Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, beautifully combines the ancient with the modern to offer a top holiday destination in Europe. It is sometimes referred to as the "Athens of the North" because of the many festivals and cultural performances held here throughout the year, right from the Scottish New Year or Hogmanay celebrations to the Royal Military Tattoo in the summer, which showcases military and civilian performances.
Both the Old Town and the New Town in Edinburgh have been declared as UNESCO World Heritage sites. This is a testament to the city's contribution to architecture.
The Old Town is at the heart of Edinburgh and the Royal Mile, which is a road running the length of the city from the main Castle to Holyrood Palace
, passes through it. The majority of tourist attractions and heritage sites are situated here, starting with the hilltop Edinburgh Castle that is an international landmark and presides over the commercial Princes Street below. This royal fortress has been inhabited for more than 1,000 years. There are many other structures still standing in their former glory or existing in proud ruins.
The New Town is just about a 15-minute walk away; it is primarily built in the late 18th century Georgian style. Here, one can find all the shops, malls and businesses.
There is a port at Leith which was a whaling station until 1965. Portobello is a beach district along the eastern border of Edinburgh, with a nice promenade along the sandy stretch. As visitors move towards the south of the city, student communities dominate the scene with cafes, restaurants, cinemas and nightclubs.
A little distance from this bustling activity, the Rosslyn Chapel
lies shrouded in tranquil mystery. It was built on a hillock above Roslin Glen and has architectural and religious importance. This structure was brought to fame with the movie titled "The Da Vinci Code."
Most locals and tourists prefer to get about the city on foot, but there are excellent bus and train services for the longer distances, with a tram network under development. The maze of narrow, one-way streets in the city center is difficult to navigate and cars are not a common sight on the road.
Rental apartments offer more independence and privacy than a hotel, coupled with convenient home-like facilities. These can be booked around the Old Town to remain close to the main sites, while enjoying its medieval charm.