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Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh (Gaelic: Dùn Èideann) is the capital of Scotland located in the Central Belt region of the country. With a population of approximately 450,000 (1 million in the city region), "Auld Reekie" (Edinburgh) manages to combine both ancient and modern in a uniquely Scottish atmosphere. Watched over by the imposing Edinburgh Castle, the symbol of the city, Edinburgh combines medieval relics, Georgian grandeur and a powerful layer of modern life with contemporary avant-garde. In Edinburgh, medieval palaces, evident throughout the New Town which is painted with Gothic churches and fascinating historical buildings, rub shoulders with the best of modern architecture, such as the Houses of Scottish Parliament, found in Hollyrood, and the recently renovated National Museum of Scotland. Scotland's throbbing... Read more

Edinburgh, Scotland


Edinburgh (Gaelic: Dùn Èideann) is the capital of Scotland located in the Central Belt region of the country. With a population of approximately 450,000 (1 million in the city region), "Auld Reekie" (Edinburgh) manages to combine both ancient and modern in a uniquely Scottish atmosphere. Watched over by the imposing Edinburgh Castle, the symbol of the city, Edinburgh combines medieval relics, Georgian grandeur and a powerful layer of modern life with contemporary avant-garde. In Edinburgh, medieval palaces, evident throughout the New Town which is painted with Gothic churches and fascinating historical buildings, rub shoulders with the best of modern architecture, such as the Houses of Scottish Parliament, found in Hollyrood, and the recently renovated National Museum of Scotland. Scotland's throbbing night-life center, Edinburgh, "the Athens of the North," is also a feast for the mind and the senses, playing host to great restaurants, shops, friendly pubs, wild and mild clubs, and an unrivaled programme of city festivals throughout the year. Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year, kicks off the festivities, which culminate in the high summer with the Tattoo, the International and the famous 'Fringe' festival, among many others.
The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh were listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1995. In 2004, Edinburgh became the first member of the UNESCO Creative Cities initiative when it was designated a City of Literature.
In a 2009 poll by YouGov, Edinburgh was voted the most desirable city to live in the UK.

Edinburgh is on the east coast of Scotland's central Lowlands, situated on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth. Edinburgh's landscape is the product of ancient volcanism (both the Castle crag and

Arthur's Seat

are the eroded plugs of volcanoes) and more recent glaciation (carving out valleys south of the castle and the old Nor'Loch, presently the site of the Princes Street Gardens). Impress the locals by knowing that Princes Street is the correct spelling (dedicated plurally and not possessively for King George III's sons - hence the absence of an apostrophe). Don't make the mistake of pronouncing it Princess Street - though many of the locals won't know the difference! And watch out for these two commonly mispronounced streets as well: Cockburn (coe-burn) and Buccleuch (buh-clue) are nearly always gotten wrong, to the amusement of the locals.
Edinburgh's historic center is bisected by Princes Street Gardens, a broad swathe of parkland in the heart of the city. Southwards of the gardens is the castle, perched on top of an extinct volcanic crag, and flanked by the medieval streets of the Old Town following the

Royal Mile

along the ridge to the east. To the north of Princes Street Gardens lies Princes Street itself - Edinburgh's main shopping boulevard - and the Georgian period New Town, built after 1766 on a regular grid plan.

Edinburgh has been the royal capital of Scotland since 1437.

Edinburgh is noted as a long-lived literary capital of the English-speaking world. The great Scottish historical novelist Sir Walter Scott was born in the city and has his great monument on Princes Street. Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were also natives of Edinburgh. More recently, Edinburgh has variously been the home and inspiration for such well-known modern writers as Muriel Spark (author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie), Irvine Welsh (author of the 1993 novel Trainspotting, set in the gritty district of Leith), Ian Rankin (a crime writer best known for the Inspector Rebus series, set in Edinburgh), Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Lady Detective's Agency and several novels set in the Scottish capital) and J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame.


