Edinburgh: ‘The World’s Leading Festival City’
“This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.”
[Alexander McCall Smith (2006)]
Edinburgh, Scotland’s Capital City is the gateway to Scotland, attracting four million visitors per year. The City is steeped in history, creating a visitor experience that seamlessly blends old and new, with the sights, sounds and tastes of a diverse and vibrant city.
The City annually plays host to eleven major international festivals, including the seven concurrent summer festivals in July and August, and is known as ‘The World’s Leading Festival City’. With Edinburgh Fringe Festival being the world’s largest arts festival with 2.8 million tickets issued in 2018.
Edinburgh is regularly voted the UK’s favourite city break destination, and is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with a unique atmosphere, charm and originality where stunning cultural heritage fuses with the best of modern, dynamic city life. The topography of the city with the Castle Rock and Arthur’s Seat provides a dramatic and inspiring backdrop to city life. While Edinburgh has 112 parks in the city, as well as more trees per head of population than any other city in the UK.
Edinburgh is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites. Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site covers over 4.56 square kilometres and over 75% of all the buildings are listed – the highest concentration of listed buildings anywhere in the UK. The World Heritage Site includes the iconic Edinburgh Castle (Scotland’s top paid visitor attraction with 2.08 million visitors in 2017), the historic Mediaeval Old Town that tumbles down the castle rock, and the 18th and 19th century Georgian New Town. While the Forth Rail Bridge at Queensferry crossing the River Forth is a 19th Century engineering masterpiece, and is now one of a trio of bridges crossing the River Forth and spanning three centuries of bridge design and engineering.
Edinburgh’s rich literary heritage was recognised in 2004 through its designation as the World’s first UNESCO City of Literature.
Edinburgh is a compact and walkable city of half a million people. A top visitor experience is a walk down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile starting at the top at Edinburgh Castle and finishing at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The city is rich in art galleries and museums, including the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Museum of Scotland, and a diverse range of visitor attractions including for example The Royal Yacht Britannia, The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Surgeons Hall Museums, and Edinburgh Zoo [home to the giant pandas ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Sweetie’].
Edinburgh has more restaurants per head of population than any other UK city outside of London. Edinburgh is renouned for its fine eating scene and is a foodies city. The city is home to four Michelin Starred restaurants and some of the most opulent and luxurious dining experiences in the UK. While The Scotch Whisky Experience on the Royal Mile offers an excellent introduction to Scotland’s national drink.
Edinburgh Airport is Scotland's busiest airport with 33 airlines flying 188 routes to 130 destinations. While there are 32 trains per day between Edinburgh’s Waverley Station and London, with an average journey time of approximately four and a half hours.
To discover more about Scotland’s capital, the official tourist website This is Edinburgh, is full of suggestions for eating, drinking, shopping, what to see and do, happenings and events plus a few hidden gems, or check out This is Edinburgh Video Link