Edinburgh’s bustling city centre ranks as one of the most handsome in Europe and combines rich cultural heritage with stunning new developments. The elegant Georgian streets are set against the dramatic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle and the medieval turrets and spires of the Old Town.
Princes Street is a match for any city’s main shopping thoroughfare and there are few cities which can claim such a dramatic view of an ancient fortress perched atop a giant volcanic rock and surrounded by a peaceful oasis of gardens stretching the length of the main street.
Edinburgh's New Town was first designed in 1767, and is the largest complete example of town planning from the Georgian period anywhere in the world. Its mixture of classical architecture, grand squares and terraces, gardens and secluded lanes, means that a walk through its streets is a journey back in time to an age of elegance.
Designed by architect James Craig to ease overcrowding at that time in the Old Town, the layout comprises a grid pattern of three parallel main streets (Princes Street, George Street and Queen Street) with a square at each end (St Andrew Square and Charlotte Square). The area is part of Edinburgh’s World Heritage site.
Much of the recognition and love for Edinburgh is in its plethora of iconic buildings. Dominating the city centre is the Scott Monument, a Victorian gothic marvel at Princes Street Gardens East, an epic monument to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. Climb the 287 steps to theuppermost viewing platform for a bird’s eye view!
Explore the collections or visit the latest exhibition at one of the city’s many museums. The National Museum of Scotland in Chamber Street boasts no less than 36 galleries. Marvel at the stunning Victorian Grand Gallery and explore the Natural World with its resident Tyrannosaurus Rex. Interactive exhibits and childrens galleries will entertain both adults and children.
A peaceful courtyard with carved paving stones celebrating writers from the 14th century to the present day can be found in Makars Court near the top of the Royal Mile. Home to the Writers Museum, it contains portraits and the works of some of Scotland’s great writers including Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson.
The Museum of Childhood takes us back in time. See if you can spot some old favourites which may have been in around when you were a child.
The People’s Story at Canongate tells us about the daily lives of ordinary residents. Dating back to the 18th century, find out how life has evolved to the present day.
George Street is a paradise for designer fans and at the east end leads to Multrees Walk which provides some of the sleekest retail outlets including Harvey Nichols and Louis Vuitton and access to the St James Centre, with the flagship John Lewis Edinburgh.
The famous Jenners department store, at the east end of Princes Street has maintained its prominent position since 1838 when it was founded by Charles Jenner and Charles Kennington.
Thistle Street offers some stylish boutiques for those looking for a more independent experience - hunt down Scandi-chic boutique or Kakao By K full of ‘super-feminine’ clothes, jewellery and accessories, while ALC has a range of clothing but lays its claim as the first Edinburgh store to specialise in women’s denim.
Fans of music, film, TV box sets and posters should head straight for Fopp on Rose Street. Bonkers on Hanover Street, serves up fun by the cartload with their loveable Jellycats, natty iPod ear buds and owl cushions (we recommend the ‘Hamish’).
Late shopping night is Thursday and also during the Christmas period with most shops open Sunday year-round.
The Dome is a popular and busy dining choice with a traditionally Scottish menu, housed in a grand former bank buildingon George Street.
Contini Ristorante serves Italian food with style in classy Georgian surroundings; New Town Indian restaurant, The Spice Pavilion, provides a warm welcome and sophisticated dining experience; the award-winning AA Rosette Calistoga specialises in American meals with fabulous wines; Restaurant Mark Greenaway‘s stylish interior is matched by contemporary food and there’s the smart but affordable dining and drinking experience at Bon Vivant and the trendy 99 Hanover Street.
Down in the New Town, what public houses there are fall into the best categories - the local sort, such as the bustling cubby hole, the Star Bar. For afternoon tea options indulge yourself at Palm Court at The Balmoral Hotel
St Andrew Square Garden is a popular picnic lunch spot for office workers during the Summer months. The square hosts regular events throughout the year including Spa in the City, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Edinburgh’s Christmas.
The stunning 18th century Assembly Rooms on George Street has long known how to put on popular events, and is a popular venue for wine fairs, craft fairs and music events.
A city with great literary roots, Scotland’s capital city has served as home to many famous writers. In addition to Sir Walter Scott, other renowned authors include Robert Louis Stevenson whose tales of Treasure Island, Kidnapped and the Strange Case Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde have enthralled readers for over 100 years. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle brought the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson to the imaginations of readers and audiences with its scripts and subsequent filming in modern times of their exciting adventures. More recently Alexander McCall Smith and Ian Rankin have thrilled readers with their detective novels and JK Rowling is global phenomenon thanks to the bravery and heroic acts of a young wizard and his friends in the celebrated Harry Potter books.
Sir Sean Connery, Ronnie Corbett and Rory Bremner are much loved and popular actors and comedians from Scotland’s capital city.
Notorious residents include Deacon Brodie who in the mid 1700s was a respected cabinet maker and Edinburgh City Councillor by day, but by night a light fingered burglar robbing the homes of his wealthy clients. Burke and Hare were thieving grave robbers and murderers who in the early 18th century sold their victims corpses to Doctor Robert Knox who used dissected the bodies at his anatomy lectures in the capital.
A much loved Edinburgh resident is the faithful skye terrier, Greyfriars Bobby, who loyally watched over his masters grave for 14 years following his death in the 1800s. A commemorative statue serves as a heartwarming tribute to this very loyal friend and visitors can view it outside Greyfriars Kirk on George IV Bridge.
Come and see Edinburgh for yourself
Why not come and visit Scotland’s capital city for yourself, retrace its history and explore its cobbled streets, hidden alleyways and bustling walkways. Whether it’s for a quick weekend break or a more leisurely stay, there is plenty to see and do.
This is Edinburgh: Visit Edinburgh, in the heart of Scotland, the perfect visitor destination for a weekend break.