Edinburgh's climate is most comfortable for the traveler from May to September. That said, the weather in Edinburgh is always changeable and visitors should expect both sunshine and rain, whatever the season. Edinburgh tends to get windy while it rains as well, so be sure to pack either a raincoat or a sturdy umbrella! Many a tourist has abandoned an inverted umbrella due to the persistent, whipping winds. Summer, the main festival season, combines long daylight hours with lengthy evenings (being so far north, it rarely gets dark before 10 or 11 at night!). Winter can feel bitterly cold, with short daylight hours, however snow is rare and of a short duration, and most of Edinburgh's winter precipitation comes in the form of a chilly rain and sleet. Edinburgh has an abundance of indoor attractions and activities that make the cold winter days fly by. In other words, bring a coat big lad, will ya? Do not worry about being cold in winter, because like many modern countries all buildings including the old ones are warm, dry and insulated.

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Edinburgh, Scotland: Port Information

There are four different locations where your cruise ship can dock.
  1. Newhaven. It is a tender port. Cruise ships anchor offshore and passengers are transported ashore by tender boats (it takes about 15 minutes). To get to Edinburgh, you need to take a taxi or a bus. It's only in a 10-15 minute ride. Royal Yacht Britannia is located nearby. 
  2. Leith Port is now used for small ships. It is a historic port; you can walk to the Royal Yacht Britannia; there are plenty of pubs and shops nearby.
  3. South Queensferry. It is a tender port. From a tender, you will see the famous Forth Railway Bridge. You have a lot of options on how to get to Edinburgh: a shuttle bus from your cruise company, shuttle bus from the local coach operator, taxis, train, public buses, etc. The train runs every 20 minutes, and the ride is about 15 minutes.  
  4. Rosyth Port. Now seldom used. Taxis are available (about a 35-minute ride).  

Get around Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh is a compact city - most of the sights and major tourist attractions are within the Old Town (mainly around the castle and Royal Mile) and New Town and are no further than a 15-minute walk apart. Walking along elegant or atmospheric streets is one of the pleasures of the city. There are, however, a number of hills to be navigated; for example from Princes Street, up The Mound towards

Edinburgh Castle

requires some significant legwork, but it's worth it for the views en route.
The city's public transport system is heavily reliant on buses, which have to navigate the city's sometimes bustling traffic. Despite this, they run late into the night, with a vast number of routes offering frequent and cheap transport around the city. Equally, the suburban railway network is very sparse compared to that of Glasgow, although there have been some slow and steady improvements over the years. On 31 May 2014 trams began services between the city center and the airport.

By bus

Edinburgh has two main bus companies, Lothian Buses, which is majority-owned by Edinburgh City Council, and First, a private operator. These two companies share the same bus stops, but the route numbers and tickets are not interchangeable and they operate different fare structures.
Lothian Buses is the largest operator in the city and its distinctive burgundy and cream colored buses have become as much a symbol of Edinburgh as its buildings. Many routes have different colored buses, which can help to identify at a glance which bus is approaching.
Edinburgh Coach Lines, a bus of use to many visitors as it is the only route serving the National Gallery of Modern Art and the Dean Gallery.  
Lothian buses that operate sightseeing buses in several different brandings. All have a policy that a sightseeing ticket is valid for 24 hours, so you can get around central Edinburgh quite handily using the sightseeing buses. Each sightseeing bus follows a different route around the city, but they all start and finish at Waverley Bridge, adjacent to Waverley Station on Princes Street. 

By train

A small number of suburban rail routes run from Waverley station, most of the stations lying in the south-west and south-east suburbs of the city, and are useful for reaching the outer suburbs and towns of Balerno, Currie, Wester Hailes, Wallyford, Prestonpans, Musselburgh, South Queensferry, Newcraighall and a useful link to Edinburgh Park which is adjacent to the Gyle shopping complex. Services to North Berwick, Bathgate, Fife or Glasgow Central will make stops at these various stations. Note that standard National Rail fares apply to these trains - there are no credible daily season ticket options available. Check at the station before you board!

