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Scotland’s capital is a proud and independent city nestled among rolling hills, with the iconic Edinburgh Castle perched dramatically atop an extinct volcano. The cosmopolitan town mixes its medieval roots and cultural traditions with modern cuisine and edgy entertainment. The narrow cobbled alleys of Old Town are steps away from New Town’s bustling shops and restaurants. Though famed for its August and New Year’s celebrations, Edinburgh is a year-round treat.
Edinburgh experiences a temperate climate with slight variations between the four seasons.
1 hour 20 minutes
Edinburgh International Airport (EDI) is 12km from the city centre
An Edinburgh city break makes the perfect adventure for anyone looking for some special time away. A compact, hilly city, there’s so much to do on your city break to Edinburgh without having to travel far from one place of interest to the next. It’s a favourite for everyone, from culture and history lovers to foodies and those looking for laughs at a comedy club. Take a look below at the best things to do in Edinburgh.
Rich in history, you’ll never have to wander far to discover some stunning architecture in the city of Edinburgh. Pay a visit to Edinburgh Castle, which sits on an inactive volcano, to discover the fortress which dates back to the 12th century. If you’re more adventurous, climb up to Calton Hill to enjoy views down to the historic Royal Mile, which is found situated in the heart of Edinburgh Old Town.
If you happen to be in Edinburgh on a rainy day, a trip to the National Museum of Scotland is perfect for keeping kids entertained. Worlds away from uninspiring exhibitions, there are lots of fun things to do here, from discovering dinosaurs and Formula One cars to playing with indoor hot air balloons. For a fantastic photo opportunity, head to the roof terrace for the best views across the city.
It’s difficult to pick out things to do in Edinburgh without mentioning the famous Fringe Festival. Spanning across a month, the event welcomes over 50,000 performers from around the world. Expect to see plenty of creativity, in the form of theatre, dance and so much more. Stop by the famous comedy circuit, too, for plenty of laughs and the chance to see some up and coming talent.
Edinburgh is world-famous for its popular pub scene. Many pubs date back hundreds of years and are a real draw for visitors, as well as loyal locals. Head to the Port O’Leith for a traditional vibe, great pints and interesting memorabilia. If you’re more into fine-dining than pub grub, Edinburgh’s also home to a great choice of Michelin Star restaurants; perfect for a special occasion.
A city shouldn’t solely be just busy roads and built-up architecture. If you’re looking for things to do in Edinburgh which focus more on the natural world, head to the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens. Here, you can discover over 15,000 species of rare and exotic plants. A home of conservation and research, the gardens are loved by visitors and locals alike; and entry is absolutely free.
Families: Visit the UK’s only koalas and giant pandas at Edinburgh Zoo.
Couples: Walk to the top of Calton Hill or Arthur’s Seat and watch the sun set.
History buffs: Learn about Scotland’s rich history inside Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace.
Language: The language spoken in Edinburgh is English.
Currency: The currency used in Edinburgh is the British Pound (£).
Local time: Edinburgh is in the GMT/UK time zone.
Fly: Edinburgh International Airport (EDI) is 12km from the city centre.
Flight time from London: 1 hour 20 minutes.
Alternative Transport: You can also travel by train into Edinburgh’s Waverley Station, 4 hours 30 minutes from London.
Tourist information: Further Edinburgh tourist information can be found at http://thisisedinburgh.com.
Temperature: 5-19 (°C)
Spring and Autumn are beautiful times to explore the city’s natural attractions. Temperatures typically hover in the low to mid-teens throughout both seasons. For slightly warmer weather, come in the Summer when you can enjoy highs of 19 and up to 10 hours of sunshine a day. Temperatures drop to as low as 3 in January, but the cool climate adds a wintry romance to this city’s medieval streets.
By foot: New Town and Old Town are compact, but hilly and steep in some areas.
By bus: The hop-on/hop-off tourist buses stop at all the main sights. The public bus network requires buying a bus pass or having exact change.
By bicycle: There are a few bicycle hire companies, and the town and nearby countryside offer car-free cycle paths.
By taxi: Taxis are common in the city centre and can be hailed in the street. Tipping 10% is customary.
Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo: In August, military bands from across the Commonwealth gather to perform on the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade. Picture a musical spectacle of a thousand pipers, musicians, drummers and singers, followed by a fireworks display.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe: ‘The Fringe’ is the world’s largest performing arts festival. Throughout the month of August, hundreds of venues across the city showcase dance, music, theatre and comedy events from more than 50 countries.
New Year’s Eve: The capital celebrates the New Year with the giant Hogmanay Street Party. Festivities include live music and DJs in Princes Street Gardens, outdoor ceilidh dancing and a midnight fireworks show.
Guide to Edinburgh
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