Take a trip in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the historic capital of Scotland, and has a variety of features to attract a wide range of visitors. The Old Town is the tourist centre, with the iconic Royal Mile running through the heart of the medieval city, while the New Town is a more local and contemporary side of Edinburgh, developed from the eighteenth century onwards, and bustling with a wide variety of shops and restaurants. From castles and palaces, to festivals and theatres, Edinburgh has a wealth of culture and interest to satisfy any visitor! Whether you have a passion for literature, architecture, food, or just want to walk in the footsteps of history, Edinburgh will surprise, delight and amaze you.
Tour guides in Edinburgh
Five ideas for guided tours in Edinburgh
Explore the Royal Mile, with over 900 years of history along one single street… Check out St Giles’ Cathedral, the Old Town’s largest active church, or one of the city’s free museums, such as the Museum of Edinburgh or the People’s Story Museum. Don’t miss a visit to the modern Scottish Parliament, taking you right to the heart of Scottish politics in an award-winning modernist building. The Canongate Kirkyard is a graveyard where historical figures like Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, are buried, or get a birds-eye view of the Old Town at the Camera Obscura, Edinburgh’s oldest purpose-built visitor attraction. Be sure to get away from the tourist trail too, and stroll down the lanes and alleys of the Old Town – the ‘closes’ and ‘wynds’ of Edinburgh – for a more authentic experience of the city’s history, with many small bars, shops and secret gardens hidden off the beaten track to reward a curious explorer. For that, go on an adventure accompanied by an Edinburgh tourist guide who knows his city perfectly.
Climb one of three extinct volcanoes in Edinburgh’s city centre! Arthur’s Seat is the tallest, at just over 250 metres above sea-level, rising high above the 650 acres of Holyrood Park at the bottom of the Royal Mile. You should allow at least two hours to climb up and back down again, but the less challenging Calton Hill on the New Town side of the city also offers panoramic views, and takes just 10 minutes to climb. Calton Hill also has a fine dining restaurant called the Lookout, and the Collective art gallery showcasing work from local artists. Both Arthur’s Seat and Calton Hill are popular with visitors, but sturdy footwear is always advised, and dress for the weather – Edinburgh is frequently windy, so temperatures at the top of the hills can be surprisingly cold! The third extinct volcano is castle rock, the seat of Edinburgh Castle for nearly 900 years, and is accessed directly from the top end of the Royal Mile.
The city of great writers
Fans of the written word will find plenty to enjoy in Edinburgh, the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. For major figures like Walter Scott, Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson (celebrated in a dedicated Writers’ Museum) as well as modern authors like Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin and of course JK Rowling, Edinburgh has been a hub of inspiration. Did you know the original « Jekyll and Hyde » lived on the Royal Mile, or that the « world’s worst poet » William McGonagall is buried at Greyfriars Kirkyard, or that the author of « Robinson Crusoe » , Daniel Defoe lived in Edinburgh whilst working as an English spy? During August you can meet authors and illustrators at the International Book Festival, and almost every street corner boasts a connection to some work of literature.
Festivals in the city
Culture vultures should be sure to plan a visit to coincide with one of the many festivals held in the city every year. The most famous is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival, offering everything from comedy to dance, drama to drag, and over 3000 performances taking place every single day for almost the whole month of August! August is also when you can sample high culture with a variety of world-class opera, ballet, drama and classical music during the Edinburgh International Festival, and experience the unique spectacle of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, featuring military bands from all around the globe. The city also hosts a winter festival over Christmas and New Year, as well as an annual International Film Festival in June, and a Science Festival in April, among many others! With more than one festival for each month of the year, there’s always something amazing happening in Edinburgh…
Where to eat well and have a drink?
Be sure to get a true taste of Scotland, with a visit to some of the city’s many independent restaurants and cafes. From Michelin stars to the best porridge on the planet, Edinburgh has great food and drink for every budget! The Edinburgh Larder serves breakfasts to set you up for a day of touring, while restaurants like the Devil’s Advocate or the Grain Store showcase the finest local produce and ingredients. Whisky is the definitive spirit of Scotland, and Jeffrey Street Whisky is a local shop offering tastings with their friendly whisky experts, as well as stocking a variety of products you won’t find anywhere else. Edinburgh also boasts six gin distilleries, so if whisky isn’t to your taste, why not visit the Pickering’s bar or meet the Edinburgh Gin connoisseurs to find a gin that suits you!