A Guide to Edinburgh: Edinburgh Uncovered
The capital of Scotland lies on the Forth Estuary, in the South East of the country. The city was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 with good reason – the medieval architecture, history and beauty of the Old Town and the Neo-Classical Georgian New Town are magnificent. It is a great city to visit as it has something for everyone and is very tourist-friendly. Here we look at the stalwart attractions and the less known hidden gems that Edinburgh has to offer.
It is always great to fit in a festival on your travels and the Edinburgh calendar is jam packed with events, including Hogmanay (New Year’s), Burn’s Night, The Edinburgh Fringe and the Royal Edinburgh Tattoo. Book well ahead and expect a lot of fun!
There are some places that you must visit whilst in Edinburgh. Namely, Edinburgh Castle – a medieval fortress. As Scotland’s number one tourist attraction, its setting on a craggy hilltop is dramatic at any time of the year. Make sure to be there at 1pm to hear the gun fired, a way of telling the time in ye olden days! Next door, is the Scotch Whiskey Experience. Need we say more?
Arthur’s Seat is one of seven hills in Edinburgh (bit like Rome). It is an extinct volcano and is a possible location for King Arthur’s Camelot, hence the name. Actually the name more likely comes from ‘Archers Seat’ as it was once the site of a hill fort. The hill is within Holyrood Park and is a great destination for keen walkers.
For traditional fare head to Dubh Prais or Stac Polly. Both offer old-fashioned classics such as haggis, calves liver or venison with a modern twist. To take away a taste of Scotland, Macsween’s haggis is arguably the best – and you can pick one up in any of the major supermarkets!
The 3D Loch Ness Experience holds everything you need or can know about the Loch Ness Monster – sightings, facts, photos and theories all under one roof. Edinburgh Dungeon is not for the faint hearted and is a gruesome insight into the city’s past. Cabaret Voltaire is an underground (literally) music venue where you can hear Scotland’s next big musician.
The best kept secret is The Real Mary King’s Close. Deep underground the Royal Mile is a time capsule of a street with a gripping story to tell. The tour lasts an hour and is hosted by one of the Close’s real residents from the 17th Century.
There are all the major hotel chains here, naturally, but for a truly unique and special stay, try The Witchery at the top of the Royal Mile. Time Out says, “Dark, gothic and thoroughly theatrical – if you can get a room the Witchery is the place to indulge yourself.” With rates of £350/night it is indulgent but worth every penny!
Lothian buses have a flat rate of £1.40 (70p kids) per journey or £3.50 (£2 kids aged 5-15) for an all day pass. Car parking is reasonable enough for a city centre, depending where you park – between £1 and £2.80 an hour. Check out Edinburgh Council’s website for parking details. You could have even more fun and consider a car hire where you can travel at ease in your own time and park up anywhere you like, taking in the views of Edinburgh.
If the hustle and bustle of city life gets too much, you can always explore other parts of Scotland from Edinburgh Airport. The Shetland Isles are just 1.5 hours away and offer rugged landscapes, little ponies, sweaters and varied wildlife. The Outer Hebrides is accessed through Stornoway Airport, less than an hour away from Edinburgh. These islands have fine shell beaches and great surfing. Callanish stone circle is older than Stonehenge and Highland Games during the summer.
Thank you to Sixt for putting together this informative travel guide to Edinburgh! It is a must see visit so board your plane and get visiting these beautiful places as soon as possible!