Castle Rock’s smaller sibling is Calton Hill, a grassy spot some 450ft above sea level at the east end of Princes Street. It is from this spot that every postcard shot of the city has been taken, so take a wander up and take in the view for yourself.
Explore the strange structures at the top – including the locally named ‘Edinburgh’s disgrace’ – an overambitious attempt to replicate the Parthenon in the ‘Athen’s of the North.’
Take a picnic and take this short walk to one of the finest views of Princes Street, the Castle and beyond.
Google map: bit.ly/qNhCjl
Edinburgh isn't exactly a city that hides its charms: a castle bang in the centre of town atop dramatic cliffs, a gothic skyline, a cobbled old town crammed full of tourist shops, a Georgian 'New Town' of refined restaurants and leafy squares, and several celebrated museums and galleries.
However, if you tire of tourists and want to seek real, everyday Edinburgh, consider a trip to the district just south-west of the city centre. Tollcross isn't what you would call beautiful, but is home to some of the city's finest ethnic restaurants (such as Number 1 Sushi and Lai Thai), as well as the King's Theatre and the Cameo Cinema. One of the finest arthouse cinemas in the country, the Cameo is both atmospheric and cheap, and with several screens offers something for every discerning cinema goer, as well as a much loved bar seeping with old-world atmosphere. The Beckett Pub nearby is similarly atmospheric, and neighbourhood newcomer, Cuckoo's Nest offers some of the cities best value for money drinks (particularly the cocktails).
Heading up the hill, you reach the Bruntsfield Links on your left, and beyond spectacular views across the Meadows to the Castle, Old Town and Arthur's Seat. Bruntsfield itself is one of the city's loveliest districts, a pleasing mixture of vibrant student district and upscale residential neighbourhood. Its main drag is home to several quality restaurants and bars, as well as a handful of intriguing shops, especially for foodies.
Coco's is arguably Edinburgh's best chocolatier, and sits near to a branch of Peckham's delicatessen and an extravagant cake shop. For those who wish to continue, the main road heads down into extremely well-heeled Morningside (though the shopping strip is perhaps a little underwhelming), and neighbouring the Grange and Merchiston, all of which are home to some beautiful Victorian villas on their leafy streets, and are a pleasure to stroll around.
Tollcross is at the southern end of Lothian Road, a ten-fifteen minute walk from all parts of central Edinburgh. The main road, Gilmore Place-Bruntsfield Place leads up the hill to Bruntsfield and then round towards Morningside. Multiple buses to all of these neighbourhoods, see Lothian Buses website.
Cosy tea room/bistro/restaurant (mind your head!) at beautiful Cramond on the quayside of the River Almond and Forth. A great selection of home cooked local recipes, soups with home made bread, full meals or just a tea, coffee or chocolate and cake.
The stone built artisans cottage was once a cooperage for the long gone brewing pub next door. Lovely walks along the beaches and fields away from the Edinburgh crowds, but within walking distance of the city (four-five miles).
On the waterfront at Cramond, watch the boats swans and seabirds. Buses and a big car park up the hill.
No visit to Edinburgh is complete without a visit to the top of Arthur's Seat - the large volcanic hill in the centre of town.
The views are amazing. Sturdy shoes are a must.
While there make sure you go on a pilgrimage to Hutton's section, the place where one of the great heroes of the enlightenment, geologist James Hutton, deduced in the 18th century that the world must in fact be millions of years old: "there is no vestige of a beginning nor prospect of an end".
From the antique grandeur of the Old Town to the cold classical beauty of the New Town, this is the most beautiful city in Europe.
I am a Canadian who visits every January. The weather is not unpleasant: last year there were days and days of glorious sunshine.
The best place to stay is in the Old Town. This is where all the real-life characters of the city hang out. Sit on a bench in Hunter Square or one close to St Giles and just observe the people. Walk down the High Street from the castle to Holyrood.
A great place to eat is Always Sunday close to the Fringe Office, spend Friday/Saturday night listening to the band at the small Scotsman Lounge on Cockburn.
See you there...
Haha, you don't believe me?
Oh yes, we have got everything here in Edinburgh, and these ruins of a very curious attempt can still be seen behind the emergency exit of the library in Morningside.
Unfortunately, the owners are quite protective of the old cinema, which is not open to the public.
Entry via Springvalley Gardens;
Pics and article: blog.fempages.org/wp/?p=197
Restaurant on top floor with fabulous views of the city. The food is good too, and the lunchtime prix fixe menu is value for money. This is the place to take someone you want to impress and still have a good meal. Service is also good, and not too intruding.
Harvey Nichols, 30-34 St. Andrew Sqaure, EH2 2AD;
tel: 0131 524 8350;
A lovely out-of-town place with a wonderful pub, The Cramond Inn, which has a big beer garden and parking space, and serves loads of good and traditional food for really good prices and has also drinks from a small, independent brewery Scintilla and spectacular beers and ales.
Its near the wonderful seaside promenade, with about 45 min if walked in full.
The path to Cramond Island is only walkable when the tide is out, so take some water with you in case you'll get trapped there with the tide rushing in.
