Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

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07 Sep Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh is to London as poetry is to prose, as Charlotte Brontë once wrote. One of the world’s stateliest cities of extraordinary variety, Edinburgh was built on seven hills, making it a striking backdrop for the ancient pageant of history. The magnificent Edinburgh Castle watches over the capital city, frowning down on Princes Street’s glamour and glitz. The city’s famous festivals, elegant museums, and the tenements and vennets that wind through the streets are evident of its reputation as one of the most compelling cities in the world.

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Getting Around Edinburgh

The best way to get around Edinburgh is by foot. This hilly city may have you a little out of breath at certain points, but Edinburgh is intimately sized enough that walking makes the most sense and allows you to get the most out of it!

Buses

Next to walking, the bus is the next best way to journey around Edinburgh. A single journey costs £1.60, but if you’re planning to use the bus frequently, it makes more sense to buy a DAYticket, which costs £4 for adults and £2 for children. Likewise, if you’re planning to be in Edinburgh for more than a few days, purchase a one-week Ridacard pass (£18 or about $26).

Tickets can be purchased on the bus, at Travelshops or online.

Tram

Edinburgh’s tram system is another great way to get around. At present, it only has one line that stretches from the Edinburgh Airport in western Edinburgh to York Place in the city’s center. The tram stops at points of interest throughout the city, including Princes Street, Murrayfield Stadium (if you fancy watching a game of rugby) and St. Andrews Square right near Edinburgh Waverly station.

Tickets are available at every tram station, and must be held onto throughout the ride, as random ticket checks can happen.

Tickets for adult single City Zone travel, which includes all stops except Edinburgh Airport are £1.60; tickets for children cost £0.80. Single tickets for Airport Zone tickets (all stops) are £5.50 for adults and £3 for children. DAYtickets are £4 for adults and £2 for children between the age of 5 and 15 years old.

Taxis

Taxis are available and can be hailed on the street or at popular attractions throughout the city. But visitors should know that these get to be a bit pricey; taking the bus or tram is more economical.

Fares depend on the day of the week and time of day. Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., fares start at £2.1. At night, fares increase, starting at £3.10 pounds.

Cars 

Many of Edinburgh’s streets are one-way, some are pedestrian-only, and if you’re in Old Town, you’ll be terrorized by compact, winding roads. If you must drive, you can find a number of rental agencies at the Edinburgh Airport or scattered around town. The drivers side is on the left. You do not need an international driver’s license.

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When to Go

Edinburgh is most beautiful as well as crowded in August, while Christmas and New Year (Hogsmanay) celebrations will be almost as crowded with festive markets, carnivals, activities and parties if that’s what you are interested in experiencing!

Information and tickets are available at edinburghschristmas.org.uk and edinburghshogmanay.org.

Even though August is when the Festival frenzy begins, walking the beautifully lit cobblestone paved streets of a city as rustic and gorgeous as Edinburgh is a never ending twilight of amazement during the summer.

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What to Do

Take part in the Festivals

The summer season of festivals starts in June with the International Film Festival (June 15-26), followed by the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival (July 15-24). But August is the month when it really all kicks off, with the Edinburgh Art Festival (July 28 to August 28), Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe (August 5-29), Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (August 5-27), Edinburgh International Book Festival (August 13-29) and the Edinburgh Mela (August 27-28).

The Edinburgh Festivals website (edinburghfestivals.co.uk) is a good starting point for information about all the Edinburgh festivals. If you are having trouble deciding what to see, sign up for The List Festival Newsletter for news, ticket offers and reviews (edinburghfestival.list.co.uk)

You will want to book well in advance to be certain of getting your choice of accommodation, restaurant reservations and tickets to the more popular events.

PHOTOGRAPH FREE TO USE FOR FIRST USE. Edinburgh street artists perform in Edinburgh on the last weekend of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2009. This year saw a record number of acts perform representing the best dance, theatre and comedy.

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Edinburgh Castle

Hoisted high atop Edinburgh, almost as if it’s monitoring its city below, Edinburgh Castle is not only one of Scotland’s most recognized landmarks, but one of the country’s most-visited attractions. Not only has the castle housed various royals throughout history, but also once housed military prisoners and was the site of a back-and-forth capture with the English. Inside its stone walls (which survived a World War I bombing), some of the attractions available for visitors to view are the Honours (or crown jewels) of Scotland, St. Margaret’s Chapel (Edinburgh’s oldest building), Mons Meg (considered one of the greatest guns in medieval Europe), the National War Museum, The Great Hall and the vaults that once held prisoners of war (located under the Great Hall).

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Admission Fee: £16.50 (Adults), £9.90 (Children)

Opening hours:

April – September: 9.30am – 6pm

October – March: 9.30am – 5pm

Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, United Kingdom

Directions: Tram to Waverley

Express Bus Airlink 100 from Airport to Waverley Bridge

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National Museum of Scotland

The museum houses a whopping 20,000 historical artifacts spread out through its numerous, diverse galleries. Here, visitors will find exhibits dedicated to art and design, the natural world (which features a giant T. rex skeleton), history, archaeology and world cultures. And don’t leave without visiting the Dolly the sheep display (named after Dolly Parton), the first mammal to ever be cloned from an adult cell.

