Just over an hours drive from the Waterfront, Edinburgh is busting with great things to do for all the family, no matter what time of year.
Whilst the Edinburgh Festival is often at the forefront of peoples’ minds when they think of Scotland’s capital, the city has much more to offer people of all ages. First and foremost there is the old town and the Royal Mile. This area is steeped in history and provides a real snap shot of Scotland back in the 16th and 17th Century. Visit Mary King’s Close which is buried deep beneath Edinburgh’s Royal Mile – a warren of underground hidden streets that has remained frozen in time since the 17th Century.
Visit Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is also a must see attraction. The castle dominates the city’s landscape and has shaped the nations story. Battles and sieges were fought over it, royalty lived and died within its walls, and countless generations have been inspired by it.
Take a hike up Arthur’s Seat
Not many cities can boast an extinct volcano at their centre but Edinburgh can. In fact it boasts two volcanoes in as many miles. The first supports the impressive structure of the castle, whilst the second – Arthur’s Seat, visible from much of the city centre, rises out of the wide grasslands of Holyrood Park. It’s the ideal place to take in glorious undisturbed views across the city and is a relatively easy hike at just over 250m. If you visit on May Day you can join in many of the local young women and wash your face with the hill’s morning dew. This tradition dates back centuries and is believed to make them beautiful.
Experience the best of Scottish cuisine
Edinburgh’s restaurants are amongst the best in Britain and it’s one of the best places to experience the very finest Scottish cuisine. The Witchery is one of the most famous and provides diners with a dramatic ‘Hogwarts style’ setting. But if you’re looking to dine with a view the the Tower Restaurant probably offers the best views of the Castle – a very romantic setting for an evening meal. As well as the plethora of Michelin Star restaurants, Edinburgh also has plenty of choice for those on more of a budget. Enjoy delicious street food every Thursday at the Tram Stop Market and relax and listen to some tunes from local musicians. Alternatively soak up the atmosphere in a traditional Scottish pub – there are plenty to be found around the city – especially in the old town.
Sip a dram in a traditional whisky bar
As for whisky, Edinbugh boasts a number of whisky bars offering hundreds of malts from across the country. Whilst some focus on a relaxed and casual atmosphere, others offer the whisky world’s equivalent of Michelin Star. Don’t worry if you now nothing about the drink, the bar staff are very knowledgable and always happy to help you choose from the two hundred plus whiskies available.
Shop till you drop
Edinburgh has everything you could want for a bit of retail therapy. Prince’s Street runs along the front of the castle and is home to the main commercial retail area of the city. However swooping from George IV Bridge down to the historic Grassmarket, Victoria Street is home to an abundant of fine independent boutiques. Whether its couture tweed or designer homewares, a vintage handbag or a slice of local cheese, Victoria Street has it all. There are plenty of places to stop for a bite to eat here as well so makes the ideal destination for the more intrepid traveler.
Head for heights up the Scott Monument
The Scott Monument (dedicated to the memory of Sir Walter Scott) is a gothic marvel spiralling high from the well-manicured greenery of Princes Street Gardens. Squeeze your way up the narrow spiral staircase for a breathtaking view.
Experience the Edinburgh Festival
Last but definitely not least, something which features on many peoples’ ‘to do’ lists is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The festival is the largest arts festival in the world and takes place every August for three weeks. Every year thousands of performers take to hundreds of stages all over Edinburgh to present shows for every taste. From big names in the world of entertainment to unknown artists looking to build their careers, the festival caters for everyone and includes theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus, cabaret, children’s shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events. To understand the true size of the festival, in 2014 there were 49,497 performances across 299 venues, making it the largest ever arts festival in the world.
The festival brings Edinburgh to life for 24 hours a day. Many bars and clubs stay open until daylight the next day and the famous Spiegeltent is a mainstay of the season. Whilst it is often the centre of merriment, it plays host to parties, concerts, clubs and a myriad of stunning performances. But book your tickets early as they sell out fast.