Welcome to Edinburgh!
Edinburgh is a great place to visit – at any time of year.
There are lots of activities and visits available, year round – Edinburgh Castle; The Royal Mile; Holyrood Palace, Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat; the Edinburgh Festival; the Fringe; the Tattoo; the National Museum of Scotland, the Scottish National Gallery, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and Scottish National Portrait Gallery; the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Edinburgh Zoo, the Royal Observatory, Usher Hall (concert hall), theatres, Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh Marathon, Hogmanay, the Christmas Market, the Rugby Internationals, Horse Racing (Musselburgh), 2 main football teams, nearby historic Golf Courses (the original Open Championship Old Course at Musselburgh and Muirfield, North Berwick, and many others along the “Golf Coast” of East Lothian). There’s also the Commonwealth Pool for keen swimmers and those needing a workout. It’s also only a short trip to the Pentland Hills, Rosslyn Chapel (of Da Vinci Code fame), the Coast of East Lothian the Firth of Forth, the Forth Bridges, the historic Hopetoun House, as well local breweries and Whisky distilleries. Edinburgh is a green and open city – an ideal place to be Depending upon how much time, and which activities you plan, the different areas of Edinburgh you might choose for your accommodation are as follows:
The Old Town is the historic centre of the city, perched on a volcanic mound, and encompassing the historic Royal Mile, which stretches from The Castle, on Castle Mound at one end, to Holyrood Palace, beside Holyrood Park, at the other. The Old Town is the centre of activities during the Festival (annually in August), and is a great location for exploring the historic centre or being at the hub of city activities at any time of year. It is close to Edinburgh Waverley main railway station, which lies on its northern fringe, as well as being near the city terminal of the tram and airport buses. There are lots of restaurants, cafes and bars to explore.
Flats in the Old Town may be in new-build blocks or the historic Edinburgh tenement buildings. But be ready: the Old Town is characterised by steep inclines, alleyway steps and streetway cobblestones.
The New Town is also right in the city centre – directly north of the Old Town and Edinburgh Waverley – the main railway station. It is not that new: it was conceived and built in the mid-18th century and comprises magnificent Georgian buildings with grand sandstone facades – laid out in grand, wide streets and crescents. The New Town lies just north of Princes Street, the central shopping centre of Edinburgh. It is an ideal base for shoppers, visitors to the Christmas Market, The Playhouse, the Scottish National Gallery and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. The streets are peppered with cafés and small boutique shops.
The historic buildings of the New Town offer flats with Georgian grandeur. The roads and pavements are wide, but while not maybe as steep as the inclines of the Old Town, the New Town too is built on the side of a noticeable hill.
The West End is the name given to the western fringe of the New Town – the area neighbouring Edinburgh Haymarket railway station. The area has a similar charm to the New Town, and is fringed at its northern edge by Dean Village, quaintly perched in the gorge valley of the Water of Leith. Nearby is the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. It is also only 20 minutes’ walk west from Haymarket to the Murrayfield Rugby stadium. The area is easily accessible by means of Haymarket station, which is reached by train, or alternatively by tram or bus from the airport or city centre. Princes Street is a 10 minute walk, and Waverley station is only a 20 minute walk from Haymarket Station – passing The Mound along the way.
Stockbridge, Broughton and Inverleith are residential districts of Edinburgh north of the New Town, which lie close to the valley of the Water of Leith. Central to this area is the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and it is also a good base to explore Edinburgh on foot, or go for walks along the Water of Leith – either the 3 miles east to Leith, Edinburgh’s port on the Firth of Forth – or the 9 miles west, via Dean Village, Murrayfield and the Union Canal to Balerno. Stockbridge and Broughton are around 15/20 minutes walk and Inverleith is around 30 minutes walk to Edinburgh Waverley station and the city centre. Regular buses are also available.
Leith, Portobello and Edinburgh East. Leith is Edinburgh’s port on the Firth of Forth, but no longer as busy as it once was. It is an up-and-coming area – home to Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Yacht Britannia, as well as two Michelin-starred restaurants. Portobello lies south east of Leith, also on the Firth of Forth coast. The green open space of Holyrood Park lies between Portobello and the city centre, which is about 5km due east. Portobello is “Edinburgh’s seaside resort” and has a long sandy beach. It is currently undergoing a revival. Independent local shops and cafes.
Newhaven, Granton, Trinity and Edinburgh North
Newhaven and Granton are former ports and harbours on the Firth of Forth, which became subsumed into the city of Edinburgh. Trinity, formerly part of Greater Leith, and taking its name from Trinity House, a Leith estate is one of the more desirable residential areas of the city – largely a 19th century mansion house estate. A number of golf clubs are located in the green spaces of northwest Edinburgh. Regular public transport provides good access to the city centre.
Fountainbridge, Tollcross and Edinburgh West
Fountainbridge and Tollcross are former industrial areas, based around the formerly important Union Canal, on the western fringe of the city centre. This area is re-blooming as the result of ongoing modern redevelopment. Lothian Road, which runs through the area, south from Princes Street in the city centre, is home to a number of art house cinemas, theatres, cafes and restaurants, as well as the famous Usher Hall concert hall. Further west of Tollcross and Fountainbridge is Murrayfield, Scotland’s national rugby stadium. Nearby is Costorphine Hill, which offers good walks and fine views over the city. At the foot of Costorphine Hill is Edinburgh Zoo. All these sightseeing highlights lie directly on the main AirLink bus route from the airport to the city centre.
Merchiston, Morningside, Newington and Edinburgh South
Edinburgh University and the student community which comprises it, is located just south of the Old Town. Naturally, there are many cafes and restaurants catering for students and young bohemians. Merchiston, Morningside and Newington lie farther south. These are desirable suburban residential areas, comprising largely Edinburgh tenements and Victorian villas. There are also large areas of green on the south side of the city – not only Holyrood Park, from which an old volcano, Arthur’s seat, gives a spectacular vantage point, but also the Meadows, the Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill (home the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh) and the Pentland Hills.