Vivid remnants of the past are still present in the city that has served as Scotland’s political and cultural capital for nearly a thousand years. Medieval Old Town’s hilly and cobblestoned streets contrast with 18th-century New Town’s modern shops, Georgian architecture, and pleasant squares, which are at once both intimate and grand. From volcanic crags and charming narrow lanes (called "closes") to the massive stone fortiﬁcations of Edinburgh Castle, the city maintains a decidedly ancient quality. It’s still evolving today, thanks to newly vibrant neighborhoods like Leith, the once-dingy port on the North Sea’s famed Firth of Forth, which is emerging as an exciting epicurean center.
When you visit Edinburgh, you can see both its Old Town, a warren of medieval streets, and the Georgian-era New Town—the Edinburgh of the Enlightenment, the Athens of the North, an orderly grid and broad streets and small parks. If you travel to Edinburgh today, you'll be a witness to a third chapter, as the Scottish debate whether to become an independent nation again.
Things Not to Miss in Edinburgh
While the city is often a starting point for tours of Scotland, our Edinburgh travel guide concentrates on the city itself.
• National Museum of Scotland
• Scottish Parliament
• Royal Mile
• Princes' Street
• Scottish National Portrait Gallery
• Georgian House
• Writers' Museum
• Royal Botanic Garden
• The Britannia
When to Go to Edinburgh
No matter the season you can count on some rain and wind. Even at the peak of summer, average temperatures remain in the 60s, though in the winter it rarely gets bitterly cold. The city's two biggest events, the Fringe Festival and the Military Tattoo, take place in August.
Taking a tour of the royal 16th-century residence Palace of Holyroodhouse, including the banquet hall, throne room, and Mary Queen of Scots’ former bedroom.
Ordering your own couture hat from Yvette Jelfs, where style mavens and royals alike shop.
Picking up a bottle of fine aged single-cask whiskey from Cadenhead’s Whiskey Shop, a bottler that has been dealing in rare quality liquors since 1842.