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Edinburgh Holidays

Your Edinburgh holiday

Since the Bronze Age, humans have inhabited the area that is now Edinburgh, which began as a fort in the 7th century. The English took control in AD 638. It wasn’t until AD 950 that the Scots finally re-captured Edinburgh.

The city was a growing community by the 12th century. During the Middle Ages, Edinburgh gained fame for making wool cloth, but constantly suffered from fighting between the English and Scots. In the 1490s, King James IV moved the Royal Court to Holyrood, and Edinburgh became the national capital. In the 17th century, the English continued to invade and outbreaks of the plague in 1604 and 1645 killed many, but somehow Edinburgh kept growing. Finally, in 1707, Scotland and England became politically united by the Act of Union.

In 1767, the city was extremely overcrowded, prompting the Lord Provost to hold a competition for the best design plans for New Town, to be built to the north. James Craig won. Throughout the 18th century, the city was the centre of the Scottish Enlightenment and famed throughout Europe. It emerged as a major cultural and intellectual centre, boasting the minds and talents of David Hume, Adam Smith and Sir Walter Scott, among others.

Edinburgh industrialised during the 19th century, but Glasgow outpaced it in growth, becoming the country’s largest city. However, in the 20th century, tourism emerged as a lucrative industry. This has been helped by the city’s raised profile as Scotland has increased its political autonomy. In 2002, the country formed a delegated parliament, which congregates in the new parliament building in Edinburgh, next to Holyrood Palace.

Spend a weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland’s enchanting capital city. Rolling green hills in the countryside and miles of coastline offer spectacular views for picnics and long walks in the fresh air.

Play on famous golf courses, visit historic castles and sample the many bars, restaurants and shops. In the heart of the city, notice the medieval Old Town, Georgian New Town, and modern architecture dramatically juxtaposed. Get a flight to Edinburgh and soak up its history, culture, and natural charms.

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Cheapest holiday deals to Edinburgh from London

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Top Edinburgh attractions

  • Edinburgh Castle

    It is the most famous of the castles here. Learn about its unique architectural history, dating from the 12th century (St. Margaret’s Chapel), to the early 20th (the Scottish National War Memorial). Be sure not to miss features such as the Honours (Crown Jewels) of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny, and the One o’Clock Gun. Audio tours are available in eight languages.

    The Georgian House

    Part of Robert Adam’s impressive Charlotte Square, the Georgian House dates from 1796 and reconstructs 18th-century life in upscale New Town. Visitors can see how the house’s exquisite china, beautiful paintings and furniture echo the domestic and social conditions of the era.

    National Library of Scotland

    Don’t miss this research library’s major exhibition every summer. If you can’t visit during summer though, you can still enjoy the year-round events programme as well as smaller exhibitions and educational activities. Admission free.

    Belhaven Bay

    This award-winning beach within the John Muir Country Park sprawls from Belhaven to the north of the River Tyne. It is a perfect setting for long strolls—walk along the cliff-top near Dunbar and pass the harbour and castle ruins—as well as sunbathing and picnics. Look for the new interpretation centre and town house museum as well.

    Edinburgh Zoo

    This leading world zoo houses 1,000+ unique animals from all over the planet and provides them with the highest level of physical and behavioural care. Check out the new, state-of-the-art habitat for chimpanzees, the UK’s only koalas, and the famous Penguin Parade. Guaranteed to keep children delighted for hours, the zoo also boasts play areas, a gift shop, and restaurants.

    Nelson Monument

    The architect Robert Burn designed this monument in the early 19th century in honour of Admiral Lord Nelson’s death and victory at the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar. The breathtaking views of the city make it worth climbing up to the monument’s perch atop Calton Hill.

    Tip * Booking your Tours, Transfers & Airport Parking before you go will save your money & time and ensure a stress free start to your holiday

  • Edinburgh Military Tattoo

    Located on Market Street, this popular attraction is known for its talented performers, traditional pipers and spectacular fireworks.

    Arthur's Seat

    Enjoy the great outdoors, and escape the busy city life. Climb to the top to take in the views, and be sure to pack a picnic lunch.

    Camera Obscura

    With hands-on illusions, tricks and a shrinking room, this attraction offers an experience unlike any other.

    Holyrood Park

    Head to this outdoor space when the weather is warm to feed the swans or simply stroll the grounds.

    Xtreme Karting Edinburgh

    Thrill-seekers and children alike will enjoy racing around this track. Parents can enjoy a snack or cup of coffee in the lounge area while the little ones play.

