There’s so much to do in Edinburgh in terms of culture and sightseeing, so I’ve just listed a few of our favourites:
August in Edinburgh
Come August, the city of Edinburgh comes alive with the Edinburgh Tattoo and the Edinburgh International Festival. The Festival, presents three weeks of world class performers, covering theatre, dance, music and opera. With thousands of performers in nearly 50,000 performances in 299 venues across the capital last year, the Fringe is the largest art festival in the world. From well known celebrities to people hoping to make the big time, it has an extremely diverse line up of events covering theatre, comedy, cabaret, dance, street shows, children’s shows, musicals and exhibitions.
Running for three weeks in August every year, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an amazing spectacle and is a must see experience. Set on Edinburgh Castle’s esplanade perched high above the city, every year audiences are treated to amazing displays of pipers, drummers, dancers, singers and performers from around the world.
Edinburgh at Christmas
Edinburgh swings into magical festival mode again for Christmas for six weeks from the end of November through to the beginning of January every year. St Andrews Square and Princes Street Garden host lots of attractions for all the family from outdoor ice skating rinks, the Edinburgh Eye, Santa Land, markets galore, entertainment for all ages in the iconic Spiegel Tent and lots of fun fairground rides.
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
Housed in two buildings – Modern One and Two – this is a wonderful collection of modern and contemporary art and sculpture, with iconic works from artists including Eduardo Paolozzi, Charles Jencks, Francis Bacon, David Hockney and Andy Warhol. More recent artists include Tracey Emin and Antony Gormley and Damien Hirst.
National Gallery of Scotland
Located just off Princes Street, the National Galleries of Scotland have some of the world’s greatest artists from Titian, Rubens and El Greco to Monet, Cezanne and Van Gogh. It also has an outstanding collection of Scottish art including works by Allan Ramsay, Henry Raeburn, William McTaggart and Thomas Wilkie
National Portrait Gallery
Having recently undergone a major refurbishment, the Portrait Gallery is housed in a red neo-gothic palace on Queen Street. At a ten minute walk, it is the closest of the four national galleries to the apartment. On display you will see portraits of the men and women whose achievements have helped shape Scotland and the world. It tells the history of Scotland through portraits of significant figures such as Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Robert Burns and brings us right up to date with actors such as Robbie Coltrane and the celebrated Edinburgh author, Alexander McCall Smith. Completed in 1889, at the height of the Arts and Crafts Movement, it has an intricate design typical of the period with magnificent gold friezes, expressive murals and extensive sculptural architectural details. The building itself is a must-see.
National Museum of Scotland
The National Museum of Scotland on Chamber Street houses amazing treasures from around the world, with galleries including natural science, world cultures and Scottish history and archaeology. The museum is currently undergoing a major redevelopment, due for completion in 2016, which will see the opening of 10 new major galleries to house its important science and technology, decorative art, design and fashion collections.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Royal Mile stretches between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This is the official residence of the Queen in Scotland and is open to the public for most of the year. In addition to the State Apartments, which feature many fine paintings, works of art and Brussels tapestries, you’ll see Mary Queen of Scots’ Chambers including Mary’s Bedchamber and the Outer Chamber where the brutal murder of her Italian secretary, David Rizzio, occurred.
This iconic castle dominates the Edinburgh skyline. There’s much to see within the walls from the One O’Clock gun – a canon which is fired everyday at 1pm except Sunday – it’s a military spectacle worth seeing; Mons Meg, the famous medieval canon, the National War Museum, the Royal Palace, the magnificent Great Hall and the Stone of Destiny, on which the kings of Scotland were crowned. It was last used for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953 and has since been returned to Scotland in 1996.
Our Dynamic Earth
Located next door to the Scottish Parliament building and at the foot of Arthur’s Seat, Our Dynamic Earth charts the story of the planet earth with amazing interactive exhibits and state of the art technology.
Walks in the City
Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags also dominate the Edinburgh skyline. In Holyrood Park beside the Palace of Holyrood House they are a great place for a bracing walk and once you’ve reached the top, afford the most amazing, panoramic views over Edinburgh and the Lothians.
A walk to the top of Calton Hill, situated in the city centre to the east of Princes Street, gives wonderful views over Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth, where you can explore the unfinished monument modelled on the Parthenon in Athens. It was designed by William Playfair as a memorial to those who had died in the Napoleonic Wars. Unfortunately, the project ran out of funding so only the facade of the building was completed.
Places to Eat/Drink
There are lots of places to eat within easy walkable distance from this centrally located Edinburgh holiday apartment:
The Olive Branch Bistro – 91 Broughton Street – good bistro style food from fish and chips and burgers to risottos.
The Ox – 49-51 London Street – good food and good beer.
The Educated Flea – 32a Broughton Street -gets a great write up in Pete Irvine’s book ‘Scotland the Best’. Good for gluten-free and vegan options.
A Taste of Italy – 9 Baxter’s Place – our favourite local – great pasta dishes and pizzas.
Eden’s Kitchen – 32c Broughton Street – big on organic food. Do excellent pizzas.
The Smoke Stack – 53-55 Broughton Street – has been serving the meat lovers of Edinburgh for 16 years
Rollo – 14 Broughton Street – one of our favourites. Great for ‘bowl food’. Excellent wine and cocktail list.
New Town Deli – 7 Barony Street – does wonderful takeaway food from sandwiches and salads to soups, oh and fabulously tempting cakes too. You can also eat in here. Open day-time only.
The Little White Pig – 26b Dublin Street – great ambience at this gastro pub, which serves excellent pub grub and creative dishes for sharing (or not!)
Pickles – 60 Broughton Street – love this place. Share a bottle of wine and a platter of Scottish cheeses, a selection of charcuterie, pates with crusty bread, oat cakes, pickles and chutneys. Can’t book – just turn up.
Other restaurants worth a slightly longer walk or short taxi ride:
Fishers in the City – 58 Thistle Street – offers ‘fine casual dining’. It’s a wonderful seafood bistro, which serves meat dishes too. I can’t see past the fishcakes and the sticky toffee pudding also comes highly recommended.
Noto – 47a Thistle Street – a chic New York inspired bistro serving Asian inspired cuisine.
The Outsider – 15-16 George IV Bridge – casual dining with large dishes, which are perfect for sharing.