A Short Guide to Edinburgh

A Short Guide to Edinburgh

Edinburgh is an easy city to fall in love with. Filled with history and alluring corners, it is a place that invites you to explore and discover its every secret. Built across a series of hills overlooking the North Sea, Edinburgh is a youthful city of culture, forward thinking and vibrant nightlife options.

From the narrow streets of the medieval Old Town to the splendour of the Edinburgh Castle, there is no way you won’t find something to suit your travel style. No matter how many times you visit, you’ll keep discovering new spots in this beautiful city.

Best Time to Visit Edinburgh

Scotland has a temperate/maritime climate, with surprisingly mild winters considering its high northern latitude. Summer is equally gentle, with average temperatures hovering around 20–22°C. The busiest and most pleasant time to visit Edinburgh is from late May to early September.

August is considered the peak of the tourist season, since this is when the Edinburgh Fringe festival starts.

If you want to avoid increased prices and crowds of people, you can always visit during the spring or early autumn. Chances are you’ll need to pack a few more clothes, but it is usually around these times that you’ll find better airfare and accommodation deals.

Top Things to Do in Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the absolute must activity if you are in town during August. The world’s largest arts festival packs 25 days of performances over hundreds of venues across the town. If you’re around, be sure to store your bags somewhere around the center and go to as many shows as you can!

Taking a tour around Edinburgh Castle is another thing you should definitely do while you’re around. Perched on a high volcanic rock, the Castle dominates the city skyline and is impossible to miss. Visit it to get a glimpse of Scottish history (and take a peek at the Scottish Crown jewels inside)! The Scottish National Gallery hosts many of the most renowned Scottish artworks, while the verdant Princes Street Gardens outside of the castle are great for a nice stroll.

The period around Christmas and New Years Eve is also a great time to be in Edinburgh. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay -the Scottish version of New Year celebration- is one of the most fascinating and colorful NYE events in the world. The festival organizers are committed to sustainability, so the celebrations do not have any negative impact on the environment.

Edinburgh is one of the greenest cities in Europe and features a fascinating number of outdoor experiences. The Water of Leith Walkway is an extensive network of walking and cycling pathways that connect different parts of the city, while Arthur’s Seat is a moderately difficult hiking trail that will reward you with amazing views of the city. For those fascinated by exotic plant life, the Royal Botanic Garden is a great outdoor excursion, as it features thousands of flower species in its 70 acres. Finally, Dean Village is a picturesque area close to Stockbridge, with many idyllic footpaths and old buildings to explore.

Where to stay in Edinburgh

The best option of short-term stays in Edinburgh is around the Royal Mile area, as it is close to all attractions. If you want to be near all the historical points of interest, the Old Town is your best bet, although prices tend to go higher there.

On the other hand, the New Town is a more suitable area for those interested in the lively nightlife of Edinburgh. Same goes with the hip West End area, which is a bit farther from the center, but still full of amazing restaurants and cocktail bars. For those who don’t abide by tourist laws, Leith is a perfect base of operations. This portside area has been rising in popularity in the recent years, attracting all sorts of creatives and bohemian types.

If you are visiting Edinburgh for a couple of days between your next trip, it is best to stay nearby Edinburgh Waverley station, as it conveniently connects you with the rest of the UK. Below you will find some of our favorite hotels in the city:

Where to Eat & Drink in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is one of the best destinations in the UK when it comes to vegan and vegetarian food. Seeds for the Soul is one of the best known vegan spots in the city, while Henderson’s Vegan is one of the oldest establishments in town, having started back in 1968. The family-owned Kalpna restaurant has some of the most affordable meat-free dishes in the city centre, combining Western with Indian cooking styles.

If you want to enjoy a romantic night out, David Bann is your best option. With its minimalist interior and international recipes, it is one of the classiest restaurants in the city center. If you want something a bit more affordable, head to Holy Cow on Elder Street. This cosy cafe offers some of the best vegan burgers in town, sprinkled with their locally sourced potato chips.

Check out HappyCow’s guide to the best vegan restaurants in Edinburgh!

Apart from vegan food, Edinburgh also boasts a vibrant nightlife, with renowned clubs and bars located all around the city center. You can find one of the most famous, the Juniper, right at the heart of Edinburgh. The Copper Blossom on George Street will win you over with its floral decoration and upscale feel.

Opened in late 2013, Usher’s is a craft beer bar that quickly rose to fame for its amazing ales on tap. If you are in the mood for some relax by the open fire, check out the Thistle Street Bar in New Town, with its great selection of local beers and whiskeys.

Check out this handy list of Edinburgh best bars and clubs by Timeout.

How Much Time Do You Need in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a pretty compact city that you can easily explore by foot. It is an ideal destination for a long weekend, although you won’t get easily bored even if you stayed a lot longer than that. Two to three days are enough to see all the basic attractions and spend a lot of time wandering around town.

If you want to spend more than three days in Edinburgh, check out the following itineraries:

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