Edinburgh – The Heart of Scotland
Always ranking very high among best cities to live in, Edinburgh is a truly beautiful capital, with remarkable buildings and wonderful landscapes. Mountains, rocky hills, lakes – these are all natural part of the cityscape, giving it a unique and irresistible charm. Furthermore, Scotland’s capital is also an important cultural center, and the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. The Edinburgh International Book Festival (part of the general Edinburgh Festival) is the largest one of its kind in the world.
When you visit the city, a very good place to start your journey of discovery is the famous Edinburgh Castle. Archeological finds suggest that people have been living on this site from as early as the 9th century BC. Even though the exact history and nature of the settlement is not known, specialists believe that the volcanic Castle Rock has been holding a royal castle since the 11th century. St. Margret’s Chapel dates back to that time and is the oldest building in the city (1090).
Scottish monarchs lived in this castle for a long time, and even today, the Middle Age edifice is still an important vertebra in the Old City’s backbone, known as The Royal Mile. Consisting of a succession of streets, it starts from the old castle and continues all the way to Holyrood Palace – the official residence of the Monarch of the United Kingdom in Scotland. As you walk down this approximately one Scots mile long road, you will discover Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street, Canongate and Abbey Strand – all the streets that make up the mile.
While the Royal Mile – with its inviting pubs, colorful shops, coffee shops and tailor shops – is the busiest street in Edinburgh, Princess Street is shopping enthusiasts’ favorite thoroughfare. Also approximately one mile in length, Princess Street is an important part of the New Town, which is also known as the Athens of the North. This newer area of the city was built during the 18th and 19th centuries, boasting a unique and beautiful Georgian architecture. Event today it is still considered a masterpiece of city planning. Both the Old and the New Towns have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Other sites that you should definitely visit while in Edinburgh include the imposing Lady Stair’s House (which also holds the Writers’ Museum), St. Giles Cathedral (High Kirk of Edinburgh) with its gothic arches, and the Scotch Whisky Experience center – all located near the Edinburgh Castle. And finally, if there is one thing that you cannot afford to miss in Scotland’s capital city, it is the famous Edinburgh International Festival, which dates back to 1947.
The iconic festival is the world’s largest cultural event, to which millions of people come and participate enthusiastically every year. It starts in August and lasts for about three weeks, encompassing a series of other festivals as well. Part of this event is the Fringe Festival, which is the largest arts festival in the world, with various shows taking place in parks, streets, and small theaters. And if you are a fan of the fabled Scottish bagpipe, make sure you don’t miss the Last Post of the annual Military Tattoo, also part of the Fringe. Things don’t get more Scottish than that!
- We suggest you come here during the last part of spring, in summer, or in autumn.
- Best souvenirs to take home include tweed jackets, Scotch whisky (Scotland’s national drink), and cashmere jumpers.
- If you are looking for a traditional Scottish dish to taste for the first time, we suggest the famous Haggis. It is a pudding with minced sheep’s pluck, mixed with suet, oatmeal, onion and spices, and usually encased in the sheep’s stomach.
- The Balmoral is a landmark luxury hotel in Edinburgh and we definitely recommend it for a complete and fulfilling experience in the city.