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Edinburgh has class by the bucket load. Its heritage is visible everywhere you look: a whopping great castle, 16th- and 17th-century tenements (the skyscrapers of their day), elegant Georgian crescents and a tremendous royal palace. Culturally, Edinburgh is a formidable force. Aside from its world-renowned arts festival, the city is home to Scotland’s national museum and art galleries and hosts film, jazz, storytelling and science festivals. Stylish boutiques and bars attract an equally chic populace, while the great outdoors are close at hand for those more interested in ridge walks than catwalks. Potentially the capital of Europe’s newest nation after the 2014 independence referendum, Edinburgh undoubtedly has wow factor.
Our top five activities
For cracking views across Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth, fuel up on porridge and follow the path along the Salisbury crags and up Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano.
Reckon you could give McIlroy, Donald and Westwood a run for their money? Challenge yourself to a round on the 2013 Open Championship course, Muirfield, east of Edinburgh.
Hop on the bike bus to Glentress, one of the world-class 7stanes mountain biking hubs in southern Scotland. Choose from gentle forest trails or white-knuckle adrenaline rides.
Hook a big one: the River Tweed in the Scottish Borders, an hour south of Edinburgh, is one of the world’s top spots for salmon fishing.
Take a barrel ride through the Scotch Whisky Experience’s replica distillery or visit the real thing at Glenkinchie, creator of The Edinburgh Malt, in East Lothian. You’ll want to try a wee dram too.
Head to George Street for high-end fashion names followed by Multrees Walk for even more upmarket labels. Nip into St James Shopping Centre to pick up unique clothing, jewellery and art from ICE Store (0131 557 0050), a new social enterprise showcasing up-and-coming designers. In the Old Town, Victoria Street’s kaleidoscopic curve of shop fronts conceals an enticing array of crafts, gifts and clothing. I J Mellis at number 30A (0131 226 6215) stocks an exceptional range of Scottish cheeses. On Saturdays, arrive early at the Edinburgh Farmers Market (Castle Terrace, 0131 652 5940) for fresh Scottish produce, then pop into William Street’s independent stores in the West End.
Food & Drink
Edinburgh is gaining a solid reputation for fine dining and is home to a clutch of Michelin-starred restaurants including the acclaimed Castle Terrace (33/35 Castle Terrace, 0131 229 1222), which concocts high-quality Scottish fish and meat dishes. If you’re out to impress, new on the scene is The Pompadour by Galvin (The Caledonian, Princes Street, 0131 222 8777). Or try the hotel’s more casual yet stylish French bistro Galvin Brasserie De Luxe. Edinburgh locals are all talking about The Gardener’s Cottage (1 Royal Terrace Mews, 0131 558 1221), whose daily changing menu often features Scottish game such as pheasant or roe deer.
Do an Edinburgh pub crawl and you’ll still be sinking pints next year. The Last Drop (74-78 Grassmarket, 0131 225 4851) even comes with an in-house medieval ghost. For a dressier soirée, sip cocktails in the New Town. Bramble (16A Queen Street, 0131 226 6343) is a basement gem – knock yourself out with a ‘golden delicious sour’. The Liquid Room (9C Victoria Street, 0131 225 2564) runs club nights spanning every genre imaginable and has hosted big names from Franz Ferdinand to The Jungle Brothers. Catch a movie at the Filmhouse (88 Lothian Road, 0131 228 2688) or new drama at the Traverse Theatre (10 Cambridge Street, 0131 228 3223).
Edinburgh Airport Information
CityJet Flight Routes
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