Edinburgh panorama - looking towards Holyrood and Calton Hill
Striking, sophisticated and forward-looking, Edinburgh rightly considers itself one of the major capital cities of Europe. It`s the home of both a young parliament and an ancient tradition and that may be the city`s secret - the blending of the old with the new to create an ever-changing and evolving centre of vibrant population. After all, it was only in Victorian times that industrial Edinburgh was known as `Auld Reeky` because of the poisonous combination of smoke and fog that would cling to the blackened building.
Today, the city prides itself on being one of the cleanest and most attractive in the UK. Of course, it`s probably most famous as the home to one of the most expansive and eagerly anticipated annual arts festivals in the world but don`t worry if you can`t make it during the festival weeks in August. There`s plenty more to see and do in the city and it`s the perfect destination for a weekend-break.
Edinburgh`s location is dramatic in itself. The city is surrounded by seven hills and the highest of them, Arthur`s Seat, is actually an extinct volcano. The climb is a popular one, though, because the views over the city are spectacular. It`s also nice to be able to tell your friends that you climbed a volcano while you were on holiday! More views can be had from the historic castle.
Art galleries and museums in Edinburgh are free to enter and there are also a number of fascinating sight-seeing tours available. Edinburgh`s Old Town has always had a reputation for being a haunted city and ghost-walks are always popular. The City of the Dead Haunted Graveyard Tour or a walk through Damnation Alley should give you a taste of what`s on offer.
On a more substantial historical note, there`s also the Real Mary King`s Close. This collection of old streets, alleys and closes lay preserved beneath the city`s Royal Mile for more than a hundred years.
Now renovated and opened up, the Real Mary King`s Close has revealed the actual streets on which the city people lived, worked and died between the 17th and 19th Centuries. And while you are in the Old Town, make sure you look in at the National Museum of Scotland where 36 galleries play host to more than 20,000 objects reflecting the life of the nation down the years.
If you thought Scottish cuisine was about no more than deep-fried Mars bars think again. Edinburgh has some of the best restaurants in the UK presided over by a collection of award-winning chefs. There`s no shortage of Michelin stars in the Edinburgh foodie firmament! And if it`s a wee dram you`re wanting there are a number of traditional Scottish pubs which will oblige you - with many of them providing impromptu folk music sessions courtesy of the regulars.
And talking of tipples, no trip to Scotland would be complete without an investigation of the country`s national drink. The Scotch Whisky Experience traces the history of Scotland`s most famous export to the world. And don`t forget the souvenir shops. You`ll want to make sure you take home your haggis.
With all the great help and advice available from immigration you`ll soon realise that a weekend break in Edinburgh is a capital idea!