Rugged, intense and eye-catching, Edinburgh is one of Europe's most striking capital cities. Gathered around its craggy central castle, the medieval core is a breathtaking warren of cobbled streets, towering spires, turbulent history and one or two striking modern buildings. Only barely less central are museums and galleries of international importance, wild grassy moorland, dramatic viewpoints, huge Grecian edifices and effortlessly elegant Georgian streets. It’s a handsome, memorable city, despite being home to less than half-a-million people, with a cultured, contemporary vibe that peaks during August's annual Festival. Since the Scottish Parliament returned to Edinburgh in 1999 the city has also boasted a renewed sense of confidence that is palpable in the city's increasingly cosmopolitan streets, which finally have trams running on them again in 2014.
An obvious natural fortress, Edinburgh has been an important settlement since before Roman times, first staking its claim as a capital not long after Scotland's formation as a unified nation in the eleventh century. It was central to many of the epic tales of Scottish history, from the tragic Stuart kings and Mary, Queen of Scots, to the tumultuous Reformation that was followed within a century by Edinburgh's Enlightenment when figures such as David Hume and Adam Smith made the city what one observer described as a 'hotbed of genius'. Literary figures such as Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson followed, recording the city's expansion from medieval slum to classical architectural masterpiece, and cementing Edinburgh's reputation as a cultural beacon.
Though often regarded as somewhat conservative by other (perhaps envious) parts of Scotland, twentieth century Edinburgh had an uncanny knack of bolstering its status as the nation's capital, from the arrival and blossoming of the Festival in the years following the Second World War to the establishment of Scotland's devolved Parliament in the final years of the millennium. As a result it remains a busy, important city where politicians, bankers, artists, chefs, tourists and citizens mix daily in an inspiring setting of beautiful buildings, dramatic views and rich history. This sense of importance, of being at the vanguard of the nation and Scottishness, has only been heightened by the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum in September 2014. Edinburgh is, of course, a popular tourist destination, but that translates into a slick visitor experience. Of course duality has always been an integral part of the city's character and enough of dynamic Edinburgh and its rougher edges remains to appeal to those looking for something more than just one of the world's most visually stunning cities.
3 Royal Terrace Edinburgh EH7 5AB
There are four rooms located on the top two floors of this grand Georgian townhouse Michelin star restaurant.
94 Dalkeith Road Edinburgh EH16 5AF
Set in a detached villa on one of the main roads into town, this is a sharply designed guesthouse.
14 Argyle Place, Edinburgh EH9 1JL
Hostel set across the leafy Meadows park from Edinburgh's Old Town.
35 Drumsheugh Gardens Edinburgh EH3 7RN
One of a small collection of locally owned boutique hotels, The Bonham has contemporary cool.
Princes Street, Edinburgh EH1 2AB
A genuinely world-class five-star hotel with castle views.
The Chester Residence
9 Rothesay Place Edinburgh EH3 7SL
Award winning superb luxury townhouse apartments that are a real alternative to Edinburgh’s better hotels.
2 Greenside Place Edinburgh EH1 3AA
A very glamorous boutique bolthole in Edinburgh's heart.
Holiday Inn Express
300 Cowgate Edinburgh EH1 1NA
A mid-range chain hotel in a surprisingly secluded location deep in the Old Town.
1 Nether Bakehouse Holyrood Edinburgh EH8 8PE
Tucked away among the strange jumble of buildings new and old that have come to the Holyrood precinct in the wake of the parliament.
1 George IV Bridge Edinburgh EH1 1AD
A slice of high-end, international glamour from the famous Italian fashion house’s first hotel anywhere in the world.
Hotel du Vin
11 Bristo Place Edinburgh EH1 1EZ
Makes a pretty good fist of the upper end of the mid-priced hotel range, with a level of comfort and service that makes you feel well-looked-after.
The Rutland Hotel
1-3 Rutland Street Edinburgh EH1 2AE
Slick and classy one stop hotel, apartment, bar and restaurant with castle views.
The Scotsman Hotel
20 North Bridge Edinburgh EH1 1TR
Characterful luxury hotel in historic building in the city centre.
The Scott Apartment
North Castle Street Edinburgh EH2 3BU
Luxurious apartment in historical building in heart of Edinburgh.
Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh
1 Festival Square Edinburgh EH3 9SR
A large, extremely well-appointed hotel in the relatively new financial district.
Smart City Hostel
50 Blackfriars Street Edinburgh EH1 1NE
A large, modern, well-run hostel just off the Royal Mile that appeals to a wide range of travellers – not just backpackers.
