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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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