The Place Edinburgh, Scotland The Route Flying in from London or another European hub is the fastest option, but for those with time on their hands, the four-andhalf-hour train trip with East Coast ( eastcoast.co.uk; one-way first-class tickets from US$ 73) provides a scenic prelude, particularly along the seaside stretch of track north of Newcastle. For the best views, be sure to get a seat on the right-hand side of the carriage. The Draw Described as “a dream in masonry and living rock” by native son Robert Louis Stevenson, the Scottish capital is one of Europe’s most beguiling cities. History buffs will want to explore the Royal Mile, the medieval road connecting Edinburgh Castle with the 16th-century Palace of Holyroodhouse, where Mary, Queen of Scots once lived. A hike up Arthur’s Seat is also well worthwhile for its views across the city’s spire-studded skyline to the Firth of Forth. Why Now? Edinburgh’s cultural calendar reaches its crescendo in August, with dozens of festivals and events held across the city. Among the highlights are the Edinburgh Art Festival, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the largest and arguably most rambunctious of its kind in the world. For dates and details, visit edinburgh festivals.co.uk. Where to Stay With just four enormous suites set in an 18th-century town house, The Atholl ( theatholl.com; doubles from US$ 1,533) is as exclusive—and expensive—a hotel as you’ll find in Edinburgh; each suite comes with its own kitchen and the services of an Albert Roux–trained chef. For something homier, Festival Beds ( festivalbeds.co.uk) can arrange stays at a host of reasonably priced downtown B&Bs—a good alternative should hotel rooms prove elusive in August, when the city swells to bursting point with festivalgoers.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT An illuminated Edinburgh Castle takes center stage in this view across the Scottish capital from Calton Hill.