Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and with its 448,000 inhabitants UK’s seventh largest city. Edinburgh is situated on the east coast of the central lowlands in southeastern Scotland, on the Firth of Forth. It is Scotland’s administrative, financial, legal, and medical center. The city has also become an important nuclear and electronics research center. Tourism is the cornerstone of local economy. The city has been the capital of Scotland since 1437 and is also the seat of Scottish parliament, which was re-established in 1999 after almost three centuries. The old and the New Town were included in the UNESCO World Heritage sights register in 1995.
Edinburgh , also known as the festival city, never sleeps. Known world wide for its International Edinburgh Festival, the city is a hub of cultural activity. Festivals and events occur throughout the year but the summers are especially packed with festival and events and the city is full of visitors.
Putting together its unique historical charm and a rich cultural agenda, Edinburgh is one of Europe’s major tourist destinations.
Edinburgh has a temperate maritime climate. The temperatures are relatively warm, considering the city’s northerly latitude. Summers are characterized by mild temperatures, sunshine and generally fine weather, although weather is subject to quick changes: from bright sun to rain and vice versa. Temperatures rarely exceed 23°C. Winters are very mild, with daytime temperatures rarely below or around zero. Snowfall is rare. Due to city’s position near the sea great variations in temperatures and extreme climate conditions are nonexistent. July is the warmest month, January is the coolest and October is the rainiest.
January average temperature 2.7 deg Celsius, 55.9 mm rainfall February average temperature 4 deg Celsius, 43.2 mm rainfall March average temperature 5.5 deg Celsius, 50.8 mm rainfall April average temperature 6.6 deg Celsius, 40.6 mm rainfall May average temperature 10 deg Celsius, 50.8 mm rainfall June average temperature 13 deg Celsius, 50.8 mm rainfall July average temperature 15 deg Celsius, 55.9 mm rainfall August average temperature 14 deg Celsius, 66.0 mm rainfall September average temperature 12 deg Celsius, 66.0 mm rainfall October average temperature 9 deg Celsius, 66.0 mm rainfall November average temperature 5.5 deg Celsius, 63.5 mm rainfall December average temperature 4 deg Celsius, 58.4 mm rainfall
The Edinburgh International Airport is located 10 km west of the city, handling a wide range of domestic and international flights, as well as a few transatlantic flights. www.edinburghairport.com /
Airlink Express (no. 100) runs services to the city center from outside the terminal building. Lothian Buses (no. 35) leaves from outside the terminal building to the city center. The services run every 15 minutes from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, afterwards less frequently. A ride takes around 30 minutes, depending on the traffic conditions. Taxis are available outside the terminal building. A ride takes around 30 minutes and costs around £20. There is no rail link to the city.
The only public transport in Edinburgh is buses. There are two companies, Lothian and First. Lothian covers the inner city while First covers areas east and west. Both companies use the same stops but tickets are not interchangeable. www.lothianbuses.com /
Riding a bicycle is a good way of seeing the city center. There are numerous bike lanes and the center is quite compact.
The city center is quite compact and easily explored on foot. Most sights are within the Old and the New Town. The city sprawls over several hills but walking along its picturesque streets is a pleasure not to be missed.
There are many taxi ranks in the city. Taxis are more useful for rides outside the city center, as the center has several restricted driving zones and one way streets.
Car rental is not advisable for the city. The streets are narrow, congested, there are several one-way streets, and parking is difficult. Car rental, however, is a good option for touring the surrounding countryside.
The East Lothian is also known as ‘The Cradle of Golf’. It has been played in Scotland since the 14 th century. Edinburgh and Lothians is one of Scotland’s best golfing regions. The area offers superb golf courses. Here you can find the world-renowned courses Gullane, the Open Championship course at Muirfield and the Open Qualifying course at Dunbar.
