August is one of the busiest times of year in Edinburgh as visitors from across the globe flock to the city for festival season. Read our Concierge guide, get hot tips on what to do, and discover the charm of the Scottish capital.
I have never been to Edinburgh, I have half a day. What do you suggest I do?
Concierge David Brown is often asked this question by hotel guests. Here are his top tips and recommendations which may also inspire you and help you plan your trip to Edinburgh.
"The guests who have done some preparation or research mainly ask about hop on hop off buses, attraction opening times, bus routes etc. Apart from that, enquiries about restaurants are popular. Edinburgh has so many great restaurants for all tastes and budgets, with new ones opening up all the time, so there’s always something new to discover. The kilt I wear as part of my uniform is often a point of interest. People are amazed by it, want pictures taken with us and ask us lots of questions about it. My favorite one probably is whether I wear it at home or outside of work!"
Which tours do you recommend to your guests?
The Hop-on Hop-off bus tours around Edinburgh are a great way to see the city. Further afield, any of the day tours around Scotland, particularly the West Coast to Loch Lomond and Glencoe, let visitors see iconic images that they usually see in films with their own eyes. Loch Ness remains a favorite as well. Everyone has heard of it and wants to see it, but there are other lochs, like Loch Lomond, which are just as nice, less busy and closer to Edinburgh, so you’ll spend less time on a bus or in a car.
What 5 attractions would you recommend?
- Edinburgh Castle: simply a must for an Edinburgh visit!
- Holyrood Palace: lovely place and surroundings, minutes away from the hotel.
- A ghost walking tour around Edinburgh’s hidden underground city, right below and around Old Town and our hotel are a must.
- Royal Yacht Britannia: gives you a great insight into how the Royals used to travel around the world.
- National Museum of Scotland – such an amazing building, especially the Grand Gallery, with lots to do and see for all ages.
What is the atmosphere like during August and the summer festivals?
Festival season is hectic! There is a great buzz around all of Edinburgh and due to our location on the Royal Mile we get it right into our hotel. The amount of people walking through our lobby must more than double on our usual (already high) numbers. On top of our hotel’s resident and non-resident guests, we get hundreds of people attending Fringe performances in the hotel, artists and performers, or people just taking a break from it all in our lounge. There are plenty of people ‘in character’ depending on what shows or plays are on.
© James Ratchford
Can you share some secrets on what to do in the city?
The castle is the city’s most visited attraction. Book a queue jump ticket online before you go. This will save you a very long wait during the summer months. If you are planning on visiting the castle, Holyrood Palace, Britannia and going on the Hop-on Hop-off buses, buying the Royal Edinburgh Ticket will save you around £15.
On top of all the usual attractions, try making some time to just walk around. Walk up and down the Royal Mile with a peak into the various alleyways, closes and backyards, and walk up and down some steps. All this gives you a good feeling of what kind of city Edinburgh really is and has been for the past few hundred years. Alternatively, go walking, running or cycling up or around Arthur’s Seat, through the Meadows or along the Water of Leith, all great ways to explore our wonderfully green city.
What is your favorite time of year in the city?
The Festivals. The city comes alive and there is something to see and do almost 24 hours a day, whether it's comedy, music, theater, book readings, discussions, etc. The Royal Mile, right outside our front door, turns into an open-air performance place making it the greatest street theater venue in the world.
How would you spend your ideal day in Edinburgh?
If it’s a nice day, head up to MUMS diner on Forrest Road for lunch. Then perhaps spend the day at Edinburgh Zoo or take a walk around Arthur’s Seat. Head to The Mussel and Steak Bar on West Bow in the Grassmarket for dinner, then down to Whistle Binkies on the South Bridge to see some live music and drink the night away.
Any last pieces of advice?
If you are coming during the summer months, plan your trip in advance and get tickets before you arrive, especially during the festivals in August. This will save you wasting half your days queuing for tickets.
What is your favorite thing about being the Concierge?
Helping our guests have the best holiday possible. It’s such a pleasure to know you have made a difference and pointed them towards places they didn’t know about and hear they enjoyed it.
I love showing off Edinburgh and Scotland with our great architecture, history, landscapes, culture, food and drinks. It makes you proud to be Scottish!
The Radisson Blu Hotel is situated in the heart of the bustling Old Town on the historic Royal Mile. This is where much of the summer festival action takes place.