A visitor's guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh offers plenty to pique your interest, keep you entertained and provides just the right nightlife to keep your vacation fun and exciting. The capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh offers medieval relics, a Scottish atmosphere and modern architecture. The nightlife includes city festivals throughout the year, loud music, soft music and everything in between. Scotland is a literary capital, boasting both Sir Walter Drake and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as natives. First time visitors will have to make some decisions as to how they want to spend their time.  Here are a few options to consider.

Museum visits

When visiting there are some sights you simply do not want to miss having on your itinerary. The National Museum of Scotland offers you everything from Art and Industry to Science, Nature, and history. It is literally two museums in one. One building is home to glass ceilings and international art collections. They also include science and cultural displays while the other is devoted to the story of the people, land, and zeitgeist of Scotland.

Art options

If you have an interest in the arts, you can visit Fruitmarket Gallery where you'll find exhibitions on film, photography, sculpture and a variety of other art. This venue is designed to show new and existing work by not just Scottish artists, but international artists as well.

Outdoor activities

Outdoor lovers will be enthralled with the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh which offers more than 50 acres of scenery whether you are a sightseer or a flower lover alpines, the Chinese Hillside, Chilean plants, a Fossil Garden and so much more.

Do not forget to check out the Queen Mother's Memorial Garden while in Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Zoo a registered charity in Scotland - provides children of all ages opportunities to see animals you will not see anywhere else.  When the children start screaming "are we there yet" this will be a great stopping point.

Edinburgh on foot

If you love the idea of walking around Edinburgh, you will not be disappointed. The area lends itself well to walking, biking or hiking. Holyrood Park which was created by King James VI appears to be the Scottish landscape but in miniature.  You'll love seeing the Salisbury Crags, Arthur's Seat and the various lochs located here. If you're looking for a walking tour, check out the Royal Mile or head over to Arthur's Seat (an extinct volcano). There are various festivals which run year round in Edinburgh. Check your travel plans early and find out which ones are active when you plan to be there.

Cinemas, food and drink

Cinemas in Edinburgh offer foreign language films, mainstream films and alternative films. This is a perfect outing for those gloomy Scotland days. A food lovers delight, Edinburgh offers a wide variety of restaurants. Options include French, vegetarian, seafood, Chinese, Indian. Each provides offerings sure to keep you within budget (unless you want to spend extra wampum).

Visiting Scotland means taking time to taste of some of the local whiskey offerings - The Whiskey Museum offers more than 200 different whiskeys - one of them is sure to please your palate if you care for whiskey.  This can be a great way to get introduced to some of the best brands.

Edinburgh offers a variety of night spots. Themed pubs, sports pubs and more traditional pubs like Nicol Edwards. Nicol Edwards is made up of huge rooms, dance halls and offers nightly entertainment. Like many Edinburgh pubs they stay open until 3am offering you plenty of opportunity to move from one pub or club to another.  There are many great places to visit if you are planning a trip to Scotland. Don't overlook some of these great locations.

Image credit: Kevin Rae [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons