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...
If you're visiting Edinburgh on a budget, I recommend staying at the Argyle Backpackers Hostel.
It's very cheap - my girlfriend and I stayed in a twin room and it was just over £40 a night between the two of us but you can get a bed in a shared room from about £13 a night.
The hostel is in the beautiful Marchmont area, directly opposite an excellent little row of shops - a greengrocers, a vegetarian wholefood shop and an amazing convenience store with a wide range of vegan and organic products.
It's just south of the Meadows and is only a few minute's walk from the Royal Mile.
14 Argyle Place
Phone: +44 (0)131 667 9991
Visit Edinburgh in the middle of winter - at Christmas or at New Year...?
Yes, and I recommend it!
The locals are full of bonhomie; every pub or eatery with a fireplace is welcoming; and the locals, who act as tourist guides at the castle and other touristy places, are happy to see you and have a chat.
Crowds? No ... have have the castle and the whisky tours all to yourself.
You can even venture out of town and maybe have a hit at St Andrews ('cos there is noone else there playing).
There is also the added bonus of Scottish New Year celebrations. Something everyone should do at least once in a lifetime: Hogmanay.
Downside? It's cold - very cold; sleeting and snowing, but hey, nothing a couple of jackets, coats, mufflers, gloves and hats can't fix.
Seriously: go and visit in winter;
it is a different place.
This is probably the best Indian Restaurant in Edinburgh, however, what it lacks is its location.
It's not on a main road or thoroughfare, but don't let that put you off. You'll find it tucked just behind the Royal Museum of Scotland and the Festival Theatre.
Friendly and inviting staff - and great food. No artificial flavouring here just fresh tasting food...oh and ice cold Kingfisher on tap as well!
11 South College St, Edinburgh, EH8 9AA
If you're on a budget and want to see lots of Fringe shows, the Free Festival offers an annual series of free Fringe shows - over 130 different shows are programmed for August 2007.
It makes a change from the usual high ticket prices!
We stayed in one of Edinburgh City Apartment's self-catering flats. The one we stayed in at Jeffrey Street has an amazing roof terrace with fantastic views of the city, and the other apartments are also in great locations.
We loved having our own space and living like the locals - much better (and cheaper!) than a hotel. The owners were really helpful and made us feel very welcome.
A new trendy Edinburgh restaurant in the Bruntsfield area.
They do some great traditional Scottish food and have been awarded an AA rosette for food and service quality.
69 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh EH10 4HH
Tel : 0131 622 8163
On the coast south of Edinburgh, the beaches of East Lothian are wonderful. Choose from Aberlady Nature Reserve (bird watching), Gullane (also good for golf), Yellowcraigs, Tyninghame and the John Muir Country Park at Dunbar. Lovely dunes, yellow sand, interesting bird life and lovely small villages and towns with excellent coffee shops and home baking!
The main East coast rail line runs through East Lothian.
Luca's is one of the best ice cream restaurants in Britain and has almost 100 years of history to prove it.
In cornets, you get a choice of vanilla, strawberry or chocolate - none of the fancy flavours as all their expertise goes into making these just wonderful (you can get tubs of different flavours). Soft and creamy, they're popular all year round. And in winter in Musselburgh, that's saying something.
32 - 38 High Street,
Tel 0131 665 2237
Excellent fish restaurant in local area of Marchmont, just 15 minutes' walk from city centre through the lovely Meadows.
The local fish shop is next door so you know whatever's on the menu is as fresh as it's going to get. We had the salt and pepper squid to start with which I would happily eat again and again and the Thai chicken soup which was flavoured to perfection and contained an abundance of chicken. There are other fish, meat and vegetarian starters.
For mains we chose roast fillets of red snapper, sea bass with cockles, mussels and fennel and pernod sauce and also a grilled duck-breast with a jus of wine and blackcurrant sauce. Both outstanding with fantastic flavours and succulent flesh.
Make sure you leave room for pudding, especially the warm hazelnut and chocolate pudding and also a scrumptious sticky toffee pudding.
Staff are friendly and efficient and the cooking in the kitchen is some of the best you will experience in Edinburgh.
Starters are about £5 and mains about £13.
11 Roseneath Street, Marchmont
Edinburgh, tel: 0131-229 7953
Cosy pub on steep and curvy Cockburn Street. Loads of whiskys (they have a 20 page printed list with taste notes and prices) and good selection of ales. It gets the tourists right enough, but has a good crowd of regulars and enough randoms to ensure an entertaining time. Get a booth at the window and watch the world go by.
11-15 Cockburn St
Right up the road from Waverley Station.
This wonderful little book really made our shopping trip to Edinburgh. It's full of inside information, and having it in our pocket was like having a knowledgeable local with us. An added bonus was discovering parts of the city that we would otherwise have missed.
You can buy it from bookshops or online at www.edinburghshopguide.com
For a west coast lad, it is tantamount to treachery to pay any tribute to an east coast chippy. It puts me on the wrong side of a fundamental Scottish divide: salt and vinegar versus salt and sauce. But I make no apology for preferring the latter, Edinburgh option every time. There's nowhere better for that than Rapido, not far from the Playhouse theatre. In a city packed with very good chippys, this one stands out from the crowd: it's bright and welcoming, it does a massive range of food beyond the basic fish, the chips are always at exactly the right point between too fresh and too stale, and - crucially - it's open late. No night out in the city is complete unless it's rounded off with a smoked sausage supper, smothered in brown sauce.
79 Broughton St, Edinburgh
A beautiful, gothic-style, top-class hotel which whisks you away to another world. It's luxurious, the staff are great and the Secret Garden restaurant serves fantastic food. You do have to book well in advance, but it's definitely worth it!
Right next to Edinburgh castle
It is a small, cosy, beautifully thought out bar on Queen Street away from the crowds of George Street. Lovely generous cocktail menu, gorgeous friendly staff, perfect lighting, comfy seats and cocktail menus bound inside the shells of literary gems (the guts of which went to a good home). It's the attention to detail which stands out here.
Weekends see decent house music played by friends and guests. Just don't tell anyone you don't like about it.
Queen St, Edinburgh
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