Edinburgh: a small city with a big heart

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By Charlie Campbell 4th year French and Spainish

Charlie Campbell delves deep to provide us with a comprehensive and enlightening travel guide to the not so far but far away enough city of Edinburgh.

The small but stunning city of Edinburgh on the east coast of Scotland is a captivating capital overflowing with culture, history and heritage. This charming city attracts people from all over the world owing to its balance between Scotland’s historic past and its cosmopolitan chic of the present. Whether it’s a whistle-stop tour or an indefinitely longer stay, a trip to Edinburgh will no doubt leave you yearning to return in the not so distant future.

When to visit…

The Scottish capital is an incredible city to visit whatever the time of year as the streets are always bursting with events, activities and excitement. But for a truly authentic and eclectic visit, experience all the Caledonian capital has to offer during the month of August, when the city is taken over by its world-famous Fringe Festival. You can expect live music, comedy acts, theatre performances and much more from well-known stars to enthusiastic amateurs.

What to do…

The historical:
The Scott Monument stands unmissable in Princes Street Gardens, an impressive feat of gothic architecture built in homage to Sir Walter Scott, the country’s renowned Romantic novelist, poet and playwright. Although the walls become narrower and narrower as you ascend the 287 steps to the monument’s summit, the climb is definitely worth it as at the top you're exposed to truly awe-inspiring views of Edinburgh and its surrounding rural landscape.

The tourist hotspot:
Come rain or shine, a frenzied crowd of tourists promises to be gathered on Candlemaker Row around the statue of a certain celebrated Skye terrier – Bobby, who, according to Scottish legend became famous after refusing to leave his owner’s graveside in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard for an impressive fourteen years. This sweet story of a faithful hound is very much still remembered within Edinburgh's folkloric culture; they even say the statue’s nose brings luck to whoever touches it!

The adventure:
Set against a backdrop of rolling hills and rural tranquillity, Arthur's Seat seems a world away from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh’s cobbled streets. The popular and relatively easy-going walking route provides the most amazing panoramic views of Edinburgh and on a clear day (weather permitted) you can see for miles. And it’s not just the Scots who admire this majestic natural site; Arthur's Seat has featured in multiple works of literature throughout the centuries, such as Mary Shelly's Frankenstein and Jules Verne’s The Underground City.

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Image: barnyz / Flickr

The hustle and bustle:
The Royal Mile, a succession of streets at the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town leading up to the Castle, is one of the city’s most frequented areas, especially popular with tourists, as it’s synonymous with authentic merchandise and souvenirs. Nowhere else will there be such availability and variety of Scotch whisky, traditional tartan kilts, Harris Tweed, Scottish tablet and textiles from Edinburgh Woollen Mill.
The peaceful:
Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens are one of the city’s best kept secrets and feature amongst the finest botanical gardens in the world, offering over 70 blissful acres of stunning Scottish landscape to explore. A particular highlight is the garden’s array of elegant glasshouses housing a variety of plants in tropical, temperate and rainforest environments.

The iconic:
Brimming with history and tales of bygone times, Edinburgh Castle is a momentous site not to be missed. Arguably no trip to the Scottish capital is complete without taking a stroll up to this majestic fortress located right at the top of Castle Hill. It offers incredible panoramas of the cityscape below, quite often accompanied by the wistful tones of bagpipes playing from the Old Town below.

Featured image: Flickr / francois R THOMAS


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