Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, located in the Central Belt region of the country. With a population of approximately 450,000, "Auld Reekie" (Edinburgh) manages to combine the ancient and the modern in a uniquely Scottish atmosphere. Watched over by the imposing Edinburgh Castle—the symbol of the city—Edinburgh mixes medieval relics and Georgian grandeur with modern living and contemporary avant-garde.
Tourism is an important economic mainstay in Edinburgh, "The Athens of the North." The city is Scotland's thriving night-life center and a feast for the mind and the senses, playing host to great restaurants, shops and an unequalled program of city festivals throughout the year. Hogmanay (the Scottish New Year) kicks off the festivities, which culminate in the high summer with the Tattoo, the International and the Fringe, among many others.
The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh were listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1995. Tourists visit such historical sites as Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Georgian New Town. In fact, Edinburgh is one of Europe's major tourist destinations, attracting around 13 million visitors a year, and is the second most visited tourist destination in the United Kingdom, after London.
Be sure to walk the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Royal Mile is the backbone of the 16th-century Old Town and most of the buildings date from this period. Also visit Holyrood Park, containing Arthur's Seat (an extinct volcano you can climb), three lochs and the stunning Salisbury Crags.