Where medieval marvels lend an air of magic and mystery and labyrinthine lanes weave through Old Town, Scotland's capital mesmerises all who visit. This fairytale-like city is a timeless beauty whose century-spanning icons blur the line between old and new throughout all its nooks and crannies. Discover everything from castles and crags to bars and Michelin stars on cobblestone closes and swanky high streets in this cultural capital.
Bookended by Edinburgh Castle and The Palace of Holyrood, Edinburgh's most famous stretch is the picture-perfect Royal Mile in Old Town. Home to numerous souvenir stores, whisky bars and eateries, take your time wandering this strip to soak up its history. But, don't forget to meander down the closes that fishbone off the Royal Mile as you'll find all sorts of hidden secrets, from blink-and-you'll-miss it museums and unassuming, yet charming squares. Of course, there's no better time to experience the Royal Mile in all its glory than during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Come August, the city roars to life with buskers, performances and quirky entertainment.
Scottish fare isn't all haggis and deep-fried Mars bars. Eating out in Edinburgh is a delight with a global array of cuisines and dining experiences to choose from. Consider a civilised afternoon tea in majestic surroundings at the Dome or a fiery vindaloo from city favourite, Indian Cavalry Club. Edinburgh also boasts an impressive line-up of award-winning restaurants, including the likes of Michelin star-rated The Kitchin and newcomer Timberyard.
If your roots are Scottish, you simply must pick up a garment sewn in your family's tartan. There's an official Scottish Tartans Authority which registers and records each clan's pattern. Otherwise, nothing says 'wish you were here' like a wee dram of heady Scottish whisky. Any whisky lover will be overwhelmed with the sheer number of single malts and blends available. For something more memorable, head to The Scotch Whisky Experience which encompasses a restaurant, tourist attraction and distillery tour (in a barrel ride, no less). Book in for a whisky appreciation class to mix up your own blend to take home.
When the sun sets over the Georgian rooftops and church spires, Edinburgh comes into its ghostly own. Scotland's capital is widely considered one of the world's most haunted cities with myriad ways to set your sights on a spectre. The underground vaults below the Royal Mile are a hotbed of unexplained happenings, though the tour through the Real Mary King's Close is an insightful experience for 'beginners' or history lovers. Braver travellers should opt to join an eerie City of the Dead tour for a backstage pass to Greyfriars Kirkyard. The cemetary was once home to a jail, which is now the dwelling of the infamous (and very unfriendly) Mackenzie Poltergeist.
In order to appreciate all its complexities, Scotch should always be tasted neat. Swirl it gently before slowly inhaling the air just above the glass. Sip and hold it in your mouth for 10 seconds, then breathe out through your mouth after swallowing to savour the 'finish'.