Admission Fee: Free (Special exhibits may have an additonal fee)

Opening hours: 10am – 5pm Daily

Address: Chambers St, Edinburgh EH1 1JF, United Kingdom

Directions: Tram to Waverley

Nearest bus stops: George IV Bridge or South Bridge (lines 24, 35, 41, X54 and X61). Nearest train station: Edinburgh Waverley (Chambers Street is also nearby).

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Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat, located in the verdant Holyrood Park, affords one of the best views of the city. Standing 800 feet above sea level, Arthur’s Seat is the highest point in the park, providing panoramic views of the sea and nearby sites, including attractions like Edinburgh Castle and the Scott Monument. If you’re wondering how Arthur’s Seat got its name, chances are you may never get a clear answer. Legend has it that it was the site for Camelot while others claim William Maitland, a Scottish politician, believed the name was derived from Ard-na-Said, a Gallic phrase meaning “height of narrows.” The attraction was also a former volcano!

Admission Fee: Free

Address: Holyrood Park

Directions: Holyrood Park is a short 10 min walk from Edinburgh’s Royal Mile in the heart of the city

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Calton Hill

One of the most popular vantage points for photo ops (and included in the city’s UNESCO World Heritage site distinction), Calton Hill affords a majestic panorama of the city below – so don’t forget to bring your camera, or make sure your phone is charged. Located east of New Town, Calton Hill is one of the country’s first public parks, founded in 1724. Today, the hill supports several iconic buildings and monuments, so much so that it has been nicknamed the Athens of the North.

Admission Fee: Free

Address: Calton Hlil, EH7 5AA

Directions: Train to Waverley Station, buses alight here at east end of Princes Street. Traveline Scotland

More information on the terrain/hiking trail/monuments here: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/lothian/calton-hill.shtml

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Greyfriar’s Bobby

Directly across the road from the National Museum, you’ll find a small statue commemorating one of Edinburgh’s best loved residents – a little Skye terrier known as Greyfriars Bobby. Made famous by numerous books and a Disney film, Bobby faithfully guarded over his owners grave in the nearby Greyfriars Kirkyard for fourteen years.

Admission Fee: Free

Address: 30-34 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QE, United Kingdom

Directions: Tram to Waverley

Nearest bus stops: George IV Bridge or South Bridge (lines 24, 35, 41, X54 and X61). Nearest train station: Edinburgh Waverley (Chambers Street is also nearby).

The Stand

Try and get tickets for one of the country’s most iconic comedy clubs – The Stand. All the top jokers on the circuit have stood behind the microphone here, and with shows every night of the week, you could be chuckling away to comedy legends or catching the next big thing.

Address: 5 York Pl, Edinburgh EH1 3EB, United Kingdom

Opening hours: 10am – 12am Daily

Directions: Bus 11, 16, 26, 44 to York Place Stop

 

Scottish Cuisine 

  1. Haggis

Scotland’s national dish, haggis, is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, minced with onion, oatmeal, spices and salt. Traditionally encased in the sheep’s stomach, although nowadays most haggis is prepared in a sausage casing. It is traditionally served with neeps and tatties (turnip and potato), particularly when served as part of a Burns Supper. However, haggis is also enjoyed all year round with other traditional accompaniments such as black pudding.

Food Network's Haggis

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Scotland is famous for naturally healthy oat-based products such as porridge and oatcakes – the latter being first produced as far back as the 14th century when Scottish soldiers would carry a sack of oatmeal which they would moisten and heat on a metal plate over a fire when they were hungry. Today, they are commonly enjoyed as an accompaniment to soups, or after dinner with cheese and chutney.

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Whisky

It’s beyond dispute that whisky is one of Scotland’s most famous exports. Sold in around 200 markets worldwide, whisky accounts for 80% of Scotland’s food and drink export market. Our range of whiskies from 109 distilleries across Scotland is beyond compare.

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Where to Eat 

  1. Martin Wishart

In 2001 this restaurant became the first in Edinburgh to win a Michelin star, and has retained it ever since. The eponymous chef has worked with Albert Roux, Marco Pierre White and Nick Nairn, and brings a modern French approach to the best Scottish produce, from langoustines with kohlrabi, vanilla and passionfruit, to a six-course vegetarian tasting menu.

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Price: $$

Opening Hours:

Tues – Fri: 12pm – 2pm, 7pm – 10pm

Sat: 12pm – 1.30pm, 7pm – 10pm

Address: 54 The Shore, Edinburgh

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Ondine

Ondine is one of Edinburgh’s finest seafood restaurants, with a menu based on sustainably sourced fish. Take a seat at the curved Oyster Bar and tuck into oysters Kilpatrick, smoked haddock chowder, lobster thermidor, a roast shellfish platter or just good old haddock and chips (with minted pea purée, just to keep things posh).

Price: $

Opening hours:

Mon- Sat: 12pm – 3pm, 5.30pm – 10pm

Address: 2 George IV Bridge

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The Witchery by the Castle

Set in a merchant’s town house dating from 1595, the Witchery is a candlelit corner of antique splendour with oak-panelled walls, low ceilings, opulent wall hangings and red leather upholstery; stairs lead down to a second, even more romantic, dining room called the Secret Garden. The menu ranges from oysters to Aberdeen Angus steak and the wine list runs to almost 1000 bins.

Price: $

Opening hours: 12pm-11.30pm Everyday

Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh

Where to Stay

 

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Old Town Chambers

$$

3 Roxburgh’s Court, 323 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1LW, United Kingdom

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Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa

$$$

1 Festival Square, Edinburgh EH3 9SR, United Kingdom

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