For all its publicity and worldwide fame, Edinburgh is rarely discovered in its full splendour by locals, never mind tourists. The millions of people annually visiting Scotland’s capital rarely get the chance to experience life as a local and explore the hidden gems of the city.
Perhaps it’s because the city is now such a busy and fast-paced place, but the fact remains that there are many sights, sounds and attractions that are currently off the rader and unnoticed by many of the people navigating Edinburgh.
There are 5 Michelin-starred restaurants
A place as special as Edinburgh boasts hundreds of places to enjoy delicious food. A wide range of cuisines from around the world race each other in an attempt to lure in more clients and gain popularity, but few of them have made it all the way to the top.
While London has earned a reputation as a culinary centre, Edinburgh perhaps doesn’t get the attention that its 5 Michelin starred restaurants deserve. Three of them – Castle Terrace, Number One and 21212 – are located in the Old Town, in close proximity to some of Edinburgh’s most desirable new build apartments, while Leith is the home of The Kitchin and Restaurant Martin Wishart.
Many of these restaurants offer lunch menus at a lower price than you might expect from a Michelin-starred restaurant, so be sure to give one a try on your next visit.
The One o’clock Gun
For Edinburgh locals, it’s a familiar scene: hearing the traditional one o’clock bang only to see somebody nearby comically reacting at the scare. It’s safe to say that not all tourists have done their homework on the daily artillery action in the capital. But if you are a tourist visiting Scotland’s capital for the first time, turn to the Mills Mount Battery inside the Edinburgh Castle at one hour past midday and do your best to hold back the surprise as the sound of cannon fire fills the air.
This tradition goes all the way back to 1861 when the gun was fired as a way to help ships in the Firth of Forth estuary set their clocks.
French prisoners in the castle
A brilliant touch of humour or an immature and childish gesture – depending on which side of the Channel you’re from – but the truth is most people visiting the vault of Edinburgh Castle love the the French prisoners of war exhibition. Recreating the atmosphere inside the prison of centuries gone by, a few shrewdly placed speakers placed along the restored interior echo the dialogue between prisoners to great effect.
That smell is not dog food
Tourists have often noticed and unusual odour on the streets of the city. It’s nothing else but the smell of beer (hops, to be specific) coming from the breweries of Edinburgh and is typically at its most pungent in the Old Town, depending on the wind.
The city has an old, almost archaic tradition of beer crafting and, despite the fact some breweries were closed down, more micro breweries emerged alongside the famous Brewdog and Innis & Gunn. Next time you’re hit by the smell of barley, why not pop into one of the many pubs and ask for some locally produced beer?
There’s a volcano in the Old Town
The huge rock on which Edinburgh Castle was built is actually a dormant volcano. It became extinct during the last Ice Age and when the glaciers melted, they left behind the imposing steep-sloped hillside that we see today. If you are touring the city, don’t miss the chance to head to the top and enjoy the views back over the city.
Wish Edinburgh city centre was your playground? Why not make the move to one of the capital’s most vibrant districts at Quartermile in 2016?