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Melissa McDonald, City Break Specialist

"Visiting Edinburgh is an experience rich in culture and history. Step back in time as you explore the historic Royal Mile where St Giles' Cathedral, Mary King’s Close, and the Palace of Holyrood reveal the city’s intriguing past, or relax in the Princes Street Gardens after a day of high street shopping with views of Edinburgh Castle reigning over the city."

Edinburgh at a glance

A cosmopolitan city rich in history and culture, Edinburgh is brimming with superb architecture, top museums and a vibrant nightlife. With a dramatic cityscape stretching from iconic castles and cathedrals to dormant volcanoes, gardens and glimpses of the North Sea, this short break destination is hard to beat.

Acting as the capital of Scotland since the 15th century, Edinburgh’s history dates back much further with evidence of habitation beginning around 8500 BC. Today superbly preserved architecture such as the Georgian New Town and the medieval structures of the iconic Royal Mile continue to tell Edinburgh’s story through the ages. A wealth of museums can also be found throughout the city exhibiting a treasure trove of history, art and culture.

Known as the ‘Athens of the North’, Edinburgh has long been a centre for education and discovery. During the Scottish Enlightenment, Edinburgh brought to the world’s stage a series of innovators whose impact on the world of science, economics and literature is immeasurable. Visionaries such as Alexander Graham Bell, Adam Smith and David Hume all held a strong connection with Edinburgh, and today their accomplishments are still heralded in the city with museum exhibits, statues and plaques preserving their legacy.

Perfect if you’re looking for:

  • Historic attractions
  • Art and culture
  • Vibrant nightlife

Getting around

Edinburgh has an extensive public bus network that operates throughout the city centre and beyond. Taxis are also readily available in the city centre.

City of Literature

Edinburgh was the first city to be elected a UNESCO City of Literature. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott once called Edinburgh home and today the literary connection continues with well-known authors such as Ian Rankan, J.K. Rowling and Alexander McCall Smith all claiming inspiration from their beloved city.

The Edinburgh Festival

Every summer the city plays host to a number of large festivals collectively known as the Edinburgh Festival. Attracting thousands of visitors each year, the Festival brings a number of art, drama, music, literature and comedy performances to the city, making the selection of evening events hard to top. But there is plenty happening in this vibrant city when the festival isn’t in full swing, with a large number of venues including theatres, clubs, cinemas and pubs with live music open year around.

Get your tailor-made city break itinerary

Osprey Holidays can create a fabulous short break to Edinburgh designed completely around your needs. We can arrange whatever you need, including:

  • All travel and transfers on days of your choice
  • Accommodation from our handpicked range of Edinburgh hotels, to suit your budget and requirements

Our award-winning team can provide expert advice and recommendations, from general questions to tiny details. Contact us now for your tailor-made itinerary.

Important information
Population 471,700
Languages English
Currency Pounds Sterling
Visa Information No visa required for EU citizens
Average temperatures

(monthly highs °C)

Interesting facts

Are you brave enough to experience one of Edinburgh's ghosts tours? It's a great way to learn about the city's darker history.

Distance from airports
Edinburgh Airport 6 miles
Railway stations
Edinburgh Waverley
Haymarket

Things to do in Edinburgh

  • Edinburgh Castle: Enjoy stunning views of the city from the castle dating back to the 12th century.
  • Ghost Tour: Spooky tales of the city’s past are brought alive on a journey through the old closes and wynds of the Old Town.
  • Palace of Holyroodhouse: The Queen’s official Scottish residence lies at the foot of the famous Royal Mile.
  • Edinburgh Zoo: Book a visit to see the giant pandas in this popular city attraction!
  • Arthur’s Seat: One of Edinburgh’s seven hills, Arthur’s Seat offers a variety of different walks and provides the best views of the city.
  • National Museum of Scotland: The new galleries at the National Museum of Scotland re-opened in July 2011 after extensive refurbishment. The museum today houses a fascinating array of treasures from around the world, taking in the natural world, world cultures, science and Scottish history.

Tours and Excursions

Edinburgh Castle: Skip-the-line

An impenetrable fortress set upon a long-extinct volcano, Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline in the very heart of the city. On this tour, you will bypass the queues to visit the Crown Jewels of Scotland (including the Stone of Destiny), the National War Museum and birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, and learn about the long, and often bloody, history of the castle. At the end of your tour feel free to stay and explore at your leisure.

Royal Yacht Britannia

Described as ‘Scotland’s leading visitor-friendly attraction’, the Royal Yacht sailed over a million miles on nearly a thousand official visits for the British Royal Family. Now berthed in Leith, it offers a unique glimpse into the life of the Royal Family and their guests with highlights including the State Drawing Room, the Queen’s bedroom, the Sun Lounge and Admiral’s cabin.

Scotch Whisky Experience

For whisky novices, the Silver Whisky Tour offers the perfect introduction, with a fun barrel ride through a replica distillery, introduction to the whisky producing regions, a dram of whisky and gift of a tasting glass. For those looking for a more in-depth tasting, choose the Whisky Masterclass with a guided viewing of the world’s largest collection of whisky and comparative tastings of a selection of Blended, Single Grain and Single Malt whiskies. 

Local Gin Tours

Gin has never been more popular and Edinburgh is fortunate to have two highly regarded small-batch producers, both based in the city centre. Edinburgh Gin, located at the west end of Princes Street, offers a variety of tours – Gin Discovery Tour, Gin Connoisseur Tour and Gin Making Experience - while Pickering’s, situated within the interesting Summerhall complex, offer a one-hour tour, three days a week.

Rosslyn Chapel and the Borders

This comprehensive tour through the Scottish Lowlands will take you to Rosslyn Chapel, where you will hear tales of the Knight Templar, and then on to the town of Melrose and Melrose Abbey, the alleged burial site of Robert the Bruce’s heart. Admire the stunning scenery and stop at Scott’s View over the valley of the River Tweed, a favourite spot of author Sir Walter Scott. Before returning to Edinburgh, enjoy a tour and tasting at Glenkinchie Distillery, a rare lowland whisky distillery.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo

A highlight for many visitors, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is held every August as part of the Edinburgh Festival. Whilst traditionally a military affair, today the Tattoo features performers from all over the world, with light shows and fireworks against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. Each year features different performers and a different theme and, amazingly given the Scottish weather, there has never been a cancelled performance!

We would be happy to arrange an excursion for you. To discuss options with a member of our knowledgeable team or to book, please contact us on 0131 243 8098.