Best Bar: A boutique hotel with a variety of internationally-themed luxury bars, Le Monde (George St) is Edinburgh's venue of choice for the discerning party-goer.
Best Scottish Restaurant: Stac Polly provides the ultimate Scottish food experience. Boasting a central location and a range of inventive takes on traditional dishes – such as haggis in filo parcels – this eatery fuses highland charm with modern cuisine.
As all good sports fans will know, the 6 Nations rugby tournament is underway once again and Murrayfield in Edinburgh will be hosting two matches in February and March. While tickets to see the Scotland v England game on February 8th or the Scotland v France match on March 8th will be hard to come by, there’s no reason why you can’t soak up the atmosphere at one of the city’s top sports bars.
There are several excellent watering holes for watching a game and enjoying a pint (or two), but we’ve picked out three of the best for you to consider.
Aspen Bar and Grill
66 South Bridge
Aspen Bar and Grill is a great place to watch live sports as it has many smaller TVs, in addition to the main screen, so no matter where you end up sitting or standing, you should get a good view of what’s going on. The food on offer here is standard pub fare, with burgers and chips the most popular items on the menu. And if beer’s not your thing, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the extensive cocktail menu they have.
32 Forrest Road
Doctors is another firm favourite among sports fans, with four HD screens showing you all the action in crisp quality, as well as a large projector screen, and an impressive selection of ales behind the bar. What’s also nice about this place is that it has a very friendly atmosphere and is still something of a locals’ bar, despite being situated in the heart of the city centre. You can expect some friendly rivalry during big sports matches, particularly internationals.
9b Victoria Street
Our final suggestion is Finnegan’s Wake, another central pub that’s got a great atmosphere on match days. It’s one of the venues that will be screening all the 6 Nations action (in case you can’t get tickets). There are several big screens here, as well as smaller TVs positioned around the bar. It’s spacious with a lot of standing room (although it will be packed on a match day) and the bar offers a good variety of beers, ales and other drinks to keep everyone happy.
If you’re looking for the ideal place to whisk your loved one to for a romantic break, look no further than Edinburgh. While the Scottish city may not seem to be the most romantic place in the world, there’s an awful lot here for couples to enjoy.
We’re going to give you a suggested guide to spending 24 hours in Edinburgh on a romantic break you’ll never forget.
Start your day at Rosslyn Chapel
Rosslyn Chapel is one of the most picturesque churches in Edinburgh, and a very romantic place to begin your day together. This place of worship was founded in 1446 and has been used for services ever since. The exterior and interior of the church are beautifully decorated, with the carvings of local and exotic plants among the building’s standout features.
There are regular guided tours of the chapel, which allow you to learn more about its incredible heritage and design. These are included as part of the entry fee and don’t take longer than an hour. From Monday to Saturday, the first tour is at 10am, while on Sunday tours begin at 12.45pm.
If the weather is good, also take some time to wander around the peaceful churchyard, or take a stroll to the nearby Rosslyn Castle. As the chapel is located outside the city centre, you should allow around half an hour for the drive.
Coffee and cake on The Shore
The Shore in Leith is a beautiful and peaceful corner of Edinburgh, located next to one of the quays in the Albert Dock Basin. After you’ve spent a couple of hours exploring the chapel, now is a wonderful time for some refreshments, and there are a few outstanding coffee shops in this part of the city.
One that particularly stands out is Mimi’s Bakehouse, which has become something of an institution in Edinburgh. This delightful cafe serves up amazing coffee, tasty homemade cakes and (if it’s not too late) brilliant breakfasts made using locally-sourced produce.
Pause here for a breather before taking a walk along the waterfront, which is stunning when the sun is out - if the weather isn’t so kind, enjoy the cosy atmosphere in the cafe and snuggle up close to your partner.
From here, we’d suggest making a beeline for the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. If you’ve got the car, it’s just a quick ten-minute drive, while the number 36 bus will bring you within a short walk of the attraction from The Shore. Alternatively, you can walk the whole distance, which will take around 45 minutes.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charming place to discover, but in the winter months it’s best to head to the glasshouses, of which there are several. These giant conservatories replicate the conditions in some of the world’s hottest and most humid climates, allowing a wide variety of exotic flora to grow.
