If you play golf in Scotland, chances are, you'll end up in Edinburgh, either before or after your trip. It's a fascinating, friendly and walkable city that enhances any visit to the British Isles.
Here are 10 ways to elevate your enjoyment of Edinburgh:
1. Say it right
The correct pronunciation does not have a hard "g" like Pittsburgh. It's pronounced "Edinburrah" by residents who get just as upset with the mistake as Brits who are annoyed by Americans who refer to the "Open Championship" as "The British Open."
2. Places to play golf
Edinburgh has 40 or so courses within just a few miles of the city. If your looking for affordable, easily accessible courses for a warm up round or two before you play higher profile layouts, the City of Edinburgh Council, through its subsidiary, Edinburgh Leisure, operates six facilities in the city: Braid Hills, Carrick Knowe, Craigentinny, Portobello (9 holes), Silverknowes and Wee Braids (9 holes). Other suggestions: Dalmahoy, Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society, Baberton, Craigmillar Park Golf Club and Murrayfield.
3. Stroll and enjoy
Edinburgh is often called "the Athens of the North" because of its abundant number of Neo-Classical buildings. The city center is divided into the historic Old Town, with its cobblestone streets and narrow alleys, and the New Town, with its beautiful Georgian architecture. In between the two towns is the Princes Street Gardens, a wonderfully landscaped greenspace where you can picnic on a park bench and soak in your awesome surroundings.
4. Visit a pub
Sharing a pint or a wee dram of whisky with the locals at one of the city's many pubs is an engaging cultural experience. There's a great selection of pubs on the Royal Mile and in the Grassmarket area. Some favorites to get your started, include: The Last Drop (Grassmarket), Peartree House (adjacent to Edinburgh University), Deacon Brodie's (Royal Mile), The Bee Hive (Grassmarket), The White Hart Inn (Grassmarket), The Last Drop (Grassmarket), King's Wark (36, Shore) and The Cumberland Bar (Cumberland Street).
5. Edinburgh Castle
Overlooking the city and dominating the skyline for more than 800 years, this well preserved edifice is Scotland's most popular visitor attraction. At various times in it's colorful history, it served as a royal palace, barracks, prison and parliament.
6. Fabulous festivals
This is a city that knows how to have a good time. An absolute don't miss if you're visiting in August is the Edinburgh Military Tattoo at the Castle, a spectacular extravaganza featuring precision marches, military bands, bagpipers and dancers. Other top festivals include the Edinburgh International Festival in August, Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival in July, Edinburgh Art Festival in August and Edinburgh's Hogmanay (New Year's celebration).
The restaurant menu, please. Some suggestions: Number One at The Balmoral, Colonnades, Timberyard, 21212 and Restaurant Mark Greenaway.
8. The Scotch Whisky Experience
It's a bit touristy, but lots of fun and you'll learn more about whisky that might help you on your next visit to a pub or bar in Scotland. Guests take a barrel ride through a replica distillery with experts providing an interesting whisky education. Tours conclude with a view of the world's largest private Scotch whisky collection and a tasting.
Princes Street is the most popular place for visitors to shop in the city. Here, you'll find everything from Jenners, the oldest department store in the world, to the Apple Store. Running parallel to Princes is Georges Street with stores like Hollister and DKNY. For Louis Vuitton, Stella McCartney and other high-fashion luxury brands, head to Multrees Walk. There's also great boutique shopping at The Grassmarket, Victoria Street and the Cowgate as well as the Royal Mile, which is packed with gifts shops and kilt and tartan stores. Top shopping centers include St. James, Ocean Terminal and The Gyle.
The open-top bus tours are a fun and easy way to get an understanding of how the city is laid out. Some of the top sights are the National Gallery of Scotland, Royal Museum of Scotland, Carlton Hill, the Royal Yacht Britannia, Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh Zoo, Greyfriars Kirk Church and Caledonian Brewery.