It's only when you've made it to the top of The Royal Mile that Edinburgh 's billing as 'the Athens of the north' comes into sharp focus. The skyline is an impressive architectural hotchpotch of slender church spires and handsome Georgian facades, which once prompted the author JB Priestley to proclaim that he 'never imagined that any city in these islands could be at once so beautiful and fantastic'.
Perched on the side of an extinct volcano Edinburgh Castle is the city's architectural centerpiece and well worth a visit. The castle has had more than its fair share of historical ups and downs and today provides some welcome rest bite form the bustle of city centre life. If you've got the energy you can get a bird's eye view of the city (and the rest of Holyrood Park ) by climbing the 251 meters to the summit of nearby Arthur's seat.
Of course Edinburgh owes a debt of gratitude to the architects who have dressed the city so well, but there's much more to city break in Scotland 's capital than bricks and mortar. Edinburgh has enough museums and galleries to satiate the most culturally ravenous. In fact, entire days could be lost gazing at the world-class collection of antiquities in the Royal Museum of Scotland or the works hanging in the National Gallery of Scotland (which traces the history of art from the Renaissance to close of the 19 th century, with notable paintings by Vermeer, Rembrandt and Turner). More contemporary appetites are catered for in the National Gallery of Modern Art .
No city break in Edinburgh is complete without spending a night on the cobbles. At the end of the day the Royal Mile drops any regal aspirations as the pubs and bars that line the city's nocturnal aorta begin to wake up. Edinburgh 's fabled nightlife has already established the city as a firm favourite with stags and hens and the relaxed licensing laws mean that nights will be anything but early.