Visiting Edinburgh (And not the Fringe Festival)

The following is a guest post from George Mason, a travel writer at Sixt.

When someone mentions Edinburgh, most people nod sagely and think of the world-famous New Years' Eve party or the Fringe Festival. Unfortunately for them, there is a whole lot more to Scotland's capital. Scotland is steeped in history and Edinburgh is a dynamic and modern city with lots of offer; both to tourists and locals. Let's have a look at some of the best things to do in Edinburgh on a first visit.

Edinburgh City Bus Tour

Bus tours may be the obvious choice for any tourist in a new city (don't groan), but while they have been around since buses began they're still one of the best ways to see a city quickly and cheaply. Edinburgh has its very own open-topped bus tours so you can take in the surface of what the city has to offer; just make sure you dress accordingly – it's going to be cold. If you're in luck you'll be taken by one of the good-humoured local guides and get bask in their colourful language while you gorge on trivia. Recommended for your first morning after the night before to shock you out of any hangovers.

National Museum

Museum aren't everyone's cup of tea, but if you or your companions are into history, culture and art, then the National Museum in Edinburgh is world-class and an ideal afternoon out which should inspire and refresh the mind, without being too demanding. Check out their website for upcoming exhibitions and plan accordingly.

Murder Mystery Walking Tour

For the evenings I'd recommend one of the Murder Mystery tours you may be corralled into if you stand around looking like a tourist for long enough (I speak here from experience). You basically get to see all the sights and sounds of the city with the emphasis on Edinburgh's dark and twisted side. Though they typically run all day, I'd recommend an evening tour to enhance the storytelling aspect – be prepared for murder, torture and plagues aplenty.

Edinburgh Zoo

If you've got kids to consider then you would be ill-advised to not go to Edinburgh Zoo. If your children discover that they could have seen penguins while you've been taking them to art galleries and being cultural they may disown you. Do the sensible thing.

Eat Amazing Food

Ever fancied some posh haggis cooked by a Michelin-starred chef? Answers vary, but if you do fancy some grub then Edinburgh has some of the best restaurants in Europe to eat at when you're feeling peckish. Haldanes and Dubh Prais have both achieved high praise over the years, so perhaps you should pay them a visit and dine in luxury. Both come highly recommended, so be sure to phone ahead to arrange a booking.

Loch Ness

Some of you will prefer to go further afield. In the minds of many, Scotland's most famous attraction has to be Loch Ness. It's famous for its long-standing, Loch-dwelling monster and thousands come every year to try and spot 'Nessie' (good luck with that…). Thankfully, you don't have to live nearby to visit Loch Ness, so if you're in Edinburgh and fancy a trip with fellow tourists to the Loch, there are regular group day trips you can be a part of to see some beautiful countryside and get a better look at Scotland itself.

Volcano Climbing

There's a volcano in Edinburgh. Taking a trip to Arthur's Seat, which is the tallest hill in Edinburgh, will enable you to see not only an extinct volcano – which will be something to remember when you return home, but also amazing views of the area. Just be careful, however, because it's a pretty demanding walk to the top if you aren't fighting fit, but the payoff is worth it.


Scotland is the home of golf, so if you're a golfer (which I'm not) and you love smacking balls with clubs, then Edinburgh is the place for you. The city has a few top-quality courses designed to get your adrenaline pumping and your thighs burning. Take a brolly, though; it is Scotland, after all.

If you are still enamoured with the idea of seeing the Fringe Festival, make it part of a separate trip and plan as you would for Glastonbury. You may find yourself returning every year without fail.

This was a guest post from George Mason, an exceedingly handsome travel writer at Sixt. He vastly prefers to travel by foot instead driving while travelling, but knows you can only get so far ambulating.

We have no photo of him, but he did send us the pic to the left with the following caption: "This is a statue of David Hume; one of the greatest minds in Western Philosophy with a traffic cone on his head. He will be wearing a different traffic cone when you visit."

Photo credits (in order of appearance):

Simon_sees via Flickr

Craig Murphy via Flickr

baaker2009 via Flickr

Glen Bowman via Flickr

Bernt Rostad via Flickr

lorentey via Flickr

Sheep purple via Flickr via Flickr

Glen Bowman via Flickr