You can choose from a wide variety of golf courses: from historical, such as Musselburgh Links, which is the oldest continuously playing course in the world, to the modern courses, such as the specially designed courses at Craigielaw. On the other hand you can also choose whether you prefer sandy links with sea view or parkland greens, you are bound to find your new favorite golfing course.
The city and the surrounding area offer many walking opportunities. Whether just a relaxing coastal walk or long distance treks through glens and mountains, Scotland has it all. The nature is breathtaking and will undoubtedly revive your spirit.
Edinburgh has a great climbing venue, transformed from an old quarry. There are over 200 new routes ranging from beginners to training routes.
Adventure Center Ratho, located 10 km from the city, also offers mini bungee jump, a gym, a bar and restaurant and an auditorium which seats 220 people. The
Just 37 km from Edinburgh, in Glentress Forest, there are mountain biking trails available for all levels of expertise. Trails are available for beginners and advanced riders. In addition, technical courses and guided tours are also available.
You can get a great view of Edinburgh can be seen from the top of Arthur’s Seat, a remarkable piece of nature right in the heart of the city. The hill with its 251 meters is the highest among a group of hills in the Holyrood Park and is located only 1.5 km from the Edinburgh Castle. The hill is a popular walk and offers a magnificent panorama of the city.
This is Edinburgh’s most notable feature, dominating the city skyline. The fortress is also a powerful national symbol. The castle’s complex history is reflected in the array of architectural styles found in the castle complex. Its key features are the Great Hall, St. Mary’s Chapel, Crown Square, and the Scottish National War Museum. The castle houses also Honours (Crown Jewels) of Scotland. Guided and audio tours are available.
Holyroodhouse is The Queen's official residence in Scotland and was originally founded as a monastery in 1128. It is situated at the end of the Royal Mile, Edinburgh’s most fascinating street, lined with 15 th century buildings, churches and museums. The palace is the premier royal residence in Scotland. The palace is still used by the Queen occasionally. Today, the Palace is the setting for State ceremonies and official entertaining.
Guided tours lead the visitors through the royal apartments, the Throne Room, the Great Gallery and culminate in the apartment of Mary Queen of Scots.
The Holyrood Park close by the palace was once a Royal hunting ground, and is today a park open to the public.
A distinctive new landmark, opened in 1998, houses the history of Scotland on five floors of space. The collections represent astonishing diversity; the displayed artifacts range from the earliest times of Scottish history up to the present day.
The museum is an attraction in itself due to its imaginative interior design.
THE ROYAL YACHT BRITANNIA
Address: Ocean Terminal, Leith Web: www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk Phone: 0131/555-5566 Open: March – October: 9:30 am – 6:00 pm; November – February: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.
The magnificent Royal Yacht Britannia is moored at Leith, a port of Edinburgh located to the north of city center. The Yacht was launched in 1953 in Scotland and is now no longer in use, except for tourist visits. The highlights include the Royal apartments, as the yacht was once home to her majesty the Queen and the Royal Family, the engine room, the bridge, galleries and captain’s cabin. Additional onshore visitor center features photos of the yacht’s history.
Edinburgh offers a good selection of international and local cuisine.
Restaurants serving Scottish food range from the purely traditional to the more eclectic and contemporary.
The international cuisine available in Edinburgh is from around the world. In spite of all the exotic flavors of the world’s diverse cuisines, it is Scottish national dishes that are perhaps the most unusual and exotic.
The traditional Scottish fare includes salmon, venison, black pudding (cooked sausage with animal blood), cullen skink (haddock soup), and of course the famous haggis (sheep’s lung, stomach, heart, liver, suet, oatmeal and spices) usually served together with neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and potatoes). Scottish sweets are also well known; the delicious buns, cakes, pancakes, scones and biscuits are usually served with tea. Try also the delicious shortbread and handmade chocolate. More recently, Scottish cuisine has included game and seafood.
