The best of Scotland’s wonderful capital city
The highlights of Edinburgh blog
As the capital of Scotland Edinburgh has it all. A magnificent city centre setting complete with castle background, historical and cultural highlights in abundance, a vibrant nightlife and an international and cosmopolitan buzz throughout the year.
The best place to start is with Edinburgh Castle. Built on an extinct volcano it hovers powerfully over the city centre and is a great day out for all the family. The original fortress was built in the 6th Century and highlights include the Stone of Destiny upon which Scottish kings were enthroned, the fortress prisons and the National War Museum that looks back over Scotland’s long list of military conflicts over the centuries. Check out my full story of Edinburgh Castle here.
August brings The Festival and the city is buzzing with just about every type of entertainment imaginable. The Royal Mile in the heart of town is always packed with tourists and street entertainers alike. The famous Military Tattoo is not-to-be-missed. The atmosphere at this time of year is hard to match anywhere as the city population pretty much doubles for the duration of the month. And let’s not even get started on Hogmanay….
Staying in the city centre, shopping opportunities abound in Princes Street. Then there’s the Grassmarket that’s always a lively place to get some food and drink. The Scott Monument is a powerful tribute to one of Scotland’s most famous sons and the National Museum of Scotland is a wonderful education in the history of Scotland and its evolution over time.
To the east of the Royal Mile, the Scottish Parliament building and Holyroodhouse represent the political centre for Scotland. Decisions have been made here at Scottish level since 1997 after the decision to devolve certain political powers from Westminister in London. Tours of the Parliament are available and give a good insight into the nature of Scottish politics….and the rather controversial cost of the building itself!
Edinburgh International Airport is around 20 minutes from town and there are two train stations, Waverly and Haymarket. They provide good links to most of the rest of the country. There is no Subway but a large bus network exists as does a new tramline running from the city centre to the airport.
Escaping the centre, a walk up Arthur’s Seat is an excellent opportunity to view the city from above. On Calton Hill you can find a slightly bizarre partially-completed Parthenon that was intended as a tribute to those killed in the Napoleonic Wars. In a bit of a faus-pas it was never fully completed due to a lack of funds! A little further afield still you can find the Forth Bridges, road and rail. The latter in particular is a spectacular feat of engineering and the best vantage point is the town of South Queensferry.
If you are travelling to Edinburgh you can find more info in my city guide here.