Edinburgh

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Edinburgh Castle.  Copyright VisitScotland/Scottish Viewpoint

By Alison Craig, your Edinburgh expert

I write for BBC radio, The Scotsman, .... Read more

Why go to Edinburgh?

I hope this will be the year you decide to visit Scotland's capital city. Hopefully, these pages will also help you plan your trip. Remember to follow EdinburghLive on Twitter for all the latest updates.

Edinburgh really has got something for everyone whatever age and stage you are in life. Whether for business, pleasure, romance, family, sightseeing, culture, history, architecture, art, relaxation, escape or just to contemplate the wider world, it offers you a unique and memorable trip. So here are my top reasons to go.

It is amazingly old

Edinburgh Castle was built in the 11th century, though there is reference to a fortress being there since 600 AD. I told you it was old!  The Castle sits atop a massive extinct volcano marking the very heart of the city and serving as a handy visual reference if you find yourself a little lost. History surrounds you no matter where you go in the form of amazing buildings, architecture and streets, the atmosphere is tangible.

Cosmopolitan

Edinburgh has embraced its past whilst becoming a modern, cosmopolitan city with world class restaurants, hotels, shops, attractions and service to please even the most discerning traveller.

Shopping

So many shops so little time. International designer names sit side-by-side with one off boutiques. Remarkable vintage shops, quirky emporiums of antique, designer, costume and wholesale jewellers. Edinburgh's shops are plentiful and concentrated in an area that means you can literally shop 'til you drop. Here's my shopping guide to help  Shopping in Edinburgh

Fun

If you like talking, drinking, eating and laughing then this is a city you will love. With three universities and six colleges, younger visitors are brilliantly catered for and with fifty being the new twenty - whether it's clubbing, live music, late bars, outdoor activities or the arts - you will be spoilt for choice. Have a look here Edinburgh nightlife

Families

There are loads of things that are great for the whole family. Attractions to inspire and delight,  beaches, festivals, parks and theatres as well as a  great choice of family friendly places to eat and drink. Whether you are travelling with teenagers or toddlers you will never be stuck for something to do. Here's a list of my top Attractions so you start deciding what to do. Edinburgh attractions

Food Glorious Food

If you are a foodie you may never leave Edinburgh. To date there are five Michelin starred restaurants in the city and hundreds of other wonderful places to eat and drink. No matter what your budget you will be seriously spoilt for choice. Details of which you can see here Edinburgh cafés and restaurants

Art & Culture Daaahling!

There are five remarkable buildings in central Edinburgh dedicated to the past, present and future of Scotland's rich artistic heritage and they are free to get into. If you click on www.nationalgalleries.org.uk you can find detailed information on what's on when and where. There are endless privately owned galleries and art spaces for collectors to browse and explore including my shoppers guide to art, antiques & auctions Shopping in Edinburgh

Performing Arts

The Edinburgh Festival & Fringe (www.eiff.co.uk) held in August every year is well known throughout the world. Happily for the other eleven months Edinburgh's theatre, comedy and music scene also thrives. The Traverse (www.traverse.co.uk), The Lyceum (www.lyceum.org.uk), The Kings Theatre, The Festival Theatre (they share the website www.eft.co.uk) and The Playhouse (www.edinburghplayhouse.org.uk), The Usher Hall (www.usherhall.co.uk), The Corn Exchange and endless smaller venues offer a wide range of productions and performers from the well established to the next big thing. The Stand (www.thestand.co.uk) on York Place offers year long  stand-up comedy. Have a look here for some specific ideas of how to spend your evenings in Edinburgh Nightlife in Edinburgh: traditional bars, music and dancing

Green open spaces and fresh air

Edinburgh has an amazing number of expansive green areas. Princes Street gardens slap bang in the centre below the castle is our Central Park. Calton Hill overlooks the city and is a tranquil place to wander as is Arthur's Seat an extinct Volcano, which dramatically lurches up South of the Royal Mile and offers the best option for a panoramic view of the city and countryside beyond. Holyrood Park next to Holyrood Palace (www.royalcollection.org.uk) is another expanse of green from where you can sit and enjoy some lovely views.The Water of Leith is a 13 mile long pathway that cuts through the city offering a lovely way to walk from a to b (www.waterofleith.org.uk/walkway). The Meadows are situated in the university area and a favourite place for a game of football, sunbathing or a run and they have an annual festival every summer. And last but not least, no more than thirty minutes from the centre of the city you can be on a deserted beach and feel like you are 100 miles from anywhere.

The people

As you would expect from any city of this size there is a diverse and multi-cultural population and what a friendly bunch they are (she said modestly). Some of the well kent (local expression for well known) faces that hail from Edinburgh include in my eyes the best 007 James Bond ever, Sir Sean Connery, ex Prime Minister Tony Blair,  Alexander Graeme Bell - inventor of the telephone, Shirley Manson of Garbage. A rich literary vein runs through Edinburgh too as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Walter Scott, Muriel Spark and  Robert Louis Stevenson all came from the city. In more recent years we lay claim to JK Rowling who wrote Harry Potter sitting in a cafe in the city, Ian Rankin, creator of Rebus, Alexander McCall Smith and Irvine Welsh. Some still live here, others pop in occasionally and others have left this mortal coil but suffice to say for a city the size of Edinburgh it punches well above its weight.

Now what are you waiting for...get booking!

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expert rated...

Edinburgh Hotels

Price fromRating (out of 5)
1. The Balmoral Hotel
£114
5.0
2. Prestonfield
£150
4.9
3. The Glasshouse Edinburgh
£74
4.9
4. Hotel Missoni
£115
4.8
5. Tigerlily
£119
4.7
See all expert-rated Hotels in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Restaurants

Price guideRating (out of 5)
1. Restaurant Martin Wishart
Expensive
5.0
2. Ondine
Mid-range
4.8
3. The Kitchin
Expensive
4.8
4. The Plumed Horse
Mid-range
4.8
5. La Garrigue
Mid-range
4.7
See all expert-rated Restaurants in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Things to do

Price guideRating (out of 5)
1. Edinburgh Castle
Mid-range
5.0
2. Camera Obscura
Mid-range
5.0
3. Edinburgh Zoo
Mid-range
5.0
4. The Real Mary King's Close
Mid-range
5.0
5. National Museum of Scotland
Free
4.9
See all expert-rated Things to do in Edinburgh