For quick and just as genuine snack, try a chippy (fish and chips), and if you are looking for a genuine Scottish delight found nowhere else on Earth, try deep fried pizza, Mars bar, hamburger, or blood sausage.
Budget meals can be obtained in the area of University campus. On Rose St. you can find numerous pubs, serving typical pub food. If you are looking for more upmarket restaurants, New Town and the Royal Mile is the place to go. Leith offers numerous fish restaurants and bistros in the modernized dock area.
Scotland ’s national drink is whiskey. Be sure to try some when you visit.
Date: 10 August - 2 September Web: www.eif.co.uk Location: various venues
The Edinburgh International Festival is an annual festival with a rich program of classical music, theatre, opera and dance performed by internationally renowned artists. The annual three-week festival is located in six major theatres and concert halls, as well as various smaller venues.
THE EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL
Date: 5-27 August Web: www.edfringe.com Location: various venues throughout the city
The Fringe is a part of the Edinburgh International Festival. It begun in 1947, when unofficial theatre groups gathered and performed on the fringes of the official festival. It has come a long way; it broke all records and became the largest arts festival in the world. Every year it brings thousands of performances to nearly 300 venues throughout the city. It still, however, retains the original principle of open access for all performers- there is no selection process. As a result the festival features a stunning diversity of performances. The festival is hugely popular and massively visited.
Set against the magnificent backdrop of the Edinburgh castle, this is the largest get-together of military musicians in the UK. The stunning annual outdoor spectacular features a program of massed military bands, pipes and organs, display teams and dancers from around the world.
The Mela festival is Scotland’s biggest multicultural festival. Its colorful program features music, dance, art, fashion, food, children’s activities, the Mela bazaar and more. The annual event is celebrating Scotland’s multiethnic diversity and was originally founded by the Edinburgh’s Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi communities.
Scottish New Year is celebrated on December 31 every year with big party, fireworks, lots of hugs and a four day free festival featuring fabulous events at various venues in the city. There are street parties, the best loved is Torchlight Procession and the Royal Bank Street Party. In addition there is a huge bonfire on Calton Hill.
The festival is the longest running festival in the UK. The performances are held in various concert halls, theatres, clubs, open air venues, and the program features all styles of jazz performed by international musicians.
Edinburgh has a vibrant nightlife. There is something to be found for every taste; from high culture such as the opera and the theatre of Edinburgh Festival on the one hand, to pubs, clubs, and bars on the other.
Edinburgh, often called the Festival city is best known for its plethora of festivals. The main festival season is August, when the city is overflowing with events and thousands of visitors.
Edinburgh has a large number of pubs, bars and clubs. There is, however, no specific area of nightlife. The best tip is to go to the George Street in the New Town, the High Street in the Old Town, the University area, or the Grassmarket. There is a wide variety of venues, from old-style pubs, to cutting-edge bars and clubs.
The King’s Theatre (www.eft.co.uk) houses productions by major touring drama productions, such as the Royal National Theatre and others. It is also home to Edinburgh’s annual pantomime and amateur society productions.
The Festival Theatre (www.eft.co.uk) is the major venue for Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera, as well as being the central point of the Edinburgh International Festival. The program features modern dance, musicals, international ballet, and other music events.
The earliest history of Edinburgh begins on Castle Rock which was, due to its strategic position, settled already in 850 BC. The 4 th century north Britain was populated by two Celtic tribes, the Picts and the Britons. Two centuries later a third tribe came from Ireland, the Scots, who established the kingdom of Dalriada. In the 7 th century King Edwin of Northumbria built a strategic castle atop the extinct volcano. The settlement came to be called Edwinesburh. In 1018 the Northumbrians were defeated by King Malcolm II and the castle passed into Scottish hands.
The town started to develop in the 11 th century and was growing from the castle downhill. Markets developed at the foot of the fortress. In 1128 an abbey was established at Holyrood. In 1450 the town wall was built, encircling the area of Old Town and Grassmarket. The inwalled area was tightly packed; some buildings rose as high as 12 stories. The town was prospering from the wool trade and the new wealth helped establish the town as a permanent capital of Scotland. The Palace of Holyrood was built at the side of the Abbey in 1498.
