Castles, festivals, lively pubs and one of the UK’s most charming city centres makes Edinburgh a fantastic choice for a getaway. The Scottish vibe takes on many different hues in this cosmopolitan city, where the top 10 list of things to do in Edinburgh includes everything from single malt tastings to hikes up extinct volcanoes.
Edinburgh is a city made for walking. Its streets wind up, down, around and over the hilly terrain, where every new corner offers a surprise. Plenty of history is etched into the city core of Edinburgh, which also boasts a wonderful array of trendy cafés, bars, boutiques and art galleries. There aren’t many bad things to say about Scotland’s capital, but bring a stout rain jacket and some woollies to deal with the notoriously fickle weather.
Edinburgh Castle: the city’s top attraction deserves its popularity. For 1,000 years, this magnificent fortress has stood over Edinburgh and a tour offers both stunning and panoramic views as well as inspiring fantasies about kings, knights and days gone by.
Museum of Scotland and Royal Museum: these two repositories of Scottish heritage are simply loaded with cool antiquities, a cache of weapons and other engaging exhibits. The sleek, modern design of the building is the perfect balance to its contents, the Millennium Clock and the Victorian atrium.
Arthur’s Seat: how many other cities can boast an extinct volcano? A relatively easy climb rewards travellers who scale this mount at the city’s eastern edge with mind-bending views in all directions and a dose of exercise.
Royal Botanic Garden: the truly impressive collection of plants, trees and flowers in Edinburgh’s urban garden creates a great atmosphere for quiet strolls or an escape from the bustle of the city.
Princes Street: under the shadow of the castle is the city’s most exciting strip of high-end shops and funky boutiques. There’s a reason Edinburgh is the UK’s second-hottest shopping hub, and the dining options in the West End neighbourhood at the end of Princes Street ensure you’ll stay nourished for the next round.
Old Town: Edinburgh’s medieval core is a maze of cobbled streets and buildings all askew. Drop in anywhere along the Royal Mile and allow yourself to get lost. Hours of memorable wandering are guaranteed and a taxi is always on hand to return you safely to your hotel.
The National Galleries: Scotland’s exquisite collection of art is spread over five different buildings, including some real gems like the Burrell Collection. The artwork ranges from pieces by Renaissance masters to pop art.
The Edinburgh Festival: need a reason to visit Edinburgh? Plan your trip in August around the city’s world-famous Edinburgh Festival, a panoply of culture and art. It’s actually several festivals held in congruence around the city, featuring cool indie music at the Fringe Festival, classical Scottish dance and music at the International Festival and a host of smaller events.
Dean Village: this amazing grain-milling settlement from the 12th century has been completely restored and is open to the public as a living museum. Soak in the tranquil ambiance, learn a bit of history and leave time for a long stroll along the Water of Leith riverside path.
Palace of Holyroodhouse: another of Edinburgh’s fantastic royal legacies is this palace built by King James IV in the 16th century. The palace and its lush interior are open to the public whenever the royal family is not present. Adjacent is Holyrood Park, the city’s largest public park that’s like a microcosm of the Scottish countryside, with a loch, rolling meadows and crags.