37 Ways To Have A Perfect Weekend In Edinburgh

Auld Reekie all wrapped up.

So, what do you know about Edinburgh? Hogmanay?

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The Fringe?

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Street performers?

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The castle?

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Harry Potter?

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All excellent attractions.

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But there’s a lot more to the Scottish capital. Enough for a long weekend at least.

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An endless variety of things to choose from, in fact.

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So what are we waiting for? Let’s go.

Get some Josef K on and buckle up.

They’re local heroes. The Rezillos, or The Proclaimers if you must, are alternatives.

1. Friday afternoon: Get your bearings.

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Whether you come by train or plane (via the tram to the centre), you’ll probably start out by Waverley Station and Princes Street Gardens.

2. Head to the Gardens and look around.

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Face north to spy Princes Street, with the New Town visible behind; head south to reach the Royal Mile, which stretches from the castle to Holyrood Palace. A great deal of what you’ll discover is within about a half-a-mile radius of this point.

3. Start to get your head around the city’s 3D maze of streets.

Edinburgh is a disorienting stack of cobbled alleys on top of cobbled alleys, buildings that you enter on one level and exit on another, and more multi-dimensional problems. It’s part of the fun.

4. Climb this.

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The first thing you should do in any new city is get high, and the Scott Monument’s narrow spiral staircases lead to great views of the centre.

5. Take a tram.

It finally opened, after 327 years at a cost of £1,000,000,000,000 (or thereabouts). The least you can do is take a ride. Here’s where it goes.

6. Check into Robert Louis Stevenson’s gaff.

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The childhood home of the Treasure Island author is an imposing Georgian New Town house, and offers several rooms for bed and breakfast. Prices at Stevenson House range between £110 and £130.

7. Or somewhere really spectacular.

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Prestonfield House is one of Edinburgh’s most ostentatious piles, a 17th-century mansion amid eight hectares of parkland stuffed full of tapestries and other antiques as well as the mod cons – Bose stereos, massive TVs – you’d expect from somewhere of this stature.

8. Or somewhere really cheap.

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At the other end of the spectrum, Budget Backpackers offers a decent place to bed down for a good price.

9. Grab a haggis burrito, Irvine Welsh’s favourite.

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The Trainspotting author told ShortList he’s partial to one of these creations from Los Cardos on Leith Walk.

Irn-Bru is optional.

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10. Head for a pint.

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Edinburgh is home to an embarrassment of pub riches, but The Regent is worth a special visit. A gay-friendly real-ale boozer, it’s won the Edinburgh branch of CAMRA’s Pub of the Year award twice. Deuchars and Old Rosie cider are among the choices on tap.

11. Or two.

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The Royal Oak (pictured) is also worth a visit for some trad folk fun, as is Sandy Bell’s.

12. Drop into one of Edinburgh’s best cocktail bars.

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The Bon Vivant on Thistle Street has just been crowned the first ever Scottish winner of the Tales of the Cocktail 2014 Spirited Awards. Panda & Sons and Bramble (pictured) are also good choices.

13. Finish at Paradise Palms, which is full of Great Gatsby props.

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Loads of the decor, from the drapes to the stuffed boar, is from the film.

14. Saturday morning: Coffee…

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The Elephant House might be known as the spot J.K. Rowling dreamt up Harry Potter, but it’s a favourite of numerous other writers, from Ian Rankin to Alexander McCall Smith.

…and cake.

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Hit up Lovecrumbs for crumbly love.

15. Go see the castle when it opens.

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Get there for 9.30am and beat the crowds.

16. Pop over and see Abraham Lincoln.

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Old Calton Cemetery is home to a number of esteemed corpses, including philosopher David Hume, and in 1893 became the site of the first Lincoln statue outside the US.

17. Cram in some shopping.

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Broughton Street is an independent paradise, West Port houses some great secondhand bookshops, and the Old Town near Grassmarket offers more chances to shop.

18. Visit Greyfriars Kirk.

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The church has been a place of worship for over four centuries and was home to Greyfriars Bobby, a dog who supposedly guarded his owner’s grave for 14 years in the 19th century and is now immortalised in a statue of his own.

It serves traditional Scottish food with top-notch whiskies.

20. In fact, while we’re on the subject of whisky…

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Naturally, the city has endless places to taste a dram. Bennets, which has more than 100 on offer, and Canny Man’s are two to start off with. Download a whisky map and see how many you can tick off.

22. Thomson’s Bar is a good spot for a pie and a pint if you prefer.

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23. Saturday afternoon: Trip over to Arthur’s Seat.

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The hill is over 250 metres high, easy to climb, and provides spectacular views of the city.

24. Descend to Duddingston.

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Nestled behind Arthur’s Seat, the village is one of the oldest parts of the larger city, and its Sheep Heid Inn is one of the oldest pubs in Scotland.

25. And play some skittles.

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The pub has a great alley for throwing balls around.

26. Go to the beach (yes, really).

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A short bus-ride away, Portobello is a sandy beach on the coast of the Firth of Forth. You rarely catch rays, but it’s great for walks all year round.

27. Go on a pub crawl back in town.

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Craft beer is big here. The Hanging Bat, Red Squirrel, Holyrood 9A, Stockbridge Tap, and locals BrewDog are among the finest spots to sup.

28. A literary pub tour combines history with drinking.

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Clart and McBrain are two oddball characters from the Edinburgh Literary Pub tour who will take you to the various haunts of Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott et al.

29. Go see a band.

The Liquid Room and The Queen’s Hall are great venues. The city is a bit good at theatre and comedy too.

30. Take a night tour.

Edinburgh was made for twilight rambling, and the city offers an abundance of scary excursions.

31. Sunday morning: No time to waste.

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There’s a lot more to do in this town.

32. Get to Stockbridge Market.

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This market, which runs every Thursday and Sunday, is a favourite of famous Scottish chef Tom Kitchin for good reason.

33. Head out to Leith.

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A quick bus-ride away. The area has always been a top excursion from the city centre, and now it’s evolving faster than ever, with a bunch of new bars to try out.

34. Stop for lunch at The Ship on the Shore.

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Seafood and champagne = the perfect Sunday lunch.

35. Explore the Royal Botanic Garden.

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You may well be knackered by this point, but push on to the Royal Botanic Garden if you can. It’s 70 acres of green-fingered joy.

36. See William Burke’s skeleton.

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This bloke went around with his mate William Hare murdering people then selling their corpses to a doctor. He was executed, and his skeleton stands in the Anatomical Museum as a reminder to not kill and sell people.

37. Finish up at The Witchery.

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Treat yourself to some Aberdeen Angus steak tartare at the city’s most famous restaurant. Alternatively, dive into one of Edinburgh’s five Michelin-starred establishments.

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