Admission to these structures is just £4.50 per person and, when you consider that access to much of the rest of the site is free, is well worth the cost. The largest of the glasshouses covers two levels, so you and your loved one can lose yourselves among the plants and find a secluded spot to contemplate the peace and beauty of this attraction.
Once you’ve spent an hour or two admiring the displays here, you can head back into the centre of Edinburgh for a few more romantic treats before the day is out.
Climb Scott Monument
The weather will probably inform you choice of transport from the gardens to our next suggestion - Scott Monument. There is a bus that takes you directly to the landmark in Princes Street Gardens that departs from Canonmills, a short walk from the Royal Botanic Garden (jump on the number 23 or 27). Alternatively, you can take a half-hour stroll via Arboretum Place and past Queen Street Gardens to get there.
Ideally, you want to time it to be arriving at Scott Monument shortly before sunset. There are 287 steps leading up to the top, but it’s more than worth the effort when you see the stunning views of Edinburgh laid out before you and made all the more special by the glowing sun sinking beneath the horizon.
Take a bit of time to soak up the sight of this wonderful city and to catch your breath before you make your way down again. As well as the photos you’ll no doubt take at the top, you’ll also have a certificate marking your achievement to take home as a memento.
Dine at the Witchery by the Castle
After climbing all those steps to get to the top of Scott Monument, you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s less than a ten-minute walk to the final stop on our romantic day out - The Witchery by the Castle, where you can have a wonderful meal together.
In case you haven’t heard of this iconic Edinburgh restaurant, it’s the perfect place for a sumptuous dinner after a day of sightseeing. The decor is best described as Gothic opulence, while the menu features numerous dishes to die for, including roast halibut, roast loin of Cairngorm venison and artichoke and herb tart.
Round off your meal with a delicious dessert - chocolate tart with orange blossom ice cream, passion fruit and mascarpone trifle and chocolate brioche bread and butter pudding with pistachio ice cream are just a few of your options.
If you’re hoping to explore some of Edinburgh’s historic attractions on your next trip to the city, there are worse places to begin than with those that have royal associations. There are a host of places with links to the monarchy here, and a great way to see those, as well as other parts of the city, is to go on a walking tour.
We’ve come up with a suggested route below that will lead you to some of Edinburgh’s top royal sites.
Entry fee: £16 for adults
Sitting atop a hill in the centre of the city, Edinburgh Castle is instantly recognisable and very easy to find, making it an excellent starting point for your walking tour. A fortress has stood on this spot for centuries, with many Scottish monarchs having lived here, including Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Margaret.
In the 17th century, the castle became a military base, bringing with it new additions, such as a secure jail for prisoners of war. Among the main points of interest now are the Royal Palace, where Scotland’s monarchs would have spent much of their time, the Great Hall that would once have hosted incredible banquets and the Crown Jewels, which are the oldest in the British Isles.
It’s also worth wandering around the National War Museum, which deals with 400 years of Scotland’s military history and is home to some fascinating personal accounts of various conflicts.
Palace of Holyrood House
Walking time from Edinburgh Castle - approximately 20 minutes Entry fee: £11 for adults
The walk from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyrood House is in itself a regal attraction, as it takes you along the Royal Mile. This mile-long street is a direct route between the two and passes many of the city’s other historic attractions along the way.
Among the landmarks to look out for as you stroll are the Scottish Parliament, St Giles’ Cathedral and John Knox’s House. At the end of the street you’ll see the Palace of Holyrood House standing proudly, with Arthur’s Seat behind it.
This is the Queen’s official residence in Scotland and is a beautiful Baroque palace that was once the home of Mary Queen of Scots. Although you won’t have access to the whole building, there are several parts of the palace that you can explore.
The Historic Apartments are a good place to begin, as these show you what Holyrood House would have been like in the 16th century, when Mary Queen of Scots was living here. Her chambers are located at the top of the west tower and are a faithful re-creation of how they would have been in during her short reign.
Also make sure you visit the State Apartments, where the Queen and other members of the royal family entertain when they’re staying in the palace. There are some beautiful pieces of art hanging on the walls, as well as impressively ornate plaster ceilings. The Great Gallery is the largest room in the castle and where you’ll find a series of portraits by Jacob de Wet depicting real and legendary monarchs of Scotland.
