Nestled between the North Sea and a beautiful stretch of rolling, rocky hills, Edinburgh offers some of the most picturesque scenery in Europe. Famous for its medieval skyline and whisky trails, the capital has plenty to see and do. Take in the colorful views from atop Edinburgh Castle and Arthur's Seat, enjoy a crisp seaside stroll along Portobello Beach, and wander the historic Royal Mile.
Ranging across a series of rocky hills, Edinburgh just calls out to be explored. The turreted skyline of the castle dominates the buildings of The Royal Mile, buildings that are elegantly Georgian one minute, a tumble of medieval architecture the next. Every summer Edinburgh is home to the world's biggest arts festival, but its culture, history and gastronomy can be enjoyed on Edinburgh city breaks at any time of the year.
Things to do in Edinburgh
The Royal Yacht Britannia: Take a tour of the former royal yacht now berthed at Leith and see how the other half lived on the high seas. Launched in 1953 it was, for over forty years, the holiday home of the Queen and her family as well as being used for state receptions. A self-guided tour gives an intriguing insight into the Queen's personal tastes.
Dip into the art of Scotland: Edinburgh has several art galleries to choose from such as the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art housed in two impressive neoclassical buildings. After enjoying the paintings, take a leisurely stroll along the Water of Leith.
See how government works in Scotland: The Scottish parliament is housed in a contemporary building that observers either love or hate. You can make up your own mind as you take a tour of the Debating Chamber, the Garden Lobby and the private office of a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP).
Take a stroll along the Royal Mile: Along the famous Royal Mile that leads up to the Castle, you'll find everything from souvenir shops to those selling everything tartan and exclusive whiskies. You'll also find bars, cafes and award-winning restaurants.
Top sights in Edinburgh
Edinburgh Castle: It's easy to while away a whole day in the brooding splendour of Edinburgh Castle. Parts of it date from the 11th century when it was a royal palace. Since then it has seen murder and intrigue - all of which can be enjoyed in its exhibitions and museums. These range from the atmospheric Prisons of War exhibition to the strong room housing the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Honours of Scotland.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse: The official residence of the Queen in Scotland, Holyroodhouse is probably more famous as the place where Mary Queen of Scots lived in the 16th century. It was here that her husband, Lord Darnley, killed her lover David Rizzio. A plaque actually marks the spot where he bled to death.
Arthur's Seat: Not actually a landmark but a feature of the landscape, Arthur's Seat is an impressive rock formation clearly visible from the city. It is the distinctive stump of an extinct volcano. The views from the top are well worth the climb.
Greyfriar's Bobby Statue: Found in Greyfriar's Kirkyard, this is probably the most photographed landmark in the city. In the late 19th century, a little Skye terrier named Bobby kept a graveside vigil of 15 years when his police officer owner was buried.
Best time of the year to visit Edinburgh
Provided you dress for the weather as Scottish winters can be cold and there's a high risk of rain at any time of the year, cheap city breaks to Edinburgh can be enjoyed at every season. Youngsters love exploring the castle and Edinburgh Zoo, famous for its conservation work while the city also has its romantic spots. Couples can take an afternoon tea cruise from the Fountainbridge Canal Basin or go stargazing at one of the Edinburgh Observatory astronomy evenings. Edinburgh's beaches and promenades are sometimes overlooked but a stroll along the Portobello Promenade is fun for all ages.
How to get to Edinburgh
With an airport on the doorstep and both bus and train stations centrally located within the city, Edinburgh is easy to get to from all parts of the United Kingdom. Trains from London and other places in England and Scotland terminate at Waverley Station while the city is also linked to three major motorways, the M90, M9 and M8.
Edinburgh is known for...
While the city has a varied calendar of events that run from Christmas markets in December to summer food festivals, the two most famous events are the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo both of which take place in August. The Military Tattoo is a three-week feast of marching bands, parades and daring display teams that takes place with the castle as a backdrop while the Festival Fringe is the biggest performing arts festival in the world. It has provided a start for many famous names in comedy and drama.
If you think you'll enjoy Edinburgh city breaks, then why not consider visiting other UK capitals such as Cardiff, Belfast and London?