Edinburgh enchants first-time visitors with its effortless old world elegance. Its UNESCO-listed historic centre is a beguiling maze of winding alleys, the skyline dominated by the regal crown steeple of St Giles Cathedral and the imposing turrets of Edinburgh Castle. But scratch beneath this grandiose surface and you'll discover a down-to-earth modern capital city.

    It's packed with laid-back bars, quirky boutiques, lush parks and friendly people. Art aficionados can lose themselves for hours discovering the masterpieces in the Scottish National Gallery, while nature lovers can escape the hustle and bustle with a hike up the verdant hillside of Arthur's Seat.

    What to see & do in Edinburgh

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    Where to shop & what to buy in Edinburgh

    • 10 Best Places to Go Shopping in Edinburgh

      The best places to go shopping in Edinburgh range from eclectic shopping streets with independent boutiques to luxury thoroughfares with designer brands. You can find everything from artisan foods to paintings from local artists to vintage records, perfect for souvenirs and gifts to take home as a memento from your trip. The shopping areas of Edinburgh are also home to...

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    What to do in Edinburgh? 

    The best things to do in Edinburgh revolve around its history and culture. This east coast city is among Britain’s prettiest. The Gothic architecture found throughout the Old Town, especially winding its way up the Royal Mile, is enchanting. Stroll the streets and keep your camera at the ready as photo-worthy cityscapes are around every corner. World-famous landmarks to enjoy in Edinburgh include Holyroodhouse Palace, St Giles’ Cathedral, and the National Museum of Scotland. 

    The city’s iconic rugged grey stone buildings and cobbled streets are also quite sombre and hide within them many gruesome tales from the long history of Scotland’s capital. Join a tour of Edinburgh Castle to find out about the long rivalry between England and Scotland. For fans of the macabre, Edinburgh Vaults allows you to delve into the underground passages that run beneath the city, which some say are haunted. 

    If you’re looking to get a real sense of Edinburgh, head away from the popular tourist spots in the Old Town and explore the shops and restaurants along George Street. Further afield, the suburb of Leith is an up-and-coming area. It has benefited from several years of regeneration projects, which includes large shopping malls and family-friendly attractions like Royal Yacht Britannia, which was the Queen’s official boat for many years. 

    Where to shop in Edinburgh? 

    Shopping in Edinburgh covers everything from the latest fashions to one-of-a-kind antiques and plenty of artisan products unique to the UK. In fact, Scotland’s capital city is 2nd only to Glasgow for the range of products on offer. The main high street of Princes Street is where you’ll find many of Britain’s best brands. Shops here include the likes of House of Fraser, Marks and Spencer, Primark, JD Sports, and Debenhams. 

    For antique shopping, Edinburgh is one of the finest cities in Europe thanks to the many independent shops. The wealth of second-hand furniture and kitsch curios will delight all the family. Unique Antiques in New Town is one of the most famous places to unearth a preowned gem. The Gayfield neighbourhood of Edinburgh is famous for its collection of art galleries and workshops so it’s a wonderful place to pick up some unique Scottish art as a memento. 

    A classic item to shop for here is whisky, a popular but strong alcoholic drink in Scotland. Head to a liquor shop and chat with the staff to discover the unique properties of the 4 different whisky-producing regions of Scotland. There's even a chance you can try a tipple for yourself, just ask. You will find Royal Mile Whiskies on the Royal Mile next to St Giles’ Cathedral and several branches of The Whisky Shop around the Old Town. If you fancy a day trip, head out of Edinburgh to nearby Glenkinchie Distillery. Among other things, you'll get to see how they make the hallowed drink in time-honoured fashion. 

    Where to go at night in Edinburgh? 

    Nightlife in Edinburgh includes old-fashioned pubs, swanky bars, ghost walks, live music venues and pumping nightclubs. With a large student population, the arts scene in Edinburgh is excellent and you’ll find many bands, comedians, and DJs staging events right across the city throughout the year. For live entertainment in the Old Town, start your night at Whistlebinkies Live Music Bar just off the Royal Mile. Then, you can barhop up as this area brims with late-night venues. 

    Away from the Royal Mile, you could head to The Dome in New Town for an elegant night of cocktails and fine dining within a stunning colonnaded building that used to be Scotland’s National Bank. It’s not cheap but it promises a night that will live long in the memory. Another memorable nightspot is Frankenstein, a cocktail bar that’s housed in a 19th-century church. If you’re looking for a late-night drinking spot close to all the main tourist attractions in the Old Town, The Hive Nightclub is an excellent choice. Mainly a student bar, it has DJs playing most nights. It's easy to find, halfway up the Royal Mile on Niddry Street, but the cobblestone streets are quite steep after a few drinks. 

    As a popular family destination, Edinburgh has plenty to do after dinner for kids and adults. For example, you could take a spooky guided tour of Mary King’s Close that many people say is haunted. Bear in mind you'll hear chilling tales of ancient Edinburgh so it's not for the fainthearted. Also, it's not recommended for children under 8. 

    What to eat in Edinburgh? 

    Edinburgh is at its finest around mealtimes with a fully-fledged culinary scene to enjoy. For breakfast, you must try a traditional fried breakfast. Feast on Scottish square sausage, back bacon, and black pudding – just don’t count the calories! 

    Pubs and cafes around the Old Town cater well to visitors who want to sample the best of Scottish dishes, especially haggis. This recipe of minced lamb and oats is synonymous with Scotland and is something everyone should try. Many pubs will serve it as a starter for those who want to sample, rather than a full meal. The Ox is an upmarket gastropub serving modern British cuisine along with hearty pub dishes. It’s a nice spot for quality food and a few ales. You can find it on London Street, close to Calton Hill. In New Town, check out The Bon Vivant, which serves a classy range of European dishes along with optional wine and cocktail pairings. This is a nice spot for vegetarians, with several non-meat options available. 

    If you’re visiting on a Sunday, you should find a good pub and enjoy a classic roast dinner with all the trimmings. As an example, you could order roast beef or lamb with seasonal vegetables, roast potatoes, and gravy. Famously, this weekly meal has been an institution right across the UK for generations and is still popular. Many places serve excellent Sunday dinners in Edinburgh, with plenty of choices in the Grassmarket place. Notable pubs in this popular Old Town spot include The White Heart Inn and The Black Bull. 

    Is Edinburgh safe? 

    Rest assured; Edinburgh is one of the safest cities in the UK. Certainly, the city centre is safe to walk around, but be mindful of your belongings in crowded places. Also, take care when walking alone at night.   

    On weekends, the area around Haymarket and Lothian Road can be quite rowdy once the pubs and clubs close, but it’s mostly good-natured banter. Do be aware of wearing football jerseys if Edinburgh’s 2 teams – Hibernian and Hearts – are playing each other. 

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