Fine Georgian architecture
In the late 18th century, Edinburgh was transformed by a new vision of city planning. The formal, logical network of New Town streets — in contrast with the medieval city — was the embodiment of Enlightenment ideals. The town houses with their grand porticos and neoclassical features were in keeping with Edinburgh’s claim at the time to be the “Athens of the north”.
As well as plunging views towards the Firth of Forth estuary and the hills beyond, Edinburgh’s New Town has green lungs built in.
In this part of the city, elegant terrace vistas terminate in verdant private parks and secluded communal gardens, giving the effect of wilderness on the doorstep. Arthur’s Seat, the remains of an ancient volcano on the south side of the city, can be glimpsed from certain spots.
Fashionistas and foodies welcome
New Town residents are spoilt for choice when it comes to shops and restaurants. Designer brands and upmarket stores are to be found on George Street, while Princes Street has all the familiar high-street chains. There are plenty of independents, too. Broughton Street, on the eastern fringes of New Town, has an award-winning butcher, and both it and Stockbridge are known for their cafés and delis.
Get there with ease, a view or a snooze
Edinburgh airport (a 30-minute drive from the city centre) offers direct flights to many US and European destinations. Train journeys between Edinburgh Waverley and London King’s Cross take around four and a half hours and follow a route that has spectacular coastal views north of Newcastle. Better still, the Caledonian Sleeper offers an overnight train service between London Euston and Waverley station, which arrives at its destination before 7:30am.
Edinburgh is renowned for its International Festival and accompanying Fringe. This cultural feast, which takes place in August each year, encompasses music, theatre, comedy and dance, but it is hardly famine at other times of the year.
The National Galleries of Scotland include the National, Portrait and Modern collections — the latter is located to the west of the city and overlooks the Landform Ueda, a combination of artwork and garden by Charles Jencks, the landscape architect.
There are influential theatres, and the city regularly plays host to Scottish Opera and world-class orchestras.
Photographs: Getty Images; Alamy; Dreamstime