Edinburgh: Not just a pretty festival
The first City of Literature
Authors past and present figure prominently in Edinburgh. Literary lions born or based there include Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle and Muriel Spark, as well as JK Rowling, Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith and Irvine Welsh. Literary pub tours, literary walking tours, and no shortage of good bookshops cater for bibliophiles. In 2004 Edinburgh was appointed the first Unesco City of Literature, and the Edinburgh Book Festival (14-29 August) continues to thrive. The Writers' Museum and the Scottish Storytelling Centre are also easily accessible from the Royal Mile. Further down the hill the Scottish Poetry Library is home to a vast selection of poetry books and pamphlets, and poets feature in regular evening events.
Fine dining in Scotland
While the rest of the UK is telling old jokes about Scottish cuisine, Edinburgh has been quietly establishing itself as a haven of fine dining. There is plenty of good quality Indian, French and Thai to be had, and a good smattering of Italian. Where Edinburgh really excels, though, is in menus prepared with locally sourced produce. Five of Edinburgh's restaurants were given stars in the 2010 Michelin Guide: Martin Wishart, The Kitchin and Plumed Horse down in waterside Leith, and Restaurant 21212 and Number One in the city centre.
In August Edinburgh's population doubles and prices for accommodation follow suit. Book early to avoid sleeping in the park. Thankfully, festivals events are well organised and easy to book either online or in person. Programs and flyers are everywhere, and The Hub and the Fringe Shop on the Royal Mile are there to help. Remember that “The Official Edinburgh Festivals Map”, which is free and has venues marked, is your best friend. It is best and probably quickest to get around the main Festivals venues on foot. Beyond that, there is an excellent bus network, which will carry you around all day for £3.20. Official Edinburgh Festivals Website: www.edinburghfestivals.co.uk.