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Edinburgh Travel Guide

Introduction to Edinburgh

The historic capital of Scotland packs a punch as a weekend destination, and is often regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the United Kingdom. This compact city centre is brilliant for shopping, sight seeing and whisky tasting, as most of the main attractions are within walking distance. If you fancy walking a little further, the hike up Arthur's Seat makes a great afternoon activity, and Edinburgh is surrounded by many more mountains.

During August, Edinburgh is awash with festival fever – the annual Fringe Festival brings international comedians, musicians and artists into the city centre for performances, parties and general mayhem. It's a great time to visit the city, but make sure to book your hotel early as often rooms sell out months beforehand.

Read our top 10 tips for the Edinburgh Fringe festival.

Other things to do in Edinburgh

Soak up the history with a trip to HMY Britannia, which used to be the Royal family's personal sailing vessel (now sitting in the Albert Dock Basin). If the weather is favouring you, check out the Royal Botanical Gardens to soak up the sunshine inside their ornate green houses, crammed with beautiful blooms. Holyrood Palace and the Gardens are great for strolling around, whether you're an architecture buff or not: and those who are more into interiors than exteriors should definitely hit Camera Obscura, a museum of optical Illusions just behind Edinburgh Castle.

You can enter Edinburgh Castle at the top of the Royal Mile, a long cobbled street full of Gothic architecture, street entertainers and souvenir shops. A walk around Cowgate and the Old Town is a must regardless of the season, but it's extra special when the Fringe Festival is on: you'll find performances all over the city and many punters enjoying Scotland's short summer too. Continue your tour with a little shopping by heading to Princes Street, home to many high street stores and designer boutiques. This is also where you can find the Scottish National Gallery and Princes Street Gardens. You might like to round the day off with a night cap at the Scotch Whisky Experience you are in Scotland, after all.

Do your own walking tour: 10 beautiful places you need to see in Edinburgh

Eating and drinking in Edinburgh

There's a restaurant for every taste and budget in Edinburgh, thanks to the waves of international travellers, students and foodie locals. In the Old Town you can find everything from Thai to Egyptian, and if you venture towards Grassmarket and Victoria Street there are plenty of budget friendly foodie options. If you're here to impress, the Castle Terrace took just 15 months to win it's first Michelin star – go and see what all the fuss is about in the Old Town. The New Town is home to plenty of independent, chic restaurants, and Stockbridge is perfect for stocking your apartment rental with deli treats.

Whilst you can eat from any corner of the world here, local grub includes buttery, crumbly shortbreads, locally reared Aberdeen Angus beef, and Cranachan. If you can find cranachan anywhere, try it – it's like a Scottish Eton Mess, with the addition of whiskey, honey and oats. If you're eating from the breakfast menu in a traditional Scottish restaurant, you might like to verify whether the porridge is savoury or not, as it's traditionally served salty. Of course, you could also try haggis when you're here, but it's not as common as people would have you believe.

Don't stray too far from the Royal Mile after sight seeing, as the pubs here are well worth hitting up. Similarly, the bars on Cowgate light up on the weekends, and if you want to mingle with the students Mondays and Wednesdays are big nights on George Street.

Edinburgh climate

You might have chance to experience all 4 seasons in one day here, so pack an umbrella and some good walking shoes. If you're here over summer, you're more likely to catch a little sunshine. Christmas, January and February sees plenty of snow, wind and rain, so rug up if you're here to see the city.

Watch our 24 hour video guide to Edinburgh

When to go to Edinburgh

Edinburgh is at it's most lively during Christmas, Hogmanay (New Years) and during the Fringe Festival (all of August). If you're here to see the city in full swing, make sure you book your flight and hotels well head of schedule. The rest of the year tends to be quieter, and cheaper.

Flying to Edinburgh

You can fly directly to Edinburgh from Cork, Dublin, Knock and Shannon. Edinburgh Airport is just outside of the city, there are buses and taxis available 24 hours a day. Compare cheap flights to Edinburgh now.

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