By car

Central Edinburgh is a nightmare to drive in, particularly the Old Town with its tangle of medieval streets with their associated one way systems. The New Town fares slightly better, but the scourge "Blue Meanies" who mercilessly swoop on vehicles which may have only been illegally parked for a matter of minutes. It is best to take a bus and/or walk. Park and Ride facilities provide access to the city center.
Edinburgh operates a Controlled Parking Zone in the city center. On-street parking is mostly for residents with a parking permit. However, some Pay and Display on-street parking bays are available for anyone. To find these bays, the Edinburgh Council provides an interactive and detailed map for on-street parking bays. It lists charges for different parking areas as well as days and times when the charges are required. Typically parking tickets are free of charge after 18:30 and before 8:30, and for the entire day on Sundays.
Drivers should beware of trams.

By foot

Edinburgh is a beautiful city that's full of history. There is no better way to see it than to walk, though it should be noted that this is not for the faint-hearted as they city consists of many steep hills.

By tram

A single tram line has recently been built which links St Andrew Square in the center of Edinburgh to Edinburgh Airport on the west, passing through the New Town along Princes Street. Between Haymarket station and the airport, the tram runs on an off-road track but runs on the road between Haymarket and St Andrew Square. 

By taxi

Like most major British cities, Edinburgh offers a choice between Black Cabs, carrying up to 5 passengers, which can be hailed on the street, and minicabs, which must be pre-booked. Black cabs display an orange light above the windscreen to indicate that they are available to hire. It's usually quite easy to find a cab in and around the city center, and on the main radial routes running out of the center. There are also Taxi Ranks dotted around the city, where black cabs will line up to be hired. Taxi Rank locations include:

  • Outside the main entrances of Haymarket and Waverley train stations.
  • Opposite the Caledonian Hotel and Sheraton Hotel (both near the West End), The George Hotel (east end of George Street) and the Crowne Plaza Hotel (High Street, Royal Mile).
  • St Patrick's Square, off South Bridge
  • Leith Bridge, close to The Shore and Commercial Quay, in Leith

The main taxi firms operating within the city are:

  • Central Radio Taxis, ☎ +44 131 229-2468. Black Cabs.
  • City Cabs, ☎ +44 131 228-1211. Black Cabs.
  • Edinburgh Taxi, ☎ +44 131 610-1234. Minicabs, saloon cars, MPV's with 8 seats and chauffeur driven vehicles.
  • Festival Cars, ☎ +44 131 552-1777. Minicabs - mostly saloon cars but also have people carriers with up to 8 seats. Let them know the number in your party when you book.

By bicycle

The Edinburgh Innertube map gives a good overview of off-street cycle paths in and around the city center. Many paths are along canals or rivers, through parks, and on former railway lines.
You can rent bikes from the following places:

  • BikeTrax, 11-13 Lochrin Place, Tollcross, ☎ +44 131 228-6633. 
  • Leith Cycle Co, 276 Leith Walk, ☎ +44 131 467-7775. 
  • Pedal Forth, 17 East Cromwell St, Leith, ☎ +44 131 554-9990. 
  • Cycle Scotland, 29 Blackfriars Street, EH1 1NB, ☎ +44 131 556-5560.

Edinburgh is well connected to the National Cycle Network (NCN) and there are many routes around Edinburgh (see also OpenCycleMap) with a variety of places accessible within a days cycling - Glasgow, Stirling, Falkirk, Musselburgh, and Dunbar - all of which have train stations for the return journey. The number 1 route which goes south from Edinburgh to Melrose in the borders and then east to Berwick-upon-Tweed (and then back on the train) can be done in one weekend with a variety of accommodation available for an overnight stay in the historic border town of Melrose.