7 Clifton Terrace EH12 5DR
It may have perhaps Edinburgh smallest hotel rooms, but this innovative and stylish new hotel still packs a budget punch.
Wallace's Arthouse Scotland
41/4 Constitution Street Edinburgh EH6 7BG
A fabulously quirky B&B in the heart of Leith.
The Witchery Suites
Castlehill, Edinburgh EH12NF
Eight indulgent, exuberant and other-worldly overnight apartments linked to the Witchery by the Castle.
- Eat & Drink
3 Royal Terrace Edinburgh EH7 5AB
Spectacular Dining at Edinburgh's Most Daring Michelin-starred Restaurant.
56 North Cocktail Bar & Restaurant
2-8 West Crosscauseway Edinburgh EH8 9JP
High class gin joint and cocktail bar.
57 Broughton Street Edinburgh EH1 3RJ
A tiny, offbeat temple to the coffee bean, with a gleaming roasting machine at the altar.
37-39 Leven Street EH3 9LH
This new venture by the team behind the superb Hamilton’s and Treacle was always going to be good.
80 West Bow Edinburgh EH1 2HH
An evocative, if not entirely original, representation of a venerable Edinburgh 'howf', or
16A Queen Street Edinburgh EH2 1JE
Superb cocktails in the heart of Edinburgh's New Town.
Cafe St Honore
34 North West Thistle Street Lane EH2 1EA
Superb French bistro style dining in the heart of Edinburgh.
Café Royal Circle Bar
19 West Register Street Edinburgh EH2 2AA
One of Edinburgh's finest historic bars, the Café Royal has been in its present premises since 1863.
Linlithgow West Lothian EH49 7LU
Historic Inn Serving World Class Steaks and Superb Seafood.
76 Commercial Street Commerical Quay Leith EH6 6LX
Gordon Ramsay-endorsed local restaurant serving authentic Chinese cooking.
56–58 St Mary's Street Edinburgh EH1 1SX
Sleek, contemporary, respected and popular vegetarian restaurant.
The Dining Room
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 28 Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1JX
A stunning contemporary conversion of a Georgian New Town townhouse, the Dining Room lies within the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
110 Hanover Street Edinburgh EH2 1DR
In some ways The Dogs is a flagship for gastro-pub style dining in Edinburgh.
The Edinburgh Larder
15 Blackfriars Street Edinburgh EH1 1NB
A bright, welcoming café that's just a few yards off the Royal Mile.
The Edinburgh Larder Bistro
1a Alva Street Edinburgh EH2 4PH
Imaginative fresh, local produce served in fresh, local surrounds.
62-64 Bath Street Portobello EH15 1HF
Lively seaside snug on the Portobello Esplanade.
41 West Nicolson Street Edinburgh EH8 9DB
Great value Modern Scottish restaurant.
62 Elm Row Edinburgh EH7 4AQ
Tucked away on Elm Row lies this place serves up great German home cooking.
The Fruitmarket Gallery Café
45 Market Street Edinburgh EH1 1DF
As one of Edinburgh's leading contemporary art galleries, the Fruitmarket makes for a stylish, cultured and handy central venue.
8 - 10 Grindlay Street Edinburgh, Midlothian EH3 9AS
A smart, stylish & colourful Japanese restaurant.
36 The Shore Leith Edinburgh EH6 6QU
Cosy and refreshingly unreconstructed boozer on Leith's trendy Shore.
78 Commercial Quay Leith EH6 6LX
Top notch Michelin dining from the eponymous TV chef in trendy Leith.
Kyloe Restaurant & Grill
1-3 Rutland Street Edinburgh EH1 2AE
Superb Steak Restaurant With Edinburgh Castle Views.
56 Broughton Street Edinburgh EH1 3SA
Adorned with French posters and with a Gallic-flavoured Épicerie (shop) in the basement.
La P'tite Folie
La P’tite Folie 9 Randolph Place Edinburgh EH3 7TE
Superb French dining in heart of Edinburgh's West End.
Loch Fyne Restaurant
25 Pier Place, Newhaven Edinburgh EH6 4LP
Boat fresh seafood overlooking the waters of the Firth of Forth.
The Magnum Bar and Restaurant
1 Albany St Edinburgh EH1 3PY
Under the radar oasis of fine food and wine right in the city centre.
Mother India's Café
3–5 Infirmary Street Edinburgh EH1 1LT
Excellent Indian restaurant in the Old Town.
44A Constitution Street Leith Edinburgh EH6 6RS
Warm friendly local bar with good bar food and friendly staff.
2 George IV Bridge Edinburgh EH1 1AD
Edinburgh-born head chef and owner Roy Brett is at the helm of one of the UK's finest seafood restaurants.
One Square Bar and Restaurant
1 Festival Square Edinburgh EH3 9SR
Swish restaurant, bar and Edinburgh meeting place.
8 Young Street Edinburgh EH2 4JB
Old world boozer in the heart of tourist Edinburgh much beloved of author Ian Rankin.
Old Fishmarket Close Edinburgh EH1 1RD
Great value romantic old town retreat.
Quartermile 27 Simpson's Loan Edinburgh EH3 9GG
Inspired by a Swedish bakery, Peter's Yard brings a bit of Scandinavian chic to Edinburgh.
227-229 High Street Prestonpans EH32 9BE
Cultured and historic real ale pub with its own microbrewery.
Restaurant Martin Wishart
55 The Shore Leith Edinburgh EH6 6RA
Roux-trained chef Martin Wishart gained Edinburgh’s first ever Michelin star in 2001.
A Room in Leith
1a Dock Place Leith EH6 6LU
Buzzy bistro-style cooking down in funky waterfront Leith.
Room in the West End
26 William Street Edinburgh EH3 7
Great value modern Scottish cooking in the West End.
25 Forrest Road Edinburgh EH1 2QH
An atmospheric traditionally furnished bar located in the University quarter.
The Scottish Café and Restaurant
National Gallery of Scotland The Mound Edinburgh EH2 2EL
Located in a recent extension to the National Gallery, this place is a handy sanctuary.
184 North High Street Musselburgh, Edinburgh EH21 6BH
A friendly, relaxed, traditional seaside hostelry.
The Shore Bar & Restaurant
3 Shore Leith Edinburgh EH6 6QW
One of the most convivial and well-lived-in eating and drinking venues in town with seafood a speciality.
6a Nicolson Street Edinburgh EH8 9DH
Located up a nondescript internal stairway, Spoon keeps its charms modestly hidden.
38 St Mary's St EH1 1SX
Solid Modern Scottish Cooking Just off the Royal Mile.
Traverse Bar Café
10 Cambridge Street Edinburgh EH1 2ED
Cultural hideaway in one of the city's cultural hubs.
Under the Stairs
3a Merchant Street Edinburgh EH1 2QD
A bohemian venue that remains a bit of a lo-fi secret among students and chilled-out clubbers.
121 Hanover Street Edinburgh EH2 1DJ
Urban Angel is at the forefront of an ethical attitude to eating in the capital.
Valvona & Crolla
19 Elm Row Edinburgh EH7 4AA
One of the UK's great Italian delis.
Valvona & Crolla Vin Caffè
11 Multrees Walk Edinburgh EH1 3DQ
There's a Milanese slickness about this city centre venue, with an espresso bar on the ground floor and a wine bar and restaurant upstairs.
34 St Mary's St Edinburgh EH1 1SX
This bright, creative gem is a welcome addition to Edinburgh's Indian restaurants.
267 Canongate Edinburgh EH8 8BQ
This superb chef is passionate about ingredients, cooking and unpretentious service.
The Witchery by the Castle
Castlehill Royal Mile Edinburgh EH1 2NF
Dramatically romantic restaurant just next to Edinburgh Castle.
- See & Do
Two hundred and fifty metre-high Arthur's Seat is a former volcano surrounded by three square kilometres of the rugged moorland of Holyrood Park.
Calton Hill is peppered with monuments and bold architecture from various eras, plus world class views.
Comedy at the Edinburgh Festival
The Edinburgh Festival is synonymous with world class comedy.
Castlehill Edinburgh EH1 2NG
A formidable cliff-top garrison right in the heart of the city.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
180 High Street Edinburgh EH1 1QS
This is what most people think of as the Edinburgh Festival.
Edinburgh International Book Festival
5a Charlotte Square Edinburgh EH2 4DR
Unlike the Fringe, the Book Festival takes place in one area.
Edinburgh International Festival
The Hub Castlehill Edinburgh EH1 2NE
Part of the world's biggest arts festival.
Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival
The Hub Castlehill Edinburgh EH1 2NE (box office)
The traditional opener to Edinburgh's August festival season.
Edinburgh Military Tattoo
32 Market Street Edinburgh EH1 1QB (box office)
The annual Military Tattoo is world famous.
Hogmanay Box Office 180 High Street Edinburgh EH1 1QS.
The ultimate New Year's knees-up.
General Register House
2 Princes Street Edinburgh EH1 3YY
Robert Adam's elegant 18th century building is the finest on Princes Street.
George Street and St Andrew Square
George Street Edinburgh.
George Street was designed to be the grand central parade of the New Town.
Royal Mile Edinburgh
The medieval Old Town with its nooks and crannies is ideal for ghost stories and tours.
Grassmarket and Victoria Street
The Grassmarket was Edinburgh's market square in times past.
Leith, the port of Edinburgh, has been reinvented of late.
Mary King's Close
2 Warriston’s Close Edinburgh EH1 1PG
Explore Edinburgh's lost city.
Music at the Edinburgh Festival
Royal Mile, Edinburgh.
Music at the world's biggest arts festival.
National Gallery of Scotland
The Mound Edinburgh EH2 2EL
Scotland's National Art Gallery.
National Museum of Scotland
Chambers Street Edinburgh EH1 1JF
Edinburgh's premier museum.
New Town, Edinburgh.
Edinburgh's 'New Town', in fact well over 200 years old.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse
Canongate The Royal Mile Edinburgh EH8 8DX
The grand royal residence in Edinburgh.
Princes Street, Edinburgh EH1 2AB
Princes Street is one of Scotland's great thoroughfares.
Roslin Midlothian EH25 9PU
An enigmatic, if slightly off-the-beaten-track, sight on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
Royal Botanic Garden
20A Inverleith Row Edinburgh EH3 5LR
Thirty hectares of gardens, mature trees and exotic vegetation.
The Royal Mile
The narrow, sloping, cobbled thoroughfare running from the entrance of Edinburgh Castle to the gates of the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Royal Yacht Britannia
Ocean Terminal Leith Edinburgh EH6 6JJ
One of the world's most famous ships, the Royal Yacht Britannia.
Scotch Whisky Experience
354 Castlehill Royal Mile Edinburgh EH1 2NE
Edinburgh's Best and Most Fun Whisky Experience.
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
75 Belford Road Edinburgh EH4 3DR
The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, housed in a dramatic neo-classical building.
The Scottish Parliament
Horse Wynd Edinburgh EH99 1SP
Enric Miralles' enigmatic collection of buildings divides opinion.
Picturesque waterfront suburb coasting a historic High Street, cosy pubs, decent restaurants and epic views of the Forth Bridges.
St Giles' Cathedral
Royal Mile Edinburgh EH1 1RE
Set right on the Royal Mile, dominating Parliament Square.
Stockbridge is often described as an urban village.
Theatre at the Edinburgh Festival
Royal Mile, Edinburgh.
Theatre is the largest single element of the Fringe.
Water of Leith
The Water of Leith is Edinburgh's river.
The Writers' Museum
Lady Stair's Close High Street Edinburgh EH1 2PA
Edinburgh's status as the first ever UNESCO World City of Literature is celebrated here.
119 George Street Edinburgh, EH2 4JN
A tasteful take on tartan, Anta are contemporary Scottish designers.
83 The Grassmarket Edinburgh EH1 2HJ
Retro central for Edinburgh's fashionistas, with rails packed full of secondhand clothes.
Carson Clark Gallery
181–183 Canongate Royal Mile Edinburgh EH8 8BN
Emporium of old maps, charts, globes and etchings.
12 Bank Street Edinburgh EH1 2LN
The place to find CDs of the best contemporary Scottish folk music.
32 Victoria Street Edinburgh EH1 2JW
If you're not too sure what constitutes a 'liquid deli', check out Demijohn.
Dundas Street, Edinburgh
Sloping steeply north from the city centre towards the Firth of Forth, Dundas Street is an extension of Hanover Street.
Edinburgh Farmers' Market
Castle Terrace Edinburgh
In existence now for over 10 years, Edinburgh's Farmers' Market is one of the largest regular markets of its type in Scotland.
13 Cowgatehead Edinburgh EH1 1JY
Fawns Reid makes original hats, brooches and hatpins.
57–59 High Street Edinburgh EH1 1SR
Proper kilts, sporrans and all things tartan.
IJ Mellis Cheesemongers
30a Victoria Street Edinburgh EH1 2JW
Iain Mellis's name is a by-word for good cheese in Scotland.
48 Princes Street Edinburgh EH2 2YJ
The grande dame of Princes Street department stores.
54 Broughton Street Edinburgh EH1 3SA
For a touch of modern designer Scotland, you could do worse than avail yourself of a Joey D bag or jacket.
3a & 4a Haddington Place Edinburgh EH7 4AE
The most distinguished second-hand and antiquarian bookseller.
278 Canongate Edinburgh EH8 8AA
Funky, colourful, comfortable and stylish knitwear.
172 Canongate Edinburgh EH8 8BN
An essential stop for anyone interested in whisky.