Things to See & Do in and Around Edinburgh
Scotland’s inspiring capital city is a fusion of fabled streets and historic buildings, contained within a vibrant modern city. Voted the best city in the UK by a survey of 10,000 people (2009), it is stunningly beautiful and also compact, with a wonderful atmosphere and very friendly people.
It’s the perfect fusion of old and new. To enjoy the historic wonders of the Old Town, you can trail from the iconic Edinburgh Castle at the top of the Royal Mile all the way down to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh, and the new Scottish Parliament.
Across the green expanse of Princes Street Gardens lies the elegant Georgian New Town, with its stunning architecture, leafy gardens, stylish boutiques and fantastic restaurants
In the midst of these gracious surroundings, Edinburgh is alive with inspiration and innovation. For centuries it has nurtured some of the greatest minds in philosophy, economics, finance, literature, law, medicine, engineering and architecture. Often referred to as the ‘festival city’, Edinburgh offers a year round programme of arts and cultural events.
Edinburgh is home to the Scottish Parliament, holds the national museums and national collections of art, has four universities, the national headquarters of banks and financial institutions and a thriving new sector in life sciences and bio-technology.
Arts & Culture
With over sixty galleries, six major performing art theatres and a host of wide-ranging visitor attractions, there really is something for everyone in this vibrant and culturally-diverse city. Art, music, architecture, theatre, history, crafts… all aspects of cultural life are here!
The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh are designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Visitors can take an informative guided bus tour around the city or, if time allows, enjoy exploring it on foot, discovering the winding alleyways of the medieval city and the spacious crescents and terraces of the Georgian New Town. It is a truly inspiring city, celebrated all over the world for its contribution to the arts.
For golfers, there are many stunning links courses just half an hour’s drive from the city centre. Nearer the city itself, there are castles, palaces and art galleries to explore, or you can visit the royal yacht or one of the cities historic buildings. For more informal fun, you can unwind with Scottish fiddle music in a traditional pub in the Old Town.
For more information on events, exhibitions, theatre, comedy, etc. taking place in Edinburgh then The List offers a comprehensive set of listings and an events search for Edinburgh (and other towns in Scotland); EdinburghGuide highlights all manner of events and provides regularly updated reviews of arts events, in particular music and theatre performances; and EdinburghFestival is the website, run by the Scotsman newspaper group, that gathers reviews and previews of Edinburgh’s many festivals.
Edinburgh has more restaurants per head of population than anywhere else in Britain. Delegates may choose from anything from African and American, Italian and Indian, Mexican and Mongolian, Thai and Turkish to, of course, traditional and modern Scottish food using the best local produce from Scotland’s natural larder – smoked salmon, venison, seafood, cheeses, oatcakes and soft fruits are particularly popular!
For more information on restaurants and culinary highlights, such as the weekly Edinburgh Farmers Market, take a look at the Eat Scotland website. You can also find guides and reviews of restaurants on The List Restaurant Guide and in Bite magazine.
Shopping in Edinburgh is a wonderful eclectic experience. Delegates can wander through the Old Town and explore the curiosity shops tucked away in quiet hidden wynds and closes – where they’ll maybe find their family tartan, luxurious cashmere or some beautiful Celtic jewellery. They can stroll along George Street for stylish boutiques and designer labels and visit the internationally renowned department store, Jenners, on Princes Street or the upmarket and stylish Harvey Nichols around the corner in St Andrew Square.
For more information on some of the shopping highlights in Edinburgh take a look at the Visit Scotland guide to Shops & Shopping, see The List’s Independent Shops listings or take a look at the Guardian’s guide to the 10 Best Independent Shops in Edinburgh.
The official conference accommodation at Pollock Halls is located just behind the Royal Commonwealth Pool which offers swimming, gym, fitness classes and all manner of possibilities for delegates wanting to get active during their stay. The whole complex has just been refurbished and the 50m pool significantly upgraded. It is, in fact, the location for the British Swimming Olympic Training Camp – the team will be taking up residence just after OR2012. The pool gets particularly busy in the summer holidays so we would advice delegates to check the website or ask at reception to check for pool set up and/or fitness class availability.
Walkers, runners, cyclists and geology fans will be delighted to hear Pollock Halls is also located next to the world famous Arthur’s Seat, a dormant volcano at the centre of Holyrood Park. The park is a scheduled ancient monument offering a wealth of beautiful and very popular walking, running and cycle paths as well as a lake, pond, and fantastic ruin on the Holyrood Palace side of the park. In addition to multiple paths around the park there are also several well maintained and only modestly challenging routes to the top of the Seat that afford fantastic views of Edinburgh – a real treat, particularly in early morning or early evening light. Those looking for shorter walks will find the route up the Crags (also within the park) an easier path still offering wonderful city views.
There are many other fantastic opportunities to get active in Edinburgh from specialist Yoga centres, to walking tours, to Dance Base, the National Centre for Dance. So do take a look on the web and if you are looking for people to run, walk, swim, cycle, or belly dance with then why not follow the lead of keen OR2012 runners and post up a new discussion on the OR2012 Crowdvine?