What to see in Edinburgh, Scotland

  • Edinburgh Castle, Old Town. Edinburgh Castle, home to the Edinburgh Tattoo, is a magnificently situated royal fortress located on one of the highest points in the city. The castle has been continuously in use for 1000 years and is in excellent condition. 
  • Craigmillar Castle, Little France. The ruins of Craigmillar Castle are a fantastic place to see. Located just after Holyrood Park, about 5Km east of the city center, the first part of the castle was built in the 14th century. If you're going by taxi, don't forget to keep a number of a taxi company to call one to go back to the city. 
  • Abbey and Palace of Holyroodhouse, Old Town — The Palace is a royal residence and hosts the Queen's Gallery containing a collection of art from the Royal Collection.
  • St Giles' Cathedral, Old Town — The historic City Church of Edinburgh is also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh and takes its name from the city's patron saint.
  • Mary King's Close, Old Town — Warriston's Close (opposite St Giles' Cathedral), open daily except for 25 Dec - a slice of Edinburgh's medieval history, preserved since being closed over in the 18th century - watch out for the haunting.
  • Gladstone's Land, Old Town — In the Lawnmarket at the top of the Royal Mile. It is a 17th century Old Town tenement (known as a 'Land') decorated with period furniture. It has an impressive painted ceiling.
  • Greyfriars Kirkyard, Old Town. A very old graveyard in Old Town off the Southwest corner of George IV Bridge, made famous by Disney as the home of Greyfriars Bobby.
  • Camera Obscura, Old Town — Castle Hill. Over 150 years old, the Camera Obscura focuses light from the top of the tower onto a large dish in a dark room below, allowing a 360-degree view of all of Edinburgh!
  • The Scottish Parliament, Old Town (eastern end of the Royal Mile, opposite the Palace of Holyrood House)— A unique building designed by the Spanish (Catalan) architect Enric Miralles. It is necessary to get (free) tickets to watch the Parliament in session from the Public Gallery.
  • Grassmarket area, Old Town, (a few steps away from the Royal Mile, including George IV bridge and by Greyfriar's Bobby)— A colourful and unique area of the historic old town, once the site of Edinburgh's horse and cattle market and now home to a great selection of independent shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and arts & crafts.
  • Scott Monument, East Princes Street Gardens, New Town. Built in 1846 to commemorate the life of Sir Walter Scott after his death in 1832, the Gothic spire monument allows you to climb 200 ft above the city center to enjoy fantastic views. 
  • The Royal Yacht Britannia, Ocean Terminal, Leith, Jan-Mar, Nov-Dec 10 AM-5 PM, Apr-Jun, Sep-Oct 10 AM-5:30 PM, Jul 9:30 AM-5:30 PM, Britannia offers visitors the chance to tour the royal apartments and view a selection of the many gifts offered to the royals by dignitaries worldwide.
  • Royal Botanic Garden, Inverleith Row (East Gate) / Arboretum Place (West Gate), Stockbridge. Very impressive gardens with a collection of interesting plants. Great place to wander around on a sunny day, or to sit and have a picnic. Free entry to the gardens. 
  • Edinburgh Zoo, West. Watch the world famous Penguin Parade.
  • Rosslyn Chapel, South, Take the number 37 bus to Roslin in Midlothian to see this chapel, featured in "The Da Vinci Code" novel and film.

Museum and galleries:

  • National Museum of Scotland and Royal Museum, Chambers St, Old Town tel +44 131 247 4422. fax +44 131 220 4819 email info@nms.ac.uk. The museum mixes innovative modern architecture with the best of Scotland's heritage. The Royal Museum has a magnificent airy Victorian atrium now with the Millennium Clock at one end - arrange to be there when it is chiming. Exhibits in the Museum of Scotland include Scottish pottery and weapons from the Roman era and the Renaissance. M-Sa 10 AM-5 PM with extended opening to 8 PM on Tuesdays, and Su noon-5 PM.
  • The National Gallery of Scotland, The Mound, New Town tel. +44 131 624 6200, holds much of Scotland's fine artwork and carries exhibitions that change seasonally. The new Western Link was opened in 2004 with an entrance from Princes Street Gardens. It joins The National Gallery with the neighboring Scottish Academy gallery and gives Scotland it's first world-class art space.
  • The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 74 Belford Rd on the western fringe of the New Town, +44 131 624 6200 contains a fine selection of modern art from Scotland and other countries.
  • The Fruitmarket Gallery, 45 Market St, behind the Edinburgh Waverley Rail Station, Old Town. Aims to find the most appropriate way to bring artists and audiences together. It is a not-for-profit organization and a registered charity. M-Sa 11 AM-6 PM, Su noon-5 PM. 
  • There are a number of independent galleries in the St Stephen Street area of Stockbridge.