Scottish National Portrait Gallery
Walking time from the Palace of Holyrood House - approximately 20 minutes Entry fee: Free
Walking from the Palace of Holyrood House to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is very straightforward. You head over to Calton Road and follow this street until you reach the stairs that lead to Regent Road.
Follow Regent Road to the left and keep walking until it turns into Princes Street. After a short distance, take a right turn on to St Andrew Street and follow this, passing St Andrew Square. At the end of the road turn left on to Queen Street; the gallery will be on your left-hand side.
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is home to several permanent exhibitions that showcase portraits of people who have been important in Scotland’s history and development. There are monarchs among them, as well as authors, scientists and even artists.
Among the Scottish royalty you should look out for here are Prince Charles Edward Stuart, George III, Queen Victoria and Mary Queen of Scots. It’s also a great opportunity to learn more about some of the country’s other historical figures, including Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson and John Knox.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Walking time from the Scottish National Portrait Gallery - approximately 25 minutes Entry fee: Free (unless you want to go inside the glasshouse)
Once you’ve had your fill of the paintings at the gallery, make your way to the final stop on this little tour - the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. When you leave the gallery, turn left onto Queen Street and then take a right through Queen Street Gardens. Continue onto Howe Street as you exit the park and make your way for SE Circus Place, which will be on your left.
Continue following this road, which will turn into Kerr Street and then Deanhaugh Street. At the third crossroads (by the Stockbridge Tap bar), turn right onto St Bernard’s Row. After a short distance you can turn left onto Arboretum Avenue and then left again onto Arboretum Place, which will bring you to the gardens.
The Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh cover 70 acres and this peaceful green space is located just one mile outside the city centre. The gardens were first established in 1670 by two doctors - Robert Sibbald and Andrew Balfour - who had travelled in Europe and wanted to grow and make use of foreign plants in their medical practices. The gardens grew over the centuries and eventually moved to their current location in the early 19th century.
There are many interesting and beautiful horticultural features to see here, but one not to miss on your royal tour is the Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden, which was opened in 2006.
As you can imagine, there’s always a lot going on in Edinburgh and 2014 is no different - the city has a full calendar of events. We’ve picked out a few of the best that are coming up.
Burns Night January 25th
Burns Night celebrates the birthday of the country’s national bard - Robert Burns - and is a great time to try some traditional Scottish food at one of the many banquets hosted in his honour.
Beltane Fire Festival April 30th
Head to Calton Hill to join in with the Beltane Fire Festival, the revival of an ancient Celtic ceremony dedicated to fertility. There’s a procession and plenty to see and do over the course of the day.
TradFest April 29th to May 11th
TradFest is a celebration of a host of folk arts, including storytelling, music, dance and crafts. There is always a wide variety of performances, workshops and other events going on during this period.
Edinburgh International Film Festival June 18th to 29th
Forget Cannes, the Edinburgh International Film Festival is the place to be in June. The event aims to showcase new and exciting talent in the world of cinema, as well as showing previews of international movies.
Edinburgh Art Festival July 31st to August 31st
The Edinburgh Art Festival is the largest visual arts event in Scotland and is a wonderful time to visit the city and explore its many galleries. Local and international talent work together to make this a month to remember for art lovers, with new commissions and exhibitions showcased.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe August 1st to 25th
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world and is therefore one of the biggest events on the city’s calendar. There are street entertainers, impromptu shows and an impressive schedule of theatrical and comedic performances. If you can only make it to Edinburgh for one big event in 2014, make it the Fringe. You’ll find famous performers alongside up-and-coming acts; it’s a great place to spot new talent and be the first to see the next big thing.
November 13th is the start of Edinburgh’s third annual Previously History Festival, with a wide variety of events scheduled over the coming two weeks. Live music, storytelling, poetry readings and exhibitions are just some of the things you can look forward to.
With all of these exciting attractions focusing on Scotland’s heritage, we thought it would be good to draw your attention to a few of Edinburgh’s less famous - but no less interesting - historical sites.
The Real Mary King’s Close
Where: 2 Warriston’s Close, beneath the Royal Mile
The Real Mary King’s Close is a fascinating visitor attraction in Edinburgh, but one you’d never know was there if you didn’t know where to look. This is an amazing warren of streets and alleys hidden beneath the busy Royal Mile that was once at the heart of this bustling city.
