As they say, if you go anywhere in Great Britain, go to London. If you can afford to visit two cities, then make a stop in Edinburgh. Though still in London's shadow, Edinburgh has plenty to offer visitors, and more and more tourists are coming to this historic, cultural city.
The capital of Scotland, Edingburgh is a gorgeous city that maintains much of its medieval heritage, with its narrow cobblestone streets and stately castles, such as the Edinburgh Castle, that stand stoically against the city's dramatic natural landscape. This historic, cultural city has been home to inventors, literary greats (such as Robert Louis Stevenson), and famous rulers (the most famous being Mary, Queen of Scots). It is also home to several significant museums, such as the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Portrait Gallery. To celebrate its culture, Edinburgh hosts a massive festival every August that really encompasses four festivals celebrating the arts. While August is a pleasant, sunny time to be in Edinburgh, it is its peak season, which means larger crowds and much more expensive room rates.
While Edinburgh may be Scotland's cultural center, it can't compare to its neighbors in shopping (Glasgow surpasses it). Nonetheless, those bent on shopping during their time in Edinburgh can certainly satisfy their desire; upscale Princes Street is lined by boutiques and shops. Edinburgh does surpass cities like Glasgow in its culinary options; though the cuisine does focus on meat and potatoes, there has been an influx of high-end gourmet restaurants. Plus, visitors and locals love frequenting the pubs, where beer is always flowing.
Many come to Edinburgh just for the golf courses; the sport originated in Scotland, after all.
Edinburgh has hotels for every budget, so visitors can find luxury or budget hotels in just about every neighborhood. Most choose to stay in either Old Town or New Town (though New Town, dating back to the 18th century, isn't actually all that new). Old Town is the medieval center of the city, with iconic Royal Mile, lined by historic buildings and book-ended by the Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. New Town's numerous restaurants, shops (it's home to Princes Street), and bars make it a convenient location. Plus, New Town is where the National Portrait Gallery can be found.
The city's West End theater district is a lively spot, particularly at night. Leith, home to Edinburgh's main port, is a great destination for local seafood.
For a plethora of budget-friendly options, visitors may want to consider Haymarket or Marchmont. There's not much in Haymarket other than the train station, but it's a convenient option for those making a quick stop in Edinburgh.