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  • Cityscape Cobbles, crescents and castle views
  • City life Wit, wisdom and wee drams

If Scotland’s first city had a front door, it would come with a huge ‘Welcome’ mat.

Whether you’re drawn in by the tartan heritage of the cobbled Royal Mile, the New Town’s graciously elegant Georgian façades or the ever-visible Castle, from whichever angle you look at it, Edinburgh is a knockout. But while it may have the highest concentration of listed buildings in the world, this northern capital is not just for looking at: with an international arts calendar and more booksellers per capita than any other British city, its reputation for refinement and culture is richly deserved. Whether you lose yourself in the Old Town wynds – narrow, crooked paths between houses – linger over a wee dram in the cosy pubs of Cockburn Street or tuck into the catch of the day at one of up-and-coming Leith’s waterfront restaurants, you’ll find satisfaction. Guaranteed.

Do go/Don’t go

How do you cope among huddled masses? The city’s at its liveliest in August, when festival-goers double the population to more than a million. Anyone who doesn’t care for crowds, street performers and pushy flyer-mongers should wait till September, when it’ll be less packed and still sunny. Intermittently.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes Edinburgh International Airport (www.edinburghairport.com) receives countless daily flights from London as well as UK regional hubs and more than 40 European airports and New York. The 30-minute taxi ride into town costs from about £20. The 24-hour Lothian Buses Airlink service takes 45 minutes and costs £3.50; an open return costs £6 (www.flybybus.com).
  • Trains The main station is Waverley, in the city centre; the other is Haymarket, about a mile away. East Coast Trains has fast, frequent trains linking London King’s Cross with the East Midlands, Yorkshire, the North East of England and Scotland on the East Cost Main Line (0845 722 5225; www.eastcoast.co.uk). ScotRail’s overnight sleeper service departs from London Euston seven nights a week (www.firstgroup.com/scotrail).
  • Automobiles Edinburgh is at the heart of the Scottish motorway network so is easily accessible. It’s roughly six and a half hours from London – beyond Newcastle the route is particularly picturesque.
  • Taxis You can hail a black cab from anywhere on the street, or pre-book a minicab through your hotel. Central Radio Taxis (+44 (0)131 229 2468) is the city’s largest operator.