Culture-Rich City

Explore the Culture of Edinburgh on a Travel Blog

Edinburgh’s layers of history are incredibly complex. One way to understand them is by taking a guided tour of New Town, where you’ll learn about the ideals and architecture of the Age of Enlightenment.

For Harry Potter fans, a city tour can give you insights into how real-life events and landmarks inspired JK Rowling’s books. For example, Victoria Street is believed to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley.

It’s a UNESCO City of Literature

The historic streets of Edinburgh have inspired famous writers for centuries. The city became the first UNESCO City of Literature in 2004, joining a network of Cities that place culture at the heart of their development to enhance inclusivity and sustainability.

Sir Walter Scott, who wrote Ivanhoe and Waverley, is one of the best known of Scotland’s literary greats but he was not alone. Many famous writers, poets and playwrights including Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) and JK Rowling have hailed from Edinburgh.

The city’s literature community is incredibly strong with national organisations like Publishing Scotland and the Scottish Book Trust based here, and more than 45 bookshops. The Edinburgh International Book Festival also takes place each year in August and the city has its own Poet Laureate, the Edinburgh Makar. This month UNESCO announced that Bremen, Buffalo, Kutaisi and Okayama City had been selected to join the Cities of Literature network, making it now 55 strong worldwide.

It’s a Festival City

Festivals are an integral part of Edinburgh’s culture. From the Fringe to the International Festival, you’ll find world-class artists and performers at events around town. Whether you’re looking for a laugh, traditional theater or modern jazz there’s something for everyone.

In addition to bringing massive crowds to the city, festivals generate substantial economic benefits. From a hard to quantify social perspective, residents appreciate the community joy they bring and the pride it creates.

While the month of August is crazy busy and accommodation hard to come by, there’s plenty to do outside the peak season. In fact, you’ll find many venues are within a stone’s throw of each other, especially in the Old Town area. In the Springtime, Ceilidh Culture and The Edinburgh Science Festival take over the streets while in the winter you can join the crowds for a festive Hogmanay. Then at Christmas time the city is lit up with a spectacular show of lights and fireworks.

It’s a Historic City

Edinburgh’s historic centre is an architectural gem. Take a tour led by an expert to get the most out of your time here. There are also plenty of free walking tours on offer too.

Stroll along the wynds and closes of the Old Town to see the Gothic atmosphere for yourself. You can also stroll through the city’s historic graveyards (kirkyards) to find famous names including economist Adam Smith, philosopher David Hume and authors Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.

For a magical day trip from the city, head out to Rosslyn Chapel, made famous by Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code”. This mysterious chapel has many strange geometric patterns and is full of otherworldly carved symbols that have given rise to numerous legends. Make sure you leave enough time to explore Edinburgh’s wide range of unique neighbourhoods too, from the refined residential enclave of Stockbridge to student-friendly Marchmont and Leith in the north. And of course, don’t forget to visit the world-famous Edinburgh Castle!

It’s a Magical City

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has become a household name around the world but did you know that Edinburgh provided some of the inspiration for the series? From Tom Riddle’s grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard to George Heriot’s School, you can find lots of inspiration for Hogwarts and Diagon Alley in Scotland’s capital city.

For families, Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is a must-see attraction in Edinburgh. Head six floors up for a Victorian rooftop chamber where you can see optical illusions and games that will be a hit with kids.

If you’re looking to take a more serious stroll, consider an expert-led tour of New Town where you can learn about the ideals and architecture of the Enlightenment during visits to Calton Hill, Charlotte Square, and the residences of some of the city’s most famous 18th century citizens. For something slightly more gruesome, check out the Wohl Pathology Museum which has one of the largest collections of pathological specimens in the world (read: cadavers, birth defects, and cancers).

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