Stepped in history and fringed with rolling hills, Highland lochs, and rugged coastline, Scotland’s capital provides the buzz of a modern city against the backdrop of famous historic architecture. Ever simmering with art and culture, Edinburgh reaches boiling point come August when artists of every variety congregate for its international festival season – the largest of its kind in the world. A hearty cornucopia of things to see, do, buy, and eat, Edinburgh has something to suit every purse and preference.
Things to see
Perched on the plug of an extinct volcano, Edinburgh Castle is undoubtedly the jewel in the city’s skyline. A definitive part of the city’s history, a visit to the royal abode is on most visitors’ to-do lists. If history doesn’t reel you in but shopping does, then Princes Street is a mile long paradise of brand names and designer labels. Carving the main thoroughfare through Edinburgh’s cobbled old town, The Royal Mile also offers an array of shopping, while exercising the senses with its eclectic mix of restaurants, bars, and attractions. For monkeys, penguins and all manner of creatures you wouldn’t expect to find in Scotland, the 82 acre Edinburgh Zoo is a must visit, and the only place in the UK you can see a giant panda. For the mildly courageous, a walk up to the top of Arthur’s Seat will gift you views of the city the legendary King himself was said to have surveyed.
Hotels in Edinburgh
Edinburgh Hotels range from uber chic luxury boutiques with Michelin star dining and decadent spa facilities, to more modest chain hotels suitable for families. Self-catering apartments are plentiful, offering well-equipped kitchens, and concierge services. A cutting edge city, there are green hotels in Edinburgh for those who embrace sustainability, while those who prefer to holiday with Fido in tow will find the city in particularly good supply of pet-friendly accommodation too. For holiday makers who can’t resist the lure of a city break but enjoy tranquility by default, the Lothian countryside offers out-of-town boltholes, away from the buzz.
Where to stay
With its cobbled streets and medieval architecture, Edinburgh’s Old Town oozes romantic charm. During the Edinburgh Festival the high street and Hunter Square come to life 24/7 with street performers, laughter, and camera-clicking tourists. Neighbouring New Town, despite being referred to as new, retains much of its original neo-classical and Georgian splendour. Home to shopping hub Princes Street and The National Gallery of Scotland, it’s a good place to base yourself if you plan on enjoying a little bit of everything. Located just minutes from the city center, Haymarket is also an ideal base for those who like to explore, with Edinburgh’s fashionable West End and popular zoo located nearby.
How to get to
If you’re really looking for a quick city getaway then chances are you’ll touch down at Edinburgh Airport. Located just 8 miles from the city center, both taxis and frequent bus services should get you to your destination in no time. If your budget doesn’t permit air travel however, then the East Coast line railway is the next best thing. The fastest intercity railway in the UK, a journey from London to Edinburgh should take no longer than 5 hours. For those looking for a cheaper escape, then consider traveling via coach. While slower than a train, you’ll certainly save a bundle.