What to do in Edinburgh, Scotland

  • Walk along the Water of Leith, a small river that meanders through Edinburgh, providing a peaceful haven from the busy city. Check out the Leith or Stockbridge and Canonmills sections of the route.
  • Hike the short climb up Calton Hill to see some of Edinburgh's most iconic monuments (The National Monument, the Nelson Monument, the Stewart Dugald Monument, and more) and for some really great views of Edinburgh, the Firth of Forth and the countryside beyond.
  • Edinburgh has an excellent theatre and concert life. Europe's largest theatre, the 3000-seat Edinburgh Playhouse (top of Leith Walk, New Town) hosts major West End shows. The Festival Theatre (Old Town) frequently hosts opera and ballet, and the Usher Hall (Lothian Road) has weekly orchestral concerts all year round with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. The Queen's Hall (South Clerk Street, (Old Town) is home to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. For a cheaper option, the excellent Bedlam Theatre (Bristo Place, Old Town) regularly puts on good student theatre and is the home to Scotland's oldest improvised comedy troupe, The Improverts.
  • Experience traditional Folk Music at one of the pubs in the Old Town or Leith which host regular sessions.
  • Wander down the colorful Victoria St and discover the Grassmarket area - explore the hub of Edinburgh's independent shops and restaurants
  • Arthur's Seat. The extinct volcano to the East of the city center offers fantastic views from its summit - and at only 251 m high the ascent isn't too strenuous. If a lighter stroll is in order, a traverse of Salisbury Crags, just below the hill, offers similar panoramas of the city.
Festival season

Edinburgh in the summer becomes "festival city" when a huge number of major national and international arts festivals are hosted by the city. Most of these occur virtually simultaneously in August (or end of July). These cater to a wide variety of interests and include:
  • Edinburgh International Festival. In August. The original that spawned all the rest. Founded in 1947 and still seen as more "high-brow" than any of its offspring. Surprisingly, tickets are often priced more reasonably than for many Fringe shows. Some events have preview performances at a much lower price. The final concert at the end of the festival takes place in the Princes Gardens and features an extensive firework show coordinated with the music. Get tickets early in advance if you want a seat. But it's also great to watch the fireworks and listen to the music for free on Princes Street.
  • Edinburgh Military Tattoo. In August. One of the iconic images of Edinburgh for millions worldwide is the yearly Tattoo, kilted pipers skirling below the battlements of Edinburgh Castle. Although tickets sell out well in advance, persevering individuals are likely to find one or two tickets still for sale due to cancellations. Just be prepared to ask, ask, and ask again! There are usually fireworks at the end of the shows which can also be seen from e.g. the Grassmarket area.
  • Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In August. As the name might suggest, this Festival developed on the "Fringe" of the main International Festival and offers more alternative performances, with an emphasis on comedy and avant-garde; it is now the largest arts festival in the world. Many shows offer cheaper preview tickets on the first two days of the festival or a 2for1 ticket special on two selected dates. There are a few sub-festivals that are part of the Fringe such as the Assembly Festival, Summerhall Festival, and CtheFestival. Part of the Fringe are also many free events (with donation if you liked the show) across the city grouped mostly under the PBH's Free Fringe or Free Festival.
  • Forest Fringe. In August. Takes place around the same time as the Fringe Festival.
  • Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival. In July.
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival. In August. Takes place in a temporary village of marquees at Charlotte Square Gardens (West End of George Street, New Town).
  • Edinburgh Art Festival. In August.
  • Edinburgh Mela. End of August. Multicultural festival held in Leith.
  • Edinburgh International Television Festival. End of August. Predominantly a "closed shop" for industry professionals only.
Christmas and Hogmanay

Edinburgh in the winter festive season is also huge with various concerts and other activities taking place starting a couple of weeks before Christmas and running up to a week into January. Princes Street Gardens play host to a Big Wheel, outdoor ice rink, and various festive markets. As in most of the rest of Scotland, Hogmanay, the New Year celebrations, are the main focus of the festive season rather than Christmas. One night before on December 30, a torchlight procession takes place with Calton Hill as a final destination where fireworks will be on display. On the night itself, whole sections of central Edinburgh are roped off and accessible only by ticket for the Hogmanay street party, which takes place across several stages and is easily the largest in Scotland. Hogmanay and Edinburgh fit together like hand and glove. On day one of the new year, you can watch or if you are brave enough, take part in the Loony Dook in South Queensferry (people taking a dip in the ice-cold River Forth).

