24 Hours in Edinburgh

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Edinburgh’s a rare character – both instantly loveable and fascinatingly complex. Age has bestowed distinguished handsomeness rather than decay, and there’s a learned air to the city.

 

A strong literary heritage – from Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson to J. K. Rowling and Ian Rankin – helps, as does the cultural bonanza of the Edinburgh Festivals every August. The Scottish capital seems master-blended, with the right doses of fine food, history, architecture, and pure fun. Manageably small, Edinburgh hides a wealth of monuments, memorials, and treasures down seemingly innocuous alleyways. But at the same time it pulls off a regal grandeur that makes it incredibly hard to forget.


5:30
Take a 45-minute wake-up walk through Holyrood Park – the former Royal hunting grounds – to the 251m-high summit of Arthur’s Seat. The extinct volcano is the perfect perch for a photogenic sunrise.


7:30
Beat the crowds to see the architecture along the Royal Mile between Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle. Highlights? Canongate Kirk and the Scottish Parliament Building’s post-modernist style.


8:30
Enjoy locally sourced salmon and scrambled eggs – or top-grade porridge – at the Edinburgh Larder. Or coffee at the Elephant House, as J. K. Rowling did while dreaming up the Harry Potter books.


9:30
Edinburgh Castle is home to a hodge-podge of attractions, but if pressed for time, descend into the old prisons and castle vaults then scope out the Honours of Scotland – the Scottish Crown Jewels.


12:30
Oysters and roasted red deer lunch at the Tower restaurant can be walked off around the National Museum of Scotland underneath. Formula One, migration, heavy industryìit’s all covered.


15:00
At the Real Mary King’s Close, explore the warren of 17th-century streets beneath The Royal Mile – complete with ghost stories and pretty grim tales of cash-strapped, disease-wracked everyday life.


17:00
Take in the uniformly grand Georgian architecture of the New Town. Charlotte Square is the crowning glory – number 6 is the First Minister’s residence – while Princes Street is serious shopping territory.


19:00
A drink in Le Di-Vin, a spectacularly converted old church with wall-climbing wine racks, should whet the appetite for dinner at Stac Polly. Expect Scottish Highland ingredients given richly inventive treatments.


21:00
The Stand is arguably the UK’s most respected live comedy venue. And, to complete the cultural fix, the Ghillie Dhu’s live bands and folk dancing-heavy ceilidhs go on until the early hours.



 

Edinburgh, UK
Distance: 5532 km
Flight Time: 5 hours, 15 minutes
Frequency: 5 flights a week

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