Edinburgh

A dramatically handsome and engaging city famous for its magnificent castle and historic Old Town.The setting is wonderfully striking: perched on a series of extinct volcanoes and rocky crags which rise from the generally flat landscape of the Lothians, with the sheltered shoreline of the Firth of Forth to the north. “My own Romantic town”, Sir Walter Scott called it, although it was another native author, Robert Louis Stevenson, who perhaps best captured the feel of his “precipitous city”, declaring that “No situation could be more commanding for the head of a kingdom; none better chosen for noble prospects”. Edinburgh’s ability to capture the literary imagination has seen it dubbed a “World City of Literature” by UNESCO, who have also conferred World Heritage Site status on much of the centre.Come here in August and you’ll find the city transformed by the Edinburgh Festival, the largest arts festival in the world.

Set on the hill which sweeps down from the fairy-tale castle to the royal Palace of Holyrood house, the Old Town preserves all the key reminders of its role as a historic capital, augmented now by the dramatic and unusual new Scottish Parliament building, opposite the palace. A few hundred yards away, a tantalizing glimpse of the wild beauty of Scotland’s scenery can be had in Holyrood Park, an extensive area of open countryside dominated by Arthur’s Seat, the largest and most impressive of the volcanoes. Among Edinburgh’s many museums, the exciting National Museum of Scotland houses 10,000 of Scotland’s most precious artifacts, while the National Gallery of Scotland and its offshoot, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, house two of Britain’s finest collections of paintings.

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