Nice for doggies, kiddies and their owners as there is a big beach, too.
Take bus no 41 directly to Cramond or 42 to first walk the seaside promenade to Cramond;
Cramond Inn: 30 Cramond Glebe Road, EH4 6NP;
tel: 0131 336 2035;
To get out of the city (though not necessarily away from the crowds on a hot day!), head to Portobello, Edinburgh's seaside. The sandy beach, with a promenade, is about a mile long, clean, and reasonably wide when the tide is out. The bustling High Street has various cafes and pubs, and the Dalriada pub on the prom has a beer garden looking out to sea.
The High Street is served by bus no. 26 from city centre, then head for the shore;
Dalriada: 77 The Promenade, Portobello;
tel: 0131 454 4500;
Take an al fresco jaunt with chilled drinking vessels to The Meadows. Get great views of the city skyline on raised grassy knolls where beer and good company can enjoy the respite in Scottish summer weather - welcome global warming (just kidding)!
It’s a popular and well-known area of green in the centre-south of the city - 5 minutes from the George IV Bridge and student area – a 10 minute walk from Princes Street.
Take the short but invigorating journey up the steps from Waterloo Place and climb Calton Hill for a truly panoramic view of the city’s sights, including the Castle, the New Town, Princes Street, Holyrood House and Arthur's Seat. At the top of the hill is a collection of monuments and sculptures, including Nelson's monument and an unfinished but magnificent Athenian Acropolis.
Calton Hill lies just behind Holyrood House and Arthurs Seat.
This fantastic pub in Leith has spectacular views of the Firth of Forth (try and get an outside table for the best views) and the staff are really friendly. It is 'the' place in Leith to grab a drink or a quick meal (the lamb stew is the best dish). It's great for families as children are allowed in the conservatory upstairs.
Trinity Cres, Leith, Edinburgh
Tel: 0131 552 1233
The Scott Monument is along with the Balmoral tower clock and Edinburgh Castle, the most important landmark in Edinburgh. It features a statue of Sir Walter Scott. Sometimes Scottish bagpipers play next to the monument - it is common courtesy to tip him. Go in the morning to avoid the crowds.
The views from this 200ft tower are breathtaking and really give you a perspective on the magnificent layout of Edinburgh and its sights. Be warned though - there is no lift just 287 steps to climb to the top.
The monument lies in Princes Street gardens.
Although not the most beautiful castle, it is Scotland's no 1 attraction. The views from the hill top are superb with excellent vistas of Arthurs Seat, the Old & New Town and Leith.
You can't really miss the castle as it dominates Princes Street and the entire city. It is situated at the western end of Esplanade (the end of Lawnmarket).
At the far end of the Royal Mile is the Outlook Tower, and inside is one of the most remarkable of inventions from the mid-nineteenth century, a Camera Obscura. To visit this is to fall in love with Victorian technology with its gleaming brass and polished mahogany.
Climb to the top of the tower and enter a darkened room with a white circular table in the middle. At the appointed hour a guide appears for the ritual. Above the table in the summit of the tower is a complex arrangement of ropes and pulleys that ingeniously manipulate a variety of lenses. The guide, by means of these, can make images of the streets below appear on the white table, complete with people and traffic. So clever is the system that it is possible to zoom in on individuals, who appear with the most startling clarity.
Visit the Camera Obscura and be captivated by its archaic charm. There is a fascination about this mechanism, which ensures that any subsequent visits to the city will include a return to the Outlook Tower.
And forget the camcorder.
Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh;
tel: 0131 226 3709;
Barely out of the crowds of Princes Street, this peaceful spot is blustery enough to chill your bones at times, but is a great bit of greenery with great views of the Firth of Forth and Edinburgh city centre, and some weird architecture to puzzle over.
Calton Hill, central, near the North Bridge.
Whilst the gardens are free, and it’s a pleasure to walk in the huge park overlooking the Firth of Forth, the castle is by guided tour only. However, there are also arts events organised in the castle. It is a really nice and relaxing place with astonishing views.
There is also a restaurant at the back of Lauriston Park called Lauriston Farm, which is run by Brewer's Fayre, so the meals are pretty low priced and the quality is OK, though the menu is a bit mainstream. Pub is quite child friendly, and has a nice beer garden and huge parking space.
It is also situated near the famous seaside promenade by Cramond, and near the community golf course. Lots of sheep and cows in the fields, too.
Lauriston Castle. 2a Cramond Road South, Edinburgh, EH4 5QD; tel: 0131 336 2060;
For more information see: www.information-britain.co.uk/showPlace.cfm?Place_ID=740;
For pictures see: www.flickr.com/photos/idleberry/sets/72057594130404977/
Maid of the Forth makes up to three trips to Inchcolm a day in the summer season, depending on tides. The trip takes three hours altogether. You pass under the Forth Rail bridge, see the islands in the Firth, and land on Inchcolm, an atmospheric island with a ruined Augustinian abbey and lots of sea-birds.
The ruins include some important rooms which survive nearly intact: an octagonal chapter house; a refectory with reading alcove (great acoustics in both); and the dormitory and calefactory.
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