Edinburgh is one of Europe's most popular tourist destinations, attracting roughly 13 million visitors each year; and it's no surprise as to why. With so many remarkable attributes - from an amazing theatre and art scene, to a rich cultural history - anyone who visits the city is sure to go home with something to talk about.
Edinburgh is renowned for its theatre scene; the city is, after all, home to the Fringe Festival - the largest performing arts festival in the world. Countless theatre productions can be found running in Edinburgh at any given time of the year; the city's main classic-production theatres include Usher Hall, the Royal Lyceum Theatre, King's Theatre, and the Playhouse, while the Traverse Theatre offers a more contemporary programme of plays.
In addition to theatres, Edinburgh boasts five National Galleries - so anyone who loves art is sure to be impressed. Tourists can even pay a visit to ‘Dolly’ - the first cloned mammal - which is now on display at the Royal Museum. Edinburgh also features a Writer's Museum in light of its rich literary tradition; some of the most famous writers who lived or worked in Edinburgh include Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson and more recently, Ian Rankin and Irvine Welsh.
Ghost tours are particularly popular with tourists as well; beginning on the Royal Mile, visitors are guided down into the city's underground streets and vaults - relics of previous life in Edinburgh - while being relayed with stories about the ghosts which now occupy them. A ghost tour is one of the city's quintessential tourist attractions, and taking one is well worth your time - even if you don't believe in ghosts.
While tasting haggis is also a classic part of experiencing Scotland, one can't help but notice that Edinburgh is strewn with international restaurants. From Jamaican and Moroccan to Thai and Indian food, anyone who loves to try different flavours will be absolutely delighted. Edinburgh also carries a prominent ‘coffee culture’ by way of its countless charming cafes and coffee houses. Harry Potter fans can even visit the famous Elephant House café, where J. K. Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter book.
While the bustle of the city is truly amazing, there are various opportunities in and around Edinburgh for anyone who loves the peaceful outdoors. Arthur's Seat in Hollyrood Park, for example, offers spectacular hiking trails which lead to breathtaking views over the city; the Royal Botanical Garden is also a great place to spend an entire day or an afternoon. And if you'd like to take a scenic stroll in the city, head to Princes Street Gardens or up to Calton Hill, where you'll see the National Monument and get a great view of the city. If you'd like to get away from the bustle of the city for a bit, you can also easily arrange a day-tour up to the Highlands from Edinburgh.
While there are countless activities to partake in during the day, Edinburgh also boasts an exciting nightlife; from small, intimate pubs and live-music venues to elegant bars and clubs, anyone out for a night on the town will not be disappointed. The Grassmarket is lined with pubs and bars, while the New Town boasts the newest fashionable venues.
Other must-see attractions in the city include the Edinburgh Castle, the Scott Monument, St. Giles’ Cathedral, the Royal Yacht Brittania and the National Monument on Calton Hill. But the city's most renowned attraction is undoubtedly the summertime Edinburgh Festival - a collection of independent festivals focusing on theatre, music, film and literature. The most famous of these include the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Edinburgh International Festival, which hosts high profile productions and classic musical performances. The Festival begins in early August and last for four weeks - a period during which the city's population doubles.
The Edinburgh Hogmanay celebration is another immensely popular event; and while the street party - which draws 100,000 people on New Year's Eve - is the main event, the celebration lasts for four days, and is famously one of the largest New Year's Eve gatherings in the world.
With the Edinburgh Airport just half an hour from the city centre, it makes sense to fly in rather than to take a lengthy train or bus ride. Countless flights to Edinburgh arrive into Edinburgh daily, so why wait any longer? Start planning your trip today, and see what 13 million people flock to each year; you'll then see that art, culture and haggis truly can be elements of a harmonious holiday.
Andrew Regan is an online journalist who enjoys socialising at his local Edinburgh rugby club .