The very best of... EdinburghThursday 30 July 2015 by Leila Wright Discover the best that Scotland's capital has to offer with our handy guide to your time in the city.
The best things to see and do
Edinburgh is a city that is truly wonderful to explore – a World Heritage City packed with cobbled lanes, winding alleyways and splendid views over Scotland’s craggy countryside. At the heart of the city is the wonderful Old Town, with the famous Royal Mile following the spine of the hill up to Edinburgh’s dramatic castle. From here you have a fabulous view of the 18th century New Town, which is packed with trendy restaurants, galleries and bars, and some of the best shopping in the UK outside London. For the best views of the city, take a wander to Holyrood Park and climb the largest of the hills, Arthur’s Seat – it’s a popular and relatively easy climb for visitors, and well worth the effort!
The best food and drink
Edinburgh has more than its fair share of world-class restaurants and bars, from its famous takeaways serving deep fried delicacies, to traditional Scottish restaurants serving wonderful fresh fish, shellfish and local specialities like haggis, salmon and Ayrshire potatoes. The restaurants around the Royal Mile tend to cater for tourists rather than in-the-know locals, so it’s well worth heading into the lanes and alleys of Old Town, or the back streets of the New Town, for the best value and quality. There are five restaurants in the city with Michelin stars, and plenty of great bistros and diners serving local ingredients if you’re on a tighter budget. If cocktail bars and artisanal drinking holes are your thing, Thistle Street in New Town is the place to go for the coolest hangouts and trendiest bars.
The best way to get around
Edinburgh Old Town is best explored on foot, which ensures you don’t miss any of the fascinating lanes (known as “wynds”) around Grassmarket and the Royal Mile. It’s a short stroll across Princes Street Gardens to the New Town, with its orderly Georgian streets, beautiful parks and impressive architecture. The New Town is served by a shiny new tram system, which stretches from the main Princes Street shopping area all the way to Edinburgh Airport. The city’s bus network is good value and reliable, with many routes running well into the night, or you can hail one of Edinburgh’s black cabs for a quick trip across the city.
The best events and festivals
Edinburgh is famous for its annual festivals calendar, covering everything from dance and literature to classical music throughout the summer months. The highlight for most visitors is the Festival Fringe - throughout August the city is transformed into a month-long party of comedy, dance and music, with 2000 events and shows taking place in 250 venues all over the city, from pubs and street corners to theatres and comedy clubs. If you can find a hotel (or serviced apartment!) and cope with the crowds, it’s a unique and unforgettable experience! On 31st December Edinburgh hosts Scotland’s Hogmanay celebrations, with thousands of people taking to the streets to celebrate the arrival of the New Year with music, street theatre, a parade and fireworks over the castle.