Brazen comedians, bar crawls, and breath-taking scenery. A holiday to Scotland’s gentile capital can deliver all that and more. Edinburgh is best known for its new town. George Street is lined by rows of gleaming designer boutiques and trendy bars. Culture vultures descend on “the Athens of the North” for galleries, antique shops and elegant Georgian architecture.
But those who delve beneath Edinburgh’s respectable veneer will have a rather different sort of holiday. Introducing Edinburgh’s old town.Whether you join a ghost tour or explore the warren-like, medieval streets alone – you can’t help feeling that this is a place with stories to tell. The Royal Mile runs through the old town like a long cobbled spine. At the tail end, lies the Scottish Parliament. At the other end sits a much older seat of power: Edinburgh Castle. As you stroll between the two, look out for the 14th century wonder, St Giles’ Cathedral, and a place of reverie of a very different kind: the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre. Wander away from the main street, down the winding alleys to discover Edinburgh’s smallest pub (The Halfway House) and 104 multi-coloured marble steps (Scotsman Steps). It’s impossible to talk about an Edinburgh holiday without mentioning the Fringe. Every August the old town is flooded by dazzling performers and awe-struck tourists.
Overlooking Edinburgh is Arthur’s seat; a constant reminder that, in Scotland, the wilderness is never far away. Arthur’s seat is a craggy hill, on the site of a dormant volcano. It promises panoramic views of the city and is a relatively easy climb, making it ideal for those on a family break.
After a long day exploring, take off your hiking boots, drop the shopping bags, deflate your bag pipes and retire to a cosy holiday cottage. Below, you’ll find a few of our favourite Edinburgh snugs.