Located in the southeast of Scotland, Edinburgh is the capital and 2nd largest city in Scotland, home to over 450,000 residents. With settlements dating back to the Iron and Bronze Ages, it was not until the 10th century that the Scots began to transform the region into a flourishing small town. Over the centuries, Edinburgh was fought over by the Scottish and the English, finally joining the English politically in 1707 under the Act of Union.
Guests still discover that Edinburgh is, in fact, two cities. A deep geological fissure divides the Old Town to the south from the New Town to the north. The historic Old Town contains many ancient sites such as the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle, where guests can find everything from the Scottish Crown Jewels to the profoundly moving Scottish National War Memorial. Also nearby is the National Museum of Scotland. Here, exhibits showcase old and new treasures from Scotland's history, including Viking brooches and the Formula One Car of sporting legend Sir Jackie Stewart.
Edinburgh's New Town, meanwhile, is a stylish and elegant Georgian city containing many beautiful buildings, parks and formal gardens. In fact, New Town is often considered to be one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture and planning in the world. Among New Town's notable attractions are: Bute House, the official residence of the first Minister of Scotland; the National Galleries of Scotland; and several new hotels and fine restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Number One at the five-star Dalmoral Hotel.
Also in New Town, Princes Street is the city's famous shopping mecca. Shoppers can find several dozens of up-market shops and smaller outlets that provide a wonderful range of gifts and souvenirs. Fine Scottish jewelry, kilts and woolens and an unfathomable range of unique Scottish whiskeys are all up for grabs.
More shopping is also to be found at Leith's Ocean Terminal, located just two miles north of the city center. In addition to being one of Europe's largest waterfront shopping and leisure centers, Ocean Terminal is also home to the grand Royal Yacht Britannia. Used by the Queen and the Royal Family for state occasions and private holidays, this five-star attraction is open to guests looking to catch a glimpse into the luxurious life of the Royals, not to mention stunning waterfront views of the city.
If not from the decks of a grand yacht, guests can also enjoy the great outdoors in Edinburgh by hitting the links. Scotland is famous as the birthplace of the game of golf, and the Edinburgh and Lothians region features nearly 50 courses. Visit world-famous Muirfield, home to the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, or Gullane Golf Club, where uphill climbs and downhill challenges make for a memorable experience.
When the sun sets over the green, Edinburgh continues to shine. Nightlife options range from an award-winning musical at The Edinburgh Playhouse to a night of laughs at the Stand Comedy Club. Edinburgh's Festival Theatre, recently described by The New York Times as the finest theater in Europe, is the place to catch performances by the Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet. Or, leave things up to fate by spending the night exploring the Royal Mile, home to shops, restaurants and numerous pubs and clubs such as Monteiths and the Royal McGregor.
Enjoying dinner out in Edinburgh is also special pleasure. Guests are met with Scottish high cuisine – the finest salmon, game and lamb in the world, and even a haggis with "neeps and tatties," or turnips and potatoes – in traditional Scottish eateries such as The Dome and The Witchery by the Castle. Alternatively, visitors can enjoy food from across the world in the many unique bistros that line the city streets. Why not try some tapas at Café Andaluz or fine French food at La Garrigue? No matter how far guests stray from its traditional cuisine, they'll still enjoy the experience of Edinburgh's authentic hospitality, summed up by its Gaelic greeting, "a ceud mìle fàite" – a hundred thousand welcomes.