From the Old Town to New Town, Edinburgh’s history is all around. Castle passes from parkland down below and quirky old pubs along the eerie Royal Mile are just one part of this beautiful city though. Step into the shoes of local Julie Trevisan Hunter, head marketer at The Scotch Whisky Experience, and a whole new side of the Scottish capital unfolds.
I’ve lived in Edinburgh all my life, and think that it is one of the world’s most liveable cities. There is a wonderful sense of history, heritage, culture and tradition everywhere you look; from the castle perched on top of volcanic rock that dominates the city centre to the elegant Georgian New Town and the ports of Cramond, New Haven and Leith. In Edinburgh, history is written into the stones all around you. No matter where you are in the city you can see the history, giving you a strong feeling of connection with the past.
In spite of what you might think about Scottish weather, I cycle to work every morning and have only been soaked twice. So trust me when I suggest that an early-morning stroll up iconic Arthur’s Seat is the perfect start to the day. The extinct volcano at the heart of the city is unbeatable for 360-degree views and the climb is as steep or gentle as you want, depending on which paths you choose. You can even drive most of the way so it’s very accessible. The sunrise is often most beautiful in the winter months, with a stunning pink glow catching any clouds.
At the foot of Arthur’s Seat, next to Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament, is a new branch of an Edinburgh institution: Henderson’s vegan restaurant, which was established in 1962. This new spot means the long-standing local’s hidden gem is now serving in the heart of the Old Town.
Stroll up the Royal Mile from Holyrood Palace as far as the start of the Lawnmarket, and explore the cobbled alleyways, known as closes, with hidden courtyards and gardens, sudden descending flights of steps and fabulous atmospheric photo moments.
From here, you can choose art or history, visiting Edinburgh’s world-class, free museums and galleries. Turning south, within five minutes you’ll find the National Museum of Scotland (with options for serious culture or interactive fun). Alternatively, head north towards Princes Street and while away a morning at the Scottish National Gallery. My absolute favourite is the Scottish Gallery of 19th Century Work.
Edinburgh is full of outdoor spaces if you fancy a picnic. On a Saturday, pick something from Edinburgh Farmers’ Market on Castle Terrace, just below the castle rock. On a Sunday, Stockbridge Market is full of locals and an amazing choice of Scottish foodie treats. On a weekday, pop into I.J. Mellis Cheesemonger, (just two minutes from the historic High Street) and grab some artisan cheese and bread or Scottish oatcakes.
Round off your day with an early-evening whisky tasting tour at The Scotch Whisky Experience, my home away from home. Discover the historic secrets of Scotland single malt Scotch whiskies and marvel in the amber glow of the world’s largest collection of Scotch whisky.