Part brooding Gothic beauty, part festival venue extraordinaire, the Scottish capital is awash with charming contradictions. And, whether you're looking for sparky satire or a man in a kilt, the 24 Essential Hours has got it covered.
Princes Street Gardens
Start the day right in the centre of the city. Created in 1820, the gardens lie in the shadow of the castle and afford fine views of the Scott Monument and the bagpipers of Prince's Street during tourist season.
- Video: Princes Street Gardens
Try a cafe here for a traditional fry-up - white pudding, fried haggis, potato scones and oatcakes are optional - then walk off your full Scottish breakfast with a stroll along this pretty street.
The Scott Monument
This eye-catching gothic monument to the author Walter Scott is not for the claustrophobic. The 1844 structure is a tight, awkward and spiralling climb up 287 steps. Still, those who make it to the top will get a grand morning view of Edinburgh East.
- Address: Princes Street Gardens
- Tel: + 44 (0)131 529 4068
- Video: View from the Scott Monument
Scottish National Portrait Gallery
An informative blast of the past: Scottish history, and all the formidable faces that shaped it, can be had in palatable form here.
- Address: 1 Queen Street
- Tel: +44 (0)131 624 6200
- Video: www.nationalgalleries.org
Hit one of the branches of the Chocolate Soup mini-chain for a chocolate overdose - a pot of melted Belgian dipping chocolate and fresh chocolate muffin. Sinfully good stuff.
- Address: 158-162 Rose Street
- Tel: +44 (0)131 225 8038
The Real Mary King's Close
A spooky series of narrow underground streets that were used between the 17th and 19th centuries before the Royal Mile's City Chambers were built on top. Just be sure to wear sensible shoes...
- Address: 2 Warriston's Close, Writer Court
- Tel: + 44 (0)8702 430 160
- Website: www.realmarykingsclose.com
The World's End Pub
The World's End is an Edinburgh institution, and offers one of the best pub lunches in the city. Combine whiskies with trad Scottish fare - haggis, neeps and tatties if you're feeling bold - but get there early because it is ALWAYS popular.
- Address: 4 High Street
- Tel: +44 (0)131 556 3628
Secrets Of The Royal Mile Tour
Uncover the secrets of Dr Jekyll, Mr Hyde and Half-Hangit Maggie on a tour of the ancient and dramatic Royal Mile, which connects the palace of Holyrood with the castle.
- Tel: + 44 (0)131 225 544
- Website: www.mercattours.com
Victoria Street and The Grassmarket
Pretty Victoria Street is lined with T-shirt printers, joke shops, designer stores and a luxury hat shop at the bottom. Follow the road round into Grassmarket for more of the same.
The CowShed Relax Spa
The funkiest spa in town, courtesy of the Soho House group. Go for the signature massages or synchronized massage - two pairs of hands work better than one.
- Address: The Scotsman Hotel, 20 North Bridge
- Tel: + 44 (0)131 556 5565
- Website: www.thescotsmanhotel.co.uk
Head up the hill to the castle and explore the castle before last admissions at 5.15pm - it's one of the castle's quieter periods, and perfect for taking in the city at dusk.
- Address: Castlehill
- Tel: + 44 (0)131 225 9846
- Website: www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk
The Elephant House
This cool tea and coffee house round the corner from the castle is perfect for hanging out and people watching. Try the Elephant's Treat - hot chocolate with brandy and Kahlua, topped with whipped cream.
- Address: 21 George IV Bridge
- Tel: + 44 (0)131 220 5355
- Website: www.elephanthouse.co.biz
The Stand Comedy Club
Catch a stand-up show at the legendary Stand comedy club, an intimate spit and sawdust basement venue in the New Town that attracts all the big names.
- Address: 5 York Place
- Tel: + 44 (0)131 558 7272
- Website: www.thestand.co.uk
The Secret Garden at The Witchery
Almost as romantic as the castle next door, entering the Secret Garden - or any part of the Witchery - is like stepping into a Scottish gothic fantasy. If you really fall in love you can stay the night, too.
- Address: Castlehill, The Royal Mile
- Tel: + 44 (0)131 225 5613
- Website: www.thewitchery.com
Ghost Hunter Trail
Murky, mysterious, macabre... Uncover the dark side of Edinburgh with a walk that takes you down dark alleyways, across empty graveyards... and beyond.
- Tel: +44 (0)131 225 5445
- Website: www.mercattours.com
Ocean Terminal, Leith
Leith is where Edinburgh meets the sea at the Firth Of Forth, and is the home of the Royal Yacht Britannia. Mooch about by the waterfront; otherwise, Ocean Terminal has a host of shops, plenty of bars and restaurants and a cinema open until midnight..
- Website: www.oceanterminal.com
Head here for pool, live music and lots of atmosphere in a bar situated in the dark caves of Cowgate, bang in the middle of the Old Town.
- Address: 212 Cowgate
- Tel: + 44 (0)131 556 3254
- Website: www.bannermanslive.co.uk
Fish and Chips
Stroll around the Royal Mile and the Old Town in search of that Scottish ultimate late-night delicacy - fish and chips with salt 'n' sauce. Better than a kebab any day.
This may be the coolest bar/club in the capital. Tucked beneath the equally alluring Tigerlily Hotel, Lulu's is slick, sophisticated and slightly... saucy. If there are celebs in town, you'll find them here.
- Address: 125b George Street
- Tel: +44 (0)131 225 5005
- Website: www.luluedinburgh.co.uk
Dance the night away - or the last hour - at this busy Old Town club; it the place to catch bands about to be stellar - and is open until 3am.
- Address: 36 Blair Street
- Tel: +44 (0)131 220 6176
- Website: www.thecabaretvoltaire.com
North and Waverly Bridges
Head to the parallel North Bridge and Waverley Bridge for photos opportunities and to see this ancient, gothic city in all its glory.
Climb the imposing Arthur's Seat - an extinct volcano that dominates the city skyline - to get an unforgettable glimpse of the sunrise.
- Video: Running down Arthur's Seat
Penny Black Pub
Is it still last night or tomorrow morning? Either way get to the pub as it opens for a refreshing pint - a lively local crowd makes this the ideal 'hair of the dog' venue.
- Address: 17 West Register Street
- Tel: +44 (0)131 556 1106
Dogs really are a man's best friend. Here lies the statue of Greyfriars' Bobby, a tribute to Skye terrier Bobby who refused to leave owner John Gray's grave for 14 years, despite being repeatedly chased out of the churchyard. Aaaaw.
- Address: Between Candlemaker Row and George IV Bridge
- Website: www.greyfriarsbobby.co.uk
Last Updated: September 2008