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Scotland, dubbed the “Athens of the North” has more than 100 parks, architecture that runs the gamut of history, 50 golf courses, and it’s crowing splendor—The Edinburgh Castle. Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful and dramatic cities imaginable.  Narrow alleys with cobblestones, shops, and the haunts of Old Town.  The striking Georgian architecture of New Town, cutting-edge and classical entertainment, a garden-lover’s paradise, and the Edinburgh Festival—the greatest showcase on earth for music, drama, dance and every conceivable art form.

So many ways to explore Edinburgh, so much to see, and never quite enough time!  Here are our suggestions:

  • Open-Top Bus Tours:

    Cruise the city from above with guided commentary, often a very funny one, and irreverent one.  Take notes.  From your bird’s-eye view you’ll know where to walk when you take off on your own!!

  • Scottish National Portrait Gallery:

    Check out the portraits of Robert Burns, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and The Queen her Very Self.  It’s true—a picture is worth a thousand words, and some of these are so good you’ll see right into the subject’s soul.

  • Edinburgh Dungeon:

    Oh, dear!  Just when you had fallen in love with Edinburgh!  Come and see the secrets and hidden side of this elegant city’s past.  Murder, torture, punishment, the whole works!  And did we mention Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

  • Greyfriar’s Kirk:

    This historic church, best known for its statue in the street of Greyfriar’s Bobby who lived from 1858 – 1872.  Merely a youngster who faced an untimely death?  No, this was a devoted terrier that spent the end of his life sitting by his master’s final resting place.   Picture-taking advised…

  • Dean Gallery:

    Opposite the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, this gallery houses an art library and collection of work by Paolozzi.  There are also temporary exhibitions that are sometimes quite wonderful.  If you’re looking for original art that is sublime, this place is for you.

  • Hopetoun House:

    This architectural gem, work of the industrious Robert Adam, is both a stately home and a pure art treasure.  Inside you’ll find paintings by Canaletto, Rubens, and Rembrandt to name a few. (In other words, the heavy hitters.)

  • Cameo Cinema:

    This Art Deco Theater is incomparable.  View contemporary films and don’t worry about having to act brainy or full of angst.  The theater has a laid-back cafe and bar.  Enjoy!

  • Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World:

    Even if bugs aren’t your thing, we consider this place a must… Or at least close to it.  Walk-through a tropical forest—yes, just in the heart of Edinburgh!—and you’ll be surrounded by extravagant, free-flying butterflies and some very cool crawlies of all sorts.

  • Scottish Mining Museum:

    You survived the insect.  Now, are you ready for another experience?  Don a headlamp and join ex-miners in an enlightening, and occasionally hair-raising, underground tour.  This is an adventure, and it also gives you a real sense of appreciation for miners.  Heroes, one and all.

  • Crystal Visitor Center: Cold outside?  Perfect.  Amid blazing furnaces, watch molten glass turn into crystal.  It’s not only a unique experience, the adjoining ship is a wonderful place to pick up a valuable crystal piece at a great price.

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