Other annual events
  • Edinburgh International Science Festival. Takes place annually in March or April. Emphasis on "hands-on" science.
  • Beltane Fire Festival, Calton Hill, New Town. Fire Festival marking the beginning of summer (evening of April 30). The festival has its origins in the pre-Christian Celtic festival of the same name, which was held to herald the coming of spring and to celebrate the fertility of the countryside. Drums, dancing, semi-nudity, pagan ritual, home-brew and lots of fire and fireworks. Crowds of around 12,000 enjoy the ceremony and spectacle every year. For the full traditional experience stay awake until dawn and head across to Arthurs Seat to wash your face in the dew.
  • Degree Show, Edinburgh College of Art, Old Town. Around the end of May, the Edinburgh College of Art opens its doors and exhibits the works on art, design, and architecture of their students. A similar event, the Masters Degree Show, takes place in August as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival. Free.
  • Imaginate Festival. Every May/June, an international festival of children's theatre.
  • Meadows Festival. A free festival in the Meadows (South) on a weekend in early June with lots of food stalls, second-hand merchandise and live music.
  • Edinburgh International Film Festival. Now moved to June from its former slot in August, so that it no longer clashes with all the others! Centered around the Filmhouse Cinema on Lothian Road, though other cinemas take part too.
  • Samhuinn Fire Festival, Grassmarket, Old Town. Fire Festival marking the beginning of winter (evening of October 31). Procession and enacted fight between the King of Summer and Prince of Winter with great accompanying percussion. Free, donations are collected.
  • Guy Fawkes Night (Bonfire Night). Evening of November 5. Can be seen (for free) from several locations in the city.
  • St Andrew's Day. Celebrate St Andrew's Day, Scotland's national day on November 30. There are many free events on the nearest weekend in Edinburgh. Historic Scotland opens many of its sites for free (free tickets are required and can be booked online).

What to eat and drink in Edinburgh, Scotland


Edinburgh is a great city for the food lover. There is a vast selection of eateries scattered throughout every part of the city, catering for all tastes, prices, and styles - from fast-food to Michelin-starred grandeur. Just be careful around the castle and in the Grassmarket area, where many restaurants are tourist traps. Rose St, running parallel to Princes St is a pedestrian precinct that has a huge number of pubs offering a variety of pub fare food. As well as the center of Edinburgh, it is also worth checking out Leith and the West End when looking for a place to eat.
There are quite a few restaurants that have a BYOB policy which means you can bring your own wine or beer for consumption during your meal. Some charge a corkage fee per bottle. Be sure to check and ask before you start drinking.
The Scots are well known for having a penchant for fried food which has resulted in such gastronomic delights as deep fried pizza, deep fried hamburgers, deep fried Black Pudding (a type of blood sausage), deep fried haggis and deep fried Mars bars. If you're up to it, be sure to drop by a chippy (fish and chip shop) and experience these Scottish delights. Edinburgh chippys are unique in the UK for offering salt'n'sauce as standard in place of the salt'n'vinegar usually provided elsewhere in the country. The sauce is a kind of runny, vinegary version of HP or Daddys style brown sauce. Most chippys will provide vinegar on request if you prefer, but you really should try salt'n'sauce at least once!
Edinburgh Rock is a soft confectionery, made from sugar and cream of tartar with various flavorings and colors, including peppermint and ginger. It can often be seen in tourist shops in tartan boxes.