This network of passages has been preserved underground since the 17th century and offers a fascinating glimpse into Edinburgh’s past. When you visit here you’ll be guided around the subterranean maze by a costumed tour guide who’s in character and who will happily tell you a host of stories about the city and how this part of it came to be underground.
Interestingly, this particular close is named after Mary King - a prominent businesswoman from the 1630s. She was a widowed mother of four who traded textiles and she’s just one of many characters that you can learn more about at this attraction.
Where: between Bruntsfield and Morningside
Holy Corner is an interesting spot to visit in Edinburgh with its main sights the four churches that stand on each corner of a junction. It received its colloquial name in the Victorian era, which is when these places of worship date from.
These churches sit on the crossroads between Morningside Road, Colinton Road and Chamberlain Road. Three of the four are still used for religious services, with each practising a different variation of Christianity.
They are Christ Church (Scottish Episcopal), Morningside United Church (Church of Scotland and United Reformed Church) and Morningside Baptist Church (Baptist), while the fourth place of worship is now the Eric Liddell Centre. These landmarks represent the religious rivalry that sprung up in the Victorian period and offer an interesting glimpse into this era of the city’s development.
Where: Craigmillar Castle Road, just outside Edinburgh
Craigmillar isn’t exactly hidden, but it is often overlooked by visitors who prefer to explore the more famous and prominent Edinburgh Castle. It’s located just outside the city but it’s well worth the trip to see, as it’s one of Scotland’s best preserved castles.
The original 14th century tower house still stands at the centre of the complex, while battlements and thick walls surround it. Elsewhere in the castle are a host of guest rooms, a grand hall and even a basement prison.
Craigmillar Castle also has links to Mary Queen of Scots, which you can explore during a trip here. In addition to the fortress, the estate is also home to parkland and gardens, which made it a delightful rural retreat on the edge of the thriving city in days gone by.
Where: Edinburgh’s Old Town
Although Flodden Wall existed before the 16th century, it is largely known as a defence constructed to protect the city from English invasion following the Battle of Flodden in 1513. Originally, the battlements enclosed the Grassmarket area and the religious complexes of Blackfriars and Greyfriars.
However, it did little to deter incursions and was then largely dismantled in the mid-17th century. Some sections of it remain, though, with the best preserved of these found in the Vennel, which is just to the west of Grassmarket, on the west side of the Pleasance and in Greyfriars churchyard.
You can just visit one part of the wall or go on a short walking tour between the various sections that remain - this is actually a lovely way to explore a bit more of Edinburgh’s Old Town too.
St Anthony’s Chapel
Where: Holyrood Park
In the central part of Holyrood Park are the remains of St Anthony’s Chapel, a small religious building that is thought to have been associated with the nearby Holyrood Abbey. This site is rather intriguing because so little is known about its past.
It’s thought that it could date back as far as the 1300s and, as well as the possibility of it being an outlying chapel for the abbey, there is a theory that it acted as some kind of beacon for religious seafarers on their way up the River Forth thanks to its prominent hillside location.
Only parts of the north wall are still standing today, but despite this it’s worth a visit for the stunning views. You can only reach it on foot, but it’s a lovely walk and a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh’s streets for an afternoon.
Edinburgh is one of the UK's most beautiful historical cities, home to countless stunning buildings and wonderful attractions to explore. It should come as no surprise that the best way to get around here is on foot.
We're going to give you a suggested walking tour between just three of Edinburgh's beautiful churches. The route we're recommending also leads you past several of the city's other top attractions, so take your time and enjoy this journey of discovery.
Starting point: St Mary's Cathedral
St Mary's Cathedral is one of the iconic sights on Edinburgh's skyline, with its three spires making it easy to find. This has the honour of being the largest ecclesiastical building in Scotland and it's a spectacular example of Victorian architecture.
Take some time to admire the spires towering above you and its impressive facade before venturing inside. There are a few features to look out for in the cathedral, including the Lorimer Rood Cross (a national war memorial created in 1922) that hangs above the Nave Altar and the Paolozzi Window - a beautiful stained glass piece based around the Ascension that was designed by Sir Edward Paolozzi.
It's worth noting that the cathedral opens its doors at 07:30 every day, so if you want to get an early start on your walking tour you won't have to skip the treasures inside.
