Explore Edinburgh’s rich and varied history and soak up the culture on a weekend break. Visit the dramatic castle sitting high above the city. Or go shopping on Princes Street before dining out in Edinburgh’s world-famous restaurants.
Visit during the exciting summer period, when festival time takes over in August. See a show or two and absorb the inimitable atmosphere – whether its comedy or drama, they’ll be something for you. Or if you arrive in winter, walk up to Arthur’s Seat in the crisp, clear air and then warm up in a pub with an open fire. Don’t miss the brilliant museums and galleries, like the beautifully gothic Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Stay at one of our carefully selected hotels in Edinburgh, we have something to suit all budgets.
Add car hire to your Edinburgh holiday
Get the most out of your Edinburgh holiday and book a fly-drive package with British Airways. Our flight + car hire packages include all of the mandatory charges that you'll need to drive away and explore at your leisure. With British Airways car hire, you also have the added reassurance of 24-hour customer support and roadside assistance should you need it.
The highlight of any visit – Edinburgh Castle dominates the city, set high atop the volcanic Castle Rock. Immerse yourself in its history and traditions but don’t be frightened by the one o’clock gun salute fired daily (except Sunday) since 1861. Don’t miss the Stone of Destiny, Crown Jewels or Prisons beneath the Great Hall. I love to take a pot of tea here in the Tea Rooms, along with dainty sandwiches and homemade scones. Move on down the Royal Mile from here, past traditional tartan souvenir shops, to the Scottish Parliament building and the Palace of Holyroodhouse – the official residence of the Queen when she's in Scotland. Book a Royal Edinburgh tour to see more.
Also on the Royal Mile, and great fun, is the Scotch Whisky Experience. All tours start with a swirling, bubbling barrel ride through a replica distillery and before you know it you've become part of the whisky making process. You’ll see the world’s largest whisky collection and of course have time to sample a ‘wee dram’. Guaranteed you’ll leave happier than when you went in.
There’s always time for some retail therapy – soak up the atmosphere along Princes Street first and then use your bus ticket to take a 25-minute ride out to Leith Waterfront and the Ocean Point Shopping Centre. Moored alongside is the Royal Yacht Britannia, where an audio tour provides a glimpse into the private lives of the Royal family. Pose for a photo wearing a Royal Navy cap in the Petty Officers bar, the ‘Verge Inn’. Take afternoon tea on board, in the Royal Deck Tea room, what a lovely treat.
Board the bus back to the city and get off at either Calton Hill, easily identified by the Athenian acropolis, or Arthur's Seat – an extinct volcano. Both vantage points offer spectacular views of the city and surrounding Forth river estuary and sea beyond. A perfect spot to catch a sunset too.
Edinburgh has a dark and violent history – 100s of so-called witches were burnt or hanged in the city. Take the Ghost Bus Tour around the old town streets on an original 1960s Routemaster Bus, where a team of actors will try their best to give you the chills. Great fun, but be warned – a bit scary. At the end of this fascinating day it’s time for warming food and drink in the Witchery Restaurant, in the shadow of the Castle – I loved it. Or for something more relaxed try one of the many atmospheric old pubs. Just ask Adam the way.
A walk up the Royal Mile is the perfect introduction to Edinburgh. Starting at the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, follow the cobbles and you’ll come across some of the city’s most famous attractions. These include the Scotch Whisky Experience, St Giles’ Cathedral, the ultramodern Scottish Parliament and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. You can even venture inside the Queen’s official residence in Scotland, before hiking up the hill to Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park.
Perched atop an extinct volcano at the peak of the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle is the city’s most popular tourist attraction. It became Scotland's chief royal castle in the Middle Ages and is now home to the Scottish Crown Jewels – the Honours of Scotland. You can also visit the Stone of Destiny, Mons Meg – the famous 15th century gun – and the National War Museum. Don’t miss the traditional one o’clock gun, which fires every day except Sunday.
With plenty of enlightening hotspots over the city, Edinburgh is ideal for culture vultures. Kids will love the National Museum of Scotland – from meteorites to mummies and monsters of the deep. The neo-gothic National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street offers Scottish history in a different way, with expressive ‘selfies’ spanning the ages. And the two site Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is a must for fans of contemporary art, starting with the neon ‘Everything’s Going to be Alright’ banner juxtaposing the Modern Two’s classic façade.
There is the best of all worlds when it comes to dining in Edinburgh – from fantastic fish and chip shops to Michelin-starred bistros. You must try the national dish – haggis served with neeps and tatties (mashed swede and potatoes) – at the famous Last Drop pub. The weekly Farmers Market on Castle Terrace is a great place to sample local produce and get a glimpse of Edinburgh life. But those looking for gourmet should dining head to The Balmoral, whose restaurant has held its star for ten years consecutively.
Nightlife takes many forms in Edinburgh, from sipping whisky in a quaint pub to going through the menu at a stylish cocktail bar in the New Town. Have a drink in the Half Way House, Edinburgh’s smallest (and best) pub, or try over 300 single malts at WHISKI Bar. Go and see a live band at one of the city’s innumerable venues - in festival season, there is so much to see that you’ll need a drink just to decide.
The mighty Edinburgh Castle is also home to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo – one of Scotland’s most iconic events. Each August, hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world flock to Edinburgh for a spectacular showcase of the world’s best military bands, pipers and drummers, dancers and theatre groups. Each 90-minute show ends with a performance of the haunting Lone Piper and a dazzling fireworks display, making it an unforgettable experience.
Anyone in the world of theatre and comedy would be mad to miss the world’s largest arts festival. The streets of Edinburgh come alive with buskers, street theatre and live entertainment filling every cobblestone. Theatres bulge with keen audiences watching in rapture at the new shows on offer. The International Festival is acclaimed for bringing opera, classical music and world-class theatre. While the Fringe is famous for off-the-wall comedy and offbeat drama. Both offer astonishing talent giving stellar performances.