Under James IV (1488 – 1513) the city saw unprecedented prosperity. During the city’s Renaissance the College of Surgeons was established, and printing was introduced. The golden era came to an abrupt end in 1513 with the death of James IV and the defeat at the battle of Flodden against the English. In a desperate attempt to defend themselves, the people of Edinburgh started building the Flodden Wall which, completed in 1560, would mark the boundary for the next 200 years. The defeat at Flodden ushered in a century of political instability.
Henry VII tried to force the royal union between England and Scotland. This resulted in the pillage of Edinburgh and the Scots turned to the French for help. French troops came to the city and Queen Mary was sent to Paris to marry the Dauphin, heir of the royal throne. The French drove out the English but, as Catholics, posed a threat themselves, as the locals were becoming increasingly devoted to the ideals of the Protestant Reformation. The radical preacher John Knox returned from the exile in 1555 and soon won over the city with his Calvinist ideas. In 1560 Protestantism was declared the official religion of Scotland. The Scottish Parliament declared the Protestant church independent of Vatican. The Pope’s authority and the Latin mass were no longer accepted.
James VII became King of England, King of Scots, and King of Ireland on 6 February 1685. He moved the court to London and Edinburgh was ignored. The city fell into oblivion. Turmoil continued in spite of political obscurity. In the 17 th century the religious conflicts reached its climax and resulted in a civil war in Scotland and England.
The Act of Union of 1707 united Scotland and England under one Parliament, which further reduced the city’s importance. By the mid 18 th century the city’s fortune turned for the better. Arts and Sciences flourished during the Scottish Enlightenment. The era produced such famous names as Adam Smith, David Hume, Goldsmith, Sir Walter Scot, Robert Louis Stevenson and Allan Ramsay. The city expanded outside the original walls. Plans were made for a new town to be built according to a simple grid system by Scottish architect James Caig. His plan and the Georgian architecture are still seen today.
The city’s population grew enormously during the 19 th century. The number of residents climbed up to 400,000. Industrialization hit Edinburgh less than any other city in Britain.
MODERN (20 TH CENTURY)
After WW II, the cultural life of the city boomed. In 1947 the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe first appeared. Both festivals have held the city in the centre of world’s attention to this day and have helped make tourism the cornerstone of the local economy. The Edinburgh University became a prominent establishment in the areas of medicine, electronics and artificial intelligence. During the mid 1970s the city experienced another greater leap in size. The Old and the New Towns were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1995.
At a referendum in 1997 Scotland voted in favor of re-establishing Scottish Parliament. In May 1999 elections were held and on July1 the Queen formally opened the parliament. The Scots had once again their own Parliament, the first time after 1707.
The city has gained much prominence now that the crucial debates concerning the Scottish government take place in Edinburgh from now on. The city has established itself as an important finance, arts and research center.
When people first meet it is usual to shake hands and say “How do you do”. The Scottish are usually not as direct as Americans and would complain much less frequently. Politeness is highly valued.
Personal space is quite extensive. Stand 2-3feet when talking to another person. Unless you know the person really well, leave out the touching.
Be on time, punctuality is generally valued.
The ‘peace sign’ – the V for victory - is as an obscene sign.
Do not cut in line. This is regarded as very rude. When it comes to drinking, it is rude to turn down a drink. Note that when a group drinks together, people take turns paying rounds for everybody. It is thus seen as rude if you do not take your round.
The best time to visit Edinburgh is from May to September. Summertime is marked by very long days whereas winters are cold and days are short. Nevertheless there is always something happening on the city’s busy cultural agenda.
Expect big crowds and fewer accommodations during the main festival season: August and early September, as well as during the Hogmanay.