Next stop: Greyfriars Tolbooth and Highland Kirk
Greyfriars Place Walking time without stops: approximately 30 minutes (1.2 miles)
From St Mary's Cathedral, head south-east down Palmerston Place and cross over the A8, following Torpichen Street. Continue on the road as it curves south and merges into Morrison Street. Keep walking along this road, you'll pass an Odeon Cinema on your right just before you cross the A700 and find yourself on Bread Street.
Continue straight on and take a slight left on to West Port. This street leads you to Grassmarket, an excellent place to have a break before you move on to Greyfriars Tolbooth and Highland Kirk.
Grassmarket is a charming old market area that's now home to a range of independent stores, quaint cafes and outstanding restaurants. There are several great pubs here, too, with some - such as The Last Drop and Maggie Dickson - boasting names that allude to the square's history as a place for public executions.
Aside from the shopping, food and drink, another reason to pause in Grassmarket is for the wonderful views of Edinburgh Castle, which is clearly visible above the buildings to the north of the square. If you want to get a closer look at the castle, detour just before you enter Grassmarket - take a left on to King Stables Road, you can always retrace your steps to get back to the main route.
Once you've finished exploring Grassmarket, make your way on to Cowgatehead. You'll reach a roundabout very shortly and you need to bear right on to Candlemaker Row. There are several restaurants along this street - including the aptly-named Greyfriars Bobby Bar - at the bottom of the road, turn right on to Greyfriars.
Greyfriars Tolbooth and Highland Kirk
Greyfriars Tolbooth and Highland Kirk has the distinction of being the first church to be constructed in the city following the Reformation, with the current building dating from 1620. In addition to the church, there's also a museum detailing the site's history.
In the museum you can learn about worship at the Kirk throughout the centuries and see a number of important artefacts, including an original copy of the National Covenant, which was signed in 1638.
You can also learn about the story of Greyfriars Bobby, a dog who waited faithfully by his master's grave for years. There's even a statue erected in his honour opposite the gates of the church.
The Kirk and museum are only open to the public between April and October, from 10:30 to 16:30 Monday to Friday and from 11:00 to 14:00 on Saturdays. One of the great things about visiting this site, though, is the volunteers who are more than happy to take you on a tour and regale you with stories of its past.
Next stop: St Giles' Cathedral
High Street Walking time without stops: approximately five minutes (0.3 miles)
It's a nice, short walk from Greyfriars Tolbooth and Highland Kirk to the final stop on our walking tour - St Giles' Cathedral. Wander back up Greyfriars to Candlemaker Row and follow it to its end, where it meets George IV Bridge.
Turn left on to this street and follow it straight along - unless you fancy another detour. Just after you turn on to George IV Bridge, you'll reach the National Museum of Scotland on the right-hand side of the road.
There is a lot to see in this museum, with its extensive exhibits spread over 36 galleries. The temporary exhibitions regularly change so check what will be on when you're travelling to Edinburgh in case there's anything that particularly appeals to you. Among the permanent displays are artefacts relating to Scottish history (six galleries are dedicated to this subject) and a series of exhibits about the natural world.
Once you've had your fill of the museum's astounding collections, walk to the end of George IV Bridge and turn right on to High Street. Just over halfway down this road you'll find St Giles' Cathedral on the right.
Final stop: St Giles' Cathedral
St Giles' Cathedral was founded in the 1120s and although little of this original structure remains, what you can see is a wonderful example of 15th century Gothic architecture. Its crown spire is its most noticeable external feature, while inside you'll discover beautiful stained-glass windows and vaulted ceilings. There are also several ornate tombs within the cathedral for important historical figures, such as James Graham, Marquess of Montrose and Archibald Campbell, Marquess of Argyll.
The cathedral is open all year round, although it does close early in the winter months (at 17:00 between October and April, as opposed to 19:00 between May and September). Entry is free, but a small donation of £3 is suggested.
Visit Scotland's largest and most exciting wildlife attraction with more than 1,000 rare and beautiful animals.
Enjoy the most fantastic journey on Earth. Travel back in time and witness the Big Bang. Be shaken by earthquakes and face boiling lava, fly over glaciers and dive deep beneath the oceans. You could even get caught in a tropical rainstorm.