For a non-alcoholic beverage give Scotland's second national drink a try Irn-Bru. It's a great cure for hangover.
As for Scotland's first drink, you will find The Scotch Whisky Experience at the top of The Royal Mile, which offers an interactive "tour" of the history and practice of whisky distilling. For a less touristic experience simply enjoy your whisky in one of the many pubs. The closest single malt whisky distillery to Edinburgh is the Glenkinchie Distillery. The North British Distillery in Edinburgh (near Murrayfield) produces grain whisky which is all used in blending and the distillery is not open for visits.
Recently a few gin distilleries opened in and around Edinburgh producing Pickering's Gin, Edinburgh Gin or NB Gin (from North Berwick).
The two major local beer breweries are the Caledonian Brewery and Stewart Brewing. Smaller local breweries are the Eden.Mill in St Andrews and Barney's Beer.
There are lots of (traditional) pubs all around the city and many of them offer - next to all the standard choices - a changing selection of guest ales. The bartenders can usually give you detailed taste information about each guest ale and are often willing to let you try a small sample. Most pubs also have a great selection of whiskies. Try to avoid obvious tourist trap pubs around the Grassmarket, Old Town, and the Royal Mile. Some of them tend to be very popular with visiting stag and hen parties.
Lots of modern clubs are around Cowgate and Lothian Road including Base, Gig and Diva. George Street in the New Town hosts many of Edinburgh's trendier bars. George IV Bridge in the Old Town is another trendy style bar area. Other nightclubs around the city include Espionage, Opal Lounge, Shanghai, Bacaro, The Hive, and Why Not.
There are establishments to suit all tastes scattered throughout every pocket of the city. Be careful, some of the more local pubs can be a little rough around the edges, especially in Leith.

Shopping in Edinburgh, Scotland

  • Princes Street (New Town), north of the castle, is the main shopping street in Edinburgh. It runs through the middle of the city from the train station to Lothian Road. It contains large chain stores such as HMV for music, Topshop and H&M for clothes, tourist-oriented shops, and department stores.
  • There are many more upmarket shops, restaurants and bars on George Street (New Town), which runs parallel to Princes Street.
  • Cockburn Street (pronounced "co-burn") in the (Old Town) has many small alternative shops selling music, novelty toys, underground clothing, body piercings, and spiritual items.
  • The Royal Mile (Old Town), especially the higher end near the castle, has many tourist-oriented shops selling Scottish souvenirs from postcards to whisky and kilts.
  • Victoria Street (Old Town) is a nice street which is well worth a visit. You can find colorful buildings and interesting boutiques which are worth having a look at.
  • Victoria Street also leads onto the Grassmarket (Old Town), a street which gives stunning views of the castle, which dominates right over it and is also full of interesting and nice shops, as well as several pubs and restaurants. The Grassmarket is definitely well worth visiting.
  • Multrees Walk (also known as The Walk), for high-end labels such as Vidal Sasoon, Armani, Vuitton, Harvey Nichols or Calvin Klein (New Town).
  • Other malls include Princes Mall or St James Mall which are both just off Princes Street, and Ocean Terminal in Leith.
  • Take home a bottle of Scotland's finest export, a single malt whisky.
  • There are many charity shops that sell second-hand products. On Nicolson Street (Old Town) you can find quite a few.

Safety in Edinburgh, Scotland

In general, Edinburgh can be considered a safe destination for visitors, but like all other major cities, it pays to remain attentive and use some common sense.

  • Like most other cities, there are some rundown areas. For its size, Edinburgh does not have many, but there are still some suburbs that are better avoided by anyone unfamiliar with the area such as the following: Niddrie and Craigmillar in the southeast of the city, Sighthill and Wester Hailes in the west, and Muirhouse and Pilton in the north.

Police Scotland

In an emergency call 999.
For a list of police stations check the official webpage. In order to contact a local police station call 101.

  •   St Leonards Police Office, 14 St Leonards Street (East of the Meadows).

Stay healthy

In emergency, dial 999 (preferably from a landline, a free call from any phone including payphones), 112 also works.
For advice on non-emergency medical problems, you can ring the free 24-hour NHS 24 service on 111 or for textphone users 18001 111.


