Planning Your Time
One of Edinburgh's greatest virtues is its compact size, which means that it is possible to pack a fair bit into even the briefest of visits. The two main areas of interest are the Old Town and the New Town, where you'll find Edinburgh Castle, the Scottish Parliament, Princes Street Gardens, and the National Gallery of Scotland. You can cover the major attractions in one day, but to give the major sights their due, you should allow at least two. You can also choose between the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the important museums of Edinburgh, or explore the Royal Botanic Garden and Holyrood Park. Head down to leafy, villagelike Stockbridge, then immerse yourself in the greenery along the Water of Leith, visiting the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art along the way.
Getting out of town is also an option for longer stays. Hop on a bus out to Midlothian to see the magnificent Rosslyn Chapel (even if you're not a fan of The Da Vinci Code, it's still interesting), and Crichton Castle, parts of which date back to the 14th century. Head west along the Firth of Forth to explore South Queensferry, with its three Forth bridges (including the iconic red railway bridge) and palatial Hopetoun House, or head east for the beautiful beaches, bird-watching, and golf courses in and around North Berwick.
Some attractions have special hours during August, due to the large influx of festivalgoers. If you want to see something special, be sure to check the hours ahead of time.