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Edinburgh Festival Theatre on Nicolson Street

Edinburgh is unique among Scotland's cities. Tourism, its proximity to England, and its multicultural population set it apart. There's up-to-the-nanosecond dance clubs in 15th-century buildings and firebreathers outside Georgian mansions: this is a place that knows how to blend ancient and modern.

Its superb architecture ranges from ancient churches to monumental Victorian masterpieces - all dominated by a castle on a precipitous crag in the city's heart. Pick any street to stroll - you'll be wowed by sudden vistas of looming battlements, cold volcanic peaks and hills steeped in memory.

Edinburgh's summer streets are enlivened by the buzz and high jinks surrounding the world's biggest arts festival. The flipside is grim council housing estates, dubious weather and tartan kitsch; but don't let that stop you. Edinburgh is a mixed bag but it struts an identity that extends much further than heroin addicts and the occasional display of kilts and bagpipes. In traditional Scottish fashion, it will leave you feeling whisky-warm inside.

Facts for the traveller
Off the beaten track
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