Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, and while it is one of the smaller European capital cities it boasts some unique features, as well as annually hosting some truly world class entertainment. The International Festival and Fringe, and the mammoth Hogmanay (New Year) celebrations draw visitors from around the world to the city every year. In addition, the unique geography and location of Edinburgh offers the chance for some active outdoor pursuits, a nice compliment to the more standard urban leisure options that you might expect of a city break in other parts of the world.
Edinburgh Castle – the venue for the Military Tattoo that is one of the centrepieces of the International Festival – is built on a dormant volcano, with the rest of the city undulating out from this focal point, one of the oldest city centres in Europe. Walking around the different areas of Edinburgh can provide ample exercise in itself, while another dormant and unoccupied volcano right next to the city centre, Arthurs Seat, provides the unique opportunity to gain an introduction to hill walking without leaving the city. Make sure that you check your travel insurance covers possible damage to expensive equipment like cameras and phones if you feel like tackling this mini mountain, as despite the city centre location there are several parts of the walk that can offer a significant challenge to the novice. Some of the budget travel insurance policies out there exclude adventure style sports like hill walking. However, with a little shopping around you’ll find that many travel insurance providers like Santander offer more comprehensive cover for such pursuits at an affordable price.
Those planning to visit in August for the Fringe, which is now the largest arts festival in the world, should be aware that accommodation prices in the city spike during this time (the same is true of the Hogmanay celebrations). In addition, taxi prices in the city are pretty hefty in comparison with the rest of Scotland, and this is the case all year round. Tickets for Fringe shows can be picked up relatively inexpensively, especially if you book early, but be prepared for eating out and drinking to frequently cost about as much as it does in that most expensive of U.K. cities, London.
Thankfully, the quality of the food served in some of the restaurants and gastro pubs in Edinburgh can rival that on offer in the English capital, many featuring the world class seafood that is produced in Scotland. The large student population of the city has also resulted in the proliferation of plenty of affordable eating options, most easily found with a little online research prior to your visit to the city. Botanic gardens, and the Shore of Leith also offer both greenery and seaside respectively, and all within walking distance of the city centre for those that are reasonably fit. Cycling is also a popular transport option in Edinburgh, although again a degree of fitness is required to deal with the many hills in the city.