a basement music venue called The Jazz Bar. This is complemented by their tempting bar menu with beer, wine, cocktails and Polish jazz vodka.
Visit Cabaret Voltaire, a local arts and music institution in the heart of the Old Town, to shake a leg with your friends and family.
Catch old classics and global cinema at Filmhouse, Scotland’s leading independent cinema spot and the home to Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Lastly, get ready to have your funny bone tickled at The Stand or Monkey Barrel Comedy that hosts gigs and live performances.
Located in central eastern Scotland, Edinburgh is well connected to the rest of the UK by road, rail and air.
- Easy accessibility is offered via Edinburgh airport which is served by major airlines including Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Easyjet.
- The flight duration between Edinburgh and London is one hour ten minutes.
- Travel within the city using bus, tram or taxi — bus service is available round-the-clock; Edinburgh tram covers 15 stops between Edinburgh airport and York Place and black cabs take up to five people per car.
Experiences and places to uncover beyond the usual:
- Ditch the clichéd fridge magnets and ‘I Love Edinburgh’ merchandise, and go fossil shopping at Mr Wood’s Fossils. In their stock is a collection of quality fossils, minerals and meteorites sourced from all over the world.
WHERE: 5 Cowgatehead, Edinburgh EH1 1JY, United Kingdom
- Try cheese from across Europe and artisanal Scottish brie, blue and smoked varieties at I.J Mellis.
WHERE: A, 30 Victoria Street, Edinburgh EH1 2JW, United Kingdom
- Engage in astronomy-related activities at Royal Observatory. Their Public Astronomy Evenings are popular among tourists and locals alike and include a tour of the Victorian telescope dome, the observatory, information about the science and engineering here followed by a question and answer session.
WHERE: Blackford Hill, Edinburgh EH9 3HJ, United Kingdom
- Tour Pickering’s Gin, that boasts being the first exclusive gin distillery to be established in Edinburgh for over 150 years. Their gin is based on an original 1947 recipe from Bombay, India (present-day Mumbai) and comprises nine botanicals with a blend of bitter and sweet elements.
WHERE: 1 Summerhall Summerhall Distillery, Edinburgh EH9 1PL, United Kingdom