Edinburgh is a beautiful city entangled in an impressive landscape.
The rocky cliffs of Salisbury Crags overlook one end of the Old Town and the leafy corridor of the Water of Leith snakes along the terraces of the New Town.
You can amble (or cycle) along the wooded riverbanks of the 12-mile Water of Leith Walkway, which runs from the city centre upstream to the Pentland Hills or downstream to Leith. A good short walk is from Stockbridge to historic Dean Village, where the waterway is spanned by a Thomas Telford bridge.
Charlotte Square was designed by Robert Adam in 1791 and its northern side has some of the finest Georgian architecture anywhere. The Georgian House has been beautifully restored (0131 226 3318; 7 Charlotte Square; 10am-5pm Apr-Oct, 11am-3pm Mar & Nov).
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the royal family's official residence in Scotland, but is most famous for being the 16th-century home of Mary, Queen of Scots. Explore its sumptuous royal apartments (0131 556 5100; royalcollection. org.uk; Canongate; daily; £10).
Princes Street has great shopping, but also expansive views of the castle and Old Town. At the eastern end the Scott Monument has an exhibition of Sir Walter Scott's life and a spire you can climb (0131 529 4068; East Princes Street Gardens; 10am-7pm Apr-Sep, 9am-4pm Oct-Mar; £3).
Moored in Leith, Edinburgh's main port, the former Royal Yacht Britannia was the royal family's floating home from 1953 until 1997 - it's a monument to 1950s style (0131 555 5566; royalyacht britannia.co.uk; Ocean Terminal, Leith; daily; £10.50).
Eat and drink
L'Alba d'Oro is more than just a fabulous chippy: you wouldn't expect a 300-plus wine list at your average deep-fryer, nor could you get zesty prawn suppers or veggie haggis (0131 557 2580; lalbadoro.com; 5-7 Henderson Row; fish supper £6).
Fishers in Leith, tucked beneath a 17th-century signal tower, is one of the city's best seafood places. The menu ranges from battered coley with chervil mayonnaise, £11.95, to North Berwick lobster with a prawn and caper crust, £29.95 (0131 554 5666; fishersbistros.co.uk; 1 The Shore, Leith; mains £10-£35).
Named after a mountain in northwestern Scotland, Stac Polly gives sophisticated twists to fresh Highland produce, such as haggis in filo parcels with sweet plum and red wine sauce (0131 556 2231; stacpolly.com; 29-33 Dublin St; dinner-only on Sat; mains £18-£22).
Pass through the doors of the Café Royal Oyster Bar and enter a Victorian palace of mahogany, brass, marble floors, Doulton tiles and starched linen. The menu is mostly classic seafood, with a few beef and game dishes (0131 556 4124; caferoyal.org.uk; 17a West Register St; mains £11-£24).
Tower sits atop the Museum of Scotland and has great views of the castle. It serves quality Scottish food, simply prepared - try half a dozen oysters followed by a fillet of Borders beef (0131 225 3003; tower-restaurant.com; Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street; mains £15-£33).
Bright and arty Cluaran House is known for its welcoming owners. There are period features, wooden floorboards and original artworks throughout the house, with some for sale. Breakfasts sare also good (0131 221 0047; cluaran-house-edinburgh.co.uk; 47 Leamington Terrace; from £80).
Though set in a typical Victorian terrace, the Southside Guest House transcends the b&b category and feels more like a modern boutique hotel. Its eight rooms have a strong design aesthetic, with bold colour schemes, wrought-iron beds, oriental rugs and contemporary furnishings (0131 668 4422; southsideguesthouse.co.uk; 8 Newington Rd; from £90).
Six Mary's Place is an attractive Georgian townhouse where tranquil rooms have large sash windows and tiled fireplaces. Breakfast is served in the conservatory overlooking the secluded walled garden (0131 332 8965; sixmarysplace.co.uk; 6 Mary's Place; from £99).
With Hotel Missoni, the eponymous Italian fashion house has established a style icon in the heart of the Old Town: modernist architecture, impeccable staff and very comfortable bedrooms. Furnishings display Missoni's signature zigzag patterns (0131 220 6666; hotelmissoni.com; 1 George IV Bridge; from £180).
Set in a 16th-century house, the Witchery by the Castle offers seven lavish suites. All are furnished with antiques, oak panelling, tapestries, open fires and roll-top baths, and supplied with flowers, chocolates and complimentary champagne. It's popular - you'll have to book several months in advance (0131 225 5613; thewitchery.com; Castlehill, Royal Mile; suite £295).
Lothian Buses and First Edinburgh are the two main bus operators. (single fare £1; lothianbuses.co.uk, firstedinburgh.co.uk). The city is well equipped with bike lanes and cycle tracks, and Biketrax rents out bikes and equipment (£16 per day; biketrax.co.uk).
When to go
Visit in the spring for the cherry blossom, in August and September for the Edinburgh International Festival (eif.co.uk) and winter for the ice rink in Princes Street Gardens.
How to go
British Airways, easyJet and BMI fly from London, Belfast and Bristol (from £38). The Airlink bus will take you to the city centre (£3.50; edinburghshuttle.co.uk). Trains connect Edinburgh with Glasgow (£12), Newcastle (£14) and London (£100). National Express runs coaches from London (£13).
The article 'Mini guide to Edinburgh, Scotland' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Magazine.