As pretty as a picture, Edinburgh is a city of medieval spires, slender, winding cobbled streets and golden sandstone, infused with Scottish history. The Victorian Gothic grandeur of the Scots Monuments sits happily opposite to the vibrant shops of Princes Street while lush green gardens sit below spectacular Edinburgh Castle, rising from its rocky base to watch protectively over the city.
A place for city breaks, romantic weekends and family holidays, Edinburgh is a beguiling mix of international culture, local customs and hip, home grown art, film and music. The National Galleries of Scotland, comprising the Scottish National Gallery, the Portrait Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art, house exciting and ever changing contemporary and traditional exhibitions while Stills Gallery in the heart of the Old Town offers up the latest in contemporary photography.
More treasures lie in the Palace of Holyrood House, 16th-century home of Mary Queen of Scots while across the road politics makes history in the controversial architecture of the Scottish Parliament. Above ground the thrilling one o’clock gun can be heard firing from its canon while underground, a labyrinth of haunted caves lie in wait for brave visitors. Kids will love the daily Penguin Parade at Edinburgh Zoo and the wacky world of the Camera Obscura.
Escaping from the crowds is a breeze; inactive volcano Arthur’s seat and its spectacular views are slap bang in the heart of the city. The golden sands of Portobello beach are just a short bus ride away while an urban retreat like the Sheraton Hotel rooftop spa can be found in the city centre. The Botanic Gardens are one of the most peaceful places in the city.
After a day exploring the candy-coloured shops on quirky Victoria Street, the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre is the place to head for a wee dram followed by fine dining in a Michelin starred restaurant or perhaps a chuckle in a comedy club.
Edinburgh Airport is the closest airport to the city, taking just 30 minutes to reach the city centre. Well served by public transport, buses run 24 hours a day while trams offer an alternative travel option. There are plenty of taxis available for hire just outside the terminal building, taking approximately 25 minutes to reach the city centre. Edinburgh Airport is served by most major airlines as well as budget carries such as Easyjet and Ryanair. It is also possible to fly into Glasgow Airport. A non-stop City Link Air service connects the airport to Edinburgh city centre in just 1 hour.
What you need to know
Currency: The British Pound Sterling (GBP) £
Visas: No visa is required by British or EU citizens to enter Edinburgh. Any non-British citizens may require permission to enter the UK. This primarily applies to Commonwealth citizens, visa nationals, those that are stateless, hold a non-national travel document or a passport issued by an authority unrecognised in the UK. Please check with your local embassy or the Foreign Office website for more information.
Laws: In Scotland, the legal drinking age in pubs is 18. Under 18’s are not allowed to purchase alcohol in pubs or shops. If aged 16 or 17 wine, cider or beer may be drunk with a meal in a hotel or restaurant. It is illegal to sell cigarettes, tobacco or cigarette papers to anyone under the age of 18 and smoking is banned in all public places and workplaces, whatever your age. Driving while using a mobile phone is a criminal offence in Scotland. A £100 fine and 3 penalty points may result if caught.
Best times to Visit
Edinburgh is a wonderful city to visit all year round however there are some fantastic events on throughout the year that may sway when to visit. While the blossom trees in full bloom on the Meadows may persuade some to visit in May, August sees the arrival of the Edinburgh Fringe and Edinburgh International Festivals. Travel and hotel costs will be higher at this time of year as Edinburgh bursts into life with street entertainers, art, comedy and theatre and entertainers from around the world descend on the city. Those undeterred by the thought of a bracing Scottish winter should visit in November or December when the Winter Wonderland, Edinburgh’s festive extravaganza, is in full swing. Traditional Christmas stalls line fairy lit streets and if you hang on until December 31st, the fireworks of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay help to create one of the most spectacular New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world!
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