Language spoken in Edinburgh, Scotland

English is the main language.


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Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland
Average: 9.4 (10 votes)

The Royal Mile (Scots: Ryal Mile) is the name given to a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. The name was first used in W M Gilbert's Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century (1901), and was further popularised as the title of a guidebook, published in 1920. The thoroughfare, as...
HMY Britannia, Edinburgh, Scotland
Average: 9.6 (11 votes)

Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia is the former royal yacht of the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in service from 1954 to 1997. She was the 83rd such vessel since King Charles II acceded to the throne in 1660, and is the second royal yacht to bear the name, the first being the racing cutter built for the Prince of Wales in 1893. During her 43-...
Camera Obscura (Edinburgh), Scotland
Average: 9.2 (10 votes)

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is a major tourist attraction in the Old Town, Edinburgh, Scotland. Founded by entrepreneur Maria Theresa Short in 1835 and a key site in Patrick Geddes development of regional planning, it is located on the Castlehill section of the Royal Mile next to Edinburgh Castle.   History Short's...
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scotland
Average: 9.6 (10 votes)

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a scientific centre for the study of plants, their diversity and conservation, as well as a popular tourist attraction. Originally founded in 1670 as a physic garden to grow medicinal plants, today it occupies four sites across Scotland — Edinburgh, Dawyck, Logan and Benmore — each with its own...
Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, Scotland
Average: 9.1 (10 votes)

The Palace of Holyroodhouse (/ˈhɒlɪˌruːd/ or /ˈhoʊlɪˌruːd/), commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace, is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace has served as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots...
Craigmillar Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland
Average: 9.5 (10 votes)

Craigmillar Castle is a ruined medieval castle in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is situated 3 miles (4.8 km) south-east of the city centre, on a low hill to the south of the modern suburb of Craigmillar. The Preston family of Craigmillar, the local feudal barons, began building the castle in the late 14th century and building works continued...
Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland
Average: 9 (10 votes)

Calton Hill (/ˈkɔːltən/) (also referred to as "the Calton Hill"), is a hill in central Edinburgh, Scotland, situated beyond the east end of Princes Street and included in the city's UNESCO World Heritage Site. Views of, and from, the hill are often used in photographs and paintings of the city. Calton Hill is the headquarters of the Scottish...

Latest travel blogs about Edinburgh, Scotland

The Royal Mile. Edinburgh. Scotland. P.2.

We looked at the Castle at the very top of the Royal Mile... and went to the  Parliament Building  at its lower part.  This building was designed in a very modern style! I liked it :) And here are views around the Parliament Building... By the way,  Edinburgh...

Here is my story about  Edinburgh . I liked the city center - it is very compact and, although there are terrible "ups-downs", we learned how to navigate quickly and we rode on the bus when we knew that we had to go uphill. Public transport there is also wonderful and touchingly...
We continue walking around the beautiful city of  Edinburgh . I liked that both in Scotland and in England you can order a bench in honor of your friends or relatives... Can you see a squirrel below??? And here? There are a lot of them... And here are several pictures of the...
We visited the  National Museum of Scotland  and had a walk around  Edinburgh .  Here we are in the National Museum of Scotland. Firstly, it's free, which really surprises and pleases. Secondly, there are exhibits for any taste. From pretty unusual... Yes, because it'...
The route of the cruise was the following: Amsterdam -  Edinburgh  -  Inverness  - Kirkwall (all three ports belong to Scotland) - Belfast (Northern Ireland, UK) - Dublin (Ireland) - Sent Peter Port (the Guernsey Island, UK),  Le Havre  (France) -...
Inchkolm is a tiny island lost in the middle of the Firth of Forth, where a pleasure boat makes a short stop during a walk along the  Forth Bay - anyone can land on the island, walk through it in about an hour and come back on the next boat. The boat makes a short stop,...
Great Britain is large and very interesting country. To get acquainted with all of its major attractions you should make several trips. As part of this journey I decided, in addition to London, to devote one day to visit Scotland, and to see Stonehenge during the other day - it is...