A city of old gothic and modern chic, of great literature, bagpipes and a buzzing art scene, Edinburgh is the beautiful frontispiece of Scottish culture and identity. Situated on and around rugged hills and volcanic rock, the capital of Scotland offers scenic views of old castles and Georgian buildings and daring modern architecture, set against the sheer beauty of nature’s own canvas.
Start your exploration of the city from the commanding Edinburgh Castle – the heart of the Old Town, which is sits on an extinct volcano and overlooks the entire city. The road leading up to the castle is known as the Royal Mile, as its cobbled surface stretches all the way down to the royal Holyrood Palace. The mile is packed full of tartan-clad pipers and shops from where you can buy distinct Scottish souvenirs such as whisky or your very own kilt, and as you stroll down the street, notice the symbol of the Heart of Midlothian which is laid out in front of the magnificent St Giles’ Cathedral. Locals spit on the image for good luck, so mind your step. From The Royal Mile you are within close reach of a number of Edinburgh’s famous sites. You can either choose to continue further down to the modernist building of the Scottish Parliament and the Palace of Holyrood, or instead head towards the New Town, immediately north of the Old Town. Shop along Princes Street and Rose Street, go for a stroll in the Princes Street Gardens; spend some time in the National Gallery or climb the Walter Scott Monument, which is one of the largest monuments in the world in honour of a writer. From the top of the monument you can gaze across the spires and rooftops that form the skyline of the city, and if you’re seeking further viewing points in the city, then head to the nearby Calton Hill, with its incomplete Greek temple, or scale the majestic Arthur’s Seat which overlooks the Old Town. Throughout the year, numerous different events take place in Edinburgh. During the end of April Calton Hill is the site of Beltane, which is an ancient Celtic celebration of the beginning of summer, while August harbours the world’s largest art festival in the form of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Here, you can experience everything from theatre, dance and comedy, and ranging from newcomers to top performers. If, however, you are more interesting in the many stories that lie beneath the surface of the city, then sign up for one of the many guided tours, where you can either explore the literary or historical background of the city, or even venture into the darker sides of the city through a tour of the Edinburgh Dungeons.
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