    Royal Museum

    This museum has several floors to explore. Spend the day enjoying art deco and art nouveau pieces in this free museum.

    Old Town

    This is Edinburgh's oldest neighbourhood. Browse the small shops that line the streets, or grab a brew at one of the quaint pubs.

    Royal Mile

    With street performers, dining establishments and shops, this is one of the busiest streets in the city.

    The Dome

    An opulent crystal chandelier greets visitors who come to this upscale bar. Visit on Sunday, and enjoy the live jazz.

    Hairy Coo Tour

    This free wilderness tour offers a unique way to experience the city.

Insider tips for Edinburgh travel

  • Chocolate Tree

    Sample handmade chocolates at this charming café on Bruntsfield Place.

    Bannerman's

    A favourite of the locals, this venue is known for its live music and diverse clientele.

    The Westroom

    This casual eatery has cozy, oversized chairs and a warm atmosphere.

    Bon Papillon

    Discover this darling café, and enjoy fresh, homemade cake and a hot cup of tea.

    Dominion Cinema

    Take in a film or two in this retro-style theatre. With four screens and reclining armchairs with footrests, this cinema is a great place to kick up your feet and relax.

Popular Edinburgh hotels on the map:

Best time to take a holiday to Edinburgh

  • Like much of Scotland, Edinburgh has a temperate climate. During December and January, temperatures can hover around freezing, and summer highs climb to about 18°C. The months of May through September have pleasant weather and are the best times to visit. If you are planning a trip in the winter, consider New Year's, and experience the Hogmanay festival, which offers live music, delicious food and dazzling fireworks. If you are visiting during the summer, the Fringe festival is celebrated in August and draws thousands of visitors to Edinburgh each year.

Edinburgh highlights

  • Experience a Cultural Festival

    Edinburgh is Europe’s premier festival city. Its calendar is always crammed with festivals and events, so visitors always have something to look forward to, such as the Snowdrop Festival, Jazz and Blues Festival, and Edinburgh International Festival.

    Taste the Finest Whisky

    Enjoy one of Scotland’s national exports during a whisky tour with Absolute Escapes. Not only will you be able to taste the best single-malt whisky in the world, the whisky trail will also expose you to beautiful countryside, historical landmarks, and stunning coastal stretches.

    Practice Your Drive at St Andrews Links

    For 600 years, golf clubs have been swinging at St. Andrews Links, the most expansive public centre for golf in Europe. The Old Course is considered to be the sport’s original home. By road, the seven golf courses that make up the Links are only an hour from Edinburgh, and the courses are bookable in advance. Host of many Open Championships, the Links have something for golfers of any level. Not a golfer? Take a guided tour of the Old Course on foot. Buy tickets from the guide on the day.

    Go Shopping

    Edinburgh offers eclectic options for shopping. Princes Street is where you will find standard ‘High Street’ labels, while the West End is full of trendy boutiques. New Town will spoil you with its assortment of designer labels, most of which can be found on Multrees Walk. The country’s only Harvey Nichols store is located next to Multrees Walk. If you would rather hunt for vintage treasures, try WM Armstrong & Son in the Grassmarket.

    Take a Ghost Tour

    Learn about Edinburgh’s dark past while you visit the most ghost-ridden locations in Old Town, accompanied by spooky stories and eerie subterranean vaults. Mercat Tours provides tours year round.

    Ballooning

    See Edinburgh from a different perspective with Alba Ballooning. It provides balloon flights over Edinburgh, Fife, the Lothians, and the Scottish Borders. Flights are about an hour long, and can be enjoyed with champagne.

Where to stay in Edinburgh

  • New Town

    The Macdonald Roxburghe Hotel offers the epitome of luxury. It is among the oldest inns in Edinburgh, but all 198 bedrooms have recently been renovated. Enjoy vistas of Edinburgh Castle and the Charlotte Square gardens, as well as amenities such as a health club, pool, and spa services.

    The Howard Hotel might be small, but you can expect to be pampered like a guest at a private mansion. The five-star hotel has 18 uniquely designed bedrooms, all recently renovated. An attentive butler will attend to you from arrival until departure, and there is also a babysitting service.

    West End

    The Bonham Hotel is an award-winning lodging. The lovely Victorian townhouse is only a short walk from many superb shops and the financial district. There are 48 bedrooms, including luxury suites and deluxe superior rooms. The restaurant is one of Edinburgh’s most excellent contemporary dining spots, featuring a European-inspired menu. The hotel also boasts a permanent collection of artwork.

    The West End Hotel is a comfortable, fashionable hotel just a brief amble from Princes Street and numerous other tourist attractions. Expect the customer service and cleanliness to be of a superb grade. The rooms are inviting and contemporary, with brand-new LCD television sets and en suite bathrooms. There is, however, no lift available.

    For more choice, check out for a hotel in Edinburgh among our offers!

How to move around in Edinburgh

  • Airport

    Edinburgh Airport is easily accessible from overseas and everywhere in the UK by various means of transport.

    The airport lacks its own train station, but the two main stations in Edinburgh are, at least, conveniently located on bus routes to the airport.

    Taxis are a convenient way to get to and from the airport without a lot of stress. There are hundreds of taxi companies in Edinburgh and the surrounding areas.

    The #100 bus is a shuttle that connects the airport to the city (near the train and bus stations). It runs 24/7, departing every ten minutes during peak hours, and every half hour during non-peak hours.

    Getting Around Edinburgh

    Edinburgh is smallish, and walking is an easy way to see the central areas. The city also has a network of local bus services. A Lothian Buses Day Ticket allows you unlimited trips in and around the city.

    Edinburgh is also accommodating to cyclists. There are some steep hills, but at peak hours, cyclists can share lanes with the city buses in the vicinity of the centre of the city. If you prefer to avoid traffic, there is a network of cycle routes where cars are not allowed, usually running along old railroad lines. The campaign group Spokes has great maps of those routes. You can take your bike on trains for free, but many routes require reservations in advance, so don’t forget to book ahead.

    If travelling by rail, be sure to buy your train ticket at the station—they’re more expensive on the train.

    Check out our car hire in Edinburgh offers.

Edinburgh restaurants

  • Blue (10 Cambridge Street) has the same head chef as the award-winner Atrium, but it is more moderately priced. Blue uses seasonal ingredients from the area, which makes dishes such as pan-fried mackerel—with fennel, orange, and toasted almonds—and whisky-cured salmon even more delectable.

    The Grain Store (30 Victoria Street) features upscale traditional Scottish fare. The rustic Old Town restaurant is characterised by worn wood and raw stone lit by candlelight. The owner, Carlo Coxon, is adventurous with his cooking (the menu includes seared pigeon and ox tongue) and uses only the best local meat and produce.

    Kitchin (78 Commercial Quay) is a chic restaurant on Edinburgh’s waterfront. Its French-influenced menu is full of local produce and meat and seasonal dishes. Popular dishes include roast lamb loin with Szechwan pepper, and the tartar of mackerel with beet and cucumber dressing. The restaurant also offers a surprise tasting menu for more adventurous diners.

    The Witchery by the Castle (Boswell Court) serves upscale Scottish food that features lobster and oysters caught locally, and Angus beef. With specialties such as pan-roasted monkfish, this eatery is ideal for late dinners and special occasions.

    Fishers Bistro (1 The Shore), housed in a 17th-century windmill, is a favourite for its seafood and harbour view. The menu offers locally-sourced shellfish, grilled sardines, and breaded fish cakes.

Health & Safety

  • Vaccinations and Hygiene

    There are no mandatory vaccinations. However, booster injections for some common diseases such as tetanus and diphtheria are recommended. For travellers over 25 without a measles vaccination, risk should be determined on an individual basis depending on length and conditions of travel.

    Children should also receive these boosters, but earlier.

    Accidents or Health Problems

    The water in Edinburgh is potable. High-quality bottled water from some of the purest sources in Britain is also recommended and available. As a precaution, you might avoid eating too much seafood during the summer, when freshness is harder to ascertain.

    The health infrastructure is excellent. Before you leave home, acquire a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from a Social Security centre. All emergency medical examinations will then be free of charge.

    For emergencies, dial 999 for ambulances, the fire department or Emergency Rescue Service. Dial 192 for police.

    There are many pharmacies, or chemists, in the city.

    One reputable health clinic is the Bellevue Medical Centre (26 Huntingdon Place).

    Safety

    Assaults are not common, but it is wise to take precautions:

    Do not go about with a large quantity of cash or jewellery.
    Do not stroll alone after dark.
    Do not take drinks or food from strangers in bars.

    Also, make photocopies of all travel documents and keep the copies with you. Keep the originals in a secure place.

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Cheap flight deals for your Edinburgh holiday

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Thu, 19 May - Sat, 18 Jun

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