Destination Scotland: Why Not Choose… Edinburgh?
The capital of Scotland and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Edinburgh is the United Kingdom's 2nd most popular tourist destination. And it's hardly surprising! Steeped in history, Edinburgh takes you back in time for an astonishing experience. It is unbelievably rich in architecture and culture, whilst the festive, friendly atmosphere in its pubs and its gastronomy are unparalleled, making for an unforgettable stay.
Homage to Architecture and Culture!
Wherever you turn, you will be surprised and delighted by the city's rich past. Start in the mediaeval heart of Edinburgh, the Old Town, with its alleys and the beautiful residences along the Royal Mile between the castle and Holyrood Palace, where the Queen stays when she visits Scotland. Looming over the city, Edinburgh Castle can be seen from all around. It stands as a witness to the city's history, and has hosted illustrious figures such as Mary Stuart and Cromwell. Most of the buildings date back to the 16th century. Don't forget the magnificent 15th-century St Giles' Cathedral, or John Knox's house, a beautiful 16th century residence. Finally, take a stroll in the picturesque streets of the Grassmarket district, which becomes tinged with romance as night falls.
After travelling back to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, step into the Georgian era in the New Town, an exceptionally harmonious masterpiece of urban design. This area, constructed in the 18th century, is a surprising example of Apollonian classicism. Balance, good taste, perfection…you will love Charlotte Square and the surrounding streets. Wander, get lost and be amazed!
Next up, head for Edinburgh Castle. Perched on an extinct volcano, this powerful Scottish symbol is a must-see. You will be captivated by its old buildings and its panoramic view over the city. During your visit, remember that this is where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to the future King James, and take the time to imagine the terror of the prisoners who rotted in its vaults!
The city also has a rich selection of museums. The National Gallery of Scotland boasts a large permanent collection (Gainsborough, Constable, Velázquez, Gauguin, Monet, Rembrandt…), whilst the Scottish National Portrait Gallery has an impressive series of portraits showing local figures, from Robert Burns to Sean Connery. For literature enthusiasts, right near the Royal Mile, the Writers' Museum pays tribute to all those who have made Scottish literature great, with portraits, manuscripts and personal items related to Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott or Robert Louis Stevenson. Finally, get to grips with Scotland's history at the Museum of Scotland, with its exhibits going right back to the country's prehistory.
Top 10 Must-Sees
Edinburgh Castle: find out everything about this old fortress built on a volcanic plug in the centre of the city of Edinburgh .
Holyrood Palace: originally a monastery founded by the King of Scotland, David I in 1128 , it has served as the main residence for Scotland's monarchs since the 15th century, as well as for Elizabeth II when she visits Scotland.
Saint Giles' Cathedral: this magnificent Church of Scotland cathedral is considered the Mother Church of Presbyterianism.
The National Museum of Scotland: this fascinating museum is the result of the merger between the Museum of Scotland focusing on the history, antiquities, people and culture of Scotland , and the adjacent Royal Museum, with its science, technology, natural history and world cultures collections.
The Georgian House: see how high society lived in 18th-century Edinburgh! This townhouse bears witness to the lifestyle of Scottish nobles in this period.
The Greyfriars Bobby's Bar: a famous pub and a great place for a drink with friends. Don't leave Scotland without sampling a pure malt whisky!
Stockbridge: bohemian suburb not far from New Town. You are sure to love the small town atmosphere, with its many cafés, bars and shops!
The Royal Botanic Garden: the perfect place for a scenic walk. Explore hectares of local and exotic plants (including the largest collection of wild Chinese plants outside of China), the Scottish Heath Garden, the Rock Garden, and the Queen Mother's Memorial Garden.
Surprising Culinary Traditions!
Forget the bad reputation of food in the UK: step into a pub to feast on stovies (a little like cottage pie) or grouse. Remember to try delicious Aberdeen-Angus beef. Carnivores will have their fill! And if you're feeling more curious (or should we say more daring?), try the famous haggis. This dish of a sheep's stomach stuffed with sheep's pluck, salt, pepper, onions and oats, then cooked slowly, is generally served with neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and potatoes).
April-May: TradFest Edinburgh
Traditional Scottish culture festival. On the agenda: dancing to bagpipe, harp and violin music, as well as storytelling.
Night of 30 April to 1 May: Beltane Fire Festival
Festival celebrating the coming of summer, fertility and renewal. Crowds flock to Calton Hill to see fire jugglers, acrobats, dancers and fireworks.
July: Jazz and Blues Festival
For ten days, the parks, botanical gardens, churches, city centre streets and bars come alive with jazz and blues concerts.
August: Edinburgh International Festival
One of the most important cultural events in the world, held every year since 1947! Created to celebrate the end of the war, it features all kinds of music, theatre, dance and operatic events. For three weeks, the city is buzzing.
December: Edinburgh Hogmanay
No winter in Edinburgh is complete without Edinburgh Hogmanay! Watch or take part in the torchlit procession through the Old Town on 30 December, before the famous Hogmanay street festival, and the spectacular fireworks on 31 December.
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