Cheap flights to Edinburgh
Looking more like a film set than a city, Edinburgh is a picture postcard of Gothic and medieval streets that will impress even the most experienced traveller. Nicknamed the Athens of the North, Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful and atmospheric cities in Europe. It is certainly one of the most visited, seeing over a million tourists trampling its streets each year. They come for its snaking, medieval streets, Georgian architecture, popular festivals and the majestic Edinburgh Castle that has overlooked the city for centuries.
As the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is full of things to see and do, from its scary age-old dungeons and submerged and forgotten medieval streets to art-filled galleries and royal palaces.
The Royal Lyceum opens its 50th anniversary season with an exclusive production of Waiting for Godot staring Brian Cox and Bill Paterson, under Mark Thomson's award-winning direction. From 18 September (Grindlay Street, EH3 9AX, lyceum.org.uk).
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe officially opens on 7 August. Covering all the performance art forms, there are 3,314 productions in venues all round the city centre. Pick up a (heavy) paper programme or access online. Ticket sales all round town, even at the airport. edfringe.com
Running for a week at the end of the month (26 June - 4 July), the Edinburgh International Magic Festival takes over the Summerhall venue with a programme of performances, late-night shows and family events. magicfest.co.uk
Derren Brown, the master of psychological illusion, says that performing live on stage gives him the greatest pleasure. His 2015 tour hits the Edinburgh Playhouse for a week with new show Miracle on 18-24 May (22 Greenside Place, EH1 3AA, playhousetheatre.com).
Don't miss an intriguing exhibition of images recording Picasso's relationship with American socialite and war photographer Lee Miller. He painted her six times, she snapped him rather more. "Lee Miller and Picasso" contains over 100 prints, many chosen from Miller's archive (Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 1 Queen Street, EH2 1JD).
Scottish Ballet recreates founder Peter Darrell's version of The Nutcracker, danced to Tchaikovsky's original score, with designer Lez Brotherston adding sumptuous layers of plush Victoriana to the original 1973 production (13 December - 3 January, Festival Theatre, 13-29 Nicolson Street, EH8 9FT, edtheatres.com/sbnutcracker).
Something Wicked to Edinburgh comes... The smash-hit musical that re-imagines the Wizard of Oz flies into town on 19 November and stays until 10 January (Edinburgh Playhouse, 18-22 Greenside Place, EH1 3AA, atgtickets.com).
Rare oil works, memorabilia and even vintage railway posters feature in the Art of Golf exhibition, charting the rise of "Scotland's national sport" at the Mound galleries until 26 October (£8, Scottish National Gallery, The Mound, EH2 2EL, nationalgalleries.org).
Mr Wood founded this outlet for his local discoveries in 1987. The current owner also imports fossils, meteorites and minerals from all over the world (5 Cowgatehead, Grassmarket, EH1 1JY, mrwoodsfossils.co.uk).
The Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, 30 minutes' east of Edinburgh by train or car, has live video links to nesting birds on the islands in the firth of Forth. The town has a pretty harbour, grassy knoll to climb, sandy beach and several cosy cafes and pubs. seabird.org
For an added zing of style at that Christmas party, Armstrongs vintage Old Town clothing emporium has more classy frocks and groovy outfits than you can shake a cravat at (81-83 The Grassmarket, EH1 2HJ, armstrongsvintage.co.uk).
Stirling, an hour by train from Edinburgh, once laid claim to be Scotland's capital and was the seat of James V. His Renaissance residence there has been restored to its original (1545) vivid colours, complete with the lost unicorn tapestries. visitscotland.com
Had enough off-off West End entertainment? Escape the fringe in Portobello, a 20-minute bus ride east of the city. There's a lovely sandy beach, an esplanade to stroll down and bracing winds off the Firth of Forth to blow the cobwebs away. visitscotland.com
Half an hour west of the city (a bit more on the No.37 bus), Jupiter Artland is a contemporary art and sculpture park, where the art is hidden in the woods and dotted round landforms. jupiterartland.org
The Pentland Hills, south past the city bypass, are good for a day's gentle walking. It might feel remote, but you can get there by bus and back to the city before dark. Lothian buses No.10, to Torphin, and No.15, to Hillend, are good starts.
A trip to St Andrews along the coastal road round Fife makes a great day out. The university town is the spiritual home of golf and the Royal and Ancient is still the governing body on the rules of the game. randa.org