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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.


Performed by two actors, The Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour's part theatre performance, part booze club and part education, as they take you through Edinburgh's rather astounding, often ridiculous, contribution to modern literature. It's very funny, and the groups are always into it. For more information visit edinburghliterarypubtour.co.uk.

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).

Key Areas

Sat beneath the suburb of Gilmerton is Gilmerton Cove, an underground network of 300-year-old passages and rooms hand-carved from sandstone. Nobody knows what they were used for, but you're welcome to guess on the compulsory tour. Make sure to book in advance, and take good footwear, the floors are slippery. For more information visit gilmertoncove.org.uk.

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

Day Trips

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

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