Walking around Edinburgh is like going back in time and not at the same time. The castle and all the old impressive buildings is just one great scenery, you immediately start wondering how it was to live back then. At the same time Edinburgh is definitely a trendy city with loads of great cafes, bars and restaurants.
I spent a long weekend in Edinburg in the middle of May. A long weekend is perfect to explore the city, if I had more time I would travel to see the Highlands. May is nice, but it's still a bit cold (there is very much weather in Edinburgh, bring your water and wind proof jacket). And good shoes, Edinburg is one of those citys where you can walk everywhere and you should. Here's what I explored and recommend to see and do in Edinburg:
The Old Town with Edinburgh Castle, Camera Obscura and more
The Old Town of Edinburgh is the main scenery I mentioned with Edinburgh castle as the ultimate stage. Walking up The Royal Mile towards the castle is something you do together with loads of other tourists, but there is no way out, you can't leave Edinburgh without seeing the castle. It really gives you the sense of those days. And on your way there make sure you walk through some of the narrow streets (they are called close). The castle in itself is great and so is the view. The actual inside of the castle wasn't as impressive as I imagined, but that's no reason to miss out.
Close to the castle you find Camera Obscura and the Scotch Whisky Experience. Both worth visiting. But go to Camera Obscura first, going there after a few whiskys (as I did) can make you a bit dissy;)
Camera Obscura is actually one of the most fun things I've been to. The main (and original) attraction is the camera with a 360 view over Edinburgh, the live show they do showing it is fun! But Camera Obscura is really a world of illusions, hard to explain, just go there. And the view is great as well.
If you like whisky go to the Scotch Whisky Experience. But be aware it is a experience center and you go trough a very made up route, it is not a museum and they don't make whisky there. But you learn the basics and tasting is included. Go for the gold package and you get to taste 5 different whisky's.
On your way back down the Royal Mile make sure you spit on the Heart of Midlothian. A prison used to be where the heart is made into the ground now. Executions used to take place there. The heart marks its doorway. Some people spit on the Heart. Although it's now said to be done for good luck, it was originally done as a sign of disdain for the former prison.
Make sure you go through Cockburn street as well. It has some great small shops.
The New Town
The New Town is not really a new town, just a little bit newer then the Old Town. So it is also filled with old buildings and the best view towards the castle. Take your time wandering around the Princess Street Gardens and climb to the top of the impressive Scott Monument. I didn't explore much more in new town, but there are many monuments and stuff there.
The New Town also holds the main shopping area of Edinburg with all the shops on one side of the street. Probably all the shops you need but nothing especially interesting.
Stockbridge is about half an hour walk from New Town, but it is a nice walk. This part of the city holds the vintage shops, a nice Sunday market, trendy cafes and the Botanical garden. It's worth your time spending half a day there. The Botanical garden is really beautiful and interesting and the entrance is free. And have lunch and do some shopping while you are in Stockbridge, it has some really nice places. And it's pretty much tourist free:)
Food and drinks
Some places I especially liked:
No. 33 Cafe in Stockbridge - cute, great food.
The City Cafe in Old Town - 50s style cafe, drink milkshake.
Royal Mile Market - a hidden treasure in the crowded Royal Mile.
Southern Cross Cafe in Cockburn Street - go for breakfast.
OX184 - great bar, not to loud, also good food.
BrewDog - bar. Drink BrewDog.
Some pics coming your way now. Edinburg is definitely one of those cities you have to visit!