Living half an hour away from Edinburgh over the Forth Road Bridge, I have spent many a days and slightly drunken nights here and it must be one of my favourite cities in the world. It is a must see in my books and even though I have been here at least 50 times over the years I still discover new things every time I visit.
It’s divided into the Old and New towns, the Old town being a phenomenal mix of old historic alleyways, tiny shops, cobbled streets and winding roads. Comfy shoes will be your best friends while you walk these historic streets but I promise it will be worth it.
All the museums and art galleries in Edinburgh are free to enter and are a fantastic way to spend a day, my favourite being the National History Museum with an animal section straight out of Night at the Museum. Depending what else you are interested in there is also the National portrait gallery and the National Museums on Princess Street. The Childhood Museum on the Royal Mile is a brilliant little building with all your favorite old toys. Excellent if you are with the kids too.
The area of Edinburgh I visit most has to be the grassmarket in the old town its an eclectic mix of fab restaurants, shops and pubs, including “The smallest pub in Scotland” called The Wee Inn. Too small for even tables it has three benches around the room instead and two tables at standing height to rest your drink. The bar in nothing more than a drinks cabinet and the whole place measures 17×12 feet. Even though it’s tiny it has an amazing atmosphere and an astonishing array of good old Scottish whiskies to try.
If you walk up Victoria Street you will find a funky selection of retro and vintage shops that are well worth the climb to the top of the road. In fact when you get to the top if you turn right and walk along a bit you can rest your weary legs in the Elephant Café when J.K Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter novel.
If I was going shopping, and only shopping I’ll be a traitor and say Glasgow is far better for shops but there is more than enough in Edinburgh to keep anyone happy. New modern shops line George Street and Princess Street and Harvey Nichols and Jenners are must-sees. The posh designer shops of Multrees Walk, will satisfy even the most loaded while St James Centre caters for a wider range of customers. Cockburn Street over the Waverly Bridge is filled with weird and wonderful kooky shops and bars and this leads to the more historic Royal mile.
Aware that I’m beginning to sound like a tourist brochure, I’ll tell you, in my opinion, there are two fantastic times to visit Edinburgh. The first being the Fringe Festival which is in August and the whole city is full of street artists, comedians, artists, play writers and performers who perform in venues right across the city from theatres and churches to parks and pubs. Never a dull moment! (Oh and quite a lot are free!)
The other time to come has to be Hogmanay; I swear Edinburgh on the 31st December is the best place to be in the whole world. The whole buzz of the place is electric and watching the fireworks go off above the castle is a moment never forgotten.