By Barry Shelby
Earthy yet stylish, and casually cosmopolitan, Edinburgh is as proud of its medieval cobbled alleyways as its famous edgy Fringe Festival when the world descends on its pleasure palaces. But it's not all about the crowds: Blessed with an outstanding array of scenery, Scotland's capital drapes over seven hills and is crowned by Edinburgh Castle, a dramatic and brooding landmark, with the bucolic Princes Street Gardens running through the city center.
Things to Do
There aren't many cities that can boast a volcano: the dormant Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park rises above the city and offers views of the Firth of Forth waters. The New Town is dominated by sweeping Georgian terraces, next to contemporary architectural masterpiece the Scottish Parliament Building, a mix of oak and granite. Lose yourself in Old Town's labyrinthine alleyways along the Royal Mile, and find your way along the canal-side walk through Dean Village to coastal Leith. Get goosebumps on a ghost tour in vaults underneath the city's cobbled streets
In the castle's shadow, dynamic Princes Street is the hub of popular high-street brands. Department store Jenners is a much-loved gem, and boutiques and jewelry stores fill nearby, elegant George Street. Villagey Stockbridge is known for its bohemian vintage clothes and antique shops, and for a fine bottle of single malt, head to Royal Mile Whiskies along the historic mile-long shopping street. Choose among 200 patterns at Geoffrey (Tailor) Kiltmakers, good enough for Sean Connery and the Scottish rugby team.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Edinburgh enjoys year-round cultural festivals, although it's easy to find local bands playing live in pubs, or a concert at an Old Town church. Join the glitterati at fashionable bars on George Street for a cocktail, or if you want to sample the country's best malt whiskies or real ales there's plenty of jovial babble at a wood-paneled local around Grassmarket. Scotland is the home of golf: while away long summer evenings with a challenging round at Braid Hills municipal course.
Restaurants and Dining
This is the city to taste Scottish specialties like meaty haggis in gastropubs, or venison at stylish restaurants in the West End. Just off Princes Street, diners choose the elegant old-world charm, complete with elaborate stained glass windows, of Café Royal Oyster Bar for fresh seafood platters. Travel north to waterfront Leith for an alfresco dinner of Arbroath smokies overlooking the harbor, or Scottish cuisine with a contemporary edge at Michelin-starred Restaurant Martin Wishart.