Edinburgh is twice the town: the Old Town and the New Town, each worthy of a full day’s exploration. Even if you’re only in town(s) for the Festival or the Tattoo, take time out to see the best of the rest as well as the Fest.
Staying in Edinburgh’s Old Town means you’ll have many of the city’s most famous sights within walking distance. Start your morning with a walk up the Royal Mile, stopping for breakfast in Always Sunday and watching the city wake up. Once set up for the day, you can either follow the crowds to Edinburgh Castle or head underground to the fascinating and creepy Real Mary King’s Close, a 17th-century street that was lost for centuries.
To continue the spooky theme, aim for Greyfriars Kirkyard. After a respectful nod to the statue of faithful Greyfriars Bobby (the dog who stayed by his master’s grave for 14 years), explore the gravestones and imposing tombs of this historic graveyard.
Nearby, the National Museum of Scotland offers everything you ever wanted to know about Scotland’s culture, science, art and nature, and will tempt your tastebuds with its fantastic Tower restaurant.
Finish off your Old Town exploration with a stroll past the Scottish Parliament Building and then a hike up Arthur’s Seat for an unforgettable view of the whole city.
New day, New Town. A quick and pleasant walk across Princes Street Gardens brings you to the elegance and beauty of Georgian Edinburgh. Laid out in the late 18th century, the New Town’s smart streets and graceful squares offer great shops and some of the city’s best eating and drinking options.
If the refinement of the New Town has whet your appetite for how the other half lives, take the bus down to the once rough-and-ready but now quickly gentrifying port of Leith and visit the Royal Yacht Britannia. The chintzy décor of the queen’s former floating residence is quite a surprise, as are the separate his and her bedrooms for the Queen and Prince Phillip. To round off the day and continue the maritime theme, dine in one of Leith’s seafood restaurants – Fishers Bistro is a good choice.