Of all the destinations we’re aiming to run routes to, Edinburgh is the one that provokes both the most questions and the most excitement. Questions, because connecting Edinburgh and Paris, at this stage, is a little problematic from a technical point of view (though we’re determined to make it happen). Excitement, because many Scots are very keen on establishing new links with the continent after Brexit. So without further ado, let’s take a brief tour through this most celebrated of Celtic cities.
Its unique blend of history and modernity, pride and conviviality, lends Edinburgh a very particular, almost magical air. The castle is no doubt the most iconic landmark in the city, and its turbulent history closely matches that of this fiercely independent nation as a whole. This citadel, perched peacefully on an extinct volcano, is pretty hard to miss. It even gave its name to the very first of the Scottish fortress cities: Din Eidyn (‘Edwin’s fortress’ in Gaelic), which was at various stages in its history a barracks, a prison and a sprawling royal residence.
To get further sense of the soul of the place, get lost in the passages and alleyways of the city centre, which is defined by its unique medieval architecture. On every corner, Edinburgh’s rich history will offer itself up to you, providing inspiration just as it did for illustrious guests and inhabitants in centuries past: Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson and Walter Scott are among those artists who’ve helped give the city an artistic dimension that very much remains today.
Next, you’ll want to delve deeper into Edinburgh’s magical side. It’s perhaps not surprising at all, given these fantastical surroundings, that it was here that J.K. Rowling first came up with her Harry Potter books. Legend has it that it was The Elephant House, one of several classic cafés in the city, where she pulled up a chair daily to put pen to paper and tell the story of Hogwarts’ greatest wizard.
Culture really is at the heart of local life here, and you’d be foolish to leave the city without having visited its museums. The Scottish National Gallery is a particularly impressive temple to art, largely focusing on European painting: Raphaël, Botticelli, Velásquez, Steen, Delacroix, van Gogh, Gauguin, Monet, Cézanne, Renoir, Raeburn… We’ll stop there, because you’ve probably already got the sense you could spend half a day here (and longer).
You’ll probably feel like a pick-me-up after all that, so it’s fortunate there’s all manner of sumptuous flavours and dishes to sample in Edinburgh. To soak up the bustling atmosphere and take in all those smells, we recommend strolling among the stalls of Stockbridge Market, or browsing the fresh, seasonal produce at the city’s main Farmers’ Market. You’ll find a gourmet’s dream of cheese, charcuterie and other local goodies, and easily fill up your suitcase for the train back home.
By now, many of you may well be thinking about pencilling in your next trip to Edinburgh, and you could do much worse than to coincide it with one of the city’s many festivals.
The king of them all, the Edinburgh International Festival, and its now-bigger offshoot the Festival Fringe, have just wrapped up. Quite simply, together they make up one of the world’s most important cultural events, with a whole host of dazzling theatrical and musical productions making their debut here every year. Can’t wait until August 2022 for the next edition? Hogmanay is on hand to help. This festival takes place at the end of every year, around the New Year, with pretty much the whole city coming to life as concerts and parties take over Edinburgh’s streets.