You can’t visit the Scottish capital without taking a trip to Edinburgh Castle, which overlooks the city from its position on Castle Rock (an extinct volcano), and was built in the 12th century by David I. Highlights include the Great Hall with its hammerbeam roof, the Stone of Destiny where Scottish kings were enthroned, and the daily (except Sundays) firing of the One O’Clock Gun. The Royal Mile is the network of streets leading through the Old Town; these are a magnet for visitors as they are packed with shops, restaurants, pubs, buskers and entertainers.
A short walk down the Royal Mile brings you to Holyrood Park, a 640-acre Royal Park adjacent to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where you’ll find the towering mount of Arthur’s Seat, which at 250m above the city provides fantastic views and is a site of Special Scientific Interest. If you’ve got the energy, you can climb to the top and there are a number of routes requiring various degrees of energy.
At the bottom of the Royal Mile, you’ll also find the official residence of the Queen in Scotland, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where you can visit State Rooms such as the Throne Room and the Great Gallery, which is hung with Jacob de Wet’s portraits of the kings of Scotland.
Scotland’s greatest export has to be its wonderful whiskies, which are in demand across the globe. At The Scotch Whisky Experience on the Royal Mile, you can find out all about the whisky-making process. You can also sample a tot or two.
Do not miss the Gothic beauty of the Scott Monument, on Princes Street, which honours the Scottish author Sir Walter Scott and is the largest monument to a writer in the world. Climb its 287 steps, and you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view of the city.
edinburghcastle.gov.uk | royal-mile.com | geowalks.co.uk | royalcollection.org.uk | scotchwhiskyexperience.co.uk
MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES
Edinburgh is blessed with many galleries and museums. These include the Royal Scottish Academy which displays contemporary art in a beautiful Georgian building on The Mound, while a stone’s throw away is the glorious Scottish National Gallery. At the Museum of Edinburgh, you can learn all about the history of the city – pieces include architect James Craig’s plans for the New Town.
nationalgalleries.org | edinburghmuseums.org.uk
Princes Street is a curious road as it is only built up on the north side to allow for uninterrupted views (which are protected by an order of parliament) across Edinburgh Castle and the Old Town. Sitting between Princes Street and the Castle above are the beautifully manicured Princes Street Gardens, which comprise a bandstand, several monuments and the Ross Fountain. On Princes Street itself, you’ll find major high-street brands as well as Edinburgh peculiarities such as Jenners, a department store which has been a city landmark since it first opened in 1838.
For specialist items such as kilts, head for the Royal Mile to John Morrison Kiltmaker, where you can choose plaid or tartan along with accessories, such as a sporran (a male purse) and a sgian-dubh (a small knife). Royal Mile Whiskies sells a wide range of whiskies including single malts which you can choose by distillery. For locally made gifts and other products, pop into Platform 2 Market at Waverley Station. Held every Friday between 11am and 7pm, you can find hand-made bags and jewellery and a variety of arts and craft products that are ethically sourced.
royalmilewhiskies.com | localmotivemarkets.co.uk