Welcome to the Athens of the North
Which other British city can deliver up two extinct volcanoes, one garnished with a dramatic castle atop it, and two distinct, highly photogenic UNESCO-rated districts? Add into the mix the world’s largest arts festival and a surfeit of beautiful green spaces and you have yourself a world-beating destination. Little wonder then that Auld Reekie is still regarded as the Athens of the North.
Start off by meandering your way down the slightly over a mile-long Royal Mile (it’s based on the longer Scots mile measurement) stopping off for a snifter in the Jinglin’ Geordie on Fleshmarket Close. Call in at the Witches Well, which memorialises the many women put to death on suspicion of witchcraft, witness mindboggling optical illusions at the Camera Obscura and get a slice of medieval subterranean life at the Real Mary King’s Close. Take in the view from the Athenian acropolis of Calton Hill, one of many imposing monuments in the city.
Head down through the maze of elegant architecture that is the New Town towards villagey Stockbridge where homely bistros, cosy pubs and indie boutiques await. Or else make your way to the 70-acre Royal Botanic Garden to take in the splendour of two vast Victorian glasshouses and around 800 varieties of rhododendron. Wander along the banks of the Water of Leith ‘til you reach Dean Village, a ridiculously scenic area that’s home to two of Edinburgh’s best galleries set amid a stunning sculpture park, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Modern Two, the latter with its neon banner reassuring you that ‘Everything’s Going to be Alright’. Stroll across Bruntsfield Links where people have been playing golf since the 15th Century and indulge yourself with coffee and cake in one of the many cafes here.
One perhaps does not tend to think of Edinburgh as a typical seaside destination, but the coastal suburbs of Joppa, Musselburgh and Portobello all have their own charms. Elsewhere the studenty Newington, chic Marchmont and genteel Morningside are all worth exploring once you’ve exhausted the city centre. Book your flights to Edinburgh today and start exploring.