But one need not be so energetic to enjoy Edinburgh. For this is a city that is attractive ? and easy ? to walk around. Arriving in the city centre, visitors will be captivated by the Old Town skyline, which forms a stunning backdrop for Princes Street. Not many cities can boast a high street with shops on one side and an ancient castle and beautiful gardens on the other.
Princes Street and its gardens provide the unique setting for a number of events throughout the year, such as the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe Festival, the Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival (both of which take place in August), and Edinburgh?s Winter Festivals (from November to January). Edinburgh also hosts Hogmanay, the world?s largest street party, at New Year with spectacular fireworks, live music concerts and dancing.
Malts, museums... and muggles?
A few minutes away is the historic Royal Mile, cobbled and atmospheric, leading down from the castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Queen Elizabeth II?s official residence when in Scotland. Next door is the ultra-modern Scottish parliament, which opened its doors in 2004, where you can see the lawmakers in action and take a guided tour.
Other attractions include The Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre, where research into whisky making can finish off with a sampling of one of 270 varieties at the bar; the Camera Obscura, where one can experience a panoramic view of Edinburgh from inside a giant Victorian camera. You can also visit the evocative Museum of Childhood and the Writers? Museum ? devoted to Scotland?s literary heroes such as Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Walter Scott.
Scotland has modern literary heroes too, such as J.K. Rowling ? who wrote her first Harry Potter book in a cafe in the Old Town and Ian Rankin, whose 'Rebus' crime novels have made the streets of Edinburgh familiar to readers all over the world.
One effective setting used by Rankin is the brace of national museums: the Royal Museum, its stunning entrance hall with light flooding in through the glass roof modelled on Crystal Palace is linked to the striking modern building of the Museum of Scotland. The first is filled with treasures from around the world while the latter gathers together artefacts from the history of Scotland and has a magnificent restaurant looking over the rooftops of Edinburgh.
If you've had enough walking, open-topped buses tour the city regularly offering a 'hop on, hop off' facility and a free bus connects four of the city?s galleries.
But Edinburgh is not just about history and heritage ? there?s a vibrant, modern culture and a cosmopolitan buzz around the city. Many new and contemporary shops (Harvey Nichols, Zara), restaurants (Oloroso, The Living Room) and hotels (The Glasshouse, The Scotsman) provide an interesting mix, to combine modern with traditional.