SmartTRAVEL: Edinburgh

As Commonwealth countries vie for gold and glory in Glasgow, we go beyond the sporting action to bring you sights and sounds of scenic Scotland

SmartTRAVEL: Edinburgh
What to see

1. Edinburgh palace

Edinburgh Castle dominates Scotland's capital city from its great rock. Its story has helped shape the nation's story. Battles and sieges were fought over it, royalty lived and died within its walls, and countless generations have been and inspired by it. In the 1600s, the castle became a military base. Some buildings were rebuilt and new ones were raised to house a huge garrison.

2. Royal Yacht Britannia

One of Scotland's biggest tourist attractions is the former Royal Yacht Britannia. The tour gives an intriguing insight into the Queen’s private tastes – Britannia was one of the few places where the royal family could enjoy true privacy. The entire ship is a monument to 1950s decor and technologyand the accommodation reveals queen’s preference for simple, unfussy surroundings.

3. National Museum of Scotland

Broad, elegant Chambers St is dominated by the long facade of the National Museum of Scotland. Its extensive collections are spread between two buildings, one modern, one Victorian. The museum reopened to the public in 2011 after two years of major renovation and reconstruction. The golden stone and striking modern architecture of the museum is one of the city's most distinctive landmarks.

Where to eat

1. The Dogs

One of the coolest tables in town, this bistro-style place uses cheaper cuts of meat and less-well-known, more-sustainable species of fish to create hearty, no-nonsense dishes such as lamb sweetbreads on toast, baked coley with skirlie (fried oatmeal and onion), and devilled liver with bacon and onions.

Where to shop

1. Armstrong’s

Armstrong’s is an Edinburgh fashion institution, a quality vintage clothes emporium offering everything from elegant 1940s dresses to funky 1970s flares. It’s a great place to hunt for previously owned kilts and Harris tweed, or to seek inspiration for that fancy-dress party.

THE PICK: Arthur’s Seat

No other city has an extinct volcano in its limits, so climbing to Arthur’s Seat, the tallest of Edinburgh’s seven hills, is an essential activity for the able-bodied visitor. As well as an aerobic workout, a jaunt up the hill, combined with a trip to Our Dynamic Earth can also be an enlightening geological education.

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