Explore all that Scotland's Capital has to offer
The fact that Edinburgh has been awarded with numerous accolades such as "Best City" and even "Europe's Leading Destination" only exemplifies why Scotland's capital is the place to be. If the stunning landscape and architecture were not enough to entice you to visit, Edinburgh has attractions that will keep you busy for days. Heritage, nature, culture, politics, entertainment and cuisine can all be discovered in Edinburgh, and found in abundance, so read on to find out all that this is historic yet cosmopolitan city has to offer:
Being the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh of course boasts some of the best and most renowned high streets to be found in the country. Consequently, it is not a surprise that so many ladies partake in weekend breaks for the sole purpose of experiencing all the shops that Edinburgh has to offer. A little bit of retail therapy never hurt anyone, apart from your wallet maybe!
The Spires is located in retail central being only 10 minutes away from George Street, St Andrew Square, Thistle Street and Princes Street which provide for all tastes and budgets. The whole retail spectrum is covered from chain classics such as H&M and Zara to even the luxury indulgence of Louise Vuitton, Burberry and Harvey Nichols. Amongst all this, there are also unique independent stores, such as Jenners which has been a department store located in Edinburgh since 1838, and many a tourist shop selling all things Scottish from tartan scarves to kilts to whisky; all of which can be particularly found on the Royal Mile. To move away from the chains and find stores with a quirky difference selling all kind of products from jewellery to books, the historic Grassmarket is the place to go.
Apart from the bustling high streets, there are also the major shopping centres of the Gyle Shopping Centre and the St. James Centre which provide further wallet exercise due to their inclusion of popular brands such as John Lewis and the Disney Store.
History & Heritage
As cosmopolitan as Edinburgh as, just from looking at its beautiful architecture and scenery, it is readily apparent how it is a city rich in heritage and history. This can only be exemplified by the fact that Edinburgh is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where global tourists flock to see the Old and New Towns.
No visit to Edinburgh is considered a job well done until you have stopped by a rather famous attraction known as Edinburgh Castle. Located bang in the city centre and overlooking Princes Street Garden, you will find the castle that plays keeper to the Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny as well as some awe-inspiring views.
One can also not leave Edinburgh till they have paid a visit to the UK’s No. 1 Visitor Attraction, The Royal Yacht Britannia, which was once a floating residence for the Royals but is now open to the public where they can engage in a 5 deck audio tour. Keeping on board with the Royal theme is a visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse which is Her Royal Majesty’s the Queen’s official Scottish residence.
Other historic landmarks worth a look in is Greyfriars Kirk, where you can pose with Greyfriars Bobby’s statue and pay tribute to the resting ground of many well-known historians and authors, or a tour of The Real Mary King’s Close; the underground 17th century streets. Spooky!
Arts & Culture
What is a city break without some cultural enlightenment? The National Galleries of Scotland is separated into four galleries across Edinburgh and many an hour can be spent admiring the mammoth collection of Scottish and international art which are considered some of the best the world has to offer.
Moreover, Edinburgh is best known for the festivals it hosts throughout the year with particularly favourites being the Edinburgh International Film Festival; the Edinburgh International Festival; Edinburgh International Book Festival and of course the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
There is never a moment of boredom to be had in Edinburgh, even for the youngsters. Plenty of family friendly attractions exist in the city centre alone including the Edinburgh Dungeons, which puts an amusing contemporary twist on dark Scottish history, and the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions which is full of fun optical illusions and spectacles. Of course, no family trip to Edinburgh can occur without a visit to see Yang Guang and Tian Tian the Giant Pandas at Edinburgh Zoo as well as their furry friends including Meercats and Penguins. Similarly, providing entertainment that is out of this world is Dynamic Earth; a five-star attraction that recounts the story of that little planet we happen to inhabit called Earth.
If you are a family on a budget there are also many high-quality free attractions including the Museum of Childhood, the Museum of Edinburgh and the National Museum of Scotland. In the National Museum of Scotland, many an hour can be spent learning all about natural history and Scotland’s ancient culture; keeping the youngsters occupied and out of trouble!
Eating & Drinking
From 5 star Michelin Restaurants, such as the Kitchin or Martin Wishart, to local, independent cafes, Edinburgh can cater to all taste buds; particularly when it is considered how it has more restaurants per head than any other UK city. Local produce is also in abundance with Scotland’s largest farmers’ market being held weekly in Castle Terrace providing up to 60 stall of yummy delicacies from fruit to bread.
Of course you cannot come to Edinburgh without a drink. The Scotch Whisky Experience located right next to the Edinburgh Castle, provides a little bit of history to complement the drinking as you get to learn about Scotland’s favourite national drink.
If you want to sit at a table which has maybe been occupied by the likes of J.K. Rowling and Ian Rankin, make sure to pop by The Elephant House; an cafe renowned for a clientele including famous authors.
Entertainment & Nightlife
There are bars and clubs in abundance to keep you occupied at night in Edinburgh, such as Sneaky Pete's or the Bow Bar which often has standing-room only on Fridays and Saturdays, although common night-time locations tend to include Cowsgate; Lothian Road and upmarket George Street. To hear some live music, check out the Jazz Bar, Sandy Bell’s or Whistlebinkies which are well-established venues on the live music scene. Alternatively, find out what is on at venues including the historic King’s Theatre, which plays host to prestigious companies and entertainers such as the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre of Scotland, or the Playhouse where many popular musicals, shows and comedians grace the stage. For some movie action, look to the Filmhouse which presents a unique collection of movies from classic to foreign films across 3 screens. Similarly, Edinburgh Castle and Murrayfield Stadium sometimes play host to big musical acts and in Murrayfield's case, sports fanatics will also be able to catch some major sports action; particularly in the form of rugby.
The Great Outdoors
Considering Edinburgh’s stunning scenery, there is no reason to be hiding inside when you could be outside basking in all the historic glory. The Royal Botanic Gardens alone covers 70 acres of picturesque gardens and unique plant species, providing the perfect rest from the bustling city streets. Similarly, Holyrood Park is the gateway to the extinct volcano, Arthur’s Seat, and whilst it is bit of a hike, the resulting panoramic view of the whole city is not to be missed. If you are wanting to stretch your legs but not stretch them too far, the Princes Street Garden provides the perfect resting stop after some heavy shopping and also contains iconic landmarks to be admired such as the Scott Monument and the Ross Fountain.