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Edinburgh is a city that continually seeks discovery. It is graced with peculiar, come-hither nooks that tempt locals and visitors alike to explore a little bit further. Considered as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, Edinburgh is draped across a succession of rocky hills overlooking the sea. It is a town intimately enlaced with its landscape, with buildings and monuments rested atop crags and overshadowed by towering cliffs. From the Old Town’s scenic jumble of medieval residences piled high along the Royal Mile, its turreted skyline threaded between the black, bull-nosed Castle Rock and the auburn palisade of Salisbury Crags, to the New Town’s clean grid of neoclassical form, the city features a constantly changing perspective.
What better way to begin your adventure than to visit Edinburgh and head towards Arthur’s Seat, a volcano located in the core of the city that reaches 251 meters above sea level at its highest point. The place parades majestic landscapes. On a bright day, the panoramic views across Edinburgh—combined with the well-known east coast wind—are utterly breathtaking. If you do not find interest in those mentioned above, there are other routes for you to enjoy. Say, in Holyrood Park, the marchland, lochs, ruins, wildflowers, and heather-and-gorse clad hills might suit your taste better. Afterwards, you can dine at Hemma, a homely Swedish café-bar located at the foot of Arthur’s Seat.
Athens of the North
The Athens of the North is an 18th-century Edinburgh nickname desired by the great thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment period. A city of high culture and noble ideals, the Athens of the North expresses itself through art and literature, philosophy, and science. Every summer, the world’s biggest art festival rises to attract all kinds of people. Activities found here always gather rave reviews and breaks box-office records. It is here at the Athens of the North, underneath the Greek temples of Calton Hill, that the Scottish Parliament sits again after a 300-year absence.
Edinburgh is also commonly known by Auld Reekie, a peaceful place that flicks an insolent finger at the pretences of the literati. Auld Reekie is a place of loud, motion-filled pubs and decadent restaurants, late-night drinking and all-night festivities, beer-fueled artists and foul-mouthed entertainers. It is a city that enticed Robert Louis Stevenson from his law lectures to discover the drinking dens and vivid street life of the 19th-century Old Town. Moreover, Auld Reekie is the city of Beltane, the resurrected pagan of May Day festival, where half-naked revellers rave in the lambent firelight of bonfires beneath the unyielding apathy of Calton Hill’s pillared monuments.
To make the most of your stay in Edinburgh, you can also saunter down Victoria Street up to the buzzing Grassmarket, an old cattle market that has the honour of once being home to Edinburgh’s public executions but is now filled with traditional bars, pavement cafes, and state-of-the-art restaurants. You can relish a pre-dinner drink at the cozy White Hart Inn, where Robert Burns once stayed for a couple of nights, or a shot of whisky at the Bow Bar, where over 300 Scotch malts are exhibited in a giant mahogany gantry. Like a favourite novel, Edinburgh is the place you will want to read again and again, tasting each time a different experience—the castle cast against a deep blue sky with a golden haze of daffodils covering the slopes below the esplanade; exiting out of a late-night club into a summer dawn, with only the sounds of seagulls to interrupt the silence; heading to a quaint eatery on a chilly December morning with the fog kept behind the trees. Indeed, Edinburgh always has its way to get you mesmerized at its untainted beauty.