The ultimate thrill-filled journey through Scotland’s murky past! The Edinburgh Dungeons brings together an amazing cast of theatrical actors, special effects, stages, scenes and rides in a truly unique and exciting walkthrough experience that you see, hear, touch, smell and feel. It’s hilarious fun and it’s sometimes a bit scary.
Plays host to major West End productions.
Arguably the centre of Scotland's rich royal history.
This magnificent Baroque palace is closely linked with Scotland's monarchy and is best known as the home of Mary Queen of Scots.
Take a city tour with Adrian for an entertaining and informative guide to Edinburgh.
Open every day - the story of Scotland's national drink.
Terrifying but entertaining tour of the old town, recounting tales of witchcraft, ghosts and the plague.
Surround yourself in an outdoor rainforest, boasting waterfalls, hundreds of free-flying butterflies, an Amazonian parrot, poison dart frogs, lizards, snakes, tarantulas and other wonders of the Amazon, including the world's smallest monkeys.
This museum houses important artefacts of local history and culture including James Craig's Plans of Edinburgh and the original national covenant dating from 1638.
Specialising in the history of childhood.
The Big Draw festival is designed to encourage creativity and get people of all ages interested in art. Edinburgh is taking part in this year’s event, which starts on October 1st and closes on November 3rd, with a series of workshops planned in the city over the coming month.
In case you’re not in Edinburgh before the Big Draw finishes, we’ve come up with a selection of places in the city that will inspire your creative side. We’ll let you know if there are any Big Draw events planned in these locations too.
Views of Edinburgh Castle
It’s the most iconic monument in the city and dominates its skyline, so if you want to capture Edinburgh in all its glory - whether on film, with paints or in pencil - you need to be somewhere that you have a good view of Edinburgh Castle.
Princess Street Gardens - which are picturesque in their own right - boast excellent views of the castle perched atop its rocky crag. Sit close to the ornamental fountain for the best vantage point.
Arthur’s Seat - the tallest of Edinburgh’s hills - is another wonderful spot to visit, particularly if you want panoramic views not only of the castle, but also the rest of the city. If you’ve got aspirations of being a budding painter, take a little tip - don’t try to set up your easel on the hill, take some good photos of the view in front of you and then use those to help you create your masterpiece somewhere a little more comfortable!
Capture Edinburgh’s Old City
Edinburgh’s Old City area is wonderfully atmospheric, making it the perfect place if you’re looking for some artistic inspiration. While the architecture itself is truly stunning, what makes it really special is that all the buildings and streets here are steeped in history.
To capture Edinburgh’s Old City at its best, head to the top of Carlton Hill, which allows you to look down over the winding streets below. Aside from its views, Carlton Hill is also a great spot to visit because from here you can sometimes watch as the sea mist rolls across the city from the Forth - a fantastic image to get down on paper or on film.
There are many interesting and beautiful churches in Edinburgh but for art lovers, a visit to the Rosslyn Chapel is a must. This historical place of worship, which dates back to the mid-15th century, is home to some stunning works of art.
The whole church - inside and out - is covered by intricate sculptures and stone carvings depicting both biblical and historical scenes. Inside the chapel are carvings of plants - some native to Scotland and others from much further afield - while elsewhere you can see sculptures of knights, angels, figures from the nativity and the green man, who is traditionally associated with paganism.
Wander into the sacristy, meanwhile, and you can still make out drawings of the chapel’s original design that were etched into the walls by the architects.
Scottish National Portrait Gallery
Moving on now to one of Edinburgh’s best galleries - and a more traditional source of artistic inspiration - the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Within its walls are more than 30,000 pieces of varying genres, from paintings and sculptures to photographs and drawings.
Within this vast exhibition space, contemporary art is displayed along with classic pieces, so there’s a lot to take in and enjoy. The exhibits regularly change, so even if you visit Edinburgh frequently you’ll find something new to enjoy here.
Among the highlights in its collection are portraits of some of Scotland’s most famous figures, including Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott and Prince Charles Edward Stewart.
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
This is one of the venues for a Big Draw event, but first we’re going to look at what’s on show here in case you can’t make it to Edinburgh this month. The gallery is split into two parts - Modern One and Modern Two - with the former home to cubist, expressionist and modern British art, while the latter is where you’ll find a permanent installation by Turner Prize winner Richard Wright, as well as a re-creation of Eduard Paolozzi’s studio.
On October 26th, Modern One will host a Halloween-themed Big Draw event for families, where you can have a go at making the likes of a dancing skeleton, a magic wand and even a witch.
If you plan to attend this event, make sure you also browse the pieces in the gallery, which includes works by David Hockney, Antony Gormley and Pablo Picasso.
Queen’s Gallery at the Palace of Holyroodhouse
Our final suggestion to get your creative juices flowing is to spend some time admiring the works in the Queen’s Gallery at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. One of the most interesting exhibitions on show at the moment is Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Man.
This amazing collection is dedicated to his anatomical studies and is made up of his sketches and notes relating to the human body. Da Vinci conducted a number of autopsies in the winter of 1510-11 to help him better understand how the body worked.
You can gain a better understanding of his work by heading to the gallery for one of the Big Draw events on October 13th, 20th and 26th, each of which will be led by artist Clare Hume. A series of fun activities will be on offer, with the ultimate aim of the workshops to create a giant drawing inspired by the artist’s life and work.
St Andrew’s Day, which celebrates Scotland’s patron saint, takes place on November 30th and there’s usually a lot going on in Edinburgh in honour of the occasion.
Get to grips with Edinburgh’s history
As part of the St Andrew’s Day festivities, Historic Scotland is offering free tickets to a host of attractions in Edinburgh for those who pre-register on its website. Among the participating sites this year are Craigmillar Castle and Edinburgh Castle.
Meanwhile, the Museum of Edinburgh is offering free entry over the St Andrew’s Day weekend, while the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, John Knox House and the National Mining Museum Scotland are some of the places providing two-for-one tickets from November 18th until December 1st.
Watch a ceilidh
Ceilidhs are displays of traditional Scottish country dancing and there are often lively performances all over Scotland around St Andrew’s Day. Look out for any happening in Edinburgh - if you’re feeling brave you can usually join in; just follow the directions of the ceilidh caller who talks you through the steps as you go.
The best place to go this year is Grassmarket, which will be hosting a special event in honour of the national holiday - including some ceilidhs.
Take in some live music
As part of the aforementioned Grassmarket event, there will be a host of performances by local musicians. Among those set to take to the stage at the celebrations are Louis Abbott, Dougie MacLean, Breabach and Blazin’ Fiddles.
In addition, there will be a range of workshops going on throughout the day, as well as a storytelling event courtesy of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, so you can find out more about the country’s myths and legends.
Get a taste of Scotland
November 30th will also see the Grassmarket Market trading from 10am to 6pm, allowing revellers to pick up everything from traditional Scottish fare to snacks with a more international flavour.
Stallholders will also be selling local produce, such as vegetables, fish and meat, in case you fancy picking up any tasty ingredients to use in your own cooking.
If you’re heading to Edinburgh within the next week you’re in luck, as the city is preparing to host its own version of Oktoberfest from October 9th to 13th. The event has a very Germanic atmosphere, with huge beer tents, giant steins (glasses) and even traditional beer all being shipped over from the continent.
To really make the most of the Oktoberfest celebrations, which will be taking place in Princess Street Gardens, check out our top tips for getting involved.
Although you can just turn up and gain entry to the beer tent for a small fee, if you really want the full Oktoberfest experience you should book a spot at one of the tables at the front of the tent. This is a particularly good plan if you’ll be partying with a group as it means you can all sit together.
There are even packages available that include one of the aforementioned seats, two beers (in 1.5 pint sized glasses), snacks and a traditional German dinner.
For a really memorable evening, go VIP to sit in the best seats in the house and get a glass of sekt (a drink similar to champagne), as well as a special meal, in addition to what’s offered in the standard package.
Get ready to party
No Oktoberfest celebration would be complete without music and in Edinburgh, they’ve got this covered thanks to Albfetza, a German band who specialise in folk music. If you really want to be prepared before you go, look up a few songs - like Anton aus Tirol, Fliegerlied and Zikke Zakke - so you can sing along.
Dress for the occasion
Our final suggestion is to get into character by dressing in traditional German clothes. If you’re wondering where you’re going to find a pair of Lederhosen or a Dirndl dress in Edinburgh, don’t worry as the Oktoberfest organisers have got this covered.
They’re offering these outfits for sale and rental, so you can really get into the spirit of things by donning a costume and singing your heart out to the band as you enjoy your beer and pretzels.