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Edinburgh, Scotland's beautiful Festival City and historic capital is embraced by the scenic coastline and rich countryside of the Lothians.


No visitor can remain unmoved by the first glimpse of the magnificent city of Edinburgh, a destination distinguished by its World City Heritage status. Exploring the city starts with Edinburgh Castle, with its dramatic tales of siege, dark deeds and intrigue. Scotland's own crown jewels, The Honours of Scotland, are on display within the castle along with an equally potent symbol of nationhood, the Stone of Destiny, on which Scottish monarchs were crowned. The impressive fortress on its crag is a dramatic backdrop to Edinburgh's skyline but there is much more to discover in this amazing city.

Edinburgh's story is told all around the Old Town at places like Huntly House Museum in the Canongate, as well as other historic buildings such as Gladstone's Land, with its glimpse of local life in the 17th century. Many of the city's museums are within easy reach of the Royal Mile, the long thoroughfare linking the Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which has for centuries been a royal residence. Princes Street Gardens mark the New Town's southern edge. Any exploration of these handsome streets should start with the Georgian House in Charlotte Square, which is furnished in the style of the late 18th century, when the fashionable houses here were new.

Edinburgh's attractions reflect its status as a capital city. The National Gallery of Scotland is one of Europe's most distinguished galleries, while the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art holds an impressive selection of 20th century work. The city's Royal Botanic Garden offers colour throughout the year, with the world famous collection of rhododendrons a particular highlight in the spring months, while the Royal Museum of Scotland displays a wide ranging collection in many scientific and cultural fields.


The dramatic cityscape of Edinburgh adds a special dimension to the Edinburgh International Festival, one of the world's principal arts festivals and further enhanced by the lively Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Edinburgh reaches an exciting peak when the Festival, Fringe and Military Tattoo are all in full swing in the second half of August. The Film Festival and Jazz Festival are just some of the other high points around peak season, while there are many other events and festivals going on at other times of the year. Edinburgh is definitely the place to be for that most Scottish of all festivals, Hogmanay. Join in with the Scots as they ring in the New Year in their own inimitable way, with events and celebrations starting on December 28th, running on Hogmanay itself (December 31st) and continuing through New Years Day.


Edinburgh's cosmopolitan outlook means plenty of places to eat and drink - from the special ambience of typical city pubs in Rose Street to some of the most distinguished dining in Scotland. Traditional-style Scottish entertainment with plenty of kilts and pipers is on offer at a number of city centre venues. Meanwhile, the club and disco scene in the capital is fast changing so should this tickle your fancy, just enquire about the latest names on your arrival.


As well as covered modern shopping venues such as the Waverley Shopping Centre, which brings together specialist retailers in a modern mall, the city has plenty of other shopping areas. One can choose from the international flavour of Victoria Street, the friendly atmosphere of Bruntsfield, Morningside, Stockbridge or some of the other suburbs with their excellent range of smaller shops. From Victorian jewellery in Rose Street to tartan rugs on the Royal Mile, antique shops on Causewayside to city centre Jenners (the world's oldest department store), shopping in Edinburgh is a fantastic experience.


If you would like to enjoy the best of city and countryside, then the Lothians are a great option. You could play golf on some of Scotland's finest links courses, discover castles associated with Mary, Queen of Scots and enjoy a boat trip to the spectacular gannet-nesting colony on Bass Rock out in the Firth of Forth. Visitors may also view the city from the slopes of the Pentland Hills, where the Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson once lived.

Coastal East Lothian offers some of the driest and sunniest conditions in Scotland, especially around the town of Dunbar, which has excellent sandy beaches nearby. Also close at hand, Tantallon Castle on its dramatic cliff-top setting near the attractive little resort of North Berwick, offers fine views over to the Bass Rock. A few minutes away is the equally impressive Dirleton Castle, with its 13th century fortifications and lovely gardens overlooking one of Scotland's prettiest villages.

Contrasting with the romantically ruined Tantallon and Dirleton is Lennoxlove House, set a few minutes drive away in the countryside. Still the seat of the Dukes of Hamilton, this ancient tower is also associated with Mary, Queen of Scots. Hidden in the rolling countryside, Glenkinchie Distillery is a reminder that not all of Scotland's fine malt whiskies come from the Highlands.

Off the A68 south of Edinburgh, look for the signpost to Crichton Castle, while Rosslyn Chapel is also within easy reach, where the stone carving is reckoned to be the finest in all Scotland. To the west of Edinburgh, there are other fine castles and stately homes to be enjoyed, including Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots and Hopetoun House, designed and built by the famous Adam family of architects. The 17th century House of the Binns is yet another of the castles and historic houses within easy distance of each other and close to the capital.

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