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.
Notorious for his sense of the macabre, DC Jackson's dark gangster comedy "Kill Johnny Glendenning" is the unlikely choice at the Royal Lyceum this month, running 17 September - 11 October (Grindlay Street, EH3 9AX, lyceum.org.uk).
There's a strong German element to this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival on 18-29 June in cinemas around the city. The blockbusters are hosted in the Festival Theatre, but check Neu! Reekie!'s fringe event at Summerhall. edfilmfest.org.uk
David Haig wrote and stars in Pressure, on at the Royal Lyceum from 1-24 May, an intense real-life thriller about the most important weather forecast during WWII (30B Grindlay Street, EH3 9AX, lyceum.org.uk).
Edinburgh International Science Festival (5-20 April) has added Summerhall as a hub to its city-wide venues. With shows for all ages, it finds the scientific heart of everything from gastronomy to gambling. sciencefestival.co.uk
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).
Sitting Ducks, the first exhibition dedicated to "Renaissance Man" John Byrne, gathers a varied selection of the artist's drawings, paintings and multimedia works from across his career in the Portrait Gallery. nationalgalleries.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).
A proper, old-fashioned sweetie shop, the walls of Tynecastle Treats and Sweets are lined with colourful jars. Here are Lucky Tatties, proper Edinburgh rock and gobstoppers galore (104 Gorgie Road, EH11 2NP, tynecastletreatsandsweets.co.uk).
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
The Water of Leith walkway winds through Edinburgh, but is at its best in the deep-cut riverbank path between Stockbridge and the Gallery of Modern Art.
The Kelpies, 30m-high monuments to Scotland's horse-powered heritage, tower over the Forth and Clyde Canal, a 40-minute drive west of Edinburgh along the M9. Visible from the motorway, they form the centrepiece of the surrounding Helix parklands. thehelix.co.uk
Dunbar, birthplace of conservation movement founder John Muir and start of the new cross-Scotland John Muir walkway, is a 40-minute train journey east of Edinburgh. Muir's birthplace houses a small museum (126 High Street, EH42 1JJ, jmbt.org.uk).
St Abb's Head sticks out into the North Sea an hour's drive east of Edinburgh. From the picturesque harbour of St Abb's, easy clifftop walks pass the precipitous nesting ledges of thousands of seabirds.