The Old City

The capital of Scotland and in many ways the capital of Scottish culture. Known as the party capital of Britain, this reputation is well-earned with events throughout the year including Hogmanay which is so popular you need a ticket even to get into the center of the city and various festivals throughout August and the summer.

The 'Old City' with the Royal Mile leading from Edinburgh Castle down to the Palace of Holyroodhouse is in many ways untouched by the passage of time and the heart of Edinburgh. The 'New City' is awash with cafés and various high-street stores.


  • Edinburgh Castle - A spectacular sight rising in the middle of the city, perched atop a massive rock face. The castle can be seen throughout the city and makes a wonderful place to visit. With your admission, a free tour is available (from just inside the main gate) as well as free audio tour devices. Great views of the city but the castle itself has a lot of history to share. The audio tour is excellent and in many ways provides perhaps too much information than can be absorbed within any reasonably long visit.

Edinburgh Castle

  • The Former Royal Yacht Britannia - A bit difficult to get too if you do not have a vehicle (the instructions provided by Britannia are not too specific) – catch the X50 LRT (Lothian Regional Transport - bus) on the Waverly Bridge directly across from the train station entrance. I heard someone comment when this attraction first opened that they were disappointed to see rust and perhaps a 'general state of disrepair' however I found this to be perhaps misplaced since, when it retired, Britannia was already nearing the end of it's life-span. The ship has been left largely untouched and it is surprising the number of artefacts left by the royal family and how it looks like it was only just left. A free audio tour is provided (and is essential). Timed tickets are available in advance and at the door.

The Former Royal Yacht Britania

  • National Galleries of Scotland - Conveniently located on Princes street, though not as large as the National Gallery in London, are nonetheless impressive.

National Museum of Scotland

  • Palace of Holyroodhouse - The official residence of the Queen in Scotland at the base of the Royal Mile (the other end from the castle). A bit expensive and not a lot to see but if you consider that admission includes a free audio guide…
  • The Scottish Parliament - A controversial design of a building is actually quite intriguing.The seat of the Scotish government is a modern building with abstract designs on the outside that is just across from Holyroodhouse.

Scottish Parliament


August is festival time in Edinburgh, here are the major festivals:

  • Edinburgh Fringe - Probably the single biggest festival of Edinburgh and certainly the most popular and having the most events.

Udderbelly - One of the Fringe Venues

  • Edinburgh International Festival - Showcasing some of the best in classical music, theatre, opera and dance.
  • Edinburgh Tatoo - One of the biggest military tattoos in the world, certainly one of the best known, held on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle. Over 800 performers from various military and civilian marching bands along with the ever-moving bagpipes.

Edinburgh Tatoo

(Note: Much of the above information was gleamed from the daily published The Edinburgh Festivals). Throughout the city during this time there are often free events on various stages and even in the streets. I would suggest getting tickets in advance for the bigger events and programmes for the various festivals you are interested in attending. A half-price ticket booth is set-up just above the train station on Princess street that also has a ticket next door where you can order full-priced tickets via the Internet (and pick them up from an on-site counter).

The City is VERY Busy During Festival Time

At New Years Hogmanay brings the streets of Edinburgh to life where there are MANY parties and LOTS of drinking throughout the days leading up to and after New Years. Since this party is so popular you must have a ticket to enter the city center (which is free but they are few in number).

Getting Around

The bus service is quite good in Edinburgh with regular service throughout the city along with the wonderful new tram system. There are also numerous “hop-on-hop-off” tourist buses operating throughout the core area of the city. Also of note is a 25-minute shuttle to and from the airport for £3 (single) or £5 (open-ended return).

Further Information

For further information, please see: