World-class culture, striking architecture and a dazzling nightlife, Edinburgh is a city that will leave you awestruck and wanting more
With an imposing castle looming in the distance and art and history museums galore, Edinburgh is where you can experience Scottish culture at its finest. Climb up Castle Rock, explore the UNESCO-listed Old Town, or taste some fine whisky. Scotland’s capital city is always ready to bring you the ultimate tourist experience.
When to go
Spring (March to May) doesn’t usually bring temperatures higher than 14°C (57°F). Take advantage of the mild weather to explore the castle and many museums in the city.
Summer (June to August) is the best season to visit. The weather is mild with average highs around 19°C (66°F). Every August, the city hosts a string of cultural festivals including the Edinburgh Fringe festival, where comedy, dance, opera, and cabaret (among others) delight tens of thousands of fans.
Autumn (September to November) is a great time to visit for budget-conscious travellers as summer crowds have gone home and hotel prices fall once again. September is especially nice with temperatures averaging around 13° (55°F). The weather begins to cool down by November, however, with lows of 3° (37°F).
Winter (December to February) is wet but never that cold. In December, tourists flock to celebrate Hogmanay, Edinburgh’s New Year Festival.
It is best to walk, cycle or use public transport in central Edinburgh. Car and bicycle hire are available from several companies, but black hackney cabs, buses, and the tramline are just as easy to use. For more information about modes of transportation in Edinburgh, visit our Getting around Edinburgh guide.
Scotland’s most famous tourist attraction is still an active army base. This massive fortress high up on Castle Rock houses St. Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest surviving building in the city. It is also here that the Edinburgh Military Tattoo – a parade of the massed pipes and drums of the Scottish regiments – takes place every August.
National Galleries of Scotland
Scotland’s national art collection is held here, including the world’s most widespread collection of Scottish art and other work by some of Europe’s greatest artists. The art is displayed across three locations in Edinburgh: the National Gallery Complex, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the Modern Art Galleries.
National Museum of Scotland
With over 8,000 objects on display, this museum incorporates everything from Scottish history and art to world culture, natural science and technology. Highlights include the hands-on Imagine gallery and the new Art, Design and Fashion gallery.
For more ideas of where to visit, check out our Things to see in Edinburgh guide.
Quirky and offbeat
Climb up to the summit of Arthur’s Seat and be rewarded with glorious views back across town and splendid vistas across the Firth of Forth. Make sure you have the appropriate footwear and a bottle of water.
Catch some waves
About 48km (30 miles) east of Edinburgh is Dunbar, home to a burgeoning surf community. Come here to watch surfers carve their way through some waves or grab a board and check out the impressive swell yourself.
For more offbeat ideas, see our Things to do in Edinburgh guide.
Must-try foods in Edinburgh:
- Haggis – Scotland’s national dish made of oatmeal, offal, and various spices, usually cooked in the stomach of a sheep.
- Black pudding – Another traditional Scottish cuisine, this pudding is made from pig’s blood, sausage meat, and oatmeal.
- Whisky – You should definitely go out of your way to sample a few drams of Scotland’s most famous export.
For more recommendations, check out Edinburgh food & drink guide: 10 things to try in Edinburgh, Scotland
Hotels in Edinburgh
Edinburgh has a wide range of accommodation options to suit every pocket, with everything from luxury lodges to cheap hotels. If you’re going for something a bit fancier, try The Scotsman where you can also enjoy a spa that covers two floors of the hotel. If you’re on a budget, there are many options including the cosy rooms at The Alexander Guesthouse or the Crowne Plaza Edinburgh.
For more information on the accommodations Edinburgh has to offer, visit our Edinburgh hotels guide.
Nightlife in Edinburgh
Edinburgh loves a good party with pubs open well into the early hours and clubs playing dance music for some serious clubbing action. Cowgate is a popular hub for students while George Street embraces those looking for a swankier evening. Check out our Edinburgh nightlife guide for recommendations.
Visa Requirements to Edinburgh, United Kingdom
EU citizens and nationals from 56 countries can enter the United Kingdom without a visa. For more information on visa requirements to enter the United Kingdom, visit our United Kingdom visa and passport guide.
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