Edinburgh pocket guide

What's on in Edinburgh: Edinburgh 360
What to do in Edinburgh: What's on in Edinburgh

The City of Edinburgh, capital of Scotland has a local population which is a little short of 500,000 and yet is the second most popular tourist destination in the United Kingdom. The main reason is that there is so much to do and so much to see in Edinburgh.

Main attractions

When you arrive for the first time, an Edinburgh City Bus Tour is a good idea. This hop on service will help you get your bearings. First port of call is Edinburgh Castle. With its prime position towering over the main street, Princes Street, fortifications have been here in some form since the Iron Age, 2,000 years ago though Edinburgh Castle's original birth was probably only about 1,000 years ago. You can hardly miss it towering above the city. Here you will see the Scottish crown jewels on display, Mons Meg, an ancient super cannon from 1453 and the famous one o'clock gun which scares tourists and locals alike at one o'clock every day when it fires.

As you leave Edinburgh Castle, and walk down the long ancient street called the Royal Mile attractions abound from the Camera Obscura, Scotch Whisky Experience, Gladstone's Land (a house showing you life in the 1600's), St Giles Cathedral which is the Mother Kirk of Presbyterianism and set beside the original Parliament House. Opposite that is Mary King's Close where you can explore two hidden streets underneath the City Chambers. Following down Edinburgh Royal Mile, you will pass by the old Tron Kirk and then onwards to John
Knox's House
home of the founder of the Presbyterian Church and now incorporated inside the Scottish Storytelling Centre. Nearby is the cute Museum of Childhood showing toys from yesteryear and the People's Story hidden in the 16th Century Canongate Tolbooth Church. At the bottom of Edinburgh's Royal Mile stands The Palace of Holyroodhouse and its ruined Abbey, the Queen's official Scottish residence and towering over it is Arthur's Seat, and ancient volcano set in the Queen's Park, a large National park completely housed within the city. Just opposite is the new, quirky Scottish Paliament building and nearby, Dynamic Earth an exciting look at how the Earth evolved and is suitable for children of all ages.

If you branch off the Royal Mile, you will find The Royal Scottish Museum a virtual treasure trove of all things Scottish, and Greyfriars Church and yard where the statue of the famous little dog, Greyfriar's Bobby guards the gate. Heading in the other direction, down the Mound, you will encounter the Royal Scottish Academy and the National Gallery of Scotland holding many famous art treasures. Princes Street and its shops, mark the gateway to the New Town, a stunning collection of Georgian architecture set into squares, streets and gardens. The Georgian House in Charlotte Square will show you just what life was like when these houses were built in the early 18th century and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street has many
paintings of Scots down the years. Most of our museums and galleries offer free admission.

There are many walking tours taking you around even more of the Old Town and New Town of Edinburgh, some exploring our literary history telling of Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, Arthur Conan Doyle and even Robert Burns before moving on to their contemporaries such as Iain Rankin, J.K Rowling and Alexander McCaul Smith. You can explore Edinburgh's streets and places mentioned in many of their books. Other Edinburgh tours explore the Underground vaults in the city and offer the more macabre side of Edinburgh's history.

Outside Edinburgh Centre

It is not all about the city centre. Edinburgh's Royal Botanical Gardens are amongst the finest in the world and yet just a short walk from Princes Street, Edinburgh Zoo near to Kew House is also one of the best in the country and just a short bus trip from the centre is The Royal Yacht Britannia which was the Queen's private yacht until it was decommissioned in December 1997 and is now open to the public. A little further out of the city to the East of Edinburgh is the Museum of Flight which along with an interesting array of old aircraft also houses a Concorde which is open to the public. Heading north a few miles from the centre of Edinburgh, is South Queensferry with stunning views of all three bridges across the River Forth. The rail bridge is the largest cantilever bridge in the world and never fails to impress. Over on the South of the city is the one of the alleged homes of the Holy Grail, Rosslyn Chapel, but more importantly this home of the Knights Templar also houses the stunningly beautiful Apprentice Pillar. For those with children, Edinburgh Deep Sea World just across the Forth Bridge, is a massive aquarium with the UK's longest underwater viewing tunnel.

Having fun in Edinburgh

Whether your want to play sport or watch it, the city of Edinburgh can offer a great deal of fun. There are twenty four golf courses within the city boundaries and many just outside, the world's largest indoor climbing centre is just outside the city at Ratho, and you can swim, hire bicycles, fish, canoe; the list is endless.

Edinburgh's theatres host many fabulous shows and musicals throughout the year from lavish musicals to ballet and drama. The Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival which takes place in August is the highlight of the year's events. This, the largest festival in the world also takes place at the same time as the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a spectacular and unique event on the castle esplanade. Throughout the year Edinburgh hosts an International Film Festival, Science Festival, Book Festival, Jazz Festival, and many other festivals.

Eating and drinking have long been part of the Edinburgh Culture and the range of food types and food quality is unsurpassed in Britain outside of London. We have five Michelin starred restaurants in Edinburgh, plus a host of local and ethnic foods to suit all tastes and pockets. Nightlife is spread throughout the city but George Street is a great destination for the smart set, Rose Street for the dedicated drinkers and the Grassmarket for the younger and noisier revellers. Of course there are many famous and late night bars and clubs for those intent on a great night as well as more sophisticated bars for anyone wishing a quieter time!

Trying to include everything to do in Edinbugh within a single page is impossible. Following links within these pages will help you find more information and we at Kew House try to have enough inside knowledge to help you find what you want for the perfect stay in Edinburgh.

Enjoy yourself!