Scotland’s capital city offers a stunning natural setting framed by extinct volcano Arthur’s Seat and a lush network of green parks and seaside suburbs. The city’s Royal Mile is picture-perfect, taking you past quirky shops and stately museums as it winds its way up to the Edinburgh Castle through Old Town. New Town sits nearby with its Georgian terraced homes and sophisticated shopping outlets. The city springs to life each summer for its world-famous Edinburgh Festival, a celebration of theatre, yet there’s a lively buzz year-round in the city’s art galleries and trendy restaurants.
You could spend a whole week in Edinburgh and fail to see all its main sights. There are historic hotspots at every turn in this centuries-old city! Many are crammed into the medieval Old Town, which houses the Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, and Royal Mile. View stained-glass masterworks at St Giles Cathedral and archaeological treasures at the National Museum of Scotland. If you want to taste a dram of Scotland’s finest export, visit the fun and interactive Scotch Whisky Experience. And dive beneath the city’s surface on the Real Mary King’s Close Tour, which takes you underground to Edinburgh’s original 1600s-era streets.
Edinburgh’s cruise terminal is located in the regenerated dockside neighbourhood of Leith, right next to the modern Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre. Here you’ll find a bevy of transport links and services, including an ATM, taxi rank, and handy bus stop. It’s a quick journey on the bus into the historic city centre, or a 15-minute taxi ride. Leith itself offers a number of attractions, including the Royal Yacht Britannia. If you dock at Rosyth, you’ll take a shuttle to the main terminal building with taxis on hand. Central Edinburgh is easy to explore on foot, and there’s also a simple tram and bus system to help you get about!
If you dock in Leith, you’ll find a very convenient car park just to the side of the main terminal. This is large enough for buses, used by the cruise companies for shore excursions. Long-term car parking is also available here with room for up to 450 passenger vehicles. These spots are usually controlled by the individual cruise lines, so it’s a good idea to contact the line or travel agent before your journey to make a reservation. You’ll also find a range of parking facilities in Edinburgh’s city centre, but you’ll need to take a taxi to and from the lots.
One of Edinburgh’s many nicknames is the ‘Athens of the North’, so called for its role as a hub for intellectual activity during the Scottish Enlightenment. It’s still a place of connection for great thinkers, due to its annual arts and literature festivals as well as its top-rated university.
You can feel like you’re in the middle of nature without even leaving the city by taking a hike up Arthur’s Seat. This extinct volcano stands 800 feet high, with a series of different trails snaking their way to the summit. You can choose a short or long route, but either way you’ll be rewarded with great views all the way to the sea.
Although Old Town is the first point of call for many visitors, New Town is also worth a visit. Here you’ll find a line of bars, restaurants and shops lining George Street, as well as a smattering of museums including the National Gallery of Scotland. Here you can see works from Rembrandt, El Greco, and a whole floor of Scottish artists.
The Port of Leith was once the setting for Trainspotting (among other areas), but today it’s been revitalised with its Ocean Terminal shopping mall, trendy restaurants, and charming cobbled streets along the water.