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Edinburgh is a city that is as open to new ideas as it is traditional, and it’s not difficult to understand why so many visitors flock to the city from every corner of the globe.
Famously situated on an extinct volcano and now a UNESCO World Heritage site, Edinburgh is one of the most recognisable cities on the planet, attracting nearly four million visitors a year. Scotland’s capital is a unique blend of history and architecture, from the medieval cobbled streets of the Old Town to the neo-classical buildings of the Georgian New Town, all infused with a strong and contemporary culture that has established the city as a leader in modern arts. Edinburgh is a city that is as open to new ideas as it is traditional, and it’s not difficult to understand why so many visitors flock to the city from every corner of the globe.
This city attracts people from all over the world and takes them on a journey through its fascinating history, labyrinth of cobbled streets and its jam-packed festival schedule.
Edinburgh is a beautifully mixed contrast between its dark medieval old town and its modern Georgian New Town that make a lasting impression on its visitors, with many left wanting more and dreaming of a quick return.
If there was ever a place to get lost in, Edinburgh would be it. The Old Town packs more historic buildings into a square mile than just about anywhere else in Britain and it begs out to be explored. Curiosity is often rewarded with an intoxicating mix of new and old, amazing eateries, coffee shops and unexpected views and surprises around every corner.
Scotland’s capital Edinburgh, home to its devolved government, bastions of international culture and streets that have inspired a rather successful series of children’s books about a boy wizard, remains one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations. Named the ‘Best City in the World’ by Time Out in 2022 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, the city began life as a collection of forts and small communes. The city got its name during the Middle Ages, when the Angles tribe connected the Gaelic words ‘Eiden’ and ‘Burh’, meaning fort, but would not create the beginnings of the city we now know until the 12th century, upon the construction of Edinburgh Castle.
History does not remember the city kindly until the 17th century, when architect James Craig designed ‘New Town’, bringing with it the distinctive Georgian architecture that now typifies the capital. Industries from banking to textiles to brewing flourished in the city, with cultural institutions of galleries and theatres exploding into the 19th century. Now, each of its unique neighbourhoods has something exciting to offer, from a thriving café culture to historic monuments to the famous month-long celebration of theatre and art, the Edinburgh Festival.
The city is serviced by Lothian Buses, who also connect it to the Lothians region beyond, as well as Skylink and Airlink to the airport. These buses run 24/7. There is also an Edinburgh Trams service running between Edinburgh Airport and New Town. The city has excellent cycle paths and operates Just Eat Cycles, an electric bike hire scheme.
Getting to Edinburgh
Edinburgh is serviced by two major train stations – Haymarket and Waverley – which are connected to routes throughout England, Wales and the rest of Scotland. National Express also offer bus services from most major UK cities to Edinburgh. For those flying, Edinburgh International Airport is eight miles from the city centre.
When to go
Like most of the UK, Edinburgh gets its fair share of rain and grey days. August is the most popular – and most expensive – time to visit because of the Edinburgh Festival. The city is particularly magical during the autumn and winter months, with the best time to visit between September and January.
Where to stay
Edinburgh is divided into a number of regions, each with its own atmosphere. The Royal Mile is a tourist hotspot buttressed by palaces. Old Town is historic and medieval, whilst New Town is modern and packed with unique shops. Stockbridge is arty and affluent, Leith is consistently named one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world and Southside is popular with foodies and students. And finally, the West End is a hidden gem in the city with a distinctly bohemian flair.
Eating & drinking
Street food rubs shoulders with Michelin-starred establishments – Edinburgh overflows with incredible restaurants and food. Every cuisine under the sun is catered for here. Experience traditional Scottish shortbreads, whiskies and beers alongside contemporary spins on Indian food, fish and chips and a bevvy of vibrant cocktail bars.
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