‘The Athens of the North’ -- #ThisIsEdinburgh
Edinburgh, a Scottish city built atop an extinct volcano has its history at its roots. The city has played its role in not only the history of the United Kingdom as it staged various attacks against the British from the near-impenetrable castle, but also the field of science, with the University of Edinburgh at the forefront of medical discovery. From the pagan Samhuinn fire festival to herald the coming of winter to the enormous Hogmanay celebrations, the winding alleyways of Old Town to the modernity of Princes Street, it has it all. So, without further ado, here is our tips on visiting the iconic Scottish capital.
Go for a walk
In a city as small as Edinburgh, the best way to explore is on foot. From the shopping district of Princes street, a short walk up the mound takes you to the Royal Mile and the lead-up to the Edinburgh Castle. From there, you are within a 10-minute walk of not only the National Museum, the university and countless other attractions hidden down alleyways.
With the city’s old town serving as an attraction unto itself, it is somewhat hard to narrow it down for a weekend trip but no trip to Edinburgh is complete without visiting the castle before heading over George IV bridge to Greyfriars Bobby and the National Museum/ University area. From there, take a quick jaunt down to Holyrood to see the Parliament and climb Arthur’s Seat. Time it to coincide with sunset to witness the most incredible views of the city. For those of you with more time, a trip down to Leith and the Botanical Gardens is a lovely way to spend a day with a picnic while Carlton Hill next to the epic Balmoral Hotel is the reason the city is known as the ‘Athens of the North’
With these and many other of the cities’ gems hidden down small alleyways in the multi-tiered and maze-like Old Town, buses would be
more of a hassle than a help.
Best times to visit!
For one small city, Edinburgh has an incredible amount of festivals and celebrations that, if they fit into your calendar, should definitely shape your visit. From the Samhuinn fire festival on Halloween that fills the city with fire-shows and parades to mark the transition into winter, to the infamous three day Hogmanay to celebrate New Year’s Eve (last year’s street party reported over 150,000 attendees!) and the incredible Fringe festival in August – the world’s largest arts festival - that takes over every nook and cranny of the city, these festivals give the city a completely different vibe. Just remember that it is Scotland and that you should definitely pack as such, even a sunny day can be chillingly cold!
Best places to re-energise
Okay so we all know that travelling is the best excuse to eat out every day and, in Edinburgh, you won’t be disappointed. From the myriad of Asian cuisines around Newington to the traditional Scottish ‘Cellar Door’ on George IV Bridge, there is something for everyone. For a nice brunch, be sure to check out Montpelier’s in Bruntsfield, while The Outsider’s views of the castle create a nice setting for lunch. For dinner, be sure to visit Hanam’s, a Middle-Eastern restaurant just off the Royal Mile for fantastic food at a great price, just remember to bring your own alcohol!
For a quick pick-me-up throughout the day, Edinburgh has a thriving coffee scene with countless artisanal coffee places throughout the city. For a full review, check out our guide to Edinburgh’s coffee scene here.
Needing some Saturday night fever?
Edinburgh has you covered. From the dive bars strewn throughout the Old Town to the ‘fancy’ nightclubs that dominate George Street and the small cocktail bars that pop up in-between, the options are endless. For those of you wanting to get dressed up and dance, Lulu Club or Opal on a Saturday night on George Street are never bad choices despite their status as a little pricey. If, however the idea of dancing next to 20-something students is not quite your cup of tea, head over to New Town where bars like Bramble, Copper Blossom, and Panda&Sons will be sure to mix you the perfect cocktail for the occasion. Additionally, head over to the Whiski Rooms on the Mound (above the Scott Monument) at any time of the day for a complete whisky experience, it is Scotland after all...
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