In a country known for its rugged and awe-inspiring landscape, colorful history and whisky, Edinburgh stands out as the center of arts and culture. Its annual Fringe Festival, the world’s largest performance-art festival, brings celebrated performers and thousands of tourists to the city every August, but Edinburgh is an enchanting getaway any time of year. As you walk along charming cobblestone streets, Gothic architecture rises up against a backdrop of rocky cliffs and the formidable North Sea. Spend your day touring medieval landmarks or hiking up an extinct volcano in the middle of the city; after sunset, check out Edinburgh’s famed comedy scene or cozy up in a local pub.
The Dunstane Houses
A pair of Victorian townhouses make up the romantic, family-run Dunstane Houses. The five-star hotel is only the latest occupant of these historic buildings, built in the 1860s, which have housed merchants, musicians, doctors, bankers and newspapermen. Today they boast 35 uniquely designed rooms that strike the perfect balance of tradition and modern comfort. Start and end your days of exploring Edinburgh’s winding streets and rich history at the Ba’ Bar downstairs, which offers a full Scottish breakfast as well as one of the widest selections of vintage whiskys and artisanal gins in the country.
Chef Tom Kitchin opened his eponymous restaurant on Edinburgh’s Leith waterfront in 2006 with the philosophy “From Nature to Plate.” Located in a converted whiskey bonded warehouse, The Kitchin blends seasonal Scottish ingredients with traditional French cooking techniques. Through a glass window in the dining room, watch as Kitchin and his team prepare delicacies like hand-dived Orkney scallops baked in the shell and smoked-to-order North Sea wild halibut. The bar menu is extensive, but we suggest sipping on a Stag’s Ruin for a distinctively Scottish nightcap.
Take A Walk
Scotland’s compact capitol city is supremely walkable, and the best way to experience it is on foot. Although there are several stunning walks and urban hikes throughout Edinburgh, we recommend Arthur’s Seat. The extinct volcano, located at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, is the highlight of sprawling Holyrood Park. Several trails of varying levels of difficulty will get you to the peak, which offers panoramic views of the city. From there, take off through cobblestoned streets to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Housed in a pair of historic buildings, the galleries include works by Picasso, Matisse, and Warhol as well as a sizeable collection of Surrealist art. Don’t skip the extensive grounds, which are punctuated with stunning sculptures. When you’re ready to rest your feet, enjoy a show at one of Edinburgh’s famed comedy clubs. The Stand established the city as a comedy destination with its nightly performances, showcasing both local and international stand-up comedians. Always a favorite venue at the Fringe Festival, it’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in local culture and get a taste of Scotland’s characteristic sense of humor.