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32 Things About Edinburgh That Will Surprise You

Who's up for a gin cruise?

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1. There's a little corner of the Wild West tucked behind some Morningside tenements.

This quirky row of buildings was constructed in the mid-'90s by a local furniture salesman and his girlfriend. She had worked on the construction of Eurodisney, which explains the detailed paintwork and "theme park" feel. Find out more here.

2. One of the best views in Edinburgh is from a castle, but it's not the one you think.

This 16th-century tower house near Cramond sits on a hill, and on a clear day you can see all the way across to Fife. It also has a stunning Japanese-inspired garden.

3. And the view from Harvey Nick's isn't bad either.

Plus you can enjoy a cocktail while you look out over the Forth.

4. You can hang out with cats at the Maison de Moggy.

This "custom-built cat paradise" on West Port is home to 10 beautiful, friendly moggy stars who have plenty of space. To keep the catmosphere nice and chilled, only children over 10 are allowed to visit. You can book here.

5. You can take a gin cruise along the Union Canal.

This two-hour "Juniper Cruise" along the canal is run by tastings company Solid Liquids, and features five different gins and three courses of nibbles. Book here.

6. Or go to a gig in a museum.

The National Museum of Scotland holds regular "Museum Lates" events to tie in with current exhibitions. The most recent one tied in with the Victorian Sensation photography exhibit, and featured live music. They also hold speed dating events.

7. You can soar above Europe's largest climbing arena.

The Aerial Assault course at the EICA features an amazing zip-slide that sends people soaring 100ft above the ground. It's not for the faint-hearted!

8. Or take a flying lesson if you're feeling adventurous.

Edinburgh Flying Club offers lessons as well as trial flights. They cost £200 for 40 minutes, but you will actually be allowed to fly the plane across Edinburgh.

9. Or if you don't like heights, why not learn to sail on the Firth of Forth?

The pretty Port Edgar marina just across the road bridge offers a range of watersports, including sea kayaking and sailing classes. More info here.

10. You can take the best Facebook profile pic ever at Camera Obscura.

Edinburgh's Camera Obscura is a funky "world of illusions" right beside the castle, which boasts an array of fun tricks and an actual Victorian-style camera obscura that projects real-time images of Edinburgh into a darkened room.

11. And hang out with an owl on the Royal Mile.

He's called Sir Ragnor Hufflepuff (seriously) and he lives at Gladstone's Land, a restored 17th-century tenement. You can get up close and personal with Sir Ragnor at regular owl flying workshops if you want to live out your Harry Potter fantasies.

12. There's a secret bar that serves oak, coffee, caramel, and almond flavoured vodka.

Secret Arcade is a vodka drinkers' paradise tucked down an impossibly tiny lane. They stock over 100 different vodkas, as well as Polish food and snacks.

13. There are huge landforms dotted around the city.

Landscape architect Charles Jencks designs sweeping landforms designed to look like the universe in miniature. You can see his handiwork outside the Gallery of Modern Art, and at Jupiter Artland.

14. And amazing gardens hidden behind every corner.

One of the prettiest is Dr Neil's Garden, a tranquil hideaway in Duddingston created by husband and wife Drs Andrew and Nancy Neil, who passed away in 2005.

15. You can take a Punjabi cookery class in Leith.

Punjabi Junction is a social enterprise café on Leith Walk run by Sikh Sanjog, a charity that provides employment opportunities and training to Sikh women. It runs four different good-value cookery classes; you can find out more here.

16. There's an authentic, 19th-century Turkish bath in Portobello.

What better way to unwind after a long day eating and running than with a traditional Turkish bath? Historic Portobello Swim Centre has a choice of three hot rooms, a steam room, and plunge pool for the bargain price of just £7.20.

17. We have a bar that looks like a barbershop.

Panda & Sons is a Prohibition-era themed hidden bar that hides behind a fake barbershop exterior. It serves up incredible smoking cocktails like this.

18. And a barbershop that's also (sometimes) a bar.

Too-cool-for-school barber chain Ruffians also hosts regular booze nights, like this launch for Arbikie Highland Gin. It's also a great place to get your beard tidied.

19. You can go to a whisky tasting in the dark.

This one-of-a-kind whisky tasting offered by Trip4Real takes place in pitch-black darkness to help you focus on the flavours, and the experience is heightened by live music from The Black Diamond Express.

20. Or take a guided foodie walk around the city.

Eat Walk Edinburgh offer a range of eating tours of the city, including an Canongate tour that stops off at a hotel, three shops, a restaurant, and a bar.

21. And then burn off the calories with a running tour.

These customisable tours are ideal for runners, and will take you on a 3- to 30-mile lap of the city depending on your level of experience and stamina. Book here.

22. There's a Museum of Fire on Lauriston Place.

This great museum is tucked away behind Edinburgh College of Art and tells the story of the first municipal fire brigade in Europe, as well as firefighting in Edinburgh between 1824 and the 1940s. And yes, you can sit in a fire engine.

23. You can sample boozy ice cream at Hoot the Redeemer.

This 1950s-themed "dive bar" serves Señor Scoop ice cream, a boozy blend in a range of flavours including Irn-Bru and Tonic Wine. It's certainly unique.

24. Or enjoy chilli-chocolate shortbread on the go.

Artisanal shortbread shop Pinnies and Poppyseeds have taken Scotland's favourite biscuit to an entirely new level. Try the pistachio and rosewater shortbread too.

25. You can brew your own beer at Krafty Beer Club.

Edinburgh-based brewers Krafty Brew run three-hour brewing sessions where you can rustle up your very own craft ale. You can find out more here.

26. Or invent your own signature gin cocktail in an underground bar.

Heads & Tales on Rutland Place is the home of Edinburgh Gin. They run gin tastings and offer the chance to try a bit of GIY (Gin It Yourself) as well.

27. You can explore a creepy man-made cavern.

No one knows who created the 17th-century Gilmerton Cove, a network of hand-carved underground passageways, but some people think it was a smuggler's lair.

28. There's a gorgeous farm in the heart of the city.

Gorgie City Farm is home to sheep, pigs, goats, chickens, ducks, a horse, cattle – and some giant African land snails! As it's a charity, you can sponsor the animals, including these cute mini goats, Moonlight and Shadow.

29. There's also a herd of ponies in the Pentlands that you can take for a spin.

Edinburgh University Pony Trekking Society own a herd of Exmoor ponies. They welcome non-students, and it's just £30 for a three-hour ride (£20 for students).

30. We have an art deco cinema, with sofas.

This gorgeous 1930s cinema has been fitted with sofas to make it super comfortable. It's like being at home...if you had a 30ft-wide TV in your living room.

31. You can grab a coffee at a secret herb garden.

At the foot of the Pentland Hills there's a secret herb garden where you can buy a wide range of herbs, have a coffee, learn about nature, make candles, and generally chill out surrounded by lovely sights and smells. More info here.

32. Or go all out with a toasted marshmallow milkshake.

If you've never sampled one of The Marshmallow Lady's creations, you're missing out. She makes fluffy gourmet treats in a range of flavours including gin and tonic, After Eight mint, and Key lime pie. Plus this milkshake, which is a triumph.