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Edinburgh travel guide: things to see and do, best hotels, best restaurants, whiskey

Edinburgh Castle, Old Town and Royal Mile

A good place to start a weekend in Edinburgh is to explore the historic Old Town. Here you’ll find some of the city’s top attractions, including Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile. A “maze of cobbled streets and dimly lit fences”, Edinburgh’s Old Town has seen centuries of history, Helen Arnold told Culture Trip. Auld Reekie Tours organize tours of Greyfriars Cemetery, haunted underground vaults and the ‘hidden secrets’ of the Royal Mile.

Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park

Situated in Holyrood Park, a short walk from the city, Arthur’s Seat is one of Edinburgh’s most iconic landmarks. Situated 251m above sea level, this ancient volcano offers 360 degree views of the city and the Lothians. Climbing to the top is “hard work”, says VisitScotland.com. A ‘best tip’ is to pack a picnic and enjoy it from Edinburgh’s best ‘seat’.

Museums, culture and art

Edinburgh’s New Town is the “arts hub of the capital”, Alexa Smith told Culture Trip. Here you will find the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

In 2004 Edinburgh was named the world’s first Unesco City of Literature. It is the birthplace and home of world famous writers, poets and playwrights, including Arthur Conan Doyle (sherlock holmes), Ian Rankin (Inspector Rebus), Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting) and Val McDermid (Kate Brannigan). Edinburgh has over 50 bookshops and the National Library of Scotland is home to over 24 million printed items. Book lovers should also visit the Scottish Poetry Library and the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

The National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street is one of the city’s top indoor attractions. Free admission, it houses more than 20,000 unique artifacts.

Parties and events

Edinburgh is one of the great festival cities in the world with major events taking place throughout the year. Must-see events include the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Science Festival, Film Festival, International Book Festival, Jazz & Blues Festival, International Festival and Fringe.

Edinburgh Hogmanay

Another major annual attraction that has put Edinburgh on the world map is Hogmanay, Scotland’s New Year celebrations. One of the most famous events in the world, it attracts thousands of revelers to the streets of Scotland’s capital. Visitors can enjoy the iconic torchlight procession, street parties, fireworks from Edinburgh Castle and the traditional singing of Auld Lang Syne.