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Street Performers In Edinburgh | © Pixabay
Street Performers In Edinburgh | © Pixabay

12 Reasons Everyone Should Visit Edinburgh At Least Once

Picture of Tori Chalmers
Updated: 20 April 2017
To both natives and visitors, Edinburgh is a cultural playground of possibilities. It’s alive. A city of literature, festivals, art, architecture and food — the fun is never ending. Add the fascinating mix of history, heritage and Scots tradition into the mix and it’s just verging on too much! Discover the top reasons to visit and see what all the fuss is about. As if you needed persuading!

Because Hogmanay Is One Epic Party

When Hogmanay hits Edinburgh, the city becomes magnetic. Scores of people from all over the world mingle amidst the cobbled streets waiting for the string of famous live bands to resonate around every corner. Barrels of booze and whisky galore pop up at the copious parties, ceilidhs and shindigs. When midnight arrives, swathes of chipper folk unite through linking arms and belting out Auld Lang Syne in true Scot style. Fireworks outshine the Scottish stars by giving off a resplendent performance on the hour every hour. There’s a reason why a mishmash of cultures collide to experience this uniquely Scottish celebration — there’s no party like it!

Midnight Fireworks | © Chris Watt / Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Hogmanay

Midnight Fireworks | © Chris Watt / Courtesy Of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay

Edinburgh Knows How To Host A Festival

From the world famous Fringe and the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, to the Edinburgh International Science Festival, TradFest Dùn Èideann (a celebration of Scotland’s traditional arts), and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, there’s something for everyone all year round. If that doesn’t suffice (it should), there’s also a festival for jazz and blues, art, film, beer, gin, vegans…you get the picture!

Gaelic Drummers | Courtesy Of This Is Edinburgh

Gaelic Drummers | Courtesy Of This Is Edinburgh

Speaking of Festivals…

Let’s talk more about the Fringe. As the world’s largest open access arts festival, the Fringe has quite the reputation. Throughout the duration of August, myriad actors, performers, musicians, artists and creatives of all skill sets take the city by storm with reams of shows, cabaret performances, circus acts, puppetry events, interactive workshops and more. Venues spring up from nowhere in the most unassuming places, arty accents adorn every space and the buzz is contagious. The fun part? Come rain or shine, Edinburgh becomes Scotland’s own New York City — it doesn’t sleep!

© Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

© Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

The Buildings Tell A Thousand Words

Edinburgh’s architecture is worth raving about. From the planned Georgian masterpieces of the New Town to the arrangement of organic medieval buildings in the historic Old Town, and contemporary masterpieces like Enric Miralles’s Scottish Parliament Building, the design prowess is both enchanting and enviable. Once more, there’s a whole lotta history there to leave the mind reeling for days on end.

It’s A City For Book Lovers

Edinburgh, being an official city of literature, is a pilgrimage site for book lovers and a perpetual source of inspiration for writers. All you have to do is look around at the buildings, the scenery, the Castle — the sheer untamed beauty is enough to send the most unenthused of writers into an award winning novelist!  From the Writers’ Museum and the iconic Scott Monument (the largest monument to a writer ever), to the room in the Balmoral where J.K. Rowling finished Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, the literature lover’s tour, and inspirational quotes inscribed on stones in Makars’ Court, it’s almost too good to be true.

Scottish Fiction | Courtesy Of Tori Chalmers

Scottish Fiction | Courtesy Of Tori Chalmers

Edinburgh Is Great For Foodies

Whether fresh Scottish salmon, shortbread, seasonal veggies or the finest cut of Scottish beef, Edinburgh is famed for its first class restaurants sporting an abundance of palatable fare. From on-the go takeaway options and al fresco dining with castle views, to Michelin-starred and vegan, it’s indeed possible to tour the world simply through the plenitude of flavours and dishes available in Edinburgh.

Restaurant Martin Wishart | Courtesy Of Alan Donaldson

Restaurant Martin Wishart | Courtesy Of Alan Donaldson

It’s A City Suited To Fitness Fanatics

Fitness lovers can have a field day in Edinburgh with the vast array of running routes, yoga studios, CrossFit gyms and hiking opportunities. Arthur’s Seat is the perfect place to let off some steam, while there’s no better spot to practice laps than the famous Commonwealth Pool, diving board and all. When it comes to fitness goals, the Edinburgh Marathon is considered the fastest in the UK, while The Seven Hills Of Edinburgh challenge is the ultimate test.

Edinburgh At Christmas Is Truly Magical

When winter hits, Scotland and it’s capital transform into a true Winter Wonderland. The aromas of mulled wine and schnitzel are just as tempting as the goodies caressing the German Christmas Market in Princes St Gardens. The Street Of Light, with it’s maze of twinkling stars, is something out of a fairytale and the pop-up ice rinks provide the perfect weekend entertainment.

Edinburgh Christmas Market | © Lloyd Smith Photography and Film / Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Christmas

Edinburgh Christmas Market | © Lloyd Smith Photography and Film / Courtesy Of Edinburgh’s Christmas

Then Again, Summer Is Pretty Amazing Too…

Then there’s the way the parks and gardens look in Autumn with the twirling, amber-hued leaves. Oh, and the way the city becomes infused with vivid flowers in Spring. But, back to summer. When the sun shines, there’s a never ending list of fun outdoor activities to do like al fresco dining, the great night life and lounging in the Meadows. When it pours, there’s plenty of fun inside too. At the end of the day, you just can’t go wrong visiting in any season!

Because Burns Night Festivities Are Like No Other

If swinging by Scotland’s capital around the 25th January, then it is absolutely worth your while to partake in any of the many Burns Night celebrations, all of which are held in honour of Scotland’s national Bard and beloved poet Robert Burns. From fancy to low key, Burns Suppers offer a personal glimpse into this prestigious deep-rooted tradition. In true Scots style, there is tartan, whisky, poetry readings, ceilidh dancing and haggis!

Haggis, © Janet Ramsden, taken 8 March 2013, Flickr,

Haggis | © Janet Ramsden/Flickr

The History

A snippet of Edinburgh’s colourful history is unraveled with every glance of a medieval building, stroll down an old whispering close and with each step on a worn cobbled stone. From the chilling tales of the witch trials and the hidden underground city (visit the Real Mary King’s Close for accurate historical depictions), to the Castle, Covenanters, Greyfriar’s Bobby and hangings in the Grassmarket, history buffs will be in their element.

Group on The Close | Courtesy Of The Real Mary King's Close

Group on The Close | Courtesy Of The Real Mary King’s Close

It’s A Harry Potter Playground

Consider Edinburgh the original Harry Potter world. After all, the city is partly responsible for inspiring J.K Rowling throughout her writing journey. The deeper you delve into Edinburgh’s heritage, buildings and history, the more you see the wonderful world of witchcraft and wizardry. Forget the sorting hat — take a tour of the many local haunts linked with HP and see what all the fuss is about!