Edinburgh city guide: what to see plus the best hotels, bars and restaurants

Dodge the tartan and tour groups with Vonny Moyes’s guide to Edinburgh’s contemporary culture, bars brimming with personality, and great-value places to eat and stay

Edinburgh’s dirtiest trick is hiding in plain sight. Sold a 2D iteration of Braveheart, bagpipes and festivals, tourists cling to trademark attractions that have steep prices and no soul. When festival revellers swell the population in August, most of them head indoors, trading the capital’s spoils for darkened rooms. But there’s much to discover beyond the summer festivals and the shortbread Scottishness sold in the tourist traps.

Venture out from the Royal Mile and you’ll find weathered stones and tall spires punctuated with green giants. In an afternoon, you can conquer an ancient volcano or scale an abandoned acropolis without leaving the centre.

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