Edinburgh is home to approximately 450 000 people, a number that almost doubles during one of the world’s famous comedy festivals, Fringe, held in August every year. A place that Sean Connery and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle call home as well as a UNESCO world heritage site, this is a city that pulses with culture, art, and history. Whether you’re heading there for Fringe, or Hogmanay (arguably the biggest New Years Eve Party in Europe with over 100,000 tourists flocking to the city) or any other time of the year, there is so much to see and do, you’ll probably want to extend your trip! Check out our selection of things to do while you’re in this beautiful city:

1. Go to Fringe.

With comedians like David O’Doherty, cabaret acts, theatre performances, musicals, children’s acts, and so many other forms of thespian entertainment available, this extravaganza has become one of the biggest theatrical festivals in the world. Fringe books up fast, and finding accommodations in Edinburgh any time in August is a nightmare unless you’ve booked well in advance. If you want to stay in town, consider the High Street Hostel. It’s in the heart of the city, and has an amazingly friendly and fun atmosphere. Consider booking accommodations (like Aaron Glen Guesthouse) just outside of the city and take a bus in if you find yourself with no rooms available (even couch surfers will need to look at least 3-4 months in advance for hosts). Despite the difficulties you may face in finding accommodation, the festival itself is worth every penny spent. If you’re on a budget you’ll also be able to catch a lot of free acts as well!

EdinburghActivities ECI

2. Eat a piece of deep fried pizza.

At first I didn’t even think such a thing was possible, but an old friend of mine says that if you bring it to a chip shop (think greasy spoon place where fried dishes are plentiful) in Scotland, they’ll batter it and deep fry it. Slices of pizza and Mars chocolate bars being the best examples.  It sounds a bit like a heart-attack waiting to happen, but it is also one of the tastiest things you’ll consume, especially if you happen to have had a few pints that evening!

3. Climb Arthur’s Seat.

Edinburgh has 7 hills and Arthur’s Seat is the tallest of them, and is actually an extinct volcano. It’s tall – really tall – measuring in at 251 meters, and it quite a climb so it’s best for able-bodied visitors. It’s rumoured to have connections to Camelot and King Arthur’s court, but the biggest perk is the scenery. It boasts some of the best views of the city, so make sure you bring your camera with you so you can take some stunning panoramas.

Photo by  Kim Traynor

Photo by Kim Traynor

4. Go on a walking tour at night.

Edinburgh has been considered Scotland’s capital since the 15th century, and with all of that history comes gruesome battles, and more than just the odd scary story. Taking a haunted walking tour of Edinburgh at night will send chills up your spine, and will by and large be one of the most memorable parts of your trip. Try Mercat Tours for a selection of spooky and not-as-spooky options.

5. Have a couple of pints in a traditional pub.

Chain pubs all over the UK can’t quite measure up to the history, ambiance and experience of a drink in a truly old tavern. Try The Sheep’s Heid Inn after that hike over Arthur’s Seat. It’s beer and ale selection is well worth the trip, not to mention the scenery of Duddingston Loch.  Other traditional pubs include  Royal Oak, a tiny bar with lots of charm or Sandy’s Bells situated near the University with a wide variety in patronage.

6.Go big for New Years (or Hogmanay).

There’s no ball to drop in Edinburgh for New Years (or Hogmanay as the locals call it) but there is a lot of kissing, drinks and first footing! Just like Fringe, make sure you book your accommodation well in advance if you’re travelling to Edinburgh between Christmas and New Year. There’s a street party held on the 31st that you’ll need to buy a ticket for – they start going on sale in October! On the 29th you can hike with the locals up Calton Hill to see the wicker man (a wood/straw effigy of a man) set on fire. There are so many events and traditions celebrated at this time of the year in Scotland, the experience will likely be unlike any New Year’s Eve party you’ve been to before.

Photo by Robbie Shade

Photo by Robbie Shade

Want to improve your English so you can explore the beauty that Edinburgh has to offer, while charming and impressing the locals? Why not contact English Classes In for English courses in your area?