- Lifestyle & Sports
- 11 Sep 14
Scotland’s capital is both scenic and mysterious, with lots to see, do and imbibe.
Where is it?
On the east coast of the UK in southern Scotland.
How do I get there?
Ryanair and Aer Lingus both offer daily flights from Dublin. The Airlink 100 bus provides a 24hr service into the city centre, which takes around half an hour and costs £7 return.
What language do they speak?
Scotland and Ireland have a lot in common: both are stereotyped as big drinking nations, it rains a lot, and the two countries share a common indigenous language... Irish and Scottish-Gaelic.
What’s the local beer?
A hub for craft beer enthusiasts, there are unlimited brews to pick from. A top spot is Jeremiah’s Taproom on Elm Row, a cross between classic Victorian pub and a Brooklyn bar. It offers a variety of craft beer, including the popular Flying Dog, Anchor and Brewdog ranges.
Bramble Bar and Lounge was recently voted the tenth best bar in the World – and it’s easy to see why. An intimate cocktail bar hidden under the bustle of Queen Street, you could easily walk past unawares. Dimly-lit, with bare stone walls and antique furniture, and sporting an impressive cocktail menu ranging between £6 and £10, it’s the perfect place for a few relaxed drinks.
What is the transport like?
A compact town, negotiating Edinburgh on foot is easy. Although, as the city is built on several hills, make sure you have decent footwear. A new tram service runs every ten minutes; taxis are relatively cheap, too.
What’s the food like?
High quality and, compared to Irish restaurants, inexpensive. Rick’s on Frederick Street has fantastic food for a great price, as does Tigerlily on George’s Street (MTV’s Laura Whitmore is a fan). Both are extremely popular and fill quickly: make sure to book a table!
What’s the nightlife like?
As a big student city, the nightlife in Edinburgh is unbeatable. Head down George’s Street to the Opal Lounge or across Victoria Street to the Liquid Rooms for drinks offers and DJ sets. While the majority of clubs close at three in the morning, The Bongo Club on Holyrood Road is open until five. For a more unique experience, Frankenstein’s is an all-year-round, Hallowe’en-themed bar with three floors and dancing monsters. Most pubs and clubs also offer a student discount which should be fully taken advantage of.
Why should I go?
If you’re looking for a European weekend break and aren’t too bothered by cold and wind, Edinburgh has everything you could want. From students on a budget to those seeking to splurge, it has something for everyone: by the time you leave you’ll already be planning your return trip.
What are the touristy things to do?
The city is overlooked by the spectacular Edinburgh Castle, the inspiration for J.K Rowling’s Hogwarts. It is well worth a walk up the hill to investigate. If you’re really into Harry Potter, the Elephant Café on George IV Bridge is where the earliest books were penned. The graveyard opposite inspired some of Rowling’s best-loved characters, with the author taking the names from tombstones! The Edinburgh Dungeons, providing an interactive tour through the grisly side of Scottish history, are also an entertaining way to spend an afternoon. For animal enthusiasts, the zoo is one of the very few in Europe with pandas.
Whether you’re into splurging or not, Edinburgh’s main retail area, Princes Street, makes for some dramatic window shopping. Against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle and the Princes Street Gardens, the mile-long stretch is home to outlets of all kinds, from upscale boutiques to homemade market stalls. Definitely worth a wander.
Anything to avoid?
Edinburgh is one of the safest cities in the UK. Still, as with all big urban areas, keeping your wits about you is never a bad thing.
What should I bring home?
You can’t go too far wrong with Scottish shortbread – as it is sold in nearly every shop you’ll have no problem getting your hands on some.
When should I go?
In winter it can be ferociously cold, with icy, biting north-easterly winds. From March onwards is ideal. If bracing the elements, bundle up warm and remember The Chocolate Tree on Bruntsfield Place has the best hot chocolate imaginable.
What’s my challenge?
Embark on a City of the Dead ghost tour and try not to be spooked. If you succeed, check your pulse.
What’s the currency?
As with the rest of the United Kingdom (pending next week’s referendum!), Sterling.
Something to remember?
While Scotsmen may be able to pull off the plaid skirt (kilt) look, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can too. It’s not for everybody.