Toss your cabers, scream “Och aye the noo!” and chow down on enough haggis to grow your own sheep’s bladder in your stomach – you’re in Edinburgh, and it’s got every Scottish cliché you could hope for.
But there’s a lot more to the Scottish capital than the Royal Mile and its glorious castle.
Here is the cultural epicentre of Scotland, combining tartan and shortbread with avant-garde theatre, the largest arts festival in the world and some of the finest cuisine this side of Hadrian’s Wall.
With that in mind, we’ve come up with a few local haunts off the beaten track. They might not be covered in various tartans, but they WILL make your holiday a Leith-shaped cracker.
An airport to remember
While Edinburgh Airport isn’t a tourist attraction, per se, it’s a vital hub for visitors and residents alike – and it offers enough amenities and services to make sticking around after your flight an appealing prospect.
The Edinburgh Airport short stay service, for instance, allows any residents to leave their car in safe hands, without worrying about finding a secure parking spot themselves. Add to this a compact set of terminals and coffee chains and you’ll be able to enjoy this international flight hub – whether you’re coming or going.
Just one minute’s walk from Princes Street, the Voodoo Rooms brings together everything that makes the capital extra-special – it’s got class, elegance and a deep love of the arts.
Formerly a vast ballroom, this bar/restaurant still maintains a refined art deco design and the glorious cornices and statues of an earlier period when flapper dresses reigned supreme.
Customer service is at the forefront of the Rooms, buttressed by a varied menu of food and drinks at reasonable prices.
During the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, the Rooms really comes alive. Its three function suites are transformed into performance areas showcasing the finest in arts programming. There are fewer places to enjoy the summer than in the darkened space of the Voodoo Rooms.
Music is Edinburgh’s middle name. Avalanche Records, Voxbox Music and Coda are independent music shops that have continued to thrive in a supposedly dwindling market. And they can offer all the fun of the major retailers, with a homespun touch of charm.
World Record Store Day, for example, is a major celebration in the city. The streets throng with music fans itching to buy the latest releases, while bands play in dinky record stores and cavernous bars.
Moreover, venues such as Whistle Binkies and the Banshee Labyrinth boast gigs on most evenings, all year round. Whether it’s a quiet open mic night or a major live act, the musically inclined will always find something to do in this hip and happening city.