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9 things you need to know before visiting Edinburgh

Posted on April 20,2016
9 things you need to know before visiting EdinburghPlanning a wee trip to Scotland’s capital? Here are nine things you should be aware of before you arrive in Edinburgh.

Planning a wee trip to Scotland’s capital? Here are nine things you should be aware of before you arrive in Edinburgh.

Hire a car, but prepare to walk a lot too!

Hire a car, but prepare to walk a lot too!

You’ll need to hire a car in Edinburgh to visit places outside of the city centre, such as Stirling Castle, Aberlady Bay or the Pentland Hills (not to mention driving over the Forth Rail Bridge), but when you’re in the city centre you’ll want to be on foot to get a real sense of the place. It might be steep in places (which makes for good exercise), but on foot you’ll be able to head through old stairways and duck into historic chambers like the spooky Edinburgh Vaults.

The city has some of the best views you could hope for too; simply head to the Castle Esplanade or trek up Arthur’s Seat, the inactive volcano bearing over the city.

You’re visiting somewhere that looks like nowhere else

You are visiting somewhere that looks like nowhere else

Edinburgh has a look and feel all its own. It’s gothic and contemporary, smoky and countryside-fresh, planted on the side of an extinct volcano, and spread out across seven rolling hills. Where one minute you’ll be walking down a medieval path feeling like you’ve travelled back in time, and the next you’ll be hopping on the brand new tram on your way to watch a brand new comedian while enjoying a brand new beer. So make sure you have your camera ready at all times, because there’ll be photo opportunities around every corner and up every hill.

Green and maroon are important colours

Green and maroon are important colours

The two local football teams are the Heart of Midlothian (‘Hearts’) and Hibernian FC (‘Hibs’). Hearts fans can be identified by maroon, whereas Hibs fans don green and white – just make sure you memorise which is which so not to offend!

The north and south of the Castle are very different

Green and maroon are important colours

North of Edinburgh castle is the New Town, whereas south of it is the medieval streets of the Old Town. The areas are very different from one another, but both are UNESCO world heritage sites.

The history of how they became divided goes like this: in order to keep out the English after the Battle of Flodden in 1513, Edinburgh’s residents built walls around the city (which became the Old Town). However, the increasing population (and rich folk from London moving there) soon became a problem, so a New Town and bridge were built. The upper classes then moved into the New Town, and even now it’s considered the more affluent part of the city.

It’s best to avoid the deep-fried Mars bars…

It is best to avoid the deep-fried Mars bars

By xian from Lancaster - Deep Fried Mars Bar, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5336871

It might seem like harmless fun, but a 1,200-calorie deep-fried Mars bar is apparently so full of fat that it can slow the supply of blood to the brain and increase the risk of having a stroke within minutes! Don’t take our word for it – that’s coming from Glasgow University researchers. When you’ve had a drink and you’re on your way home from the pub, stick to the cheesy chips instead!

Do your food and drink research before you visit!

Do your food and drink research before you visit

The reason we say that is not due to a lack of good places to go; it’s the opposite – there’s so much choice! There are currently four Michelin-starred restaurants in the city – Kitchin, Martin Wishart, 21212, and Number One), not to mention hundreds of amazing reasonably-priced places. Fancy a tipple? Edinburgh is chock full of great pubs and bars – check out the Last Word Saloon for great cocktails in a dark, cosy environment; the Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar or Waverley Bar on the Royal Mile for a classic pub vibe; or the Cumberland Bar for arguably the best beer garden in town.

Prepare for the smell

Prepare for the smell

Don’t be alarmed when you first arrive. Edinburgh has its own unique smell – a combination of malted barley that lingers from the many closed beer breweries and the new ones popping up all the time (including Brewdog), and the sea breeze blowing in from the Old Town.

Don’t expect it to be sunny

Do not expect it to be sunny

The weather in Edinburgh isn’t the best or most reliable. But you knew that already, right?

If you’re visiting in the summer, book way in advance

In the summer, book way in advance

The Edinburgh Festival is one of the world’s largest arts festivals, comprising comedians, artists and actors in a flurry of performance that can see up to 1,000 shows a day being performed across the city. Naturally that means thousands of people flock to Edinburgh, making it hard to find a hotel room or B&B for the night. Try looking on Airbnb.com for good deals if necessary.

Have a great time in Edinburgh! Use Atlaschoice to find the best deals on Edinburgh car hire.

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