Get your bearings
Princes Street and leafy Princes Street Gardens form a dividing line running east to west through Edinburgh city centre. To their north are New Town’s Georgian terraces, with medieval Old Town‘s labyrinthine alleys to the south. These form the compact city centre, watched over by brooding hilltop Edinburgh Castle. South of the Old Town, most of the university campuses lie in Southside. To the east lies Holyrood Park, the tallest of Edinburgh’s seven hills and home to extinct volcano Arthur’s Seat. Further north, Leith is the spruced-up port region now home to waterfront apartments and some of the city’s top restaurants.
Landmarks old and new
In the compact Old Town, grey medieval alleyways tumble and wind, dominated by Edinburgh Castle, now housing the crown jewels. At the other end of the Royal Mile, the award-winning Scottish Parliament building is an innovative mix of steel, oak and granite where visitors can see democracy in action. Browse works of established local artists in the Scottish Royal Academy, or newer ones at the Talbot Rice Gallery, part of the university campus. In Leith, visit the Queen’s ex-home, Royal Yacht Britannia, moored at the Ocean Terminal.
Energetic types walk up Holyrood Park to 823ft-high Arthur’s Seat, a volcano dormant for 350 million years, for sweeping city views. Pay homage to Edinburgh’s golfing history with a round at the Musselburgh Old Course, the world’s oldest, using original 19th-century clubs. The 12-mile-long Water of Leith is the city’s hidden rural corridor once lined with mills and now home to herons and kingfishers, best explored on foot or bicycle.