Peace & Quiet
When To Go
The vast majority of Edinburgh's tourists come north during the summer, particularly during August, the Festival month. Undoubtedly, the city is then at its liveliest, but it's also crowded, noisy and chaotic. For truly pleasurable sightseeing May, June and September are the ideal months, with a better-than-average chance of good weather. If you don't mind cold, wet and wind, the winter months are the time to experience the city at its most uncrowded and atmospheric.
It's always hard to view a much-loved city dispassionately - memories and habits get in the way. Edinburgh for me conjures up visits to the dentist and shopping for school uniform, drives to the city to enjoy the Festival as a student, getting to know it ever better during the 20-odd years I lived there.
I still love Edinburgh; no one could be lukewarm about a city so harmonious and civilised. `Fur coat and nae knickers' say the city's detractors, but there's little wrong with keeping up appearances and presenting one's best face to the world. And what a face. From the cobblestones of the Royal Mile, lined with a glorious jumble of ancient tenements, to the cool restrained splendour of the New Town terraces, there's always something to delight the eye. The big set pieces - the Castle, Holyrood, medieval and classical Edinburgh - never disappoint, but there's so much else beside. The hidden wynds (narrow lanes) and closes of the Old Town, the quiet streets and tucked-away mews in the New, the smug and comfortable villas in the tree-lined avenues of Morningside are all just as much essential elements in the townscape as is the brooding presence of Arthur's Seat. Even the bleak outer housing estates and the squalor behind the glories are part of the package, ingredients that balance what might otherwise be bland perfection.
Take time to enjoy it all: a marvellous city whose attractions are set against a glorious backdrop, and whose people are amongst the kindest and couthiest you could hope to meet.