Things to do in Edinburgh
This city is crammed with attractions for all ages, and nothing is difficult to get to. History lovers should head straight for the castle and then onto the old town, and anyone who appreciates architecture will not want to miss the Scottish Parliament building or the Botanical greenhouses either. Families can enjoy the zoo and the museums, and for landscapes and views go to the coastline or climb the hill called Arthur's Seat.
History buffs must-see attractions
Dominating the city skyline is Edinburgh castle. There's been a fortress on this hilltop location since the 12th century and many kings and queens of Scotland have lived there. Tourists can visit the Crown Jewels, a historic cannon named Mons Meg and the royal chapel. Walk the Royal Mile to the cobbled streets of old town and the Palace of Holyroodhouse which is the Queen's palace in Scotland. There are state rooms to tour here and a ruined abbey to wander around.
Shopping for gifts
Along the Royal Mile, and the small streets which lead off this main thoroughfare, shoppers can find cashmere, fudge, tartan and haggis - traditional Scottish items to take home. Princes Street is the place to go for high street stores like Marks and Spencer, Debenhams and Primark, and Multrees Walk is where you'll find Louis Vuitton and Harvey Nichols. There are a couple of markets; the Farmer's Market opens every Saturday morning selling home-made jams, baked goods, meats, cheese and vegetables. Stockbridge Market is open on Sundays.
Pubs, clubs and bars
There are plenty of old-fashioned pubs that promise cosy evenings out, such as the Abbotsford in Rose Street, and The Castle Arms in the old town. For trendy bars serving craft beers and fine wines, the West End area has places such as 52 Canoes. Head over to Queen Street where the quirky bar Panda and Sons has a long menu of signature cocktails. There are two comedy clubs in the city where you can enjoy the entertainment as you down a pint, The Stand and The Beehive. Clubs with DJs are open until the early hours, such as Lulu, and Cabaret Voltaire which has live music too.
The National Museum of Scotland is fascinating and huge, and it's free to enter. The Surgeons' Hall Museum is a medical history exhibition that is fascinating for anyone with an interest in anatomy. There are plenty of other great museums and galleries to visit, such as the People's Story, The National Portrait Gallery and The War Museum. Camera Obscura is full of optical illusions which children will love, and The Dynamic Earth is interesting for the whole family.
Portobello Beach is accessible by local bus, just three miles from the centre of Edinburgh. The beach is wide and there is a prom along the back where you can walk for miles. On sunny days, both in summer and winter, it's a great area to enjoy views across the Firth of Forth.
Eating and drinking
The good people of Scotland enjoy a drink and so there are plenty of places to knock back a whisky, sip a cocktail and enjoy a beer or two. The Dome, for example, is recommended for its atmosphere and a fine cocktails, and the Jolly Judge in the old town is a cosy pub with a mind-boggling choice of whiskies. Scottish dishes, like haggis, colcannon and shortbread can be found for anyone wanting to taste the local fayre, but you can dine at steak houses, Indian restaurants and Chinese places as well. From budget cafes to 5-star dining rooms, there is something for everyone.