Presenting a distinctly Gothic cityscape as it spreads out below its ancient castle, reaching out to the port of Leith, Edinburgh is far from dour. The canny Scots have crafted a capital with enthralling culture and festivity, veneered with sophistication but seeped in history. It's a heady combination that never fails to charm visitors to the city.
Edinburgh © Ipoh Žq
The first thing that catches the eye in Edinburgh is the looming battlements of the castle, sitting atop sheer granite cliffs that can only be accessed from one steep ridge. Today the castle heads up the Royal Mile and a linear set of streets making up the 'New Town', created when Edinburgh was re-designed in the 1700s, after the Act of Union with Britain. The New Town; named a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the Old Town, is the artistic heart of the capital, with an abundance of galleries, shops, cafes and historical sites.
When it comes to sightseeing, many of Edinburgh's attractions are based on historic stories and legends, from the churchyard where Greyfriar's Bobby, the terrier, refused to leave his master's grave, to the grand royal apartments of Holyrood House, where Mary Queen of Scots watched her husband kill her lover back in the 16th century. Although, unquestionably engaging from historical and cultural perspectives, Edinburgh also has a strong culinary presence, with five restaurants sporting Michelin stars and a growing fine-dining and bar scene.
A spirited city at any time of year, Edinburgh's eclectic nature is never more pronounced than during the summer months, when the Edinburgh Festival fills the city with drama, creativity and colourful visitors from around the world. Another occasion when Edinburgh pulls out the stops is during the traditional Hogmanay New Year festival, when jovial festivities are celebrated with Scottish malt whisky and ales in the many local pubs.
Edinburgh is perhaps best summed up by one of its famous sons, the novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, who described it as 'a profusion of eccentricities; a dream in masonry and living rock'. Rich in culture, with modern and medieval architecture woven together and a burgeoning music and nightlife scene, Edinburgh provides a captivating experience for travellers from all walks of life.