Set across 7 hills, Edinburgh is perhaps the most picturesque city in a country renowned for its rugged natural beauty. Not only does it have a skyline full of castles, spires and medieval tenements, there’s a hidden underground world of dungeons, vaults and abandoned 17th-century streets. In between those domains, there’s an invigorating city that makes hay while the sun shines, and is thrillingly alive. Dive into the rambunctious nightlife around the New Town and Stockbridge; take in a thrilling rugby match at Myreside Stadium; cosy up to some lobster thermidor crème brûlée in the Old Town or catch a comedian at The Stand– a trip to Edinburgh promises a one-of-a kind experience. If you’ve been considering getting away on a holiday to Edinburgh, check out ebookers, where you’ll save up to 15% when booking Edinburgh flights and hotels together. We’ve hand picked the very best adventures, so that your holiday in Edinburgh can be as epic as the views from Arthur’s Seat.
If you want to kick-start your holiday in Edinburgh by ticking off the biggest attractions, then a great way to begin is with an amble around Edinburgh Castle, perched at the peak of an extinct volcano. It’s not only a fascinating piece of history; the sweeping vistas provide some great photo opportunities. An Edinburgh bus tour provides an easy alternative to rambling around the castle, as it takes in the Castle, the Old Town and the New Town, with the added bonus of a live guide. Mary’s King Close sprawls beneath the buildings of the Old Town, and the abandoned 17th-century streets and ghostly tenements are the stuff of local legends – and hauntings. Stop by for a tour, and add a walk through the Blair Street Underground Vaults if you’re interested in further exploring lost Edinburgh. If you’re after a more cosmopolitan getaway, go on a shopping spree on Victoria Street, catch some underground music at Cabaret Voltaire, or get face-to-face with the Monets and Da Vincis at the National Galleries of Scotland.
Spring is delightful in Edinburgh, and although a bit brisk, it’s the perfect time to stroll around Holyrood Park and catch the stunning views from Arthur’s Seat, or to tour the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith. Summers are stunning, but if you’re planning on travelling during August then book early, as the giant Edinburgh Fringe Festival comes to town and the hotels fill up quickly. If you’re lucky enough to be travelling in winter, you can delight in lively Hogmanay celebrations, as well as visit the Christmas Gardens.
Trams offer service from the airport to Edinburgh Park, Haymarket and Princes Street, and probably offer the best blend of convenience and affordability. If you’re travelling with a lot of luggage you can hire a car or find black cabs at a rank near arrivals, while the Airlink 100 bus offers service to Waverly Bridge every 10 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Located on Market Street, this popular attraction is known for its talented performers, traditional pipers and spectacular fireworks.
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.
With hands-on illusions, tricks and a shrinking room, this attraction offers an experience unlike any other.
Head to this outdoor space when the weather is warm to feed the swans or simply stroll the grounds.
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.
This museum has several floors to explore. Spend the day enjoying art deco and art nouveau pieces in this free museum.
This is Edinburgh's oldest neighbourhood. Browse the small shops that line the streets, or grab a brew at one of the quaint pubs.
With street performers, dining establishments and shops, this is one of the busiest streets in the city.
An opulent crystal chandelier greets visitors who come to this upscale bar. Visit on Sunday, and enjoy the live jazz.
This free wilderness tour offers a unique way to experience the city.
Sample handmade chocolates at this charming cafÃ© on Bruntsfield Place.
A favourite of the locals, this venue is known for its live music and diverse clientele.
This casual eatery has cozy, oversized chairs and a warm atmosphere.
Discover this darling cafÃ©, and enjoy fresh, homemade cake and a hot cup of tea.
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.
Like much of Scotland, Edinburgh has a temperate climate. During December and January, temperatures can hover around freezing, and summer